Monday, January 28, 2008

Ben Okri

from Mental Fight by Ben Okri one of the best African writers.

An illusion by which we can become
more real.
A moment unremarked by the universe,
By nature, the seasons, or stars.
Moment we have marked out
In timelessness.
Human moment.
Making a ritual, a drama, a tear
or eternity.
Domesticating the infinite.
Contemplating the quantum questions,
Time, death, new beginnings,
Regeneration, cycles, the unknown.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The river I sailed?

The river I sailed?

A foolish whim in my dark youth.
Splashing improvisation, girlishly
soft, of fresh feeling: hormones
vacillating through the luscious green
allowed to seam the crater of a soul.
Dragonflies suspended over still water.
Heartbeats under a postponed
first kiss.
Streams came from elsewhere—
dreams along the road I would never
Sometimes she would
like a self-assured woman
burst out of her banks – my much too much
love for Him. Now I play around with her,
changing gender as a towel
in the morn.
I don’t know who I am.
A wild maelstrom? Then again the
desolate rivulet
where the air bubble wants to mix
with ink.
This is my creed. A word
I gave to the most beautiful other.

Translation of a Dutch poem by Bart Stouten whose work touches my heart.

This one is for you Stargazer.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yesterday was a day full of culture. It included an introduction to reading images in the museum and a lighthearted, fun, classical New Year's concert. I'll share what I learned: what one sees in a painting very often has, deeper meaning. A farm scene in a 17th century painting is a lesson in philosophy and life. A shove of grain represents Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, who also was responsible for giving the law and rules and keeping people from bad ways. Pigs in a painting, imagine it in a portrait for instance, speak about sinfulness, the lack of cleanliness, also metaphorically. A rooster, who because of Peter and Jesus stands for betrayal, and a chicken are both symbols for indecency and a lack of chastity. I am snickering about a very proper friend who has roosters on everything in her kitchen and living room... An old woman holding a candle was always read as wisdom, and lost youth. Her message is to enjoy love when one can, without sowing too many wild oats. That message is mostly conveyed by knotted willows. So a simple painting of rural life hides and shows a book full of thoughts, a choice between sins and vices and doing the right thing. So an image becomes rhetoric without words.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Two faraway friends died just a few days apart. Aggie was a painter and worked in glass in lead as well. She was a good crafter. She was worn out and blind and so all is right. Bob was a sculptor and will add no more whimsical abstracts to the desert. It is sad but acceptable. A year ago I had just send out a translation about the case of Hrant Dink, Armenian writer working for freedom of speech. A young Turkish nationalist murdered him ruthlessly in front of the Agos office, the newspaper he ran and wrote for. That is not acceptable. If people take their own life, I can understand that, if there is an accident, if they are sick or just have reached the end of the line that seems in the norml line of events. And although Abel got killed by Cain, I can't see murder as a normal way of resolving conflicts. Hrant Dink should still be alive and writing, he should still be laughing with his family and friends from all over the world. He, just as my friends, is not forgotten.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


It is one of those days I would rather stay inside and not be bothered by the world. Such luxury is alas not permitted since two prisoners claim my attention. Ingrid Betancourt who has been a captive of the FARC for 7 years. The picture shown of her, is heart wrenching: she looks worn out, too tired to speak. I once met her mother and daughter campaigning for her release. Her crime was being a high profile presidential candidate so the FARC snatched her away from her life as she had exchange value for FARC prisoners. She should be freed now.

The other prisoner who makes me write today is a leading Iranian journalist and human rights defender Emadeddin Baqi who suffered a heart attack in prison on December the 26, leaving International Pen with serious health concerns. Baqi, who wrote The tragedy of democracy in Iran is detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and should be released immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a signatory. Having the luxury to go out and to write what is on my mind creates a solidarity with those who cannot, being punished for who they are and for doing what I take for granted: exercising their right to free speech. at this e-mail address you can appeal for his release. WIPC Flanders is also working for him.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Less stuff

The frantic spending of some makes me wonder whether the relentless buying of shoes and garments or electronic gadgets has to do with unfulfilled needs, with replacing material possessions for unfulfilled non material needs. Those needs could be time, friendship, caring and sharing to name just a few. A peace buddy of mine lives outside of our 24/7 consuming society. He has a carbon footprint of a toddler, recycles, protects trees and peoples. He is a good and brave example because our society has shifted from a capitalist society with a utilitarian work ethic to a cynical consumer society who's overconsumption drives climate change and fuels the war economy. Thus beauty is replaced by kitsch and junk, space becomes stuffed, news flashes and reality soaps replace theater and poetry. So I think we should have less, but better things, not things that have inbuilt obsolescence and need to be replaced every so often. I strive for the durability that one finds in friendship, the sparse beauty of an Arizona desert, the appreciation of everything, remembering water during a drought in that desert or during a long bad freeze...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Redemptionblue's tag

Chameleon tagged me (see under tagged what the original is). She started a meme, about attitudes which should change. Rape, religion, abortion, the ongoing oppression of 'lower classes' are just a few of the subjects she tackles. Power and the arrogance of feeling that one can use any means to gratify one's lust for power, seem to me the basic problems. Rape: in war raping women is a war crime, a crime against humanity. It happens all the time in most conflict zones like in Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo, Liberia, ... These acts stem from the lack of respect for women's lives thus taking away our self determination. A man getting a woman drunk to 'have his way' with her, a husband beating and/or psychologically breaking his partner, a soldier high on personal power to kill, they all feel privileged to decide for the other person, if they acknowledge their individual existence at all. The same happens in religion where the higher power decides for us what is right or wrong. So my preferred action would be to resist all attempts to diminish us, to objectify us. The existing order is not god given, so be l'homme revolté, la femme revoltée in the sense of Albert Camus and decide that life is worthwhile without punishment or reward in a non existent hereafter. Don't let old patriarchal laws intimidate you, change them. So this post is for the doctors and women in Spain who are once again persecuted for having performed so called 'illegal' abortions, which would be legal in most European countries, it is also for the defense of Roe versus Wade.
And with all the aggravation, don't forget to read poetry, see a good movie, enjoy art and blogging as an art form and your friends. Hugs to all.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchel

Over 525 pages. Usually I don’t even buy such a book: too heavy in one's purse, in a hectic life too difficult to keep on reading till the end. But this book got me intrigued, so it began its long voyage in my purse and head. A.S Byatt is one of my favorite authors writes that Cloud Atlas takes you on a roller coaster of overlapping lives and that you won’t want to get off. Mitchel dazzles with his composition, with his linguistic prowess; at times a bit too much of a show off with all too obvious references. Of course I like the ones about writing and about this novel best. Six stories, the eternal return of the same (Nietzsche) and reincarnation in a postapocaliptic world. 4 of the 6 interlinked stories are set in Hawai’i, with themes as the choice between good and evil, escaping the dharma wheel. One of the characters is a composer who composes a sextet for overlapping soloists, which is an apt description for the novel itself. Mitchel pulls it off, not always with reading pleasure. He manages, however, to tie all the loose ends together in a natural way. I must admit that I got annoyed at certain passages, but it was worth while to stay on the roller coaster ride. His references to today’s world are manifold, not only in the language of one of the stories where brand names have become the general word: starbucks, ford, sony, coltfire, kodac, Exxon tank… but also in ‘leaking a report to the Union of Concerned Scientists'… (good organization by the way!) and references to Buddhism.
.Prejudice is permafrost.
.I wondered which ‘I’ he became when he dreamed.
.I asked was Siddhartha a sort of god? ‘A sort of god is an apt description, the Abbess told me. Siddhartha doesn’t bolster our luck, inflict punishment, change the weather or protect us from the pain of life. He did teach about the overcoming of pain, however, and how to earn a higher reincarnation in future lifetimes.
.If consumers are satisfied with their lives at any meaningful level, plutocracy is finished.
. Our sex was joyless, graceless and necessarily improvised; but it was an at of the living.
. Power, time, gravity, love. The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.
. Louisa has never even driven through this district and feels unsettled by the unknowability of cities.

Final judgment on Cloud Atlas is up to you: In his own words: Revolutionary or gimmicky.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The funeral

The church was pretty and cold. Pretty because of the definite byzantine influences in the mosaics and general lay out and iconography. Cold because of the frost and windy sleet outside. The old lady was given a grand and warm adieu. Beautiful classical music, 4 singers from the choir where the granddaughter sings and text more worldly than religious chosen by her caring daughter. The beauty of it all was moving.
Interestingly in the Dutch translation the word charity in the English version is 'love', so I am changing the official translation to show you how worldly love of an old, frail mother can be.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
and have no love,
I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy,
and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge;
and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
and have no love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
and though I give my body to be burned,
and have no love, it profiteth me nothing.
Love suffereth long, and is kind;
love envieth not;
love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly,
seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never ends.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Everybody: a happy New Year, whether it means finding the right guy, J., being cantankerous, or just staying alive and enjoying it, I wish for all of you a view of fireworks and sharing it. Thinking of all the possible futures, I hope the path chosen will lead to happiness, a full, warm life, and the reality of dream surpassing the dream in the good way. Whether you made resolutions or
not, may your life be grand: I wish for you all 'Maz grandezza'.