All entries for October 2006

October 30, 2006

De Nederlander peinst, de Spaanjaard pensa

Le PenseurDiep in de Catalaanse nacht zit ik hier in de bibliotheek, te bloggen. En ik peins in mijzelf, “Wat leuk is het toch om zomaar uit het niets ineens een taalverband te zien tussen twee op het eerste gezicht nogal verschillende talen.” Ik bedenk er zelfs spontaan een voorbeeld bij. Het betreft twee zogenaamde valse vrienden.

Het Nederlandse werkwoord peinzen moet haast wel een latinisme zijn. In het Frans, Spaans en Catalaans zijn overeenkomende werkwoorden te vinden, penser, pensar en pensar respectievelijk. En hoogstwaarschijnlijk in het Italiaans ook wel, van deze taal weet ik echter vrijwel niets af.

Opmerkelijker vind ik de evolutie die de Nederlandse versie van het werkwoord door de eeuwen heen doormaakt heeft. Terwijl het in Latijnse talen gewoon nog steeds simpelweg “denken” betekent, is peinzen in het Nederlands van een veel diepere betekenis doordrenkt. Peinzen is iets wat een filosoof doet, of iemand anders met veel aan zijn of haar hoofd.

Kennelijk pensar Nederlanders niet zoveel.

En nu aan mijn filologische lezers om mijn theorie in stukken te verscheuren.


Big Blog Reorganisation

If you are a regular visitor of this blog, you might have noticed (though probably you haven’t at all) that I having been working a bit at reorganising the messed up tagging system that featured in the sidebar up to now.

From today on, everything will be better, more, bigger, quicker to find, more fun!

I have added a few categories such as the series Defining Catalans which I’m at the moment adding a lot to, as well as a group called Defining the Dutch (nobody escapes my ordeal), Music, European Cities, My Poetry and so on.

It is so much work replacing tags that today, there will be no other update. But have some fun and browse around old entries!


October 29, 2006

Elections in Catalunya

Convergencia i Unio bannerElections time all around. Belgium recently voted for their municipalities, the US are to elect their senate later this year, as are the Netherlands. And in Catalunya, people are proceeding to the voting urns this coming Wednesday, to elect their Generalitat.

Partida Socialista de Catalunya bannerIt’s interesting to see elections happen in other countries, and notice how much a concept of democracy can differ from place to place. In 2004, when I was in India, what I noticed most were the tons of posters, in the most abandoned places, apart from which the process was notably quiet. In the UK in 2005, I was struck by the ugly mud fight Laborites and Tories can fight when it comes to numbers of constituent seats. And in Catalunya anno 2006, what I notice most is the soft and peaceful mixture of Catalanism and a rather widespread kind of socialism.
Convergencia i Unio, the most Catalanist party, wants to “govern well and love Catalunya”. The Partido Popular (said to be post-Francoists in disguise) doesn’t get much further than claiming that “these are also your elections” (not mine, I couldn’t help to think). And: “the socialist party made a mess of this last term”. While Montillo, the Catalan Socialist Party’s candidate for presidency and direct affiliate of Spain’s president Zapatero, smiles superiorily, promising that “metros will be open all night during weekends”.

All over metro stations and billboards we see the five or so most important candidates smiling, shaving, adjusting a drill (“normal people, like you“). Every day, the news readers confide us in detail where they have been campaigning today, and what more they have been claiming.

And here is the best part, a touch of pragmatic politics. The government decided to hold elections on All Saints (Tots Sants), in Spain a free day. Now, nobody has an excuse not to vote.


October 27, 2006

Door de structuur van alledag

In de zomer van dit jaar las ik The Street of Crocodiles van Bruno Schulz, een Pools-joodse schrijver, schilder en graficus die als een belangrijk exponent van de interbellum-literatuur wordt gezien. In deze bundel korte verhalen en novelles werd ik vooral gegrepen door zijn beeldende beschrijving van het idee “groei”, in zijn wereld een ontembaar fenomeen dat zijn eigen wetten kent en uitsteigt boven het onderscheid tussen fantasie en werkelijkheid.
De groeiprocessen die Schulz beschrijft zijn er velen. Echte mysterieuze groei van planten, groei van gekte, groei van paniek en groei van een theorie die de nieuwe werkelijkheid wordt. Het lezen van zijn unieke en vaak metafysische stijl inspirireerde me tot het schrijven van het volgende gedicht, dat ik simpelweg “Door de structuur van alledag” heb getiteld.

Door de vaste structuur van alledag
Breken soms gapende leegten
Vanuit een afwezigheid van alles
Grijnzen holle ogen ons toe
Wankelen wij, uit balans gebracht
Door het plotseling verdwenen plot.
Moreel leeg, en een uitspatting van
Enkel wilde groei en vruchtbaarheid.
Het Zijn streeft alleen maar naar
Groei. En het uitdrukken van zelf,
In een knijpende omhelzing van alles
Wil het alles doen bewegen, veranderen.
In een wurggreep die het enige zijn is
Verstikt het delicate vragen, reserve.
Onze gekoesterde menselijkheid
Knopen van ethische techniek.
In verlaten kamers van onze geest
Waait Aiolos zijn onmogelijke wind
Door de leegte, langs onderdrukte
Wegen vindt het ons terug.

1 juni 2006


October 26, 2006

Excuse me, YOU´RE IN MY WAY!

Was he Catalan?Maybe it´s just a cold northern, efficient, doesn´t-know-how-to-take-it-easy kind of trait of mine, but ever since I got back from London and Kiev, I started to notice just how many times people stand in my way in Catalunya.

Example one. I just walked out of the train and now want to leave the platform. I´m late because I had to meet my friends 15 mins ago so I´d like to get out as quickly as possible. On the escalators, everybody is all over the place. Unlike other cities, where people stand to the side to let people like me pass.

Example two. I´m walking through a university corridor, in what seems to me a normal speed, and suddenly, right in front of me, a girl just stands still. I nearly bump into her. (Repeat about 10 times a day and you´ll start to get the idea.)

Example three. Walking out of the library, I nearly blast into a worker who carries a big pipe of some kind. He walks in a kind of curve, so I want to pass him. (Ok, fair enough, I´m always in a hurry.) But just when I try to pass, the guy, who doesn´t seem to be looking left, right, or at all, turns to the right again, straight into my space, so that I have to stand still for a moment not to bump into him.

Example four. A mass of people in the centre of the city, it´s busiest street, blocking an entire sidewalk.

Example five. I´m walking on a sidewalk, alone. From the other direction come three people, in a row. I get pushed off the sidewalk because none of them steps aside.

And on goes the list… And this is just the score of a week. Aargh! I don´t want to be the stereotype of a northerner at all. But can´t people just look around them to see what´s happening?!


October 24, 2006

Het snelle leven

Writing about web page http://www.ted.nl/v5/?item=490

De tijd staat niet stil in het Gooi. Filmmakers en vrienden Onur Yilmaz (regie) en Xander Bruins (camerawerk) maakten onlangs de korte film Het snelle leven die een kleine internethit aan het worden is.

In Het snelle leven toont wigger Maddogg – “double D double G, je weet tsoch!” – (Florantijn van Spronsen) zijn leven en zijn passies: hiphop en straatracen. Maar ondertussen voelt het kleine Eemnes benauwd krap voor iemand met zijn urban style.

Ga dit zien en vergeet vooral niet de interessante posts eronder te lezen!


Some of the Best Albums of This Century's First Decade

Wir Sind Helden - Von Hier An BlindTwenty hours after my last entry, and again (or still?) sitting in the same library, I am doing some reading and listening to Wir Sind Helden.

The more I listen to it, this German band’s second disc, entitled Von Hier An Blind (From Hereon Blind), gives me instant bliss. In terms of my journeys of musical discovery over the last few years, they have been a move away from monocultured indie stuff to something different. Admitted, Wir Sind Helden are poppy and catchy, but their style has that certain lightness which makes you play an album over and over. Without ever seeming to get enough of it.


October 23, 2006

Toilet Scribbles

...but then in Spanish...I am back in Barcelona now, after a huge travel over half of the European continent, little sleep, and much hangover, in various senses. It’s a Monday morning (like any Monday morning for Barceloneans). I am sitting in the university library, reinstating the learning process.

The door of the toilet I just visited helped me to get back on track. “Jesus te quiere”, it said, “y Stalin te odia”.


October 22, 2006

Whatever, It's Tasty

Arena City in KievIt is one at night, and we are sitting in the office of a Kiev production company. Listening to Ukranian bands (for example Esthetic Education) or English music (Oceansize), and recapturing memories (Sziget festival in Budapest last summer) with some old photos.

Gosha shows me a commercial he’s been working on just for fun. A whole bunch of dogs and barking, then the slogan: “Whatever, It’s Tasty”. Legendary. And one commercial that the office produced, one he acted in. (Was it djuice?) Two guys come around their friend’s house and present him with a gift, a comb. Unfortunately the guy has no hair.

Then we leave the office to go into the city, one last time. I fly out at 9 the next morning. So we buy wodka (honey lemon taste), sit down on the square of Arena City, where we seem to join a whole club of other alcoholics. It’s already two a.m., wtf?! I thought it was 11 or something. As we try to get the mentally security-locked bottle open, my love begs me not to drink too much. We take a sip of wodka, then juice, intertwined.

Gosha and my love look at me with amazement. “You drink wodka like we drink beer.” I nod and smile, not even so proud. “Polish blood”, I explain, “in Warsaw, wodka flows from the taps.” And I kiss my love, another million kisses to come that last night.


October 19, 2006

Kiev! Київ!

Kievشĸ´Ä¸´Ä! I am in Kiev, the Ukraine!

This week I’m visiting Europe’s most eastern country for the first time, and with good reason, I’m visiting my girlfriend here. The city is really nice and complete, which is really no surprise when you know it has around six million inhabitants.

I’ve been taken to quite some nice bars in little side streets that you would maybe not find so easily without local guides, but mine are great. When you come to visit Kiev too, make sure to visit Bar 44 and Cafe Opera (next to the opera house, of course). And drink some local wodka, something which will be hard to avoid anyway. And if you have little money to spend, try paid hitch-hiking, it’s a wicked thing I haven’t seen anywhere else before.


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