Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Thinking and Questioning

What is philosophy according to me? I define philosophy as 'questioning presuppositions'. In this sense for me philosophy is the complete corpus of science as it was in Ancient Greece too. Did you know that 95% (I didn't count so it's a lucky guess of me) of what "philosopher" Aristotle wrote was about biology? Only a small part is about metaphysics (Greek: ta meta ta phusika. English: after the physics. With Aristotle, these were literally the books that came after the books dealing with nature). To observe. To examine. Cause and effect. Of digging up roots from the ground with a stick. Of cooking food. Of beating or killing an animal or human being. Of the sun that dies in the evening and is born again in the morning. Of stars that re-appear at night. According to me all ingredients of a scientific mindset.

That what we call today philosophy was born in Greece 2,500 ago as science - 2,500 years young! Today only the metaphysics part is considered as "real" philosophy. The rest found a harbour in new scientific areas. With my definition we find a scientific mindset too in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient China, Stone Age and ... - there must be more. All of them gave answers to these four questions of Kant: What can I know? What should I do? What can I hope for? What is man?

To my knowledge there was never in history a restriction on studying science or metaphysics. No-one kept the door locked. Requirements: spare time (next to working for your physical survival), ability to read and write, curiosity and wonderment, teachers and access to books.

Ancient Greece wasn't a paradise for scientists or philosophers. Back then only a small part of its population was able to study and actually studied. Mostly only free Greeks but sometimes slaves too. And the rest? They just were not interested and preferred to drink and watch games/ music. Preferred to consume. Above all a lack of curiosity and wonderment. Ancient Rome has the same track record. After Rome was beaten in 4th century AD Christianity took over. Roughly between 600 to 1100 AD the books of Plato and Aristotle were unknown in Western Europe. Thanks to the Arabs (Aristotle) and Byzantine Empire (Plato) their books survived and their philosophy came back to Western Europe.
What's my point? Read for philosophy: science in general. This mindset is of all ages and all times. We all have it and mostly don't give it that name. We learn by doing and learn from teachers and pass through our knowledge from one generation to another. Mostly not condensed in books. The world is bigger than knowledge in books. The amount of people who want to invest to learn to read philosopy-as-metaphysics-books was and always will be small. It requires spare time and transpiration to read, think, re-think and read more. Most people are perfectly happy to limit their life with having a "merry time", to consume and stay away from "difficult" stuff. The constraint is not a lack of access to philosopy-as-metaphysics. The constraint is lack of curiosity for philosopy-as-metaphysics. All people think and ask questions. All people have a scientific mindset. Philosophy-as-metaphysics as a compulsory subject at our schools and universities will not heal the constraints of our time and age. What will? People who travel and study history and use those Others as their mirror.

P.S. I wrote about mirrors before in 'Mirror' (February 2016) and about Others in 'A Little Deeper. Please!' (June 2012).

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Update (1)

Update on the books I read and the projects I'm working on these days.

  • Belonsky, 'The Log Cabin. An Illustrated History' (2018). Read the last part of book #off-the-grid
  • Peck, 'America's Secret Mig Squadron' (2012). Read the last part of book #flying
  • Oek de Jong, 'Cirkel in het Gras' (1985). Re-reading this book. I love the part when the main-character thinks, "A few more days and I'll start dreaming in Italian again." I read this book ten times I guess #love #Italy
  • Sontheimer, 'Hannah Arendt. De Levensweg van een Groot Denker' (2005). Only read a few pages of this book #HomoSapiens

  • Herbert Maxwell, 'Rainy Days in a Library' (1896). Read the last part of book and write a bookreview #GavinMaxwell
  • Claire Nicolas White, 'Fragments of Stained Glass' (2015). I finished this book a couple of weeks ago. I read a book of her before, see my blog 'Motherly Woman'. From this book is the quote in my blog 'And Yet I Knew'. I know I'll move these three books from my project-table to the shells of my library but I am postponing it - waiting for a sign #AldousHuxley
  • Write a history article this month about a Dutch farmhouse dating around 1219 #writing
  • 'The Lunar Library. Genesis Mission' (2019). This mission aims to preserve humanity's history on the moon (Wikipedia, too): here. I want to check out what is exactly in this library and what not. Answering my question "What worldview is it representing?" #fringe
  • Engraved tridacna shells. Around 110 of these engraved shells have been found. I want to unlock all of them in one list via Wikipedia. In a format like this: Egyptian hieroglyphs. I exchanged a few e-mails with professor R. Stucky regarding his thesis 'The engraved Tridacna shells' (1974) finding out that I've to see a hardcopy of his book in the university library of Leiden #fringe
  • Rian van Rijbroek, 'Unhacked' (2019). Controversial book about hacking. I didn't start reading book #computer
  • Hannah Arendt, 'Lying in Politics' (1971). See my blogpost 'There Always Comes The Point' of last week. I am puzzling on Arendt's image of man (Dutch: mensbeeld). What can we believe and how to act according to her? After answering these questions I want to read the books on list 'Urgent Books to Re-read These Days' #HomoSapiens
And how about my new book about the Cape Verde Islands? I'll start with it in my summer holiday 2019. First there needs painting and liming to be done inside my house.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

There Always Comes The Point

According to Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) in her 'Lying in Politics' (1971), acting men usually use three options confronted with a problem - with the goal to divert the mind: A, B and C whereby A and C represent the opposite extremes and B the "logical" middle-of-the-road "solution" of the problem. This thinking is a fallacy according to her because, "reality never presents us with anything so neat as premises for logical conclusions."


Acting men or politicians lie because things could indeed have been as the liar maintains they were. Arendt: "Facts need testimony to be remembered and trustworthy witness to be established in order to find a secure dwelling place in the domain of human affairs."

Facts can be removed from the world but in the political domain it can only be done through radical and wholesale destruction. Arendt: "In order to eliminate Trotsky's role from the history of the Russian Revolution, it is not enough to kill him and eliminate his name from all Russian records so long as one cannot kill all his contemporaries and wield power over the libraries and archives of all countries of the earth.

There is no such thing as lasting deception, there always comes the point beyond which lying becomes counterproductive! Good that we have a fact checker team at 'The Washington Post' who store (here) all false or misleading claims of "Mister President".

P.S. I feel these days the urgent need to re-read: (1) Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932), (2) George Orwell, 1984 (1948), (3) Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception (1954), (4) Aldous Huxley, Island (1962) and (5) Christopher Hitchens, Why Orwell Matters (2002).

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Halo an Echo?

A hypocephalus (Greek: under the head) is a disc-shaped object that was placed under the head of a deceased person in Ancient Egypt. It symbolized the sun and it was believed to protect the deceased and making him/ her divine. On it was written and pictured the daily setting and rising of the sun. A metaphor for rebirth and death. Day in. Day out. Death not as an end but a new birth. These "under the head suns" (my words) first appeared in the 7th Century BC in Ancient Egypt.
Remember a "under the head sun". Making the deceased divine.

And what do we see in the christian iconography? A halo, this is a circle or disk of light that surrounds a holy or sacred figure.
Coincidence? Question: is a halo an echo of the Ancient Egyptian 'under the head sun'?

Mark, that we can read the hypocephalus also as a roadmap of day and night, of live on Earth and between the sun and stars on a bark, of being alive and death. From this perspective the christian halo can be interpreted as he/ she who knows the road.

P.S. Source  hypocephalus: here. Source Maria with child with halo: here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Some Kind of Blue

A few days ago I visited Our Lady's Cathedral of Antwerp in Belgium.

I love the peace and quietness of churches. Walk around and puzzle on what I am supposed to see and "feel". Wonder about all the generations that "invested" for "free" in churches.

I love the blue and light of Maria with child in this painting. 

Back home I realized that it's not a 16th or 17th century painting because the red cross emblem that the kneeling woman on the left bears did not exist back then - its use was agreed upon starting from 1863.

When I looked in greater detail I saw the uniform of the kneeling man on the left: Allied uniform of World War I, for sure!

Today I checked out the exact date and more details of the painting. 

Location: chapel of Our Lady of Peace. Altar painting is from Jozef Janssen, 'Our Lady of Peace' (1924). The painting represents World War I. King Albert of Belgium in militairy uniform and queen Elizabeth of Belgium in nurse's uniform of the red cross. Jesus offers peace with an olive branch.

More information: here (paragraph 'The chapel of Our Lady of Peace. Formerly Saint Barbara').

P.S. Maria with child paintings in a church depicting a World War I or II theme are rare.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Speak Out

The Ancient Egyptians had at least four creation myths. We have to read them complementary!
  • Hermopolis. Frogs and snakes make in water the egg (read: primeval mound) from which the sun and world is born. 
  • Heliopolis. Eel in water who creates by separating: water and land; man and wife.
  • Memphis. The heart of a god thinks and the tongue makes the world come alive by speaking out their names.
  • Thebes/ Aswan. Cosmos is made from clay by a potter on his turntable.

In all four myths we have water, a mound raising from the water and a sun coming out of the mound. An image most likely inspired by the annual flooding of the Nile River, after the withdrawing of the floodwaters fertile soil was left behind. Life re-newed like the first time.

Next to that. The scarab beetle lets the sun rise every morning. An image most likely inspired by their creating and rolling of brood balls.

Next to that the fly was considered courageous and brave. In the New Kingdom they even had a militairy decoration named 'Fly of Valour' or 'Golden Fly' (source picture: here).

Keen observers those Ancient Egyptians, aren't they?

P.S. Information from four creation myths is from exhibition 'Gods of Egypt' in Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, The Netherlands. The details are slightly different according to Vergote, 'De Godsdienst van het Oude Egypte' (1987), Shaw and Nicholson, 'The Illustrated Dictionary of Ancient Egypt' (2008) and Wikipedia, 'Ancient Egyptian creation myths'.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Nobody Talks About Spring

Last week I joined a Mariza concert in Eindhoven. Two pictures I took:

I wrote a music-review 'Nobody talks about the spring' for Zuca-Magazine. A magazine for those who partly think, dream, read and ... - there must be more - with "A minha pátria é a língua portuguesa". You can find the review (in Dutch): here. Listen to Mariza? Yes!

I point in this review at the three Mariza songs I love most:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Store for Eye Cosmetics

Remember the tridacne shell sculpted in the shape of an owl in my blogpost from 2016: here?

I saw another sculpted shell, two months ago, in the exhibition 'Gods of Egypt' in Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Glenn Markoe writes in his book 'Phoenicians' (2000) that over a hundred examples of carved tridacna shells have been found from Italy to the Near East. Similar in artistic style, they were probably produced in the mid-seventh century BC, made or distributed from the southern coast of Phoenicia. They were probably used to store eye cosmetics.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

And Yet I Knew

"When I'm gone you'll be happy, you and your friends," he said. "You will be able to take yourselves seriously again and do all your artistic work. I'm just a disturbance in your summer."
I assured him of the contrary, that without him I would pine away, and yet I knew there was truth in what he said. With him I thought only of the present, I lived from day to day. When he was gone I worried about the life ahead for which I must be prepared. "Work is the only thing that makes one happy," my mother always said, and inspired by Betsy, we had all taken ourselves seriously that summer until Jean came.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Small Hotel

Sometimes I have "Aristocratic dreams". Dreaming as in ... when I would have enough money I would:
  • Be a specialist in the field of Prehistoric and Early dynastic period of Egypt. On the cutting edge of archeology, egyptology and petroglyphs #Egypt #StoneAge #Desert
  • Be a specialist on 17th century Dutch WIC sources. Unlock these sources via translations into English #Writer #Translator #WIC
  • Make long distance trips in gliders. A couple of weeks a year #soaring
  • Read more
  • Run a small hotel on the Mediterranean Sea
  • Have long holidays in: Brazil, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Cape Verde Islands, USA, Canada, Rarotonga and Cook Islands
  • Make a long distance walk once a year 
  • ... - you know
P.S. Source image: here.