Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book review. Pamuk's Museum Innocence. Aren't we all surrounded by thousands of tiny little things of the ones we love(d)?

"What a bore is life and how predictable: to be born, live and die." This is what I told my grandma (from my mothersside) at the age of eight after reading next weeks TV-guide completely. She looked at me with a little mysterious smile and said "Yes, you are right". I was old at the age of eight. The strange thing is this feeling never really left me. In retrospect my opinion back than was only a part of 'homo sapiens' life' truth. In life it's not about milestones it's about all the days in between. It's not about being born, learn to ride a bicycle, fall in love, graduate at highschool, buy a house, become a (grand)parent and die. It's about the 26.000 days in between. Sometimes we think we will never really fall in love. Sometimes we are in doubt about the love we feel. Sometimes we hate our lover. Sometimes it feels as if we are not good enough for our lover and need above all affirmation. Sometimes it's a perfect day, full of love and being loved. Sometimes we don't think at all about our lover - and feel guilty when we realize that. What I'm trying to say is, we (better: I) live our life one day after another. In retrospect we can put milestones in our personal life but it's hardly sensible in the days we are living one by one. Yesterday is one day. Today is one day. Tomorrow and all the other days are one day.

All bookreviews tell more about the reviewer than about the writer of a book. I'm completely aware of that. Last weekend I finished reading Orhan Pamuk's (1952-) book 'The museum of innocence' (in a dutch translation). From a milestone point of view this book is a bore. 30 year old male Pamuk falls in love with 18 year female Fusun while he is going to be engaged in a few weeks with 26 (?) year old female Sibel. The setting is Istanbul, Turkey in the seventies (of the 20th century). Pamuk and Sibel are both rich and are the perfect couple. Fusun is poor.

I was completely addicted to the book after reading the first 20 pages. I knew - not really but I guessed how it would end otherwise there would have been no reason for a "museum" - how the book was going to end but I loved all those thousands and thousands of tiny, little, lovely details of a love. A love between Kemal and Sibel. A love between Kemal and Fusun. All the hesitations, the anger, the insecurity, the perfect moments, the jealousy, the lack of affirmation, the tears, the smiles and the feeling of happiness when you just can touch her or finally see her smile while she looks at you. I loved to read about all the "normal" days when Kemal was surrounded by things of Fusun: touching the saltshacker that once stood at Fusun's house, smelling at the red dress Fusun wore on the day of Kemal and  Fusun's engagement and drinking from a glass Fusun once drank out of.

This is it. This is life. For me it's a book of love in all it's tiny little elements. It tells it all: the hesitations, the good and bad moments and all the feelings in between. It's not a book of milestones. It's a book of all the days in between. For me personally to found a museum for the love-of-my-life is too much. It would be too neurotic. I'll never found a museum for the ones I loved so much and the ones I love right now. I'll never found a museum for the love-of-my-life but aren't we all surrounded by hunderds of things, books, smells, songs, thoughts and dreams of the ones we love(d)?

P.S. More bookreviews of this book can be found here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Democray. It's a mono-theistic religion. History proves in the end it's: or belief in "our" God or extinct & die.

Let me first say this. I’m always fascinated on religion, on what the Book or books say, how texts are interpretated etcetera. Always fascinated and full of wonder! They are my others in whose mirror I look at myself and who tell me who I am.

A few weeks ago I filled in a test on ‘What’s your religion?’ My testresult: I’m an “atheist”. The result doesn’t surprise me but ... it’s only part of my opinion. I don’t believe in a jewish JWH, a christian God, or a moslim Allah. For me no mono-theistic religion! Why? Because it can’t explain the pluriformity of the human experience concerning God, gods and religion in general. For me religion in general is an invention of the species ‘homo sapiens’. One way or another a lot (most?) human beings need some external “being” to give their lives direction and meaning.

What do I believe? There is no God. There is no external “being” that created the world, that gave humanity “devine laws”. We are made out of tiny little elements when we are born and collapse piece by piece when we die. That’s all. We survive as species by reproduction: kids who become parents themselves etcetera. For me there’s no reason why we do need God or gods. It’s a dream. It’s an illusion. It's a human made construction.

What do I believe? I believe in the species ‘homo sapiens’. We do whatever we do -it’s just as simple as that- trying to survive as individual, as family, as group and as species. For me Democracy is another mono-theistic religion. We invented it! There is no ‘democratic inborn faculty’ in us. Democray is groupthinking and groupacting. Mono-theistic religions are dangerous because it's followers hate non-believers, non human at all or others. At first it always starts the smooth way, the non-believers are "invited" to step into their "perfect way of life" too. When there is too much hesitation slowly more group pressure. And in the end? History proves in the end it's: or belief in "our" God or extinct & die.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A boss' toolbox & personal mission statement 'fatherhood'

Last year I took Covey’s course '7 habits of highly effective people'. One of the things that had to be done was '360-degree feedback'. I had to fill in a list of questions. The same questions had to be answered (in my case) by a few of my staff, my boss and my wife. As predicted my self-image differs partly from the “others”. No big differences. No real surprises. Nice to have a mirror once in a while! I wrote a letter to my feedbackgivers in which I explained my point of view as a boss and as a human being. For me the most important thing in life is: my family. I want to give my children: food, love and a set of values ‘how to behave as member of our society’. To give them fish and at the same time learn them to fish themselves. I want to be a scout leader who gives his kids a toolbox and learn them how to use it in order to make it possible for them to live their lives independently from their parents.

I usually eat in a hurry. I hardly drink alcohol. Eat much candy. I like to take a 20 minutes shower. Try to watch 20.00 o’clock news everyday. My favorites on TV are 'Spoorloos' (in English ‘lost track of’) and 'Memories'. Love to watch a comedy. I read a lot of books. Usually books on a historical topic. I never analyze why I read the books I read. For me it's a long trail of books that bring up other books. When I read a book I always discover thousands of things and details I never thought of before. Details that shift my opinions, judgements, prejudices and assumptions. The details make everything fluid. One of my favorite books is 'Bello Gallico' by Julius Cesaer. It’s his report of his conquest of Western Europe. A beautiful and exciting story with it’s ups and downs. If you realize what happened to Rome, Cleopatra and the child of Julius and Cleopatra when Julius was murdered … everything blown away with the wind.

As a boss this is my toolbox:
1. There is not 1 way of organizing. How to organize depends on the organizational configurations, the life cycle of the organization and the environment it lives in.
2. There is not 1 way of leadership. Depending on the situation a certain style has to be chosen.
3. There is not 1 human being. All people are individuals and are therefore different.
4. Fog. Decisions always have to be taken with information that is not perfect, well balanced and completely validated. Sometimes I have to decide in foggy weather. In retrospect information can show up that tells me that in hindsight I should have taken a different decision.
5. People are people with their own dreams, hopes and fears. People act on their level of consiousness. Some come for the money. Others look for a teacher. Some look for spiritual challenges.
6. A constraint solved? The next constraint pops up. Not all constraints and problems have to be solved.
7. Final end. All people die. I will one day die too. I’m your boss now but will I be your boss too next year? The show must go on when I’m no longer here. The show must go on when an individual staffmember moves on.

The above toolbox ensures that I am not very straightforward in my conduct. Pragmatic or situational acting sometimes seems "old school" but it suits me very well. Sometimes I do this. Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I want to find out every tiny little detail of the incident. The other time I only want to talk about the proces to ensure that next time the same incident won’t happen again. To be short: let us keep on communicating. I’ll tell you what I’m doing. You tell me when something happens you don’t like.

Mission statement. Next to the 360-degree feedback a personal mission statement had to be made. I've been thinking a lot about it. One statement came back every time: "Fatherhood". For me this is the only meaningful image and metaphor of my life. Biological father to my children: one who gives and receives love, someone who teaches them ... and then set them free. Father to my staff: someone who gives priorities, makes decisions and takes care that the show goes on when I am gone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On old stuff or Playmate of the year 1323 BC

Old stuff: old stories, old things, old maps, old landscapes and old people. That's what I like. I don't dislike the modern world or new stuff - I simply don't.
I love to look at the old stains, old cracks and wrinkles ... on all the properties that things or human beings get by getter older. Much older. Things that once were fostered, a few generations later neglected and end as "garbage" because "it's out of date".

Look at the goddess Serket. She was one of the four goddesses who stood outside the shrine of pharaoh Tutankamun' (1341 BC – 1323 BC) mummified internal organs. An unkown craftsman made this statue out of wood more than 3.000 years ago. Look at her! Look at her face, nose, breasts, belly and hips.

In my country 'homo sapiens' was making spareheads out of stone, put the ashes of their deads in cookingpots and burried them and were (totally?) unaware of any alphabet or written records. And in old Egypt? Some crafts(wo)man made a lovely goddess out of wood. A goddess that almost lives behind her gold coating. For me she is so real, so lifelike ... so much more interesting than a lot of worlds most highlisted "beautiful woman of the world". Why? It must be the wrinkles.