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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The last days in London were filled with the Notting Hill Carnival, a lively colorful street parade full of Caribbean music and sound systems, mixing anything from soul to drum and bass into their own festive music. And food everywhere, of course. Half London was on the streets, we felt, it was that busy. But these kind of festivals help integration, I am sure. I would be proud being from Caribbean origins, watching the parade and all the effort groups put into it. And pride, I feel, is one of the positive trade-offs we should let people have during their integration in society. So simple, but we don't seem te be able to give some of it to our own minorities.

Monday night we visited the Old Vic theatre, the one reopened by Kevin Spacey, the actor. ( The fashion these days in London is to make plays on the basis of movies. Strange, it used to be the other way around. Have to think about the implications: nostalgia, of course, but there must be more to it; The Sound of Music, Footloose, Mary Poppins, etc. We went for All About My Mother, an adaptation from the movie by Pedro Almodovar, from 1999. Great play, with among the actors Diana Rigg, whose name most older TV fans will know (she once was Emma Peel in the Avengers!)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Library Ultimatum

Another confirmation, always a high point of the day. Was reading a book on the sixties revolution, in which the writer, to his own surprise, found many similarities between the end of the sixties and the beginning of the nineties, when he was writing his book. Exactly my point, and always good to find a quote by someone else that supports my line of thinking. Was the last day in the British Library though/shame, liked it there. Today Marcel and I had a quiet day in the back garden and afterwards walked through Soho. Hot.
In the end we decided to go see The Bourne Ultimatum in a climate controlled theater. Good action movie, moving along like a roller coaster. And a lot of links with the current time frame. Bourne is searching for his identity, his true being he wants to restore, since it was once, years ago, stolen from him by the CIA. It was his 'winter' attitude of righteousness and putting things right, living up to his personal morals (again), against the nihilistic 'autumn' attitude of the powers that be. Interesting movie to discuss. Should be too. How do Londoners manage life? We payed more than 50 euro to watch the movie together.. Good seats though.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

children of the moral revolution..?

While we were basically out shopping and briefly visiting London's Tate Modern for an excuse (good cappuchino on the 7th floor), Holland is busy embracing what in my book is a winter period. Morals, morals morals. The newest discussion is about the raising of children: we should be more stern and even raising a hand shouldn't be a problem.. The nineties suddenly seem far away, now:
NRC is having an interactive discussion about it at the moment:

Kinderen moeten weer strenger worden opgevoed, vinden Nederlandse ouders. Want ze zijn vaak brutaal, verwend en ze gedragen zich asociaal. Ook een corrigerende tik “moet kunnen”, blijkt uit een onderzoek onder 615 ouders door het ‘vaktijdschrift voor ouders’ J/M.

Driekwart van de ondervraagden stoort zich aan het gedrag van andermans kinderen, maar 82 procent is wel tevreden over de manier waarop ze hun eigen kinderen hebben opgevoed. Rust, reinheid en een corrigerende tik zijn daarbij de beste middelen om kinderen groot te brengen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Soothing mornings

Strange start of the day, when I saw the fast train to Euston leaving before my eyes, had to take the tube, and took a wrong change at Baker Street, only arriving at the library at eleven-fifteen. Which didn’t matter, anyway, because about ten security men were just busy evacuating the building when I wanted to enter. I took my refuge in the coffeeshop on the premises, but after two minutes that also was cleared out (luckily I had already ordered my cappuchino). What’s one to do in such a situation? Keep calm, I guess, like always (I remember myself keeping calm when our restaurant was robbed in Rome by two guys with guns and we had to hand over our wallets; in true Dutch style I put 50 euro on the table, more than enough for a simple robbery, I decided, not wanting to give up on the 300 euro I had just cashed). Sipping my cappuchino behind the gates I thought about the changes I wanted to make to the first chapters of my book. Still, it feels strange sitting in the reading room, later, with no explanation being offered. Fire? Bomb-scare? An hour later the situation is explained after all: it was just a rehearsal. But this is London, 2007. Yesterday, my train station was also closed long enough for me to take a bus back home. No mentioning of that in the papers, today, so I guess Euston Road is just very busy rehearsing, these days.. Soothing, ain't it?

Monday, August 20, 2007


Small London observations. Walking down the street and looking at the back of a woman walking before me, with her husband. Both look like 65 or something. But the hair of that poor woman! It's painted bright red, but it looks like straw. Very thin straw. What has she done to make it look this thin? She must have tortured it to death for years and years. I even see a tiny bald spot shining through. And I have time enough to look at it, since they use the whole pavement. Poor soul, trying to look beautiful and ending up like this. Finally I pass them and can't keep myself from looking at her face. Ah, only in England. It's a transvestite. I don't know why this is a relieve. Her hair remains thin, but now I see it's the best she can get anyway. They look very satisfied together, walking arm in arm.
Less satisfied are the protesters outside of Harrod's. They carry signs against the fur coats Harrod's sells (the nice picture I took I can't show, because in a strange spasm I seemed to be able to delete it while trying to copy it..) Strange how the fur-subject has been carefully pushed under the carpet in Holland. During the eighties it was the easy cause for everyone needing to add some goodness to his character. Easy, to have the same opinion as everyone else and still feel opiniated! How different it is today.. But I feel with the loud protesters, so I skip Harrod's and walk on to a second hand bookstore. Another four books about popular culture. Tomorrow Marcel is arriving.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

history as fantasy

Spent half a day at the library yesterday, contemplating the thought that different groups fight for the 'correct' interpretation of history. Like some Christian groups have their own interpretation of evolution, historians struggle with different views on more recent history. If we say that at the moment the fifties are once again our frame of reference, what part of that decade do we mean?

Fifties, part 1..?

In Holland we now discuss the fifties as a decade of clear values and a society in peace with itself. I already wrote that in doing so we tend to selectively forget the cold war, the loss of Indonesia and the fear of economic downturn that brought, as well as the migration towards the bigger cities, not to mention the youth movements like 'nozem' and existentialism and the hard treatment of some groups (castration of gays wasn't unheard of).

Conservative parties always seem to be able to get the strongest grip on 'our' history. The book I read mentioned the American situation, where presidents like Reagan monopolized the American history to their advantage. The only one able to break through this conservative historic hegemony was Bill Clinton.

Fifties, part 2..?

They analyzed his use of the Kennedy legacy and his very public running campaign theme 'Elvis', playing out Clinton's love for the 'fifties' Elvis, 'because that was a time of hope and optimism, full of energy and pride'. A slight bend of history: not clear values and strict living standards, but optimism and the feeling that everything is possible. Same fifties, totally different implication. And Bush Senior just couldn't answer to this new 'history': his 'fifties' views suddenly were old-fashioned and irrelevant. To which Clinton played his trump card: he started calling his contender Ol'Bush. Granddaddy Bush lost..

Friday, August 17, 2007

turn on and tune in

Have been wondering since yesterday why they never made a movie out of the life story of Timothy Leary. Born into a catholic family 1920, he dropped out of catholic university (being too obstinate), joining a military academy only to be be punished with 9 months silent treatment (he was not even allowed to speak himself) for smuggling liquor, but in the end he majored in psychology. First I heard of him was Leary's 'rose' (, a very useful methodology to understand interpersonal communication. His first wife (out of 5) committed suicide, Leary got into consciousness altering drugs (mostly LSD) which he used successfully on schizophrenics. For Leary LSD was “one of the best and healthiest tools available for the examination of the consciousness”.
But his subject was controversial, the man was stubborn and Harvard University fired him. After living in a commune for a few years he got arrested in a set-up by the Mexican border in 1965 for carrying two joints and was sentenced to 10 years and a fine in 1969.. He escaped in 1970, probably (without him knowing) with help from a terrorist group called the Weathermen. But before he went to prison he was the one calling out to the world 'turn on, tune in, drop out', propagating LSD as a tool to better yourself and the world and living in a tepee (indian tent), playing guru to all hippies. After his escape from prison he traveled through Europe and Algeria, before being caught and serving three years of his sentence. In the Eighties he even darted into stand-up comedy, cyberspace, with interactive personality tests and the colonizing of real space. And in between joining the Hollywood stars in their jet-set parties. His daughter killed herself after being accused of shooting her boyfriend. Quite a life. He died from prostate cancer in 1996 and his ashes, to compliment the storyline, were sent into space.

Today I tuned in to London and walked around Notting Hill, dropped out of work for a day. And got turned on by the athmosphere. Dived into the pool, joining Out To Swim for practice, about time..

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The library door opens

Today it all worked out extremely well. I found the right entrance to the subway where the ticket machine was broke and I ended up with buying an Oyster card I not completely understand yet, but which turned out to be cheaper anyway. I jumped into what I thought was the Bakerloo line, bringing me to Bakerstreet (remember, Garry Rafferty?) where I would switch to the Circle line to get to Euston, where the British Library should be.

Only, after 4 stops I recognized from yesterday, the train took a turn and after some time suddenly announced it had arrived at.. Euston. Huh? Turns out I took a wrong train that turned out to be the best and fastest train.. That's how refusing to fetch your booklet with street and subway plan can actually be a surprisingly effective travel system.

The British library is very British. Full of checks and rituals you have to go through before you can join the 'old boys network of knowledge'. You pass a bag check, have to have a card to enter a reading room, and that card is only handed to you after a personal interview with a employee, asking why you want to enter their domain. You have to leave your coat, phone and pens in a locker, and can only bring your laptop, a notebook and a pencil. And to top it all, there is the aggressive looking woman at the entrance of your reading room of choice. Every time I walked out again, she wanted to look in my laptop. Yes, there might be some unique map from the 2nd century hidden in there. I must say it adds to the excitement. I really feel I was let into the secret heart of English knowledge, today. Will go there again tomorrow. Outside the rain keeps falling anyway:'English Summer rain, seems to last for ages' (great song by Placebo)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

delayed and restrained

A rainy day in London town. But I made it to the exchange apartment in north west London, which is nice enough with art hanging at all walls and a cosy . Sat waiting for a long time at Schiphol airport, looking at people. Makes one wonder about western cultural values. Next to me sat the average disconnected teenager, eating cookies. His father sat down on the other side, and tried to connect for a few seconds, but he was disturbed by his wife, walking straight at him out of one of the shops , restraining her voice while spitting out: "ben je soms niet geïnteresseerd..., SCHAT" (is it that you're just not interested..., HONEY), where the dutch 'schat' was pronounced in a manner that must have cut through him like sharp scissors through paper. The poor man jumped up like a puppet and dutifully followed her on the next shopping spree, his son not even looking up. Most of the other kids walking past with their parents were sulky and mostly fat, so it must be true that weight problems are growing around the world. Me, I think the disinterest is the biggest problem, I only saw one small kid looking around her in amazement, taking it all in with big, wondering eyes, the rest just took everything for granted, stuffing themselves with food or things.
And then there was one muslim walking by, beard and dress and all. For a split second I could see the attraction in it: of all people I saw during that hour of waiting, he was the one walking proud, straight and purposeful. Without the half-interested wandering eye, looking for another thrill or just a distraction from boredom, that all the others carried. And I'm not exaggerating that much, I fear. If we can't restrain ourselves, let's at least enjoy it.. Pride is a winter thing, people.
Life's good. Will enjoy London.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hare Hare

Life is a circle, just like my theory.. Pack, Unpack, repack, etc. Having emptied a lot of the attic where I stuffed my personal belongings the last few months, today I repacked most of it, since I am exchanging my home for two weeks with Katy from London starting Tuesday. In between I watched the Hare Krishna procession moving through the street. Immediately I started wondering if their movement is growing in this closed timeframe. But I guess the relationship is not very straightforward. In the seventies, Hare Krishna was growing, and that was a very open timeframe ('summer' in my theory). Mostly cults like HK thrive on young people who cannot keep up with the times and need some anchor point, closing them off from liberties around them. But Elsevier this week is writing about young people raised catholic or calvinistic, and now converting into Islam to find new peace with themselves and the world. So I guess cults and religion has roots in any timeframe: escape from freedom in summer, or the feeling of belonging in winter. Or would it be cults in summer (escape in a small group closing themselves from society) and broad religion in winter (join a large 'family' while still participating in society)?
Questions, questions. Who knows, I might find an answer in London, meditating on the tube.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

(No more) heroes 1977/2007

Sometimes you have a good day and things just fit. Discussing 'winter' timeframes for instance and how there seems to be a need for one dimensional heroes and myths. The Good standing for All that is right. And then, one day later, you are in a tram on your way to the library and you pass Dam square and there it is: a huge sign on the museum in the "Nieuwe Kerk", advertising its exhibition on... HEROES!
As someone from the museum said in the paper: "we've tried to celebrate some Dutch heroes already in 1977, but then there was no interest in Michiel de Ruyter, for instance.. This year, we already got more attention than we could ever suspect!"
Yes, 1977.. The year summer changed to autumn in my theory and people more and more withdrew from the public arena, looking out for themselves and no one else. Heroes in 1977?? Yes, David Bowie sang my favorite song of all times then, with the same title. But that wasn't really about heroes to look up to, but the hero within (we could be heroes, just for one day..). And the song started with the most applicable word for the seventies, twice: 'I, I would be king..'
No, summer is no time for heroes and an exhibition on them. Antiheroes, yes, but summer is much to diffuse and multidimensional to celebrate just one style.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

hardnekkige herfsthaat

Geïrriteerd. Zit net journaal te kijken, gaat het weer over die haatzaaier. Iedereen weet dat wat hij zegt onzin is, iedereen weet dat hij alleen maar aandacht wil en zelf ook wel weet dat het idioot is wat hij beweert, iedereen zegt ook steeds dat hij het alleen maar zegt om aandacht te krijgen. En vervolgens zet mijn krant het op de voorpagina, gaan ze er toch weer over praten op de radio en televisie en domineert het de maatschappelijke agenda. Want wat doet Nederland: ‘tsja, wat ie zegt is natuurlijk onzin, maar...’ en dan hebben we het wéér over de negatieve aspecten van een geloof. Heeft die haatzaaier toch weer zijn zin. Anke vroeg me of ik soms dingen tegen kwam die niet strookten met mijn theorie. We zitten nu in de winterperiode. En dat betekent terugkijken, hernieuwde, opgeknapte ankers slaan, de gemeenschappelijke uitgangspunten vinden voor de maatschappij waarop we weer door kunnen. Zeg maar de canon van onze cultuur herijken. Deze haatzaaier is een erfenis van de voorgaande herfst: polarisatie, ruzie schoppen, ongefundeerde uitspraken zonder enige nuance, onder het motto ‘ik heb ook recht op mijn mening’. Dus die haatzaaier klopt eigenlijk al niet meer met de tijdgeest. Die moet afzwakken, liefst verdwijnen. Ik hoop maar dat mijn theorie op dit punt niet helemaal klopt en dat we een uitzondering hebben: een herfstrelikwie dat wat langer volhoudt dan de theorie voorspelt. Want het alternatief is veel erger: dat die haatzaaier gewoon tot onze canon blijkt te behoren en dat we er de komende twintig jaar aan vast zitten. Dat we ons ijken op angst voor andere geloven en blijvend de deur dichthouden, in plaats van ook met andersdenkenden in contact te blijven. Over winterse normen en waarden gesproken: het negeren van achterhaalde, stinkende herfstwinden is wel zo beleefd.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Left lost in winter?

Long interview with Femke Halsema in the Vrij Nederland this week. She makes a distinction between the good part of the seventies legacy: the emancipation of women, of gays, of minorities in general. Nowadays it’s fashion to blame individualism (and seventies multi-culturalism) for the big problems in our time, like criminality and anti-social behavior. She objects to that, claiming hedonism might be a better scapegoat. The individualism of the seventies was rooted in social engagement. Only in the eighties and nineties it turned from egocentric (who am I in this society) to egoistic (what do I get out of society?).

Even more interesting, she now notes the failure of parties to the left to adjust to closed timeframes (my autumn and winter periods). Left just went anti in the closed eighties: anti-nuclear, anti-racism, anti-everything. She has a point there: I notice that parties left of center have difficulty adjusting to closed timeframes, where people turn more value-oriented and conservative in their mind (“please, no more changes!”). Conservative does not necessarily mean right-wing. The swing towards environmental concerns (Al Gore!) can also be seen from a closed viewpoint: searching for clear roots. But most parties to the left keep their image of ‘anti-‘ or ‘need for change’. Especially Halsema’s Groen Links (Green Left) is portrayed as the sour cherry in politics, always wanting us to give up on something instead of getting more out of life.

The only party to the left that has found a solution to turn the winter timeframe into their advantage is the Socialist Party, which radiates strong leadership and, through statements like ‘what’s good for the hive, is good for the bee’, SP strives for egalitarianism (we are or should be the same). A statement Halsema would like to reverse: ‘what’s good for the bee, is good for the hive’. GL, therefore, strives for freedom. Must say I sympathize with her new liberal-left manifest: individuality and solidarity do not exclude each other. These days, however, she should stress the solidarity bit just a little bit more (and, how clever it may sound, she should not reverse other peoples’ statements: make some resounding shareable ones yourself. What are the positive things our society shares through Green politics while it’s winter, Femke? Or will you just wait for spring, just like Sophie In ‘t Veld of the liberal democrats..?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

tuesday august 7

Just got back from a very interesting meeting with Hanny Kusters, discussing her visions of the future of the creation circle/spiral and my ideas. We both feel there is just that little spark needeed to give Marinus Knoope's ideal the broad attention it deserves for all its practical implications and simple way to help people forward. So many possibilities to consider.. The only thing we know is we want to do something together. Read about the creation spiral on I am tired, with a full brain after a whole day in the library and an evening of discussion and thinking about the future. Night.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hold on Sophie, Sophie hold on..

Two interesting interviews that connect to my theory, the last few days. Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch member in the European parliament for the liberal-democrats (D’66) is worried about the global conservative wave she’s observing. ‘These conservative waves are not classical left or right’, she says. ‘In the current climate of fear, people cling to what they’ve got. The call for strong leadership roots in this need, because it defends the status quo. And politicians play up to the fear factor everywhere, I see the arrogance of power growing.’ She's fighting to secure the gay rights, euthanasia and abortion rights that some politicians and especially the Vatican are trying to give a swing back to the past.

Even Balkenende, she mentions, brings us back to the fifties. She’s not really correct there, as my theory predicts (and I’ve written in this log not long ago: the fifties were much more turbulent than they are recalled nowadays). Balkenende can bring us back to the beginning of the sixties, when there was the same time frame as we’re in now: a winter period with lots of people discussing values and morality. And Sophie knows what comes behind the winter. She calls it ‘the new sixties she’s waiting for’. What she means is the second half of that decade, and that’s spring in my book. D’66 is not my party, but I admire her honesty in the interviews I’ve read. Perhaps I should mail her and ease her worries a little. We’re in a winter timeframe for about three years now. Give it another three years and spring will be all around us! Spring is a season that fits D’66 well. So, hold on Sophie.
Tomorrow more about the other article, an interview with Femke Halsema from the Green Party.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

amsterdam pride

Lots of attention for gays and especially violence against gays in Amsterdam the last few days. A good sign for tolerance, I must say. Society at large is giving gay rights a place in the canon of important values to anchor in this winter-period in my book, of defining our common morals. Went to Amsterdam Pride and got the invitation to join Bart on his new boat in the Prinsengracht, from where we watched the channel parade drift by. Glass in one hand, cheering now and then (for the Aids fund, my swimming club and the many boats referring to anti-gay violence here and the need for tolerance in Eastern Europe and Turkey), laughing a lot and talking in between. Good fun. Must say I miss the spontanity of the event I remembered from the nineties, the sheer exuberance of those days. This year, the name change from Gay Pride to Amsterdam Pride showed itself in the many boats without any (gay) theme, except the showing off of exhibitionists from any type of sexual predisposition, proudly showing off their big boat and shaking their beer bellies to the rhythm or just standing there, drinking and looking at us. Straight pride indeed.

One woman-exhibitionist with what seemed like a personality disorder caught our eye: ex-minister Verdonk sat, fanatically waving, in a boat, all dressed in innocent white. Luckily one of the kids on our boat had a water hose and we managed to get her just a little wet. No, that was not childish, it was an act of political sentiment, her trying to benefit from the air of tolerance while she must have been one of the most intolerant ministers we ever had.
After that fun, we manoeuvred through the channels for a few hours. Great day.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Dutch sixties

Running around. Picking up a new printer, the same one I had in Vancouver. Great laser printer. And visited my brother, because he still had the power plug for my old computer, the one that got all the viruses in Vancouver. But after 5 months, my virus protection found them, all 13 of them, I must say.. Hope they're gone now. And got my internet connection working on this old machine. Also good news. Let's hope for the best.
In between I did some reading on the years Amsterdam founded its fame as youth magnet: 1968-1970. The more I read, the more I think Holland is such a good example of my theory, because we are such a small, feminine oriented country (read sociologist Hofstede or consult Marieke de Mooij about his great theory of cultural differences). The feminine character makes us stress commonality and tolerance, so we are able to really enjoy the changes in timeframes sooner than more restricted, masculine countries, where governments or religious groups can exert more pressure and keep a lid on change. The Amsterdam government learned to listen to youth groups at the endof the sixties, and opened two youth centers in 1968 that gained international fame: Paradiso (popmusic and happenings and The Kosmos (meditation and yoga, etc..). Interesting thought. But still, I see a lot of parallel timeframes at least throughout the western cultures.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

unsafe surfing and moral majorities

The weekend WAS special. Paris, it turned out to be. We had an apartment in the center of the city, joining two close friends, José and Thea, who surprised me in the Thalyss. Great fun, great food. That's the kind of birthday gift I like. Four days of fun beats any book or CD..
And now it's back to work, at the library all day. I read about revolutionary and funny Kabouters and Provo-movements, in the sixties. And, surprisingly, about a movement I had never heard of before: the Morale Herbewapening (Moral Re-armoury?). They placed large advertisements in Dutch Newspapers in 1962 and 1963, to warn about the decline of morals and values in Dutch society. That's interesting, because it was a 'winter' timeframe in those years, and we're in a winter period again, the last few years. Another parallel between two timeframes: we are discussing morals and values heavily these days, Wouter Bos for instance, leader of the labour party here stressing that his party will move back into moralizing, something they had sworn off ten years ago.

Anke suggested I should start on a newspaper article to comment on things happening in Holland right now. May be I will. But will have to work on explaining my whole theory in ten sentences..
Will quit now, my internet connection is very bad. Since I got home I lost the program connecting my computer with my landline. Don't ask me why and how, no idea. It's just gone, so I have to use an unsafe wireless connection I don't trust and keeps shutting me out every now and then. Problems, problems..