What happens when someone’s unhappiness threatens another’s joy?

Although I will only talk about unhappiness and happiness, my intention is not to imbue you with my unhappy ideas!

Everybody assumes that happiness is one of the most desirable feelings. Happiness! Of course, we all want to be happy! In other words, everybody avoids the state of unhappiness. 

What if we discuss the status of its desirability? Some spaces and positions in our daily life are designed to normalize the desirability of happiness. To avoid unhappiness and to constantly desire happiness – is not ‘just’ an innocent thing. To clarify, I will tell you a story of mine that is not about the persuasion of happiness, but rather about how one’s unhappiness can threaten another person’s joy. In doing so, I dare to release the feelings that are suffocating me in everyday life.

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Is it Justified to Evaluate Female Genital Mutilation Categorically Different from Male Circumcision?

An Examination of Inconsistency Based on Cultural Bias and Making Distinctions Between Religious and Cultural Practices

Introduction 

Within the Western discourse, there is a categorical rejection of female genital mutilation (FGM). It is considered a violation of an individual’s rights and a form of unnecessary violence. At the same time, the topic of male circumcision (MC) is perceived – especially in the US – as much less problematic or even benign. While it may at first sight appear unfeasible to compare FGM with MC, I will demonstrate in this essay that there are certain similarities that are often ignored, and which point to an inconsistency in our categorically different evaluations of FGM and MC. This inconsistency becomes especially evident in philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s account of both practices and potentially points to a cultural bias. A double standard of comparable practices cannot be accepted if we want to develop accounts that are as objective, or minimally biased, as possible. Additionally, if it turns out that we are inconsistently evaluating two comparable practices, we might want to adjust policy and legislation, respectively. 

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Het conflictueuze karakter van de liefde

Wie het woord objectificatie hoort, denkt misschien al snel aan discriminatie, xenofobie of seksisme. Zoals de Amerikaanse relatietherapeut Esther Perel ons echter laat zien, zijn we ook in de liefde soms geneigd ‘de ander’ te reduceren tot een bepaald beeld dat we van haar hebben. Vanuit onze behoefte aan veiligheid en geborgenheid, zo schrijft ze, zijn we soms bang voor de vrijheid en eigenheid van onze geliefde. Als zij een vrij subject is, kan zij altijd besluiten ons te verlaten. Om dit te voorkomen proberen we haar gevangen te houden in het beeld dat we van haar hebben. Zo komt niet alleen de liefdesrelatie, maar ook onze eigen vrijheid onder druk te staan. In een relatie staan dus twee belangrijke menselijke behoeftes met elkaar op gespannen voet: enerzijds de behoefte aan veiligheid, nabijheid en geborgenheid en anderzijds de behoefte aan vrijheid, eigenheid en autonomie. 

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Fighting street harassment with chalk

A notification shows a new message at the top of the screen: “Hey whore!” it says. It is another direct message on Instagram with a story of street harassment in Nijmegen… 

This is just one example of the many messages we have been receiving since our Instagram account Catcalls of Nimma was founded last year. The idea behind this account is to create a platform where people share their experiences of street harassment. They tell us what has been said and where it has been said. We then go to the place and chalk down a quote from the story. The picture of the chalked quote, together with the rest of the story, is then shared on our account – without mentioning the name of the sender(s). 

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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.

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

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.

Waarneming en filmfenomenologie

De acteurs die voor het verhaal waarvan men had genoten bijeengekomen waren, waren allang weer naar alle windstreken uitgevlogen; slechts de schaduwbeelden van hun productie had men gezien, miljoenen plaatjes van ultrakorte duur, waarin men hun handelen al filmend ontleed had, om het zo vaak men wilde snel en flikkerend te projecteren en aan het element van de tijd terug te geven. Het zwijgen van het publiek na de illusie had iets doods en afstotelijks. De handen waren machteloos tegenover het niets. Men wreef in zijn ogen, staarde voor zich uit, schaamde zich voor het licht en verlangde terug naar de duisternis om weer te kunnen toekijken hoe dingen die hun tijd hadden gehad, in verse tijd overgeplant en met muziek opgesmukt waren, zich opnieuw afspeelden.1

Illustratie door Roberta Müller

Dit citaat is afkomstig uit het boek De Toverberg van Thomas Mann. Het beschrijft een groep mensen in het begin van de 20e eeuw die volledig overdonderd en in de war is na het zien van een film in de bioscoop. Dit gevoel dat een film kan geven, het meegenomen worden in een andere wereld, kennen de meesten van ons. Films zijn al sinds het begin van de 20e eeuw een interessant en veel onderzocht onderwerp binnen de filosofie. Een tak in de filosofie die met name veel interesse heeft getoond in dit onderwerp is de fenomenologie.

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  1. Thomas Mann, De Toverberg, (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers, 2012), 396.

Manga: meer dan een teken-ing

Een barthesiaanse semiologische analyse van de mangaserie ‘Barefoot Gen’

Inleiding

Fig. 1: Deze illustratie is afkomstig uit de mangaserie Barefoot Gen. Illustratie door Nakazawa Keiji, Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima volume 1 (San Francisco: Last Gasp, 2004), 250.

De Japanse mangaserie Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen), van Nakazawa Keiji zorgde voor ophef nadat een schoolbestuur in Matsue, een stad in het zuidwesten van Japan, de manga uit zijn schoolbibliotheken had verwijderd. De manga zou te sterke beelden bevatten zoals onthoofding en verkrachting.1 Barefoot Gen kan worden beschouwd als een van de belangrijkste anti-oorlogsmanga. De series zijn quasi-fictionele memoires van Nakazawa’s jeugd als overlevende van de atoombom op Hiroshima. Het verhaal Barefoot Gen speelt zich af tegen de achtergrond van grote vraagstukken van oorlog en vrede. Gens familie worstelt met de ideologische rebellie van zijn vader tegen het militaristische bewind van Japan. Door deze rebellie wordt de familie door de samenleving vervolgd. Daarna vertelt het verhaal de catastrofale gevolgen van de atoombom, het lot van Gen en andere overlevenden, en het leven in de nasleep van de Amerikaanse bezetting.

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  1. Liz Buray, “Japanese school board bans acclaimed anti-war manga,” The Guardian, 26 augustus, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/aug/26/japan-school-board-bans-manga-hadashi-no-gen.

On Comic Sans and Cable Cars

Going Beyond Art and Beauty in Political Aesthetics

Philosophy’s esteem of art and aesthetics has come a long way since Plato. In the – inexhaustive and indefensibly rough – shell of a nut, it went from “these superficial appearances distort the truth of reality and have nothing to contribute of genuine philosophical concern; please step out of your cave with your ideas above your head, sir!”, to “Art with a capital ‘a’ is the only way to escape this cruel existence for blissful yet fleeting moments,” to “yikes, fascists sure seem to use aesthetic strategies in nefarious ways,” to “hey, at least we can counter the ‘aestheticization’ of politics by politicizing aesthetics!”,1 to “there is no reality outside of our representations: reality is what you make of it! (please send help),” to any odd combination(s) of the above.

Illustration by Roberta Müller
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  1. New techniques of reproduction, Benjamin argued, such as the tabloids, photography and film, were operationalized to conjure up ‘mass publics’ that thoughtlessly adsorbed their imagery instead of closely and thoughtfully observing it.