Wie is er bang voor Simone de Beauvoir (boek) – recensie

Deze recensie is geschreven in de vorm van een briefwisseling door Cas Buijs en Esmée van den Wildenberg. Samen bespreken zij een aantal centrale thema’s en vragen die in het boek aan bod komen, waaronder of de De Tweede Sekse een psychoanalyserend werk is en welke rol De Beauvoirs persoonlijke leven speelt.

Lees meer…

Philosopher on the Job Market – Alex Groen

A few years ago, I would have never imagined myself writing about beer.When I was living in Italy, I did not even like beer. At some point, pilsners appeared in my life but they did not look like a particularly original choice. IPAs seemed much more interesting. Then I started working in a bar, and I discovered the magical properties of sour beers. In case you are in need of a recommendation, among my favorites are: Rodenbach Gran Cru (6% ABV), Vibrant P’ocean (a collaboration between Rodenbach and Dogfish Head, 4.7% ABV), Florida Weisse (Thornbridge Brewery, 4.5% ABV), Blos (brewed by Nevel Artisan Ales for Café De Kluizenaar, 5.5% ABV). Yet, one of the beers that literally stole my heart was Studio Oedipus no. 30 (4% ABV), a delicious raspberry Berliner Weisse with a beautiful pinkish color. This is where our story begins.

(more…)

Time and morality: how the passing of time in L’Enfant evokes a sense of moral acknowledgement

In Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s 2005 film L’Enfant, protagonist Bruno’s (20) girlfriend Sonia (18) has just given birth to their child, Jimmy 1 Both unemployed, they are barely surviving off her welfare cheques and his crimes, until Bruno decides to sell their baby for a large sum of money to a black market adoption without Sonia knowing. What he sees as a quick fix for their financial instability, she interprets as an utterly disturbing and sickening act. Feeling guilty for the shock he has caused her, Bruno eventually buys the baby back but is then turned down by Sonia. Eventually, Bruno ends up in jail after yet another petty crime. The film ends when Sonia comes to visit him in jail, and we see them embracing one last time in a moment of shared despair and anguish.

(more…)
  1. Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, dir., L’Enfant (Sony Pictures Classics, 2005), DVD.

The Big Zucchini Problem

It is my birthday today. A friend gave me a zucchini as a gift. A zucchini of such a size that anyone who saw it would almost surely say that it was a very large zucchini, and that they had not known that zucchinis could be quite so very large. Unsure of what to do with such a large vegetable, I set it upon a shelf. There, I could remark on its largeness whenever my gaze drifted from the small tasks of the day. I could wonder what should be done with it. I could, of course, eat the zucchini. It was certainly not too large to eat if only I were to divide it up between a number of meals. But it still seemed too large to be eaten. That is, in the sense that there ought to be something suitably different that one does with a very large zucchini, something different to what one does with a zucchini, or indeed any vegetable, of a regular size.  Namely, to eat it. Growing exasperated by the lack of any ready solution, I decided to renew my efforts in the morning.

(more…)

De uitdragerij

Ik word door vele vreemde handen uitgeplozen.
Van alle kanten komen ze. Mijn berg aan schatten
staat hen voor ogen met hun grote, lege kratten.
Dat wat ze nemen wordt naar willekeur gekozen.

Men schreeuwt en graait en paradeert met mijn trofeeën:
Kostuums, blazoenen, archaïsmen, kandelaren.
“Je kunt hier best wel zonder, joh!” – het werk van jaren.
Ik word verlost onder de felste barensweeën.

In weerwil van mijn uitgespreide armen wordt
Mijn stapel alsmaar kleiner. Men grijpt en graait en port
En gooit baldadig met gewezen grote luister.

Niet eens de grond onder mijn voeten staat nog vast.
Ik zie een diepte gapen waar de stapel was
en tuimel achterover in het stille duister.

Redactioneel (49-2)

Beste lezer,

De afgelopen maanden – of eigenlijk: het afgelopen jaar – beleefde ik als één lange aaneenschakeling van ongelofelijke taferelen. Allerlei schokkende spektakels passeerden de revue, waaronder de brand in vluchtelingenkamp Moria, het coronavirus, de explosie in Beiroet, het coronavirus, de Trump-Biden showdown (inclusief bestorming van het Capitool), en het coronavirus. Als een ware zondevloed stroomden ze over de wereld. Het contrast kon niet groter zijn: ondertussen zat ik – net zoals vele andere studenten – thuis, in een kamer die ook direct mijn gehele leefruimte was. Ik voelde me losgekoppeld van “de wereld” en tegelijkertijd kon ik wanneer ik daar behoefte aan had geen rust vinden van “al die ruis”. Als gevolg werd ik moe en onrustig tegelijk.

Lees meer…

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.

Lees meer…
  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?

Read more…

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.

Lees meer…