Tag Archives: Soul

A holy grail

For the first time in my life, I’m walking to my grandparents’ grave without either of them being buried today. My grandma was the second one, and she died six years ago. Haven’t given myself time to go there since. Did I become a martyr of my domineering mind?

I’ve received a fulltime job as copywriter, and am starting in a few weeks. I’m letting my thousands of little (and bigger) projects go for now, and take some time off. Walk. Visit friends. Let the losses slide of my back. Early this morning I decided to go for a walk to the north. Out of the city, into the land of my ancestors. Flatlands. A deeply manmade structure which scared me when we drove here during my childhood. Flat grass, straight, arranged ditches and many little houses packed in villages as far as the eye can see. We’re in one of the most populated countries of the world. Windmills.

I think it’s the first time that I so thoroughly enjoy it here. It may be the freedom of simply walking out of my door, into the fields. Or the cacophony of the birds, whose names I still don’t know. Their volume overrules the sounds of the roaring highway just behind us. Or perhaps it’s the red sun that is now at about 10° above the horizon, shining in my face as if to tell me to take off my new hat for it. Or maybe it’s the fact that I am sure that one day, when my grandpa felt like taking a detour, he crossed this little bridge here, in the middle of what was nowhere at the time, just for his enjoyment. Or the reflecting shadows of the water’s wrinkles on the moving straw, which combined mesmerize me into dreams. I’m amidst serene tumult.

That’s not to say that while I walk along the little path here, away from the deafening noise, my soul transcends along with the millions of glimmering dewdrops, slowly releasing themselves from the young blades of grass around. Or actually it is, now that I imagine it to. I’m liberated, even from myself. Especially from myself. Even if just for a little bit of time.

My grandpa was a kind, calm man when I knew him. His white hair surrounding his bald crown was long enough to be combed back. That looked pretty cool. So did the loose skin of his big thin hands, with thick blue veins meandering over them. I remember him sitting back on his couch, circling his thumbs around each other. He must have been furling his inner disagreements there. His lost memories. His missed chances. His incapacities. But I did not see that then. I was fascinated and he smiled gently. He always served us with chocolate, slices of sausage and other snacks. He limped a bit, when walking to the kitchen. His hip had been replaced.

Neither he nor I spoke much in company. What we would do, is hold each other’s gaze for a while. It told me I was his grandson, and that words aren’t always necessary to know you have a connection with someone. Still, I am not under the impression that I knew my grandpa that well. We lived about 400 km away from each other. Visiting them meant travelling hours and hours in the car. We slept there occasionally as kids, me and my sister, but most of what I remember from him were grownup visits where we did grownup things such as sitting at a table and eating and drinking. Though he did teach me how to play chess.

Once, he took me on a bikeride through these lands. I was a kid. Eight maybe? It was flat. And long. Kids from Luxembourg aren’t used to long bikerides. I think this one took several hours. I do remember enjoying following him on the bike, and stopping to have a chat once in a while, but there’s one memory that stands out. Somewhere near the end of the trip, he told me something about a bird around. My response? “I’m not very interested in that”. I possibly had to pee, or was tired, or was saturated with information. Maybe I was looking forward to a chocolate milk he promised me somewhere at the end of the road. I don’t remember his reaction, but today, a part of me feels guilty about it. Anyhow, years later, my grandparents were surprised to learn that I was going to study biology. And when it comes to bird species, they were right: I still don’t know that much about them.

“Grutto!” yells one of them from quite close. Hey. I can tell it’s panicking because of me. It probably has a nest. More interesting: I suddenly understand why it’s called Grutto in Dutch. I never knew, nor have I ever heard it that clearly. Was it trying to teach me his name?

When I visited my grandma after his death, I felt drawn by my grandpa’s encyclopedia. I walked there, took one of the 20 books of the shelve, opened it, and picked a random word. It was ‘dode hand’ (‘dead hand’). I had never heard of that word. It read something like this: “The dead hand is the property of the Church that is not inheritable by non-church members”. I was certain this was a message, related to him.

Moving to the Netherlands, and particularly Amsterdam was a personal declaration to look for my roots. My ancestor’s history. Figure out my family’s lives. In the meanwhile I have learned a bit about life in the city, before the war, during and afterwards. Things have changed quite radically. The past is gone, yet with a little bit of conversation and imagination, you can summon a vivid reconstruction of how life used to be. Walking in these wetlands is a similar attempt to reconstruct a forgotten past. Untangle a life of people who mattered little, yet stream forward in history through the very blood that rushes by my pen. Even if just for this moment, they are my entire world.

My grandpa grew up as a farmer, but through hard work became a manager in a company. He was the last one in my family lines to make that choice. Independence from the land. There were stories around him. Dreams. Meetings with deceased spirits. Predictions. At some point he developed automatic writing. He explained he would just lay down his hand with a pen in it, and then letters would shape themselves. Words, sentences, and new meaning would arrive without his conscious interference. He thought it was the input of a spirit, or a higher power. He once wrote something like: “Hendrik”, that was his name, “watch out what you do with your life”. He had a moterbike accident the next day.

Much has changed. Biodiversity dropped over here, electricity poles were built, the land is slowly being invaded by the ever growing civilization. Landprizes here have skyrocketed, and the farmers are slowly being replaced by rich people with big cars who spend the final decades of their life in retreat. Most I meet jog. They catch up with the sweat they failed to let to the land. I picture ghosts, hovering ahead of them, drawing them forward towards… what? What is it I am looking for? Which ghost precedes my steps? The tiny asphalt road bounces up and down when joggers come by. It is laid out over what used to be swamp. Utterly unreachable to man. But the Dutch built dykes. We showed them.

People would visit him to receive messages, until it suddenly stopped for ever. His explanation for the loss of his gift was that his ego started interfering. But by then he had already written what has always interested me most: a few pages in Latin. He did not know Latin. In an attempt to translate it, he discovered the text was about the evolution of the soul. That we all make steps forward, and then go back, and that we are all part of a slowly evolving collective consiousness, floating among us in the aether. That what we think of as our own awareness is merely a part of that bigger whole. A befriended priest offered to translate the manuscript for him. My grandpa gave him the papers, but never got them back.

After the incident with the encyclopedia, I’ve enjoyed imagining that those handwritings of my grandpa are still hidden in an occult library of some church in these lands. That they were in fact breathed into this world by some divinity or local spirit. That there is a holy grail somewhere, linking me back to something bigger and more meaningful. A unique message that would consolidate my spiritual quest and reveal the limits of the mechanistic paradigm. A proof. That the church was always aware that there’s more going on there, but that they shield us from it, because they want to remain in power.

The truth is that this fantasy inside me is slowly being overgrown by a sense that spirits in the west are dead, the document has disappeared and I’m perfectly fine without both. The transmission of lore is now all around us with the internet, and the format of film and imagery has made it more effective than ever. Oculus rift and hololenses are already catching up with our dreams. We are slowly immersing ourselves in representations that seem so real that it will be harder and harder to tell the difference. As opposed to believing in ghosts of the ancestors, which people all over the world have done for as long as they existed.

But what of reality? What is reality? Was the text of the manuscript really written in meaningful Latin? Or was my grandpa’s mind playing creative tricks on him? Did he, without knowing, gather some of his little knowledge on the language to create a sloppy text, imagining it was given to him? Did the priest simply forget it, given its insignificance? If so, what of the striking double, even triple meaning of the word ‘dead hand’? Was it a remnant spirit of the past, guiding me there, or was it just a lucky hit, short circuiting my sense of what is real? If it was true, am I making his same mistake by publically writing about it?

The grave has no answers. It is static, grey and silent. Both names are on it. There are freshly cut tulips here as well. White with red ones. Who put them here? A distant cousin? My uncle or aunt? Great unlce? I haven’t been in touch. And these grape hyacinths in the pot? How long have they been around? Did my grandma choose them? I vaguely remember them having these in the garden. I wipe some of the dead blossom of the smooth stone and have another look. A drawing of a hawk. Our name.

They are dead and I’m alive. There’s a world of difference between us. A world the nature of which I have never been certain of. Perhaps I’m here to remind myself that even if I do not know, I can still surrender to the stories. Accept them, like I would accept a film. I can dream a new truth. Revive the dead by recounting them. Let them live through me. How could I forget? How did I forget? Did I forget?

Am I here to accept that my own spiritual connection with nature was harmed with my grandpa’s choice to abandon the land? That in reality, I was always more interested in comfort, computer games and films, and that this was already written in the stars when I was born? That I am here to let go of these roots, and set the next step forward, into a virtual world of engineered redemption? Am I here to accept that humans will keep conquering these lands until even the tiniest patch is rid of its diversity, then recreate it in a different, imaginary world? Will there be life in that world?

No. This is not an end. There is no conclusion here. We can always go back. We can still go back. Nature can teach us. Nature will teach us. This is merely a meeting of life with death. Mysterious.

I don’t stay long, why would I? To find peace? I have more to do today. I’m a city boy now, living a civilized life in the great metropole that watched over us for generations. They are dead now, their memories gone. There is no reconciliation. The bird has flown.

There’s only one bus here per hour. Turns out I don’t have to wait long. No chance to go back. What would I expect to see anyway? In the shimmer of death, it’s still life that matters most. I’ll be back one day.


Return to the core

At the end of the 4th year of my blog, this is my 200th post. Had I kept the weekly posting up for the past months, I’d have had an average of a post per week. I’m just short of that now, but that’s fine.

When I started this blog, early 2012, I intended to write a pathway into my own subconscious. Digging into darkness and light, expressing it by doing. I also intended to experiment with writing, get myself into the flow. Try out some styles, do interviews, poems, ramblings, short stories and testimonies of my adventures in life.

As I wrote about love, hate, social injustice and the limitations of the mind, as I condemned superficiality and took part in it, the desire to be recognized grew. I could see viewer and follower statistics. I discovered tricks that increased my readership and secretly hoped that one day, independent blogging might become my livelihood. But tricks result in temporary pulses, and Sailing on Dreams did not gradually expand in the way I hoped it would. This became a struggle, I put an effort in making the content more interesting, but discovered that joining trends had more effect. The amount of people who read my blog seemed unrelated to the quality of my articles as I perceived it, but far more linked to the effort I put in attraction. That was, possibly still is, the strongest disillusion I have had as a blogger.

Assuming that good work promotes itself, I started to wonder if my work was good enough. Is the blog’s title too pretentious? Does it miss the match with what I actually write about? Does it work against my words? Do I create the impression of being ungrounded? Is the work itself ungrounded? Not developed enough? Are the topics boring? Am I using bad English? Have I milked myself too far? Am I wrong?

Meanwhile, the lack of real breakthrough in my career and some concerning geopolitical developments grew onto me as a darkening cloud. Some of the stories became darker, too. And who wants to read sad, negative recountings? I usually don’t. But yes, I did get positive feedback from dear friends, and even from strangers. Also a single quite painfully negative one from a friend. Still, it seems as if some people were touched by some of my work. And I did realise that it were never the numbers that mattered, but the motion when touching each others’ souls.

I stopped using that word. Soul. What does it mean, after all? Its smurf-intensity is gi-normous. And it turned into cliché. Trying to be original, I have learned to despise repetition. But repetition gives structure. Stability. Accountability. And the sound of the word soul is good. It comes from deep. It hits breath-bottom.

Perhaps I forgot to find the magic in my words. Judged their enchantment as something self-centred, narcissistic. Perhaps I saw through my own marketing, and lost the capacity to convince myself.  The capacity to surrender to the dreams I sail. In attracting the invisible you, I sometimes forgot about  me.

As I did before in this time of year, now, for my 200th post, I find it time to return to the original intention of this blog. To recalibrate. I still think that in its spark, this blog has the right aim. Some of the series I wrote, such as the words for emotions, tuned into that well. The desire for readership fundamentally does not match that intention, and yet I could not ignore it. The expansion of the original intention towards ‘persociety’, as an attempt to dive into our collective subconscious was also good, as it possibly made the texts more relevant. But the fact that the collective subconscious of the modern west hides some very dark aspects is clearly not popular. I can imagine that exploring it that way, even if playfully, could feel like an accusation of the innocent public. But if that’s where I want to go, then that’s where I will be. Digging tunnels, in the cavities of the internet, sharing happily with those few souls I meet down here.

Thirty years ahead in life, 200 posts on my blog. On the threshold of 2016. You can divide that number by two for five times. Where this year will lead I don’t know. For what it’s worth, it will not stop me from rambling.

On Reincarnation

People usually assume that I believe in reincarnation. I don’t. I believe reincarnation is a hopeful thought that propagates itself through the noosphere, fuelled by the fear of disappearance of whatever people believe to be themselves.

Reincarnation presumes incarnation and excarnation of an individual spirit in a body. To me, there’s no sharp separation between the two. That is not to say that I don’t believe in ghosts, past life memories, visions of the future or out-of-body experiences, but I interpret them differently. My outlook on space, time and life differ, I believe, from the status quo of, let’s call it Western Reincarnation Theory. I think it’s an interesting topic, so I’ll try to explain my point of view here, starting with some examples.

Let’s start with ghosts, they’re one of the trickiest subjects. Haunted houses, dead people walking or even just the feeling that something heavy is trying to tell you something, but you can’t quite catch what it is. Some perceive it, others don’t. To me, ghosts are a charge, released by a living person during their lifetime. It can be mental, emotional or spiritual, so let’s just call it a psychosomatic charge. Imagine Lonely Jack, who constantly sits in his living room, complaining to himself about the woman he never had, the job he missed and the choices he never made. I believe this guy can leave a footprint on his living room for as long as he’s alive. Then, once he’s dead, new inhabitants could still perceive this footprint as a ghost.

Would that footprint be self-conscious? One might ask. My answer would be: only to the extent to which the complaining is self-conscious, which is not that much at all. I don’t believe that the charge is Lonely Jack himself, I’d say it’s what he’s left behind. Then again, I do believe it is possible to send extracts of awareness into, for example, the furniture we possess, and make it look back at you. Or at another, when you’re not around. We can charge our surroundings with thoughts the way our surroundings can charge us with thoughts. Thus, some parts of us can live on. If others interact with those they empower them, and the bits of us empower those who interact.

Another typical proof for reincarnation and the separation between body and soul is the memory of past lives. The reasoning: since I experienced being in the past, apparently “I” have lived past lives. I value the occurrence of such experiences, but they don’t necessarily point to reincarnation. I see them as bridges between eras. Between lives if you will. Like meeting someone in the tram, but different. Sometimes, psychosomatic charges find their way through “wormholes” in such a strength that they invoke the “I” sensation upon the perceiver. To me, they really are just messages from the past with relevance for the listener of today. Think about it this way: you were a different person as a kid, but the aspect of “I” hasn’t changed. Ask the oldest person you know about this, and he or she will tell you there’s no difference between being old and being young. Nevertheless, all molecules have alternated time after time, lessons have been learned and forgotten, and the body has evolved and worn out. Throughout a single lifetime, we are many different people, but we don’t perceive it that way. Then why is it so hard to believe that temporarily being a different person would feel differently than being yourself?

The topic of future visions is similar. I believe that the general consensus there is that they are impossible, yet if they occur, they pass through the spirit world , mediated by beings who reside there because they have reincarnated many times. I believe the moment or vision that is foreseen is simply very psychosomatically charged, and therefore radiates back in time. Perhaps the meaning gives the charge, and the need for meaning on the other side the attraction. Metaphysical pressure differences, so to speak.

Out of body experiences? To me they are instants of high psychosomatic charge in the body, where the mind bridges space in the same way as it could bridge time. The fact that the people see and hear things in this different space, I believe, is a way for the mind to accommodate itself when away from the body. But I still think the phenomenon is powered by the life force inside the body of the one who perceives it as “him or herself being out of his or her body”.

So, if not in life after death, what do I believe in? I believe that there’s only one core soul, which is hidden deep inside all of us. Time, space and basically all rules an limits we take for granted are expressions of that soul. I think it created them all for fun. So are our bodies. Without our bodies, we would just be that one soul, undivided and forever, free from the illusions of existence we’ve created all around us. We are borrowing our bodies, our spirits and our minds from this big shared illusion, and when we die we give what we borrowed back.

Don’t ask me how that would feel by the way, I wouldn’t know.

Programmed soul

I recently had a conversation with a webdesigner about The Grid. The Grid is a website builder that uses ‘Artificial Intelligence’ to design websites according to the demands of the user and makes it look attractive. It will launch soon, and I’m considering to try it out. My conversation partner told me he believed human minds will always be necessary for this kind of thing. I replied that I wasn’t sure. One of the most striking films I recently saw on this topic was Her. In it, a program and a human become friends. I don’t want to spoil too much, but at some point the AI composes a jolly song. It’s fiction of course, but the story is self-explanatory and makes it credible. I bet it’s not the first time you hear that Artificial Intelligence is rising and taking over our jobs or even our lives, but have you ever really believed it? I’m starting to. If you would have asked a person before the war if a computer would ever be able to beat a human in chess, the answer would have been “No!”. Today, computers beat all champions. You could argue that chess is limited to the board and the predictable movements of the pieces, and therefore easy to calculate. Then, you could say that thoughts and words are unlimited, and that their sounds and meanings are too subtle for a computer to get, let alone to create with it. My answer would be: maybe. It might depend on how you program the AI. Let me take writing as an example. I’m not a grandmaster, but I’ve been doing it for a while now. A big part of it is technical: you attract attention with a title, build a structure of intro, middle and end, and try to choose your words such that they mean something. Build in some contrasts, break some grammatical rules. I don’t think people would disagree that the technical part is easy to learn for Artificial Intelligence. It’s the lived aspect that is harder. The part where emotions come in. Where meaning comes in. Where the sounds of the words dance around in your head. Where senses are triggered. The rhythm. Knowing what works and what doesn’t. Re-reading. Disagreeing with yourself. Making impossible choices. Creating symbols and metaphors. And yet when the text is done, there was only so much that a writer could do: the rest is what the reader creates for herself. If google can learn to recognize voices, can’t there also be a recognition of emotions in the tone of the voice? It’s all sounds, no? If facial recognition is possible, aren’t facial expressions the next step? With the increasing sensorial finesse of AI based systems, it could well be a matter of time before AI can discern a good wine from a bad one. Or a good story from a bad one. Give it control over the story, and it might improve it. I think another crucial thing to program is hunger. The insaturable need to take up information. To learn. The program should have limits, which force it to create. Digest, get stuff out. And it should be able to grow, but with a limited speed. Those are probably the hardest things to program, yet they have been attained with bacteria. Peristalsis, perhaps? I’m not an expert. Finally, to increase its status as a creator, the AI should have a drive to be acknowledged. If nowadays you can measure much of your societal recognition by the amount of views and likes of your webpage, then a ‘like = good – no like = bad’ algorithm should do the trick. Of course, you could further improve it with video information of people reading the words. Add up the factors and computers could become better at creating art, marketing themselves and being loved than humans ever have been.


In the series of new names for unspoken emotions, I´d like to discuss breathshake. Breathshake is what it sounds like, a deep shaking of the breath that interferes with the actual breathing. It comes together with a pulsating fear of the loss of life, possibly that fundamental one. In fact, I´d challenge you with the thought that breathshake is a pulsating appearance of life out of a state where it is not. Appearance of emotion too. It´s probably the most terrifying fast emotion I know.

The obvious pathway to the experience of breathshake is running out of air. You can do this by not stopping with breathing out, going very deep into the water or doing sports while breathing far below your natural rhythm. The first option is probably safest. In these cases, my diaphragm starts contracting and I have the sensation of being cut off. The thought “this situation is eternal” forces itself upon me. You could call it fear of death, but I think it is a fear of never getting access to life anymore. While silence is present, a feverish tingly cloud dwells up in my upper body. I feel sweat emerge from several spots. I sense that the feeling could subdue me from the back of my neck and shut off my awareness. It never has.

Lighter forms of breathshake can occur without that I run out of air. An interesting thing that can trigger this for me is the tought of not receiving attention from a person I love. It can also happen in conversations where I feel incapable of standing up for myself the way I think I deserve. It is as if the conversation partner suppresses my self-perceived value and does not recognize my true character, or whatever it is inside me that needs to be appreciated at that moment. The parallel with being cut off from oxygen is interesting, as if human attention also is a substance we need.

The pulsating character of breathshake delivers a remarkable alteration of states of mind which reveals parts of myself to me. Fuelled with panic, short, shallow gulps of breath try to resolve the feeling of sinking away into a swamp. That experience alternates a state of tranquility and acceptance, as if the end is already there. This tranquility eventually takes over and allows my breath to deepen again. All of it happens quite quickly.

Breathshake relativizes my concerns. It can release some tensions, but it also makes me aware of my incapacity to be fully in control of myself. I am aware again that somewhere deep inside me lingers a deep desire for taking part that can become stronger than myself. The thought is humbling, but slightly discomforting too.


So two days just passed in which I was once again lost on big and smaller roads in France, carried along by well willing locals with their innate stories and perspectives, while I tried to shake off the worries and concerns of my little life in the Netherlands, meeting them all the more in their contrast with the nature and freedom I viewed from a very close distance.

It’s remarkable how differently time passes by when one hops from spot to spot. Is it a mind-set thing? With only three hours on the road, how many sites have passed by today that would totally be worth further examination? Have fragments of myself perhaps remained behind, still hovering around to perceive the local beauty? Have pieces of my soul remained in conversation with the beautiful people I’ve met along the way? Is there a realm somewhere, where what has happened is still taking place? Is that why all those lifetimes have passed since I left Barcelona? In this state, stronger than in others, the feeling seems so real…

In the same way in which this lifestyle is exhausting, it is extremely energizing. Massive amounts of inspiration get sucked through my existence like water through narrowing river banks. It is impossible to guide it all into shapes, yet I experience things vividly, and am right here to digest it all at once. I feel the space and the strength to accomplish anything I want, but the need to do little more than flow. But more than last time I travelled, I am carrying a burden. It is here with me, in between all beautiful voices. To survive in a Metropolitan world, you need to push things at the cost of others.

Was it a mistake to surrender to the city life? Or was the mistake,  that I chose to grow up? That I did not arrest time before my twenty-fifth? That I did not manage to place myself outside of the big bad wild West? Did not find the loophole?

Sacred Democracy

It’s interesting to see that most people defend democracy while they know quite well that the winning parties are the ones with most of the money and the strongest organizational capital. Most citizens today are aware that these parties are indoctrinating them with their repetitive presence through posters and slogans, yet we still vote for them.

Democracy was the elite answer to the French Revolution. It was introduced to keep the angry mob satisfied with the illusion that they were in control. At the time, the new regime proved their own dishonesty by their increasing suppressive character, releasing the public anger once again a few decades later. Things have calmed down since then, but does that justify our obsessive idealization of the democratic system?

Surely, the destiny of our species has long been bigger than the individuals who courageously put themselves in centre of the battle fields, hasn’t it? Then what is it we believe to attain when we collectively put our cross on the piece of paper that was given to us by the people whose names are written on it?

In a recent text, subconscious stakes, I tried to show the importance of deepening our self-knowledge in decision-making processes. Politicians, in their public debate, exercise the opposite. Their stake is their party, but if you take an entire political program, it’s unlikely that all members fully agree with it. Regardless of inner disagreements, they’re trained to defend it. They have to stand for a static cloud of ideas, while, particularly in these versatile times, change of personal preference is only natural. There has to be subconscious friction which troubles decision makers’ views.

I think my point here is that the movements of the tides are not in our command. To be honest, I believe that the big political fields can be steered only by those who deeply choose for the new direction. And they will have their impact whether they are part of the theater or not. If we want to feel in control, we should do our best to stay close to our dearest motivations and use whatever talent we have to push in that direction. Not just our vote. That part wasn’t even credible in the eighteenth century.

Sailing on Dreams – July 2013

Once in a while, I define sailing on dreams. This time, I’ll be a little more concrete.

I’m an everythist. I believe that everything which can be thought exists, even if it is not always present physically.

Put differently: I do not believe in the separation between the matter and the mind. Objects are thoughts, thoughts are objects. They are wavelengths in a spectrum. Humans generally perceive them as entirely different phenomena because of the way our minds are tuned. But there are states of mind in which they do not seem so different after all. In dreams, for example, or in meditations. Have you ever feared something that was not real?

Sailing on dreams is the lifestyle of the everythist. It is travelling – physically, mentally – over an ocean of possibilities, without getting stuck in a single set of them. That is not to say there is no settling. The imagination moves, once in a while followed by a deed.

It is a calling. An ongoing need for the motion of the waves. It is a purpose and a destination. An engraved incapability to sit still. Meddling with the storms of creative obsession or with the playful breeze of a wink. Tapping little wrinkles on an ever-changing face of the unpiercable depths.

Is this fantasy or is it real? That question wanes on the shore.


We curse the spies. N.S.A: the evil-doers. But we have ourselves to blame.

If you were given the choice, would you rather be safe or be free? Security, the absence of fear. Edward Snowden wants mankind to be free, and chooses life in exile. And fame.

Obama’s response: the US spy agency has prevented over thirty terrorist attacks in Germany alone, just by overhearing our phone calls, and reading our e-mails. We should be grateful.

I have personally never feared terrorist attacks, even now that I live in the capital of The Netherlands (who joined the wars in the Middle East). They are too helter skelter to fear, really. And their scale is too small. Almost like natural disasters; hitting merely when they hit. But we humans would like to control everything. If, of the six billion people around, one wants to wreak havoc, is that a valid reason to spy on all? And what if there are a thousand criminals? How many people’s privacy have the same value as another person’s life? What if it’s your life?

There are many sides to this issue. Say it works. Say you can truly prevent terrorist events in this way, does that resolve the problems that motivate these people to attacks? How about this one: if government agencies can see us pick our noses while holding our genitals, then who else can? Or this: where will this stop? Are we heading to Orwell’s ’84? Will we have to justify every dialogue one day? To whom?

Once again, the human nature has been tempted, and once again, it has fallen into the trap of curiosity. Instead of addressing important questions in a timely debate about cyber ethics, most media and the mob blame the bad guys for doing what they do. What many people fail to see, is that the access to our privacy is a vital property of the global network we are building.

It is the purpose of telecommunication to provide access. Using this medium means being heard on a larger scale. We are bringing our self-image to the surface for all others to admire, but when indeed we are seen, we start to scream. Whether it is the government who hears you, or your parents, or a group of obscure individuals who are up to no good, you are the one who gives them this chance. Internet without spies is like friendship without conflict.

We are entering a time in which transparency has a different meaning than it had before. Instead of moaning, be aware of it next time you plug your soul in.