Editorial

Dear Reader,

To be honest with you, I have struggled with writing this editorial for two reasons. Firstly, it is my very first editorial that I have been writing since I have become the new editor-in-chief at Splijtstof. Secondly, this edition includes a few articles that I hold very dear to my heart – social safety.

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Redactioneel

Beste lezer,

Tijdens de zomer werd duidelijk dat het toch echt ging gebeuren: langzamerhand proberen we terug te gaan naar het “oude normaal”, of in ieder geval het semi-oude normaal. Afgezien van een doolhof aan aangegeven looprichtingen en een maximumaantal personen per ruimte, ging de universiteit van het slot af. Afgelopen zomer was ik regelmatig op de campus te vinden en ik merkte eigenlijk amper het verschil tussen de zomerperiode en het afgelopen academische jaar – afgezien van het feit dat de kannen op de 15e verdieping niet altijd meer gevuld waren met koffie en thee. Dat was begin dit jaar wel anders. Opeens lijkt het onmogelijk om je fiets te stallen in de daarvoor bestemde rekken wanneer je na de start van de eerste colleges aankomt. Daarnaast moet je er, net als voorheen, weer snel bij zijn wanneer ik een plekje wil bemachtigen in de koffiehoek tijdens lunchtijd. Kortom: net zoals tijdens het “oude normaal” was het in de eerste weken van september weer ontiegelijk druk op de campus.

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Introduction 49-3

“Silence is the most spoken dialect in Sardinia” says the Italian novelist Michela Murgia in the episode about the Brontë sisters of the podcast Morgana (available only in Italian, sadly), which narrates the biographies of many extraordinary women (from the past and the present). 

Michela Murgia’s words hit me while I’m having my daily run or, in this case, walk. In the episode, Murgia is talking to another Italian author, Chiara Valerio. The two are discussing the lack of Gothic fiction novels in the Italian literary tradition. They wonder whether this has anything to do with the sunny Italian climate. In fact, Gothic fiction novels have been extremely popular in those countries where the short dark days and the foggy weather offered the optimal setting for creepy stories of ghosts, murders and the like.

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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.

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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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Introduction

I always thought that podcasts were not my cup of tea. I have never found a moment during the day when I really wanted to listen to an episode or a series that kept me glued to the headphones. Last week, however, I saw that a BBC radio 1 presenter, Phil Taggart, interviewed one of my favorite bands for his podcast. I listened to it while chilling on my terrace and, maybe because Phil’s strong Irish accent is particularly charming, I found myself in the same situation of those who say “I will never buy a pair of those ugly German sandals,” and then get obsessed with them and are unable to wear normal flip-flops anymore. Among the forty-one episodes, the interview with Ludovico Einaudi, one of the most famous living pianists, could not pass unnoticed. Although it might not have been Phil’s funniest interview, it can help us in drawing some preliminary connections between art and philosophy. In a sort of funny twist, we can think of Ludovico Einaudi’s interview as a piano keyboard itself. In the course of this introduction, I will press some of the keys and try to sketch my own composition.

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Splijtstof in the time of Coronavirus

A kindly thing it is to have compassion of the afflicted and albeit it well beseemeth every one, yet of those is it more particularly required who have erst had need of comfort and have found it in any, […].

Giovanni Boccaccio

These are odd, grim, hard times.

To say something smart and meaningful without hurting (even involuntarily) anyone is quite a challenge.

Yet, on behalf of Splijtstof, I am going to give it a shot.

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Redactioneel

Waarde lezer,

Sinds 1972 heeft u kunnen genieten en gruwelen van Splijtstof-uitwerpselen. Soms lange, soms korte maar immer Splijtende stof heeft u goedkeurend knikkend, zeurend zuchtend, gehaast, grinnikend en soms verbaasd onder ogen gehad. Begonnen als ‘maandblad van de filosofenbond’ heeft Splijtstof verschillende transities doorgemaakt. Nieuwe redactieleden, nieuwe plannen, nieuwe voorkeuren, nieuwe ideeën. Wat maakt Splijtstof eigenlijk nog Splijtstof? Ook op de redactie komt dit onderwerp wel eens ter sprake. Het is u misschien opgevallen dat de omslag van deze Splijtstof anders is dan anders. Het plotseling onderaan plaatsen van het logo werd niet door iedereen gewaardeerd (lees: door ondergetekende), maar het argument ‘zo is het altijd geweest’ bleek door voor- en tegenstanders gebruikt te kunnen worden.

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Introduction

Emotions are a pain in the neck sometimes.

We have all been there. One day you might start to feel useless, as if you were not adding value to anything you put efforts in. No matter how many times your loved ones tell you that you are a fundamental part of their lives and no matter how many accomplishments you achieve, this feeling of uselessness keeps eating away at you.

But emotions are also bliss. On the other side of the spectrum, you can start to feel like everything in your life finally goes smoothly. No matter how many small issues you find along the way, positive emotions help you in dealing with them and in seeing them as small and insignificant obstacles.

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