Sunday, July 21, 2019


Well... what to say, 10 years after date? Today, it is exactly ten years ago I started this webblog. To share me with you or me4you.

You! You brought back the happiness of writing and sharing me. Too long I was a kid playing alone in a sandpit. Not interested in the world outside my own sandpit with books and projects. A long list of books and projects tumbling over each other. For the viewer outside it must seem inextricable and random but for me it all makes perfect sense.

Between 17 and 21 I kept a personal handwritten diary. Last week I checked it out for what exact images I used before I went for six months to the Sinai, Egypt in 1987. I couldn't find what I was looking for. A bottleneck for me is that I don't want to read too deep and close because I dislike the younger version of me ... I was so over the top and intense. Unbearable lightness of being. 

I want to share with you today some of my #Sinai experiences: 

#Minefield. Remember the two stones I sent to you? I found those handmade artifacts while being trapped in a minefield. I realized I was in a minefield when I saw the back of the minefield-sign hanging on barbed wire. Just a split second after my first thought: which moron turned over the signs and why? Realizing that we had walked too long on the beaches and clambered over rocks and lost our situational awareness. I was more a tourist than being a soldier who takes each step carefully.

#Ouch. Remember the biting animal that came out of the 'Conus Textile' shell I found in the Red Sea? I wrote about it before in this post: 'Ouch'. I realized a couple of years ago, I was lucky that day because this shell is the house of the predatory and venomous species of sea snail named 'Conus'. Venomous!

#Adventure. It's more than 30 years ago I went to the Sinai as a drafted Dutch soldier. I wanted to have an adventure and feel - yes feel - the colours of the desert, Egypt and Israel. Away from the girl that caused me back than so much frustration: I wanted her but she didn't want me as her lover. In retrospect I am so glad I went to the yellow of the sun, the brown and red and black of the desert and the blue of the sea and sky. Happily submerged in a world of Others.

#Movie. I remember the countless evenings we went to the "theatre" for watching a movie on a big screen. Together with 100 other soldiers watching a movie, drink a cold soda and behind the screen the island of Tiran in the setting sun or light of the moon. And a cool wind from the sea.

#Postman. I remember the empty roads while driving for hours in a Jeep from one (sector control center) post to another of our sector. My Dutch colleagues being happy to receive snail-mail from home. Being me their post-man.

#Petra. I remember the permission I asked to travel to Jordan to visit Petra. Disappointingly, I never got this permit!

#AloneInCairo. I remember travelling in a bus to Cairo. For one week alone in this big city. So much to see and check out in a city with as many people as live in my whole home country. At the first evening in my hotel I met a girl from Australia while I was having dinner. We chit-chat a little. Nothing happened. The next morning I met her again at breakfast. We agreed to see Cairo that day together. So we did. That evening we made love for the first time. For the next 6 days we were inseparable. Visit musea and other sightseeings. Make love. Listen to German music (Marlene Dietrich) on my taperecorder. At the last evening together we agreed not to keep in touch. She would travel alone for another week in Egypt and after that to her boyfriend and work in a hotel in Switzerland. I had to take up my telephone-operator work ("Operator, can I help you?") again. Next to not keep in touch we agreed too that if I wouldn't ask she wouldn't tell if she got pregnant during one of our endless making love sessions. I never asked her! So, out there, there could be a child who would be 32 years old now. Being out of touch with me as his or her father.

#SharpTurn. I remember the accident we almost had with our car driving from Eilat to Tel Aviv during a weekend. I was the official driver. One of my colleagues asked: can I drive please? OK for me. On the straight road everything went well. At the first sharp turn we almost crashed. I scolded him and out of breath I asked him: "where did you learn to drive?" His reply, "I can't, I don't even have a drivers licence." I was speechless because it never crossed my mind that someone without a driver’s licence, could or would ask to drive.

#Poet. I remember two colleagues who told me over lunch that I was a poet. The way I spoke and the way I played with images and metaphors... just like a poet. Where did that come from?

#ComingOut. I knew that I was going to study Philosophy after my time in the army but in my time there I never told anyone. I always told that I was going to study History. It was a lie but I didn't want to justify again and again why I wanted to. The strange thing is that I retrospect I did both.

#Shifts. All the above are high- and lowlights. The days in between, most days, were in shifts: 6 hours on and 6 hours off duty. Live in airconditioned rooms. Lunch and dinner in a mess with 99% men. If there was a woman - rare - you could always tell where she walked by all the faces that "followed" her behind. Like a school of fish that change direction time and again as if through an invisible hand. Men!

P.S. I wrote about the Sinai before in 'Gavin Maxwell. My fascination' (February 2010)  and 'It Must Be Wrinkles' (May 2017).

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Que Reste (2)

Remember my post 'Que Reste-t-il?' (May 16, 2017)? I always thought it was a Stacey Kent song but yesterday I heard a "cover" from 'Tess et les Moutons' on the radio where Tess told that it was a Jacques Brel song. Brel?

Back to the sources! The lyrics are written by Charles Trenet and its music by Léo Chauliac (source). First recorded by singer Lucienne Boyer in 1942: here.

P.S. Mark that the poem inside the "song" in my 2017 post is from me4you.

Friday, July 5, 2019


Golden ear-rings in the form of dolphins. 3rd - 2nd century BC, Mediterranean Sea. More details:

P.S. Item from British Museum, London: here.

Der Meister

Look a this "tool" from 3rd century AD.


"In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister". In that case: ...

P.S.  Item from The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK: here.
P.P.S. Quote from Goethe, 'Natur und Kunst' (1800): here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Favorite Day

A part of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories are situated at Cotchford Farm (UK). The country house of writer  Alan A. Milne (1882-1956). Lovely house.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Navigator of Print

Books, pamphlets, pictures and music. 

Printed books, pamphlets, pictures and music. 

Printed books, pamphlets, pictures and music in libraries. The birth of libraries confronted its owners, in the 16th century in Europe, with new challenges: how and where to put them on a shelf, how to avoid buying the same book, pamphlets, pictures and music twice, how to make good use of their content? Hernando Columbus (1488–1539) was one of the first (or the first?) to give an answer to these challenges. He solved it with four books and an umbrella process (“root system”). Four books:

Every year a small bookstore will send worth five “ducados” from printed material (books, pamphlets, pictures and music) from Rome, Venice, Nuremberg, Antwerp, Paris and Lyon to Hernando’s universal library (“Hernandina”) in Seville, Spain.  The bookstore will start first with buy as much “ephemeral” or “dunghill” pamphlets as possible and only then moving to larger printed books. They will collect, "all books, in all languages and on all subjects, which can be found both within Christendom and without" (page 316).
Every sixth year an agent from the Hernandina will sweep through a smaller series of cities to seek out titles that had been missed based on the catalogues of the Hernandina.

Hernado wanted his library to become a universal library, where the thoughts of the world were stored, all of the possible fields of knowledge covered and making all terrains one. This library needed to be guarded, ordered, arranged and tended like a garden. The universal library was an engine for extracting the writing of all mankind. To order things in such a way that all new things are sought out and gathered forever. Not bounded by language, subject or religion. A place of pleasure, magic and astonishment (page 84, 240 and 314-317).

Hernando’s father – Christopher Columbus – navigated to and discovered new, unknown physical lands on planet Earth. A navigator of oceans. Hernando wanted with his universal library a place in history equal to his father’s. A navigator of print.

In the book The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books. Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library (London 2018) all the tiny little elements of a personal live that preceded his universal library is worked out with great detail by Edward Wilson-Lee. Lovely! Perfect read!

P.S. Did 'The Book of Authors' consist of one or two lists? (1) list from A to Z from Author with title(s) and year of publication; (2) list from A to Z from Title with its author(s) and year of publication? Did list 2 exist too?
P.P.S. I don't comprehend the relation between 'The Book of Authors' and 'The Book of Sciences' and 'The Table of Authors and Sciences'. Is the table based on the two books? How to order infinitely with physical catalogue or index cards? Catalogue or index cards bearing (hieroglyphic) symbols?
P.P.P.S. The universal library never got the name Hernando wished 'Hernandina' but was and is named 'Biblioteca Colombina'. Today housed in 'Institución Colombina' together with other libraries under one roof.
P.P.P.P.S. I get the impression the process of the universal library never started. The book doesn't tell if it did or not.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tending Like Garden & Begin Magic

In 1522 Hernando Columbus, son of explorer Christopher Columbus, lost 1,637 of his books in a shipping disaster. Losing these books taught him an important lesson:
"his was not an imaginary library, like the storied one at Alexandria (...). It was a library of flesh and blood - or rather paper, inkt and vellum - and needed to be housed, guarded, ordered and arranged, tended to like a garden that must be restrained from the wilderness to which it always wishes to return. For the first time in his itinerant life, Hernando needed to put down roots, to find a place where his books could be safe; and one whence the library could begin to work its magic upon the world."

He found a house for his books in Seville (Spain):
P.S. Quote from Edward Wilson-Lee, 'The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books' (London 2018), 240.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

History of Snob Taste or Dandy in Age of Mass Culture or A "Sweet" Cynicism

Sunsan Sontag (1933-2004) wrote in 1964 the article Notes on "Camp" (here). Her 58 notes in  sometimes pollarded quotes (bold is added by me):

56. "Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges."

50. "The history of Camp taste is part of the history of snob taste."  

45. "Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture. One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious."

35 and 36. Bosch is camp. Rembrandt is not.

6. "The personality and many of the works of Jean Cocteau are Camp, but not those of André Gide."

8. "[Camp] is the love of the exaggerated, the "off," of things-being-what-they-are-not. The best example is in Art Nouveau, the most typical and fully developed Camp style. Art Nouveau objects, typically, convert one thing into something else: the lighting fixtures in the form of flowering plants, the living room which is really a grotto." 

10. "Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a "lamp"; not a woman, but a "woman." To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater."

19. "The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious. The Art Nouveau craftsman who makes a lamp with a snake coiled around it is not kidding, nor is he trying to be charming."
28. "Again, Camp is the attempt to do something extraordinary. But extraordinary in the sense, often, of being special, glamorous."

55. "Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy. It only seems like malice, cynicism. (Or, if it is cynicism, it's not a ruthless but a sweet cynicism.)"

Friday, May 17, 2019

By The Way

How does reading work for you?

I read in the morning for 2 hours if I can and in bed for 1 to 2 hours in the evening. What I read continually changes. My reading list on Monday is not the same by the time I get to Friday. Mostly I read five books at the same time. I can "read" a book for years and finish it after three years. I always finish a book I started reading. Always! Even if it's a bore and not interesting. Why? Because I don't want to get tricked by my self-made presuppositions.

Once again, the strange thing is my to-do reading list changes every week. Better still, every day. Mostly because of what I actually read in another book. Sometimes a smell, a taste, a picture, wind in my face that brings back memories and that makes me wonder "How?", "What?", "When?", "Why?" and another book is "needed" to answer my questions. Another book on top of my to-do reading pile of physical books.

By the way, I think in the present song lyrics have taken over the meaning for "mainstream" cultural life what poems did between the 17th century and the Second World War. Meaning as in: feel alive, feel connected, touching the senses, cause dreams, repeat and ... - there must be more.