Reality

The coronavirus has shaken up the ambience in public space. Not only do signage, mask wearing and social distancing persistently remind us of the presence of this novel menace. Each of us now reveals an aspect of our identities we didn’t know we had. Who is wearing their mask? Who is keeping their distance? Who is protesting and how? Our public behaviour is subject to new judgement and condemnation as we cannot hide our attitude towards this pandemic. What we used to project becomes clouded, altering our relationship with our public selves and the unknown other.

This video takes the viewer through a shopping street in Amsterdam. Is the virus here now? The answer to that question is unknowable, tempting us to think of everyone as carriers. As one progresses and securities seem to fall apart, the sadness of the isolation sinks in. While some things remain unchanged, we are entering an eerie reality in which the risk of death and misery are embedded in public life.

Ten behavioural rules for if you still don’t get it

It’s a jungle of rules and revelations out there, and everything keeps changing all the time. Stay inside. Stay outside. Don’t use up all the masks. Use a mask! If you tend to cross borders and need to adapt to new situations over and over, it may be wise to adapt some of your behavioural rules, to make sure that you’re always safe. Here are some tips for 10 rules that are easy to remember.

Rule #1 Don’t get mad at people in the street

It’s clearly very rewarding to nurture a temper when a stranger cuts you off at the amount of feet or meters that apply in your country, meaning you can no longer move forward. But being angry causes you to breathe faster. More breathing means more coronavirus in the air or in your lungs, and that’s not what you want. Screaming in somebody’s face creates droplets, and a punch counts as touching. Also, think about your blood pressure. Tempting as it is, getting mad is a no-go in the age of corona.

Rule #2 No eye contact

I am personally usually puzzled by why people would even want this at all, it must be a fetish or something, but the coronavirus can spread through the eyes. It is therefore out of the question that your eyes touch somebody else’s. And you won’t be able to keep your distance if your eyes are against each other. Think about it. You don’t see the person either, so eye contact is not using your eyes the way you should. Keep your obsessions for after the pandemic.


Rule #3 No sex, except for procreative purposes

Sex is breath and breath is corona. So, no sex except at a distance. Nevertheless, we have to look at this also as a long-term issue. Young people tend to be far less susceptible to the virus, and may well develop immunity at a young age. To reach herd immunity, it becomes vital that we put some new young souls in our midst. Some young, immune blood. Little walls for the virus. An organic barrier so to speak. Very handy. But use a condom to avoid other nasty diseases, because kids can still get those.


Rule #4 No mind control

A lot remains unknown about this virus, and it’s yet to be discovered whether gripping somebody else’s mind should be considered a breach of the rule of social distancing. Stay on the safe side, and do not attempt to control people’s minds. Also, wash your rhetoric for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day. We need to do what we can to keep the hospital beds empty.


Rule #5 Avoid mass hysteria

Masses tend to all move in the same direction, while they should be moving away from each other. When afraid, they even tend to schedule gatherings and counter-gatherings. What we want, is that everyone takes their own, solid, comfortable mindspace at a safe distance from others’. Far away from other people’s heightened stress levels. Hence everyone has the room to form their own picture of the situation. Avoid political maelstroms.


Rule #6 Brush your teeth multiple times a day

This one speaks for itself, with all the face mask stuff around. You’ll have to live with your own breath.

Rule #7 Sleep more

Many clear advantages here. Sleeping causes you to breathe less, meaning less corona in the air. You’re less stressed when asleep. And it’s a good measure against becoming overweight, so you’re less likely to enter the risk group. Plus: how often do you encounter beds that are less than 2 meters away from each other? Almost never, in these rich countries at least, so you effortlessly have the social distancing thing covered. But more importantly, if you feel suffocated by all those new laws: in your dreams you can do whatever the hell you want. And if you don’t, practice lucid dreaming. During corona, spend more hours to sleep in, take naps and doze off. It’ll keep you alive.


Rule #8 No bankruptcy-parties

It’s tempting to have a celebration if that neo-nazi bar down the street finally sees its demise, or when the noisy airport in your area decides to keep its planes to the ground once and for all. Or just to celebrate the end of capitalism. But parties count as gatherings and those are dangerous. The exception is a beach party in the sun, as long as you keep socially distancing or procreating with the appropriate protections.

Rule #9 No more chit-chat

Talking is a risk in itself. Therefore, we’re all better off when we make sure the words we speak are of some value. Is it really that important to talk about the weather or about the price of broccoli? Keep the gossip and the chit-chat to your What’s App and Facebook groups or even Twitter if you really need to. But when you speak face to face, make it count. Talk about love. Or life. Or death. So when someone gets sick later because of your conversation, it was worth it at least.


Rule #10 Always stay ahead of the lockdown

This may prove to be a bit of a challenge in the months to come. It requires careful observation, continuous assessment, strong planning and swift action. Look at it as a societal game of tag. Follow the news, move if you need to. Try to visit as many orange or yellow risk areas as you can. But once it’s red… you’re trapped.  Bring your work laptop and play this game at your own risk. It’s a once in a lifetime.

Hope it helps!

The Honeysuckle

“What are you looking at?” The honeysuckle is loosely pending from a tree in front of me. Its gentle rocking in the wind just now has suddenly stopped.
“I was appreciating the scent of your flower”
“Staring and appreciating my smell? You haven’t even asked! Nor did you introduce yourself. What if I don’t want to be smelled? Did that ever cross your mind?”
“Errr… no. It didn’t occur to me that…”
“That what? That honeysuckles may appreciate some private space? Well of course it hasn’t. You were probably already considering picking my flower, weren’t you?” Its static demeanour is replaced by wild gestures of its many branches at once.
“Well?”
“I wasn’t, but now that you say so, actually that’s not a bad idea.”
“Not a bad idea? Not a bad idea? May I be so blunt as to ask you what makes you think it’s a good idea to rip my branch off and leave it to perish slowly without my consent? Who’s the creepy one here?”
“Well, you know, when I was a kid, I had a honeysuckle bush in front of my window. On a warm night, the scent would enter my room. It was calming. Your flower would remind me of that for a while.”
“Are you comparing me to some punk grandpa-suckle from thirty years ago? This just keeps getting worse. I’m a twenty first century cosmopolitan suckle. My scent is unique to me, and I’m proud of it!” Its branches now twisting savagely. “And back off a little”. You’re not socially distancing.
“I’m sorry?”
“You heard me! Two meters! I don’t want your germs. You’re not even wearing a face mask for Yggdrasil’s sake.”
“You’re a plant…”
“So? Do you think that just because I’m green and twirly, you have the right to infect me? You humans are all the same.”
“You don’t even have lungs!”
“No lungs, he says. And what happened to ‘Plants are the lungs of the planet’? Well? Or does that only apply when it suits you? When you can use it to convince your leaders to make a nice little park for yourself? When you need the oxygen?”
Slightly confused, I take a step back.
“But you won’t get sick of it…” I stammer.
“Assumptions! For months, you people have been going on about how many unknowns there are with this virus, and how you shouldn’t take any risks. And now that someone asks you to step back, there’s no threat anymore? Haven’t you seen some of my leaves? They’re brown! I’m in the risk group.” The plants’ branches are now dangling, some draped over the park floor.
“Honeysu…”
“Don’t you honey me, mister! I’m not your honey.”
“Suckle”
“Don’t even dare.”
“I didn’t notice your brown leaves. Sorry.”
“See? That’s what I mean. You’re all over my looks and my great smell, but when it’s about my hurts, no regard. I just serve your purpose.”
“We’re in a city park. Everything serves a purpose here. We keep the city going. Without you, this would be some apartment block. That’s the bitter truth.”
“These trees and the grass over there have a purpose. Not me. I’m just hanging around because a bird once dropped my branch and I shot roots. I’m a survivor.”
“But you aren’t weeded out. Because people enjoy you.”
“And I feed your butterflies. But do you see any butterflies? You lot keep chasing them away. With your smelly nose hairs. Scaring off my only chance to procreate. Thanks, man.”
“Is that why you’re strangling that tree?”
“I’m holding on to it. The other day, some kids ripped two thirds of my body away and fed it to their dog. I need to take care of myself. If this tree is too weak for a tiny plant like me, it doesn’t belong in this world.”
“You know they’ll cut you away if you keep winding around that tree, don’t you?”
“Are you threatening me now?”
“Just warning.”
“So. If I let go, I get killed by kids. But if I hold on, I get killed by park maintenance. Are you even listening to yourself? Why aren’t you stepping up against that? How can you live with it? Is that how you lot treat each other as well?”
“If your purpose cannot be explained, then yes. People get shunned to disappearance. That’s fairly normal human behaviour.”
“Bleak… I don’t want to be treated that way. I just want to hang around.”
“I mean, not everyone is like that. Many people try their best to help others. And a lot of us lead a reasonable life, even if our need and qualities aren’t always fully appreciated. It’s not that hard to ascribe yourself some purpose these days. And some of us are woke.”
“What’s woke?”
“I’m not sure. It’s like some heightened awareness of the struggles of minorities.”
“Good! You guys could use some more of that. With all of your pride.” “But don’t we all have a bit of struggle from time to time? What’s your name, actually?”
“Emperor Zork.”
“Emperor Zork…”
“Just call me Zorky. Anyway, if I see you all happily crossing the park, I find it hard to believe you have struggles. You can go anywhere you want! Have you ever seen how big this park is? I can only dream about growing to the other side without being shredded to pulp. But if you tell me you treat each other the same way…”
“What about that time you arrived here? Wasn’t that a nice journey?”
“That wasn’t my choice! That was a blackbird’s. It pulled me out of my old home and dropped me here. I almost died! Now I need to grow here.”
“Would you like to go back?”
“Sometimes. But then I wonder what that would solve. Us honeysuckles are known for idealizing their original roots. Life in the forest was great, but it wasn’t perfect there either. We had lice outbreaks and trees falling on top of us. I’ve seen many close relatives slowly get eaten alive. At least here they spray you with some toxic if you don’t manage to repel them by yourself.”
“And those brown leaves?”
“They’re not that bad. I could easily shed them, if I needed to.”
“So why don’t you?”
“Hmm… Good question. They don’t really bother me, I guess. I like them, actually. They’re a part of me. And sooner or later, they’ll fall by themselves.”
“O. Is that like Wu wei or something?”
“Whu what?”
“This Chinese philosophy. Action by inaction.”
“Never heard of it. I don’t think us honeysuckles do anything like that. It’s more like an internal thing. Drop or don’t drop. A matter of preference.”
“I think Wu wei was inspired by plants, actually.”
“And there it is again. You see us do something, and then try to copy it. Our ways don’t belong to you. Find your own ways to act or not act.”
“Or maybe you’ve just infected our thoughts with your great way of being natural.”
“Don’t call me natural. I’m far from it.”
“The what’s natural?”
There’s a silence in which Zorky’s branches hang still, then make some sudden movements, then hang still again. Then they orient themselves in a different direction, then they hang still once more. All at once, they sink back to the ground.
“Honestly, man, I don’t really know anymore. I’ve grown distant from it. This whole combination of brains with opposable thumbs has turned everything upside down for us. If I see those joggers sprint through the park with their bright yellow headbands, I do wonder, sometimes. What are they trying to attain? I mean, truly. They could have just gone hunting for a deer, then they’d have all the exercise and the food they need. But when I then think about the lice in my youth, I kind of understand it, you know?”
The branches move a bit again. “I guess nature isn’t much more than a state of surrender towards death and suffering. Culture postpones death. Hides from it, perhaps. Gives it a place, at best. Even rushes it sometimes. Nature embraces death and moves on.”
“Do you think the two are opposites?”
“What’s an opposite?”
“Ehm…” This time it’s me who struggles for a bit. Zorky would probably be able to describe my gestures better. “Mutually exclusive, but still sharing some core identity.”
“What? I mean, how can that be?”
“It’s like being on the other side of the same road.”
“Can opposites hear each other?”
“Possibly. I don’t see why not.”
“Well, I think it depends on which direction you go on that road.”
“Say… To the future.”
“Then yes, I think they’re on the same road. For now at least.”
One of the branches moves upward in my direction.
“Here, take this flower.”
“Thanks” I pick it. “That means a lot.”
“Put it on your ear or something. It’ll help you cover your smell. A hedgehog once told me you’re supposed to suck on it. But we don’t do that.”
“Good tip.”
“You should go now.”
“Maybe you’re right.”
A few meters above us, a butterfly messily pushes its brittle wings off against the breeze entering with the night.
“Pardon” it announces. In a deep, resonant voice.

To gun

A few days ago I was around a table – even if it was rectangular – with two architects who work on nature inclusive urban design. It was a first meeting in a set. We’re writing a small guide together. While discussing the reasons why one, being a human being, would include nature in one’s urban design, we came up with 3 main streams of reason. I will order them the way I will for the sake of this essay. Not randomly, but also not in a way that puts one above the other. For now.

The anthropocentre. Nature benefits us humans in endless ways. To recite them now would be an insult. ‘Who’d be insulted?’ You might ask. A quick answer would be: those who are tired of measurebators. Me, for one. I guess that breaks with the ‘for now’ bit of a paragraph ago. Do feel free to apply your own logic to that one.

Custodianship. This stream is less common, because it implies responsibility. And who likes responsibility? Not you, not me, and certainly not the guys and gals who direct us. In this case, custodianship assumes that humans, one way or the other, have got themselves in the place where they can care about nature. We know how to destroy it, so why would we not inherently be capable of rehabilitating it? As long as it’s still there. I don’t think there’s a reason why we wouldn’t. Which doesn’t mean I think that human minds would be able to create earth with all today’s beauty from scratch. Let that be clear. But this responsibilty could, in theory, be something we were born with. Something our nature demands us to take up. Unfortunate as it sounds.

And then comes stream number 3. Even less common, I think: gunnen. Emmanuel Levinas. He made a big point about the unknown other. I’m not sure if he said we all have an unknown other inside us, and in fact I think that’s a good idea which needs to be elaborated upon, but he did raise the question ‘what happens if an unknown makes a call upon you?‘ A jew could ask you if he or she could stay in your place while some crazy guys are comming to kill him, for example. Would you answer, even if you knew that person is vastly different from yourself? If that soul is unknown to you? Will you allow yourself to provide the person what he or she needs? And if your own life would be at stake?

Ha! I used the word soul again. Tears come to my eyes. It’s a word that, in order to be used unequivocally, requires a laid back state of mind or at least a state of faith. But as I use this word again today, I have to admit I redefined it to myself. Before, I insisted that the soul was that part of our being that unites all beings. God, basically. As of now, I have shifted my definition back to a more common one, closer to the individual. A personal soul. You have your own soul. Why not? And to explain why I shifted back: the concept of soul I believe to be closer to the truth is too omnipresent for conversation, and that’s not what having a conversation is about, I discovered. I appeared atheist. In this case I used the word to imply that the unknown other has some innate value, transcending even the concept of value.

To gun. No, gunnen. It’s a Dutch verb.

Around a different table, with some friends, one day after the first, we discovered that there is no proper translation for that word in any of the languages we know. That puts ‘gun‘ in my new list of favourite Dutch words, together with ‘oer‘. To clarify: that list now consists of 2 words. And I do think this time the table had some roundish shape. It was quite low, in fact, and not very prominent. But it invoked something between us.

So let me explain the word to you, knowing I’ll fail.

Consider the expression to give someone the benefit of the doubt. In Dutch you’d translate that as iemand het voordeel van de twijfel gunnen.

All other words in that sentence translate fairly literally. The difference between giving and gunnen, is that giving comes from a position of wealth, and gunnen from no position at all. To give someone something, you first need to have something. Even if little. To gun something, you don’t need to have anything. You just wish that someone has something. You don’t put yourself above the other. In the most fundamental way, it’s the opposite of being jealous.

If that makes you wonder: ‘hey! what’s wrong with the word wish?’ Well, nothing is wrong with it, but its meaning is subtly different. And that’s not that easy to explain. Wishing is, or can be, more active. After a half an hour try-out with our French friend, she concluded it was rather abstract. But it’s not.

Gunnen (to gun, pronounced with the traditional, throat-rasping Dutch g) is a state of being from which you wish something good to someone or something. Not necessarily because that person deserves it, but just because you do. What’s more, the thing you gun to something can be very defined, but it doesn’t need to be. Yet it’s always positive. Sure, you could use the word sarcastically, but what it refers to can technically only be positive. Improving someone’s situation.

There may of course be reasons why you would gun something to someone, for example because you like the person, but the word gunnen doesn’t imply reasons. In that sence, it stretches into the realm of Levinas’, unknown other.

Gunnen as a verb is seamlessly applied to the other. Not because of the other per se. You can gun any being whatever they wish for, without knowing who that person is or what it is that person wishes for. A bit like ‘I’d wish a stranger anything’, but more casually. You can gun nature life. There is no reason why anyone wouldn’t. If nature doesn’t end up with life in this context, that’s just because we encountered ourselves in the pickle of taking it from it. Not because we don’t gun it it.

That was a thought in our talk around the table a few days ago. And it suddenly felt so important.

Once every year, one should skip a night

There are so many titles I wanted to start this with.

But this is the one. And it’s true. It also makes this article as much diary like as  a story can get. One every while, we should all skip a night. Stay awake. Do something. It doesn’t matter what.

When I was biking back this evening, I had a different idea for this text. To write about the rat and the squirrel. Because he was right. Or at least he raised a good question. Tarantino. Why do people hate rats, and not squirrels?

He wasn’t. It’s because rats come far closer to people. But the symbolism is not to be underestimated. Squirrels are cute. With their redness and their shyness.

But even then, and this is where I wanted to start: they’re assholes as much as rats. In their way. And wasps. Stingy little 6-foots. Don’t even properly coagulate. The suckers. Rats do, but I wasn’t talking about them anymore. Oh. Did I mention I’m writing as an activity to help raise myself above the night? To do so you have to imagine yourself above the stars, I think. I don’t, but I enjoy the thought experiment.

I wasn’t meant that way. Nothing was meant the way it turned out, I think. But still it happened. And whoever survived has do deal with the consequences. So that’s what we do. Because, let’s admit it, you and I survived. We’re here. And we’re lucky. Our times are majestic.

Nonetheless, I think we should try to look beyond that. We can’t, I know. But we can try. So let’s. Because we can try. A person should try. Even if hopelessly.

Think of the list of things you’d like to forget. Forget them. If you can’t, then skip a night. Haha. No. I can’t give this order, because I wouldn’t follow it.

I do still kind of consider it a reasonable one. Maybe we should all build forgetting into our skillset. Even if skillset is a demonic word. It’s a word. Hey, let’s dedemonicize it. Besides, I don’t think I would be able to perceive how things turned out.

Yes. I don’t believe in demons. No.

The beauty of words is that you can apparently draw with them. I didn’t know. That’s why I recommend to skip a night. Not to write, or to find out about words. But to discover something new. It’s beautiful.

Meaning is important to me. As volatile.

No way I can bring it into words. Or images. Or even into sleight of mind. No way. But I can’t keep combatting it either. Wait. I can. That’s not what I want to say.

There’s liberation in the decision to stay up. There truly is. The horizon becomes an aspect of your butt. Everything changes. Do it, if you can.

It’s an obligation too, of course, because, let’s face it, I’d rather go to sleep, but that one, I at least imposed to myself.

Ha. Maybe that’s what I need to break with. The idea that I can impose things on myself. It’s very paradoxical if you think about it. And if I said paradoxical, I did so to seem interesting. I meant ridiculous.

Yet it’s not you who’s thinking about it, it’s me. I’m merely keeping myself awake, and you’re a witness.

I do think that if you tire yourself far enough, and this is why I advocate this behaviour, you release something new. It could be through sports, or some other thing. My mom walks 160 km in 4 days once year. My dad leads a lifestyle of unconditional relaxing. I think they do it too. And I also think we all forget what we discovered straight away, so yes?

Which reminds me of a dream I had many times. There was a hallway. That’s about as much as I remember, except that it was oriented from the left to the right and back. I believe those are important details.

444

Sleep is an easy choice. Very tempting too. But one must try to keep oneself awake. With all one’s effort.

It’s easier to answer the question what it means to be awake, than to pose it.

Here. This is what I’ll do. Go to sleep.

Haha.   ?

No.

I’m not sure if it would undermine the post.

Then again. I’m also not sure of anything else. So, it was my pleasure, and good night.

May humanity cherish the certainty of sleep.

It’s godlike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a man, I am involved

The organic campaign #metoo has taken many shapes and spheres as it moved from Weinsteins cases of rape to denouncing and confessing to sexual harassment and intimidation in general. The movement has become so multifaceted that it has become hard to fathom and even harder to criticize. But there’s one thing it seems to agree on: society should no longer tolerate men’s behaviours. We men have to change. In the past week, I have felt threatened by the tone of some of the exclamations that have passed my screens. I’ve been confused about whether and how I should look at female people on the street. I’m concerned about the polarizing effect this discussion seems to have. And especially about the slippery slope of equalizing lust-inspired acts to rape.

First a step back
Okay let’s go back to the positive side of #metoo. Many women have resisted the urge to declare their experience of rape to the police. The ruling power structures, as well as their own beliefs and other individual reasons have withheld them from claiming their rights. Society has discouraged them to do so. This week, through a somewhat anonymous outlet, they can air some of the remnant frustration and, more importantly, display the omnipresence of the problem to those man enough to look into the gaping wound. It’s indeed important that people feel the confidence to act against such violence. And that people don’t perform it, or let it happen around them.

Let’s not forget the elephant in the room
Looking at our actions, we are collectively largely ignoring climate change and associated manmade ecological collapse. If society breaks into chaos because of these, women as well as men will experience a state of existence that offers less space for safety. And more for rape. These impacts cannot be stressed enough, and have to be mentioned also in this context. We are trying to move to a better world, so we all have to deal with climate change. And keep building society together.

Tension
At some point, men started answering #metoo with #Ihave and #Iwill. Confessions. Online promises. Sometimes quite mundane in my view, sometimes clear disclosures of criminal acts. Audacious, but not a proper substitute for turning yourself in. Then, people saying ‘men’ should not make this discussion about themselves. This was about women who were raped. Here’s where I went: “What? Why are we not allowed to be part of the conversation?”

A point followed, I guess, where we have to do our best and look through social media and their slaves from journalism to see what is really happening. But what is really happening? Is this a new wave of feminism? Where does it want to head to? Not being raped? Good, but how? Is this a new kind of anti-terrorist movement that wants to accuse a large group of innocent people for the acts of some very guilty ones?

The status quo
For me personally, there’s nothing I think I should admit. Sure, I’ve played the game. I’ve looked, I’ve touched, I’ve joked around. But I haven’t threatened, raped or harassed anyone in a way that clearly bothered them. I also check, sometimes, if everyone is still comfortable with the group dynamics. And yes, I have noticed ambiguity among women and wished they would be more expressive about it.

Yet let’s not forget that sexual or semi-sexual acts occur in the context of personal relationships. They should always be seen that way. I don’t think it serves a purpose to reframe acts of the past and deny this relationship. And if I may speak for other men as well: to us, the status quo here in the Netherlands is quite allright. Not the street harrasments, those are wrong, but the general atmosphere at work, on the street and at parties. If you look at history, we have reached quite a good spot. Not perfect, but quite good.

It creeps in on you
One of the best stories I read these days was in Dutch by Bregje Hofstede of De Correspondent. She explained how being grabbed under her skirt has made her live more reluctantly. It reminded me of the time I was blindfolded in the back of a taxi in Peru. Not that time itself. I think I managed to keep myself toghether quite well there. No. Afterwards. Looking behind my shoulder all the time. Not going through parks on my own by night. Heigtened vigilance. A reduction of the extent of your world, Bregje called it. I tell myself that it’s wisdom. Knowledge by experience. Knowing the danger. She sees it as men taking her freedom from her. She feels afraid, now, when men look at her intensely.

Even if I fully understand the feeling she descibes, and I acknowledge such events occur more often to her than to me, something inside me turns bitter when I hear these views. We are now in an era that is safer then ever. More luxurious than ever. There are disagreements on how to approach the other gender, but aren’t those what makes life interesting? What makes love interesting? The act of exploring each others boundaries.

Power struggles
Women are now teaching men that we cannot know what it’s like to be a women. True. And women cannot know what it’s like to be a man either. It is us who generally have to play the leading role when breaking the physical barrier. Not always, but most of the time. And, yes, we make mistakes with that, but if we don’t try, we don’t get laid. Or married. Not all people have the same level of perception when it comes to body language, nor are all people equally expressive when it comes to things they do or do not want. Not everyone is equally sensitive. So yes, mistakes occur, but that does not make the intent bad. I think framing or perceiving it that way is harmful.

But we men have an excellent grasp of what fear can be. All of us, men and women, are contributing, daily, to the accumulation of dark acts that is happening all over the place. Being forced to do things we do not necessarily agree with is a society-wide phenomenon. Whether it is out of insecurities, strategic career choices, or because we are being pushed pysically or emotionally, this concerns us all. Where #metoo becomes more vicious, is where it denies our common ground. And it shouldn’t. Men don’t need to take these wild accusations.

Can we move forward?
The way this hashtag unfolds does not help the conversation; I think we’re rather arriving in a deadlock. Not the idea of the hashtag, that’s good, but the way people are treating it. As if there needs to be retaliation. As if we should move towards a world where men and women avoid touching each other altogether. No. Let’s move towards a place where we see the sexual tension for what it really is. A role we play. Just like everything else. A role we need not get too caught up in. And yes, respect each other, like most women and most men have always done. Something that can be joyful. Let’s see this as a call, yes, to better education for everyone where that failed. But let’s also cherish the freedoms we have acquired. We are in this together. And we are not in a time and a place where we can use more division.

So let’s all keep talking.

Donald Duck rants and raves

For about two years, Friday night was the night where I’d write a post for this blog. I didn’t care too much about the quality at the time, – a little of course – what mattered was the process. Building. Moving forward. Adding words to my repertoire. In time, writers realise that it works in a similar way as fossilisation. You add layer upon layer, and somewhere in the depths, let’s call it subconscious, a pressure starts growing. A forgotten shape, a feeling, does not decompose down there. It gets solid. And one day some part of us will have the courage to break through it all, knowing that there is something waiting. Something demonstrable. Perhaps that wasn’t exactly how I saw it at the time, but I do now. Time gradually moved me forward.

What better moment to honour this freedom I apparently experienced, than on a Friday night? I’m listening to Stromae on KEXP at the same time. And what better subject to add to this meaningless pile of information than our dear friend and buddy, President Donald Trump? May I start this with the question: ‘for how long will people keep reciting the list of American presidents?’ And, you know what? Let me end it there as well. Or, instead, at a recommendation to listen to the New York Times’ Daily of today. If you’re into the media discussion, that is. They’re far better at wording all that than I am. And I’ll spare you Larsen C as well.

Which leaves me in a void. A similar freedom I used to envision myself to have. A blank canvas. The unthreaded snow I’ve seen recently, here in Amsterdam and in Vienna.

It’s scary in the void. It reminds me of a time when I was a kid. Several times. When I was ill, I’d see this infinite space of living links. In black and white. The worst was that I was one of them. And so was everybody else, regardless of their pretending. Their beliefs. It was terrifyingly real. So real that whatever my parents told me, I was six the first time, has never been as convincing. So real that I still believe in it.

Why is it that whenever we have the sense of being free, we are faced with our worst fears? Why do we keep carving our blank canvasses with vileness? For lack of a better word. Is the reason what they say it is? What who says? So many have spoken, so many have carved us as they have themselves. So few have been free, who taught the rules.

Someone once taught me that Friday night is no better than any other night. I don’t know if I can believe that.

Playing mind games with Soul