- Utrecht University: Information Science2001 - 2004
- Utrecht University: Social Sciences1993 - 1996
- University for Humanist Studies1994 - 1999
- GymnasiumGreek, Physics, Math, Chemistry, English, Dutch, German, 1987 - 1993
Today Belarusian writer and journalist Svetlana Alexievich won a prize for her works of non-fiction, "a monument to courage and suffering in our time", it was said. She said in 2000: "The genre in which I work is the genre of authenticity".
Our parents told their own similar stories to my brother and me as they were also young children when the war started. And now old and young people have these same old or new stories to tell if they survived. Human tragedy remains the same everywhere regardless of time and place.
One of Alexievich's works is "The Last Witnesses: the Book of Unchildlike Stories", here is the Introduction:
"On the morning of the twenty-second June, 1941, on one of the streets in Brest, lay a dead little girl with small unplaited pigtails and her doll.
Many people remembered this girl. They remembered her forever. What is dearer to us that our children?
What is dearer to any nation? To any mother?
To any father?
But who counts how many children are killed by war, which kills them twice?
It kills those that been born. And it kills those that could, that ought to have come into this world. In "Requiem" by the Byelorussian poet Anatoli Vertinsky a children's choir is heard across the field where the dead soldiers lay -- the unborn children scream and cry over every common grave.
Is a child going through the horrors of war still a child? Who gives him back his childhood? Once Dostoevsky posed the problem of general happiness in relation to the suffering of a single child.
Yet there were thousands like this during the years 1941 to 1945...
What will they remember? What can they retell? They must retell! Because even today in some places bombs are exploding, bullets are whistling, missiles reduce houses to crumbs and dusat and children's beds burn. Because even today someone wants widespread war, a universal Hiroshima, in whose atomic fire children would evaporate like drops of water, wither like terrible flowers.
We can ask what is heroic in five-ten-twelve-year olds going through war?
What can children understand, see, remember?
What do they remember about their mother? About their father? Only their death: "A button from mother's jacket remained on the pieses of coal. And in the stove there were two small loaves of warm bread". (Anya Tochitskaya -- 5 years old.) "As father was being torn to pieses by Alsations he shouted: "Take my son away... Take my son away so he doesn't seet it." (Sasha Khvalei -- 7 years old.)
Moreover they can tell how they died of hunger and fear. How they ran away to the front, how other people adopted them. How, even now, it is difficult to ask them about mummy.
Today they are the last witnesses of those tragic days. After them there is no one else.
But they are forty years older than their memory. And when I asked them, to remember it was not easy for them. For them to go back to that state, to those concrete sensations of childhood would seem impossible. But an amazing thing happened. One could suddenly see in a woman with greying hair a small girl imploring a soldier, "Don't hide my mummy in a hole, she will wake up and then we will walk on." (Katya Shepelyevich -- 4 years old.)
Blessed is our lack of defence against our memory. What would we be without it? A man without a memory is only capable of doing evil, nothing else but evil.
In answer to the question "Who then is the hero of this book?" I would say: childhood which was burnt, shot, and killed by bombs, bullets, hunger, fear and by fatherlessness. For the record: in children's homes in Byelorussia in nineteen forty-five, twenty-six thousand nine hundred orphans were brought up. And one more figure -- about thirteen million children perished during the Second World War.
Who can now say how many of them were Russian children, how many Byelorussian, how many Polish or French. Children died -- citizens of the world.
The children of my Byelorussia were saved by the whole country and brought up by the whole country. In the big children's choir I hear their voices.
Tamara Tomashevich remembers to this day how in the children's home in Khvalynsk on the Volga, not one of the grown-ups raised their voice to the children until the time that their hair had grown after the journey. And Zhenya Korpachev, evacuated from Minsk to Tashkent, has not forgotten the old Uzbek woman who brought a blanket to the station for him and his mother. The first Soviet soldier in liberated Minsk picked up four-year-old Galya Zabavchik in his arms and she called him "daddy". Nella Vershok recalls how our soldiers, walked about their village and the children looked at them and shouted, "Our daddies are coming. Our daddies."
Children are very best people on earth. How can we protect them in this troubled twentieth century? How can we preserve their souls and their lives? And both our past and our future with them?
How can we preserve our planet on which little girls are supposed to sleep in their beds, and not lie dead on the road with unplaited pigtails? And so that childhood would never again be called war-time childhood.
In the name of such womanly faith as mine, this book is written!"
ps. The text is taken from the author's homepage, the picture below is of a War Children’s Victims Monument in Czech Republic. Seperate artists, but they fit through a common theme.
-- Alan Moore
I just pre-ordered the cardgame and simulation 'Neanderthal', it'll arive later this year. It simulates life as a prehistoric human; living in small tribes, language, hunt and conflict. The game appears to be well crafted and I'd really like to play it with the cubes and cards (though the Vassal module and rules are available virtually). BoardgameGeek introduces the game this way:
"It's 43,000 BC in Ice Age Europe, the dawn of modern man. In Neanderthal, you are one of three human species: Archaic, Neanderthal, or Cro-Magnon. Assign your males to hunt Pleistocene megafauna, but try to avoid being eaten by predators. Assign your women for teaching your children vocabulary, leading to cognitive fluidity in the next generation and to a tribalistic culture. Specialize your elders for fire, war, big game, inventions, or animal domestications. Choose between three mating strategies: promiscuous, harems, or pair bonding. Victory depends on which strategy you choose, and may include your hunters, elders, women, vocabulary, trophies, inventions, or domesticated animals."
That the game designer Phil Eklund is not your average game designer shows by his essay on language:
or his note on games vs simulations:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1257230/games-vs-simulations-essay-phil-eklund or one of his facebook posts on logic:
He has both a company (sierra games) and personal facebook page.
Regarding language I've taken up learning Esperanto as a colleague of mine speaks it, my father tried to learn it back in the day when he was active with the world federalists. And now Duolingo offers a free course. The name of my son Jaro refers to the foreshadowing of St. George, 'Jarilo', but it also means Year in Esperanto. Yes, our term Year, just like the names of our days and month refer to Gods, signifying the divine cycle of time. 500 meters from where I live there is a statue of Ludwik Zamenhof, the language designer of Esperanto and a religious humanist. Tolstoy, Tolkien, Gandhi, Jules Verne, Umberto Eco, Maximilian Kolbe and Titus Brandsma were famous people who supported Esperanto.
Even more interesting to me the Vatican broadcasts on 1530 KHz 3 times a week in Esperanto and there's a wealth of my faith's information available in the language translated by the "International Union of Catholic Esperantists". http://www.ikue.org/info/en_info.htm
Concerning the use of Esperanto as lingua franca for christians Ulrich Mattias had some intruiging things to note about it's use in the interlingual chaos of the christian community of Taize and in his book on "the new latin of the church" https://books.google.nl/books?id=bSghSZV054UC
I can read a bit of latin, but Esperanto is nicer. Why bother when there is english as an auxiliary language you may wonder?
A) It might be a way to augment the learning ability of myself or my kids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaedeutic_value_of_Esperanto).
B) Another reason is that there is lively literary scene http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_literature
C) A very good reason would be to get Europe to officially adopt Esperanto and save 25 Billion per year. But mainly it's because I like to try out different artifical languages to see how it can improve my life.
I tried Lojban years ago and might try to write Ithkuil in my diary. It's designer John Quijada says:
"...an idealized language whose aim is the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language."
"That is the purpose of Ithkuil: not to necessarily be learned and spoken, but to be reflected upon and studied for its value as a way of seeing just how much of what is going on at a cognitive level never actually gets expressed in real languages."
For an intruiging read about how odd the people learning and using an constructed language can be or the subculture around them, read: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/12/24/utopian-for-beginners
Last week there was an article in Volkskrant about how playing board games can make you more valuable in the working sphere. That's true, like in second life, WoW and other games there's some skills bleeding through that are useful in workplaces. I forgot the term I read in some Wired article 10 years ago, but it has been studied in the literature. I have a game called 'Ground Floor' where you are simulating building and operating your company.
But board games for me are more about having a good time with others and challenging my mind and myself in a predefined mental space or cage where you interlock your psyches in a different way then you are used to. Learning new skills is a side-effect. You shift roles, you get out of the usual patterns.
Todat evening Carson City with Claudy, a very nice game involving cowboys, outlaws, ranches, mines and saloons. It's better then sitting on the couch watching a movie or series. Just like taking part in dance classes is (also a sort of game routine, you gamify your moves). Carson City has more conflict then Puerto Rico our other favorite. With Puerto Rico you can plan your way ahead, building your buildings, plantations, spending your money wisely, ship at the right time, in the Wild West of Carson City that's much more difficult, it's. I like that in a game, unpredictability and freedom.
Tomorrow I'll be roleplaying my "Elena" character in the Dutch Game Garden if there are some spots left. Elena is a girl who is psychic and is on the run. It'll be interesting to see what happens (Psi*Run, design by Meguey Baker) .
Next week I'll be meditative dancing with barefeet engaging strangers non-verbally, sweating my prayers... where are my boundaries, how do I relate?
I think gaming boardgamers, roleplayers and online gamers prepare us for handling technologies that will take shape the coming decade; digital currencies, distributed autonomous companies and using virtual and augmented reality in creative ways, like game masters training and coaching people as servant leaders.
NATO was in a war with Serbia in 1998 and 1999, during that time there was evidence of warcrimes by the KLA/UCK which NATO was supporting as you see in this shocking documentary on organ traffic. This evidence was due in the international court in The Hague but appears to have been supressed. The head of the UN Mission in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, later publicly denied the findings of his investigators in no uncertain terms: “Organ trafficking? Are you mad or something? This house does not exist and there is no organ trafficking."
The UCK are the good guys. Watch the documentary here:
My question is, is history repeating itself here - so much does the resistance against the news Kurdish fighters who kill their prisoners (see the character assasination of Dutch journalist Jan Eikelboom by GeenStijl) and the Ukrainian army is involved in massacre of civilians (Odessa massacre etc.). Both armies are supported by NATO and our country, the Kurdish and the Ukrianian government are the good guys as they are enemies of our enemies.
Or are the Peshmerga really the upstanding guys this 'independent' human rights commitee based in Erbil (!) argues:
Perhaps not so upstanding after all, blowing up villages to prevent sunni villagers from returning.
It's even more shocking to me that some people in Dutch society thinks not only covering up of possible warcrimes of the Kurdish fighters is ok but also the crimes themselves.
* Richard كافر @ries073
En zo'n Jantje Eikelboom maakt zich druk als die gasten een kogel in hun hooft krijgen geknald #mafketel
* Francis Siefken @fsiefken:
@ries073 @airstalker-@janeikelboom is een held. jullie willen wereld zonder internationaal recht of oorlogsrecht https://plus.google.com/111888294497330611124/posts/cp9XnpNwyFZ …
* Richard كافر @ries073
@fsiefken @Airstalker @janeikelboom ISIS VERDIEND MAAR 1 DING EN DAT IS EEN KOGEL IN HUN KOP."
It makes a mockery out of the concept of International Justice itself. If this mob mentality takes hold in society, in the future it will be nation against nation again. If we tolerate this our children will be next.
Remember the old Picture-in-Picture mode the new TV's were marketed with in the 90ties? You could keep an eye on a channel while watching your main one.
This guy "Omni Verse" on youtube has most of my older favorite series merged into individual pieces. He has done so with regard to for example all the Transformers G1-2-3, Logan's Run, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Blake's 7 episodes. It's a great idea for revisiting those memories, helicoptering over the story not just go through it linearly. It would be nice to switch the audio track on the focus of the eye and fade out the rest automatically. I wonder if you could do the same with re-reading older books, just split the chapters and auto-scroll them... or make it more interactive.
Of course certain series have gotten a computer role playing game or a real world role playing game, or a fighting game or are based on books or have books written in the same narrative universe. Some series have toys. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book has a Interactive Fiction equivalent and a movie. Star Trek has movies, boardgames, series, rpg's etc. Some boardgames or fan variants have surprisingly thematic gameplay based on these modern day narratives. Lost has a great boardgame adaptation as a fanvariant of another game, Star Trek (as ST:Fleet Captains), Colditz, postapocalyptic zombies with 'Dawn of the Zeds 3rd edition', Bladerunner with a computer game and the Android boardgame, Dune has a boardgame... even early christianity (religion in itself could be seen as a meta-narrative) can played out by boardgames like the upcoming Commisioned and the upcoming re-issue of Credo.
I remember some movie or theatre experiments where at certain points spectators could choose the course of the story (alternate endings, what if scenario's). Fans have taken matters in their own hands and create fanfiction (there's a lot of transformer fan fiction) and complete fanshows with episodes in the same universe.
In the future we'll have VR series where you can switch between the characters real time and experience the story as if you were there. Orson Scott Card did that with the book Ender's Game, writing a new book based on the original but then from the point of view of the other characters.
I miss 'Il était une fois, Battle of the Planets, Robotech, The Highwayman, Chocky, Under the Mountain, Nowhere Man, McGyver, Blue Thunder, Airwolf... so many good stories to revisit. And we must not forget, we also have the stories of life itself. All these series, themes and thoughts can serve to enhance our understanding and appreciation of them.
"The world hangs on a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man". -Carl Jung, Conversations with Carl Jung, and Reactions from Ernest Jones by Richard I. Evans.
I remember that quote from the intro of the excellent documentary "Passions of the Soul 4: answer to Job" by Philip Engelen which I still have on VHS even though a DVD is available.
A year after watching that documenatry I was reading Jung's commentary on Nietzsche's Zarathustra, a real gem I found hidden in the library basement. What I also remember from that time were some of the library's catalogue computers which were connected to Gopherspace. Gopherspace was one of the forerunners of the WWW (or TTT as I call it now). Lyrics, e-books, the Simtel archive, the MJ-12 were things I regularly downloaded on floppy to read on my 386 Toshiba on the way back by train to my home town.
I was not the only one who discovered this feature of the library catalogue, there was an guy from India who was somehow using the computer to frequent the Synergetics-L mailinglist. The ideas relating Platonic solids and such to mysticism were too weird for me grok at the time or maybe the guy put me off, but 21 years later it makes a bit more sense. Synergetics is a book by Richard Buckminster Fuller, the guy who experimented with dymaxion sleep patterns (4x30m) and geodesic domes.
It struck me that in a way Richard Buckminster Fuller's quote below means the same things as the quote above by Jung. And I think Jiddu Krishnamurti might have meant a similar thing when he said: "You are the world".
Buckminster's advice to a boy was as follows:
"Each year I receive and answer many hundreds of unsolicited letters from youth anxious to know what the little individual can do. One such letter from a young man named Michael -- who is ten years old -- asks whether I am a "doer or a thinker." Although I never "tell" anyone what to do, I feel it quite relevant at this point to quote my letter to him explaining what I have been trying to do in the years since my adoption of my 1927-inaugurated self-disciplinary resolves. The letter, dated February 16, 1970, reads:
Thank you very much for your recent letter concerning "thinkers and doers."
The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see need to be done, and no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done -- that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.
Try making experiments of anything you conceive and are intensely interested in. Don't be disappointed if something doesn't work. That is what you want to know -- the truth about everything -- and then the truth about combinations of things. Some combinations have such logic and integrity that they can work coherently despite non-working elements embraced by their system.
Whenever you come to a word with which you are not familiar, find it in the dictionary and write a sentence which uses that new word. Words are tools -- and once you have learned how to use a tool you will never forget it. Just looking for the meaning of the word is not enough. If your vocabulary is comprehensive, you can comprehend both fine and large patterns of experience.
You have what is most important in life -- initiative. Because of
it, you wrote to me. I am answering to the best of my capability. You
will find the world responding to your earnest initiative.
The political and economic systems and the political and economic leaders of humanity are not in final examination; it is the integrity of each individual human that is in final examination. On personal integrity hangs humanity's fate. You can deceive others, you can deceive your brain-self, but you can't deceive your mind-self -- for mind deals only in the discovery of truth and the interrelationship of all the truths. The cosmic laws with which mind deals are noncorruptible.
Cosmic evolution is omniscient God comprehensively articulate."
---Critical Path. R. Buckminster Fuller. St. Martin's Press, New York (1981)
I had fun with the 'dance walk' this evening and trying out my idea of streaming the music (icecast through open wifi network), while we dance our route through the city center. All and all it worked... the range was good enough for our group of 20 people dancing - and everybody had their own music as an alternative.
Bystanders were both curious and amused, some even briefly joined in.
Highlights were the street musician who exclaimed that never before so many people danced to his music... the ladies from the red bull car who stopped to ask what we were doing and saw it as guerilla marketing opportunity, turning up the music in their car and giving out free red bull (the new tropic version is excellent).... the large screen on Neude which coincidentally showed people dancing for a while just when we showed up... dimitri petit (servetstraat) who offered us free vegetarian food when we danced by and last but not least the police who inquired and let us do our thing.
It's a kind of play with low-key augmented reality, audio only. You interact with reality in a different way. It has an overlap with the concept of silent disco, dancing in a disco, nordic walking, but it's alltogether different. You can play with different facets, 1) the combination of walking and dance 2) the interaction with non-dancers 3) the interaction with members in the dance walk group (who might or might not be listening to the same tune) 4) the new interaction between you and the city and it's objects - statues, walls, trees and squares become dance objects - always temporary as the dance floor changes while we dance.
"They were the bestselling singles band in the world.
They had awards, credibility, commercial success and creative freedom.
That was until they deleted their records, erased themselves from musical history and burned their last million pounds in a deserted boathouse on the isle of Jura. And they couldn't say why."
Amazon reads: The KLF were never an ordinary band, and this is no ordinary music biography. It is a book about ideas, stories and how we tell them. It is about Dadaism, chaos theory, synchronicity, magical thinking, punk, rave, the alchemical symbolism of Dr. Who and the special power of the number twenty-three.
Wildly unauthorised and unlike any other music biography, John Higgs takes us on a sideways trawl through chaos on the trail of a beautiful, accidental mythology.
Yesterday evening I played Polis with Jean-Michel - from far away minus 30 degrees sub-artic Canada through video chat - revisiting the Peloponnesian War situation 2400 years ago. A war that in no small way shaped the history of our civilization.
Claudy watched Ivo Niehe's TV Show downstairs.
She told me during dinner she saw Wubbo Ockels (the first Dutch astronaut) ' final and emotional message from minute 22 onward from his hospital bed. A poem disguised as a mini-talk.
We have only one life and one planet, and we (which includes me) are dying.
After hearing it through UitzendingGemist I wondered, what would my final words be?
I remember Wubbo also called us to reconsider our chronocentrism, our limited views on past, present and future in that TEDx talk. Not because of what Einstein and the space shuttle experiments showed us, but because of the flash of insight he had on time in orbit. A view which has some similarity with the views in physics and philosophy.
Malcolm McDowell echoes the unspoken words of astronaut Wubbo Ockels in that Star Trek scene: "Time is the fire in which we burn".
The quote is taken from a poem by Delmore Schwartz (1913 - 1966)
Calmly we walk through this April's day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn...)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(...that time is the fire in which we burn.)
(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn . . .)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(...that time is the fire in which they burn.)
Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;
Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
"In 1990, he gave away or destroyed all his papers and disappeared into the Pyrenees Mountains. For some years, no mathematicians knew where he was. Pierre Lochak and Leila Schneps, two French algebraic geometers, heard from a former neighbor of Grothendieck that the “crazy mathematician” had been spotted in a nearby town. They tracked him down and found him living alone, doing organic farming. They maintained contact with him for several years, but now, Schneps says, “he’s not in a state to be visited. It’s not possible to not quarrel with him – or rather, for him not to quarrel with you.” She hesitates to call him crazy, though she admits that in a technical sense, that might be true. “His mental state is very, very special.”
After his turning away from the world in 1990 he wrote about religious topics, the devil and the coming man. There are parallels with the work of Buckminster Fuller. Alexander's Flora/Lucifera janus figure reminds me of Carl Jung's Philemon figure.
More info on his more esoteric views on God and the universe, read:
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