Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall is in the air. Guust is exuberant

On my little spark on Planet Earth it's fall. My favourite season of the year. Leaves are falling from the trees.  Apples. Grapes. Walnuts. Tamme kastanjes (chestnuts). Cut corn. Empty fields. I like this time of the year with all the colours and the sensation that everything passes. The seasons that pass by: being born, grow up and die. For me it's the metaphor of human life. Better: my life.

I'm very fond on this year's 35 The Big Picture' pics 'Fall is in the air'. Lovely colours. But noone can describe my joy of fall better than Guust Flater. In the next episode of Guust  (sorry it's in Dutch) he is send home early by his boss  Pruimpit to make sure he can't blow up the signing of a big contract. Guust is enjoying the sun and the play of leaves and wind in the park. His exuberancy is the bottomline for the businessman who is just passing by accidently to finally sign the contracts. No contracts will be signed today.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Dear David,

Let me first say this. I do understand the reason why you wrote this book. I do appreciate your project. I do understand your 'win'. But ... I don't comprehend my 'win' and why this book is urgent for me to read (and re-think etc) now.

1. You wrote "Ten ideas constitute a worldview that has not been articulated before". Title of your book is 'THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life'. Your claim of "most ancient moral text" is false. The oldest Hebrew bible dates from 600 BCE (source). 2.000 year earlier (ca 2770-2250 BCE) the ancient Egyptian concept of Maat was written down. Maat was the concept of truth, balance, order, law/ justice and morality. In the Book of Death, chapter 125 ('The negative confession') we can find most of the 10 commandments. I'm not a specialist on ancient moral texts but I guess we can find in China and Mesopotamia even older texts on this subject.
2. You wrote "The message is that [Ten Commandments] really have to offer us is of deep and immediate importance to our lives - regardless of faith." I do not disagree with your claim but the same could be said of every other (past or recent) culture on planet Earth. Every culture has it's own given set on proper/ good/ right behavior for individuals and groups.
3. Why should I read a book about something all individual 'Homo Sapiens' know by nature, by our innate morality? An inborn morality that we all know and understand regardless of faith or God/ gods we are focused on. Not religion is the rock of our human behaviour our inborn morality is. Check out Marc Hauser's The Moral Sense Test. Hauser: atheists have the same moral scores as deep believers. Even psychopaths have the same scores in the Moralitytest.
4. "Each commandment helps us become more caring, world-changing individuals." Sure! But why should I read your book on this? Why can't you write a 2 A4 blog on this? I'm interested in your message. I'm interested in your comments and interpretation of the 10 commandments. But I don't want to read your book.

Once again I do understand your 'win' of the book you wrote - it must have  been a great journey - but I don't understand my or our species Homo Sapiens' 'win'. What's the urgency for me? Why not summurarize your message in a blog on what it really means according to you to be a human being (love, life, wisdom, the self, property and insecurity)? Is your presupposition that by sharing your message in a book the mirror works better?

Best regards,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Haying time

My father's sister N and her husband J are the last farmers in my family. Two generations ago all of them worked on their farms. Some years ago my nephew B inherited his parents farm. He will be probably the last one. He is not married. No girlfriend. No kids. Being a farmer in The Netherlands is for most citygirls in my country not compelling. Why? Too much work, hardly time for holidays, hard living, lack of ability to communicate of farmers and non-sustainability. It's a generalisation. Too many false presuppositions but that's the general picture on farming in my country.
I guess I was around 10 years old. Some day in May or June. Haying time. My father asked me if I wanted to join him to harvest hay on uncle J' farm. OK for me. Together with my fathers new moped we drove.

We worked for some hours. Uncle J, my dad, another man (can't remember a name or face) and me. The smell of hay and diesel. Transpiration. Hot sun. When our work was finished uncle J and my daddy told me both that they were proud on my hard work. We drank something.

We drove home in 20 minutes while the sun was going down. The weather was warm. Me alone with my dad. My arms around his belly. Wind in my hair. I felt tired, proud and loved. I felt like a real man fostered in a man's world. Happy! I can't remember but I must have slept quickly in my own bed. Satisfied and with a big smile.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Of mice and men

Is it a coincidence that Michel de Montaigne and Dulce Maria Cardoso favorite pastime is just let time pass by and do nothing? Just like me. Why do we like this so much? Is it your favorite pastime too? Why?

This weekend I returned from my summerholiday. For 3 weeks I was with my family at the Mediterranean near Martigue (France). What can I say?  It was a good and lovely holiday. The weather was warm (>25C) and sunny. In my country it rained for more than 2 weeks. I read  6 books. Kids swam a lot at the swimmingpool and in the sea. We made a trip to Marseille twice. I loved the "wild" Calanques between Marseille and Casis. Strolled on the streets of Vincent van Gogh' Arles. Visited Cezanne's old atelier on a hill  (Lauves) in Aix-en-Provence. After 100 years Mont Sainte-Victoire is no longer visible from his/ this spot. Big trees everywhere. My kids were impressed by the  castle of  Tarascon. I missed the medieval smell. I looked for mouses (didn't see any). I made 2 coastwalks of more than 5 hours alone. I love to walk alone.

I could give you many more details.  I could show you all the pictures that were made. You could interview me, my wife and our 4 kids. We could ... - there must be more - but in the end we will end with "empty" hands. The truth is that we can't freeze or grab the days that pass by one by one. In a way I enjoy my life most when I don't freeze it. When I'm out of control. When I have no real target other than just let time pass by. Read a little. Dream a litte. Talk, eat, make love and hug a little. Write a little.

Since 10.000 BC species 'homo sapiens' settled down. No more walking around looking for something to eat. They settled down in farms and cities. Enough food nearby. Cooked food. More and more of us hardly need to invest time in getting and digest something to eat. So much much spare time compared to the other 'homo' species. It made us the species of today.

What's my point? We as species 'homo sapiens' lost something  since the agricultural and city revolution. Before this revolution - in my opinion the only two real ones - we had only one target: food, shelter, safety and reproduction. What did we lost? We lost track of our species dedication. We gained distraction. We gained so much distraction that most of us are most of the time lost. Lost! Got lost in distraction.

Since our species settled down we live together with mouses. Just realize every now and then that most of our species 9.000 generations of ancestors were not familiar with mouses. Nor with houses. Nor with cities. They walked around looking for ...

Question: are those whose favorite pastime is 'Just let time pass by and do nothing' those who are NOT lost in distraction?