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conversations about living and dying

i woke up this morning and changed the text❊ on the frontpage of my website to : conversations about living and dying”.

i am here - conversations about living and dying was the title of my book before it was published but my editor and then sort of agent, john hirst, may he rest in peace, thought stories from a cancer ward would be a more appealing subtitle to the book buying public, and thus to a publisher. he was right about the latter.

i didn’t know anything about what appeals to the book buying public and i still don’t. i was just happy to get some of my ideas out there in the form of a book which could be read by people, whether they bought the book or not.

the reason i am thinking about that now is because i am currently engaged in the torturous process of writing another book and thinking about what would be a suitable title is always a favourite way of procrastinating — although having written two thousand words before 9am today i could not be accused of that.

i don’t think john liked being wrong but is it possible that more people would have bought the book if i had insisted on keeping the original title? it is also possible that i would never have found a publisher without john’s help and for this i will always be grateful.

but i still like conversations about living and dying. isn’t everything a conversation about either living or dying or both? perhaps i could use it for the book i am writing now?

❊ previously it said : texts, talks and conversations about being, mattering and what matters and what it means to be — or not to be” which i do like but this morning suddenly it seems really convoluted…

interesting times

these are interesting times, both on a so-called personal level as well as a political level. i’ll leave writing about the personal level until i’ve stopped crying and smashing my head against the wall but as far as living in a time when you can see fascism take root and begin to flourish it is fascinating and horrifying at the same time and there seems to be nothing you can do about it. it is popping up everywhere. a recent development in the netherlands is in the form of a bloke called thierry baudet, an example of someone who spouts what might usefully be referred to as intellectual fascism. he wrote a book called oikophobia, a reference to a phobia about the home which he extends to critique people who believe in an ethical and moral duty to look after refugees, which he would refer to as illegal economic migrants — not an original idea of course because fascists are always nostalgic. they mourn a glorious bygone age when men were men and women knew their place, and where lesser humans did as they were told by their masters.

fascist ideologies are rehashed over and over again and tweaked slightly to take advantage of the latest worrying trends’. and, most importantly, you just keep denying that you’re a fascist, to the point where baudet tweets pictures of antifa demonstrators with the comment : these are the real fascists!

one of the reasons i wanted to go back to europe was to be able to see what was happening here politically close up. well, i am seeing it and i don’t like it.

another example is jordan henderson. here is a picture used in the times to illustrate a review of his book. the caption reads : A wrestling match in 1934 — before society began grooming aggression out of boys. Wrongly, says the author.

the mind boggles as the body shivers.

but actually the really worrying thing is seeing these ideas take root in people, ordinary good’ people that you talk to in the baker’s, just casually mentioning what a problem we have in our beautiful country with these people” and looking for your approval/agreement


and when they don’t get it, it is as if they are making a mental note. ok so he is one of those…

yep i will be up against the wall with the rest of them when the time comes, as a member of the national front told me back in london in 1977 when i was young enough (and punk enough) to have the energy to march against fascism.

coincidentally baudet’s master, the (shall we say) eccentric british writer roger scrutton, died recently and the elegy baudet wrote for him is quite revealing. you see it’s really quite simple. some things are better than others. that’s obvious isn’t it? who could disagree with that? in the same way, some humans are clearly better than others : there are great men and lesser men. surely it stands to reason that the great men should lead the lesser men? ergo : the problem in the world today is that we are lead by lesser men (and women). traitors! cowards! snowflakes! and they are demanding equal pay and equal rights! link : https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/01/13/roger-scruton-mijn-leermeester-op-zoek-naar-het-verloren-thuis-a3986651 archive : http://archive.ph/TxwmM


speaking of snowflakes, It’s taken this particular snowflake over sixty years to form but real snowflakes take shape when swirling molecules of vaporized water freeze into symmetrical, six-sided crystals, a process that typically takes 30 minutes. Their exact form will depend on the humidity and temperature during their fall.

Isn’t a tragedy how the word snowflake’ became a term used to insult sensitive people. This article in the NYT traces its beginnings to the novel Fight Club.

Archive : http://archive.ph/ASYMS

Illustration by Abbey Lossing - NYTIllustration by Abbey Lossing - NYT

je dikke ik

It seems odd to create a binary opposition between working out why you don’t like yourself (and/or why you find it difficult to be in the world) and doing something in the world.

Over de Vlaamse Filosoof Katrien Schaubroeck in de Volkskrant :

De meest intieme vorm van contact, de liefde, speelt in haar werk een hoofdrol. In haar proefschrift schrijft ze over de Amerikaanse moraalfilosoof Harry Frankfurt die self-love, de liefde voor jezelf, als de hoogste vorm van liefde ziet — een mens behoort in zichzelf af te dalen om te achterhalen waar hij werkelijk om geeft’. Haaks daarop staat Iris Murdoch, die navelstaarderij verafschuwt. De mens dient bovenal de wereld in te gaan, meent de Britse filosoof en schrijver. Dat spreekt Schaubroeck aan, omdat het aansluit bij haar eigen ervaringen met somberte en bij het vrijwilligerswerk dat ze heeft gedaan: De ­betekenisvolle momenten zijn die waarop je weggaat van je dikke ik.’

Link: https://www.volkskrant.nl/mensen/filosoof-katrien-schaubroeck-hoe-je-iets-doet-is-belangrijker-dan-wat-je-doet~becc98b6/

Archive : http://archive.ph/AjARs

Speaking of philosophers, Maarten Coolen advocates watching soaps in order to learn about humans and their narratives.

Er moet een manier worden gevonden om de samenleving zo te organiseren dat we zingevingsvragen gezamenlijk kunnen dragen.


Isn’t this how religions start? I say, figure it out for yourself, if necessary with help — but not from soaps.

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