Hegel in de supermarkt

INLEIDING

De uil van Minerva begint zijn vlucht pas bij het invallen van de schemer.1 Pas achteraf kunnen we gebeurtenissen filosofisch doordenken en proberen te begrijpen. Een van de meest impactvolle recente gebeurtenissen die om zo’n begrijpen vraagt, is de coronacrisis. Deze heeft invloed op alle lagen van de samenleving: van internationale economie en binnenlandse zorg, tot het niveau van werk en leven in isolement. Nu we al een tijd in de zogenoemde anderhalvemetersamenleving leven, kunnen we beginnen de coronacrisis filosofisch te doordenken en zo proberen te begrijpen.

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  1. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hoofdlijnen van de Rechtsfilosofie, vert. Willem Visser (Amsterdam: Boom, 2014), 25.

A Reflection on the Rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement

               There is not in the world one single poor
               lynched bastard, one poor tortured man,
               in whom I am not also murdered and humiliated.
                               – Aimé Césaire, Et les chiens se taisaient

On May 7th of this year, I was sitting in Kronenburgerpark reading Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks when I came across this quote from Césaire. These words hit me like a thunderbolt, as on the very same morning, I learned of the death of Ahmaud Arbery. I did not watch that dreadful video, I could not bear it. The only thing I saw was his face, the face of a beautiful, smiling, black man, whose life was taken in such a cruel manner. A cruelty that has been plaguing this world for so long that I cannot comprehend it anymore.

On that day, George Floyd had eighteen days left to live, eighteen days before the world was shook, woken up and stood up to say “no more.” I was already mourning, there was no need for me to wake up. I have experienced racism since I was a child; this was no news for me. It was a beautiful and saddening thing to see all the people around me suddenly caring, suddenly seeing how bad things actually are and to see them trying to make themselves and the world just a little better. It was beautiful because finally, people stopped ignoring reality. At the same time, it was saddening to me because I felt like everyone treaded so carefully, so hesitantly. I felt like I had been screaming on the inside for all my life and now that others finally heard me, it wasn’t enough. Because how riveting it must be to learn about racism, instead of experiencing it. To one day realise that there are racial divides and that not everyone is treated equally, even though you view everyone as equal. I was raised with all this knowledge within me, it was cast upon me by the society I grew up in. I am the minority and that has always been very clear to me.

After George Floyd’s death there was a call to action. Black people from all over the world had had enough, we have had enough for a long time. Protests erupted all over the world, with America as its epicentre. What I saw happening in America was beautiful to me. I saw people in the streets in great numbers, all bound together by the thing that had made them a target since birth, showing the world that they have had enough. The speeches, the marches, the chants, the riots; it was beautiful to me. I wished I could go out into the streets and scream, be angry, destroy things, find an outlet for all these emotions boiling inside of me. When I shared this, I had people trying to argue with me that violence is never good and that the protests would be more successful without the rioting. All I had to say was “white man, sit down.” You have no right to speak on black feelings, no right to tell us how we should deal with the fact that we’ve been continually marginalised since the day we took our first breath.

To feel like I could do something that mattered, I joined the Black Lives Matter protest here in Nijmegen. I opened the protest with a poem I wrote, talking about all my feelings around the matter. It was so beautiful to be up on that stage and see all these people that came out to say firmly that my life matters, that my brother’s and sister’s lives matter. To shout with my people, to stand for my right to live, to say “we are here and we aren’t going anywhere.” I feel like that day was the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement for a lot of people around me. After that, people started quieting down. Social media went back to its regularly scheduled program, protests became fewer and fewer; the Black Lives Matter movement had its fifteen minutes of fame in the Netherlands and was ready to quiet down. This was disheartening for me to see, as I live with it every day; not a day goes by where I don’t think of my race and the oppression of my people. But the trend was over, people wanted to move on. And I was tired. After months of having to be strong, having to educate the people around me, having to act like the voice for an entire race; I was tired. Forgive me, I am only human.

And now here we are, the end of August. The protests are still going in America, but what changes have been made? Have the protests been “successful”? All I can say is that a civil rights movement is a lengthy one, it is not just one single moment. It’s not just slavery, or apartheid, or lynching, or Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and so many that are regretfully to follow. The mind is not decolonized in a day. The world will not change in a day. All I can say is that I will keep fighting and I hope others join along the way, so that one day there will be a world where little black kids don’t have to fear for their lives. So that one day I will no longer be used to seeing black people get killed for being black. And simply because Black Lives Matter.

Going Nowhere, Slow (book) – review

In Going Nowhere, Slow: The Aesthetics and Politics of Depression Danish scholar Mikkel Krause Frantzen studies the psychopathology of depression as it is represented in four major cultural works of the past 30 years. For Frantzen, depression is not “just” an individual psychopathology – albeit with moral, political, and economic implications – but a fundamental cultural and philosophical problem as well. Depression, he argues, is inextricably linked with the problem of time. More specifically, he views depression as “the pathological feeling that history has come to an end, that the future is closed off, frozen once and for all” (6). And indeed, one major symptom of depression is the feeling that there is no improvement possible, no cure available. Phrases like “it will pass” or “tomorrow will be better” become incomprehensible. One feels stuck in a torturous present that extends into the future indefinitely. Or, as Frantzen says, the future becomes a thing of the past, a fait accompli. Frantzen connects this conception of depression to the situation of Western society in general. American philosopher Frederic Jameson has said that it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than an alternative to capitalism. This perceived impossibility to even imagine a future that is different from the present, that is not merely a continuation of structures already in place, forms the basis of this book. The examination of the fiction of Michel Houellebecq and David Foster Wallace, the installation art of Claire Fontaine and Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia occurs along these two lines: how do they represent the individual, affective dimension of suffering from depression, and how is this linked to a sense of being stuck in time, a loss of future for Western society as a whole? But also: what do these works tell us about a possible solution? Is there a cure for depression, both on the individual and the societal level?

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Waarom de liefde eindigt (boek) – recensie

Scharrel, twarrel (twijfelscharrel), kwarrel (kwaliteitsscharrel), mingle (mixed en single), rela (relatie), prela (pre-relatie), een situationship,seksrelatie, of een open relatie, fuckbuddy, friends with benefits, zipless fuck, hook up, casual sex, cybersex of sexting – wie zich vandaag op de liefdesmarkt begeeft heeft haast evenveel keus aan soorten (seksuele) relaties als aan merken hagelslag in de schappen van uw lokale supermarkt. Dat is volgens de Israëlische socioloog Eva Illouz geen toeval. In haar boek Waarom liefde eindigt geeft ze een diepgravende en geëngageerde analyse van de manier waarop romantische en seksuele relaties anno 2020 vormgegeven én verbroken worden in een speelveld waar de consumentenmarkt, de therapeutische industrie en de sociale media de dienst uitmaken. Illouz’ hoofdstelling is dat deze drie sociaaleconomische krachten de opkomst van een nieuwe sociale categorie mogelijk hebben gemaakt: de ‘negatieve relatie’ die zich kenmerkt door ‘de keuze om niet te kiezen’. Daarmee opent ze het onderzoeksterrein van de liefde die vaak al afgebroken wordt voor ze goed en wel van start is gegaan; van relaties die steeds instabieler, informeler en onzekerder worden; van seksuele vrijheid die onze emotionele zekerheid belemmert en van bindingsangst die intimiteit en romantiek verdringt; tot aan eigentijdse fenomenen als sologamie, incels, dickpics en ghosting. Het enorme vocabulaire dat we inmiddels hebben opgetuigd rondom deze nieuwe amoureuze praktijken – die vaak benadrukken dat er vooral geen sprake is van een traditionele relatie – laat zien dat Illouz de tijdsgeest weet te vatten.

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Filosoof op de Arbeidsmarkt – Sofie Lakmaker

Ik ken Sofie Lakmaker van de bachelor filosofie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA), maar het is al een aantal jaar geleden dat ik haar voor het laatst heb gezien. Ik ontmoet haar op het terras van literair café de Engelbewaarder, tegenover het Bushuis, één van de UvA-gebouwen in de binnenstad. Ondanks het vieze weer is het druk. We zitten op een uitbreiding van het terras, een vlot op het water. De tafel staat nogal scheef, en ik ben steeds bang mijn telefoon – die het interview opneemt – in het water te laten vallen.

© Willemieke Kars

Sofie heeft gepubliceerd in de eerste Sampler, een bundel van uitgeverij Das Mag met verhalen van aanstormend schrijftalent. Ze schrijft columns voor De Groene Amsterdammer en in februari komt – volgens bol.com – haar eerste roman uit, ook bij Das Mag. Die roman zal dezelfde naam dragen als haar verhaal in de Sampler: ‘De geschiedenis van mijn seksualiteit’.

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Off the Record: Marc Slors

Enkele seconden nadat Marc en ik elkaar hebben begroet via Zoom wordt Marc getrokken door de instrumenten, een Fender Stratocaster en een Epiphone Dot, die aan mijn muur hangen. Zoals iedere liefhebber richt hij zich direct op datgene wat hem zo aantrekt: muziek. Luisteren, maar vooral ook het spelen. In deze editie van Off The Record zal dit dan ook in het middelpunt staan.

Wie college heeft gehad van Marc Slors kent hem als een spraakzame hoogleraar met bevlogenheid voor zijn vakgebied cognitiefilosofie. Naast zijn academische bezigheden is Marc echter ook een begenadigd muzikant die meerdere instrumenten kan bespelen: “Ik heb lange tijd gitaar gespeeld, en speel al heel lang piano en percussie, maar bas heeft nu mijn voorkeur.”

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Introduction

The past months have been a sort of living paradox. On the one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed (still paralyzes and probably will keep on paralyzing) the whole world, forcing us to stay inside, not to meet people, not to act, basically. On the other hand, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd (and the list is, unfortunately, much longer) demanded us to take action. Not to act was a sign of complicity with the oppressors. Yet, even to act, in this context, was problematic and not that straightforward at all. What are the kind of actions that I, as a white Western (young) woman, am allowed to perform? What are the words that I am allowed to use? It might sound silly but for months, I kept asking myself “Should I say or do this? Should I share that?” Acting without hurting anyone or without saying/doing (accidentally) the wrong thing was, and still is, very hard. Acting in a context in which you are explicitly asked by the government not to move because you might be a contagious loose cannon was, and still is, troublesome. If Hamlet could adapt one of his most famous sentences to this situation, he would probably say something along the lines of “to act, or not to act, that is the question.”

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Off the record – Fleur Jongepier

“It’s just the way I see things.”

If I mention the name of Jane Goodall, most will know whom I am talking about. But if I mention the name Hugo van Lawick, will it ring a bell? Yet, it is thanks to Hugo that we have those beautiful pictures of Jane holding hands with chimps or letting them scratch her back. There is power in photography. The power of making an otherwise private and brief moment public and immortal. The power of selecting what has to be remembered and what can be forgotten.

© Fleur Jongepier

It is with these thoughts in mind that I prepared my questions to Fleur Jongepier, assistant professor of (digital) ethics at Radboud University, who agreed to talk about her passion for photography (which can be observed more extensively on her website: https://fleurjongepier.myportfolio.com/photography). We call on a sunny Thursday afternoon. As soon as Fleur appears on my screen, I notice the luminous interior of the room, and I cannot help but think that it is really the kind of room I would have pictured her in. I have never talked to Fleur before about this passion of hers, so to break the ice a little, I begin by asking her about the origins, so to speak, of her interest in photography.

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Enige tijd in de Eeuwige Stad

Enige tijd in de eeuwige stad

Illustratie door Roberta Müller

Het afgelopen semester verliet ik Nijmegen om van september tot februari in Rome te studeren aan Università di Roma La Sapienza. Dit was gelukkig net voordat het coronavirus Italië in zijn greep kreeg als een van de zwaarst getroffen landen. Gedurende mijn verblijf aldaar schreef ik dit verslag van mijn ervaringen. Inmiddels is het niet slechts een herinnering aan een mooie periode, maar aan een andere tijd. Rome ligt er op dit moment stil en uitgestorven bij; heel anders dan toen ik dit stuk schreef. Onderstaand verslag is daardoor niet alleen een persoonlijke observatie, maar ook een terugblik op een van ’s werelds mooiste steden in betere tijden, niet zo lang geleden.

Ondanks dat alle wegen al naar Rome schijnen te leiden, zag ik geen reden om dat voor de mijne nog langer uit te stellen. Academisch gezien kon het studeren van filosofie in Italië geen slechte keuze zijn. Het feit dat onze eigen FFTR in Nijmegen drie Italiaanse filosofiedocenten telt, wees voor mij al in deze richting. Daarenboven is de Sapienza één van de universiteiten die Rome rijk is en ze heeft in haar 700-jarige geschiedenis haar kwaliteiten meer dan bewezen. Met name de kwaliteit van de geesteswetenschappen is hoog. Ik volg de master Praktische Filosofie en ook politiek gezien is Italië een uitermate interessant land: haar binnenlandse politiek is op zijn zachtst gezegd al boeiend, maar de relatie die Italië daarnaast met Europa heeft, kent vele gezichten en dat interesseert me nog meer. Ik wilde me te midden hiervan bevinden en het aan den lijve ondervinden.

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Philosopher on the Job Market – Jim Burgman

I thought about getting a tattoo at least five times with five different designs. The first time, in my Coldplay phase (although I should say one of my Coldplay phases), I wanted a taattoo with the title of one of their songs. The second time, I went for a drawing of a hedgehog who uses one of his spines as an arrow. A friend of mine made it for me as a visual representation of my personality, and it was supposed to mean something like ‘a determined hedgehog’. The third time, I wanted a cactus. The fourth time, a carrot. For, if you know me, you will also know that carrots are always part of my lunch. Every. Single. Day. The fifth time, touched by the work of photographer Laura Dodsworth, I thought about a breast.

Needless to say, my indecisiveness became inertia. I did not get any of them.

© Jim Burgman

Defeated by my tattoo-vacillation, I was determined to find out what mysterious bonds could tie together philosophy, art and tattoos. I ended up Skyping Jim Burgman on Easter Sunday. Video calling with someone you have never met before can be pretty awkward, especially (and maybe paradoxically) because, contrary to what happens in a regular interview setting, you enter their private zone. You see the room where they are sitting, which, in the majority of the cases, is their studio, living room or bedroom. You see how they decorated it, what they have lying around, the colors of the walls, and other small things that tell you something about their personality. In my case, I got to see Arthur, Jim’s cat, who tried to grab his attention a few times at the beginning of the interview and then, as every cat on the planet, started to mind his own business.

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