I have been writing poetry for a mighty long time now – must have been at least 20 years. I did sent a small pack of poems to a publisher when i was about 17, and i got a nice letter back that compared my work to three rather famous even though somewhat dusty old dutch poets – Achterberg, Bloem and Marsman. The funny thing was at that time i hadn’t read any poetry at all so i had no idea who these guys were. I was simply too busy living my rather chaotic teenage punkrock life and since i didnt come from a ‘reading family’ and was hardly taught anything about it at school it never occurred to me to read poetry, I did read a lot, but mostly science fiction books.
I did start to read poetry later on and i soon found out that I mostly liked foreign poets, there are a few nice dutch poets but the overall quality is rather mediocre. I didn’t send poems to magazines or to publishers anymore, my idea was that if I was good enough a poet they would sooner or later ask me. So i just kept writing occasionally and then one day a writer, Adriaan Jaeggi, asked me if i ever thought about publishing, and i said why not and so on until my debut.
Now, at 41, I officially wrote only 3 books, but that’s because rather than publish a thin book every year or every two years i rather take the whole concept serious and try write something with some real ‘body’. These 3 books contain over 300 published poems, the equivalent of six normal poetry volumes.
I got a lot raving reviews, was called the most promising poet, yadda yadda. And yet I have never ever been asked for any jury memberships, for any editor position, for anything literary. Why not? Well, I made it perfectly clear to everyone that the current ape-hill of ‘literature’ means shit to me. It has too many ‘hidden rules’ that tell you you have to have the same values as everyone else, must like the same things, must laud the same people – it functions as an industry, and whomever is too critical is silenced or expelled.
Well, fine with me. I honestly prefer being able to voice my true opinions more than some sort of ‘success’ at the expense of my soul.
The strange thing, however, is that the same people who control this ape-hill now start accusing me of being ‘jealous of their success’.
Didn’t I make it perfectly clear that I don’t want their type of success? What do I need to do to make that clear? What kind of ‘success’ are we talking about, anyway? Most of these guys have never ever received reviews even close to mine in terms of positivity, hell, some of them never even wrote any books to begin with.
To me, there is only one type of ‘success’ as a poet: to write a truly good book of poetry. That’s what I have been interested in and that’s what I am trying to do. I don’t want to be in talkshows with my face. I don’t give a shit about ‘selling much’ and the whole media makes me feel as if I’m watching the muppetshow after dropping acid.
It’s weird to think anyone could even consider ‘success’ in any sort of other way. What is it supposed to be? Who on earth will remember all these second-rate demi-popularities twenty years later? Nobody, and they bloody well know it. You cannot network your way into real success. You cannot buy a soul. That idea must make them real depressed, but their constitutional depression, that looms behind every attention-fit they expose, is hardly a problem of mine. Jealous of your success? Sure dude, pop another Prozac. Don’t keep the audience waiting, Elton.
In my estimation somewhere at the end of the eighties something went terribly wrong. I dont say that because I believe the whole American Dream and western society has not always been an empire with its respective propaganda: it is, and has always been, but what we saw was a rapid demise of the quality of the propaganda, as if all these institutions suddenly hired a bunch of idiots to do their PR. I am not saying we were living in a perfect world in the 60′s and 70′s, there were in fact a lot of things wrong with it, but there is one thing i liked about it: people seemed to actually care to do their best. Chess was popular. Science fiction. People were dreaming of better worlds. Everyone felt he had to perform to the best his being was capable of. Now that is the effect of EFFECTIVE propaganda.
But what happened in the nineties? God knows. In the seventies, they tried all sorts of things to make the best sound systems you could imagine. In the 90′s all of a sudden a cheap piece of plastic with some nice color was good enough for everyone. What does actually explain this difference?
We suddenly live in a world where nobody seems to care anymore about ‘doing his best’. There is no intellectual challenges anymore: you can become a scientist, true, but you are guaranteed to work a lifetime of service serving some company’s profit with ‘more addictive pills’ or some similar goal. Can all this be explained by the ‘end of the cold war’? Was it really the cold war in the first place that was the cause of the ‘intelligence race’ such as was expressed in so many forms? I claim it wasn’t.
What caused the demise of the ‘Intelligence Race’ was not the end of the cold war, or even the fact that all of a sudden ‘only one ideology’ was left and there was no more ‘competition’, as some claim. I make an entirely different hypothesis: I think that the three dominant ‘ideologies’ of the 20th century, namely capitalism, communism and fascism, are not in fact ‘ideologies’ at all but rather something else. Why, you ask. Well, think about it. What is it that an ‘ideology’ actually does? An ideology is a believable picture of a better world, a picture you can believe in, an utopia. The ideology is like the formula that can make the utopia possible. But here we encounter a giant problem: what exactly is this ‘utopia’ in case of:
Capitalism: does it have any? A better world by earning money and working hard? Come on, what kind of utopia is that? It is not even an utopia at all, its just a practical guideline for everyday life. You cannot with a serious face claim that the economy is an utopia of itself, and yet: that is exactly how it was presented to us in the 20th century.
Communism: an utopia? What utopia would that be? The idea behind communism deals only with the same ideas Capitalism deals with: work hard, and earn money, but instead of one guy getting very rich everyone will get a little bit rich’. Well I can see how this could strike some simpletons as an ‘utopia’ but it doesn’t change the fact that no actual image or ideas for a better world are presented: it is just a mild variation on capitalism, with a somewhat different power structure.
Then last but not least: Fascism. What ideology or utopia does it really present us? The ‘strong man’ which will solve all our problems, but ‘Mein Kampf’ is so incoherent its hardly even readable, and Hitler, a neurotic bureaucrat, as ‘the ubermensch’? Nietzsche believed that the ‘State’ was a monstrous entity which had as its only purpose to shield the weak and destroy the strong. That image certainly springs to mind when we think of Hitler. No intelligence, no physical strength, no humor, nothing anyone sane could somehow label as ‘strong’. Mr Hitler would on any decent ape-hill have ended up at the bottom pretty damn soon. So how can this all be presented as an ‘utopia’ or a formula leading there?
See the problem? We have been presented a reality model in the 20th century, the model of the ‘Battle of the ideologies’, and that model was in itself a form of propaganda. There never were any ideologies. I claim that the only TRUE ideology of the 20th century was the ideology of rock music. Because rock music actually did present us with an utopia: a truly different form of organization that wasn’t family based, a totally different and wilder lifestyle, people started actually experimenting with their lives and with their consciousness, all because of the strange utopia of Rock Music.
I claim that loss of the ‘Intelligence Race’ has almost nothing to do with the end of the Cold War and everything with the Death of the Rock Utopia. This is not difficult to perceive at all: imagine they would have succeeded building a ‘New Cold War’ between the west and the muslim world, as they so desperately tried to do. Do you believe that if that would have happened, the Intelligence Race would have returned? Of course not. Something got lost, and it wasn’t an animosity between two fake ideologies. What we actually ‘lost’ is rather the real ideology: the idea that it is possible to ‘break free’ from the system with a different lifestyle.
It is the absence of this real possibility, of the possibility to experiment with ones life instead of just being ‘the average hedonist life enjoy-er like anyone’ as we can be nowadays: that, my dear readers, is the main drive behind this demise of the Intelligence Race. Sure, there are also some other factors that play a role: worsening education systems, abominable food, etc. But we lost the only ideology that had suddenly manifested itself to us, in the middle of the 20th century: the idea that life just wasn’t about ‘birth-school-work-death’ and was actually worth living and fighting for.
The fake ideologies of the 20th century, on the contrary, are all just about this: birth-school-work-death and slight organizational variances between those.
They are all just ‘variances of state’ that do not essentially offer an individual any sort of useful utopia. We actually killed the cause of the Intelligence Race: the idea that ‘everyone is different and we are all hedonist’ is egalism at its worst: there is simply no challenge in exceeding and being the best if that not either means you gain freedom from it or at least the right to be different than others.
Anyone with ears knows that what we once knew as ‘music’ has been replaced by some monotone sounding endless marketing drone. There is no ‘rock spirit’ in such automatism: in my opinion the basic problem here is that capitalism started believing in automatizing so much that it didn’t realize such automatism would essentially destroy its basis. Why? Well, think about it. We now live in a world where the majority of film-scripts are simply scripts auto-generated by computers. We have thus, effectively, automatized our propaganda. I believe this and the demise of the true ideology are responsible for the horrible mess we are in today. Nobody can believe in anything anymore. Nothing feels real. Nobody tries to do his best, all because the alternative spirit is absent and the propaganda is so flat and unbelievable not even an idiot would feel motivated by it. This is what we young people have inherited of the previous generation: a war between fake ideologies, and the silent demise of stuff that really did matter.
Martinus Benders, Istanbul, 29-07-2012
The idea that Jesus died on a cross is probably a wrong interpretation of Biblical texts. That’s what a Swedish scientist concludes after studying historic texts. Theologian Gunnar Samuelsson of the Göteborg University claims that Jesus never got crucified but instead was hanged unto a pole.
The scientist claims there is no literature that explicitly mentions the crucifiction. In the Bible they write only about the ‘staurus’ Jesus had to carry up the Golgotha mountain, a word which a lot of historians have translated as ‘cross’ but which should be much accurately translated as ‘pole’, the Swedish scientist suggests.
Roman, Greek and Hebrewe literature suggests that executions where people were nailed unto a cross have not been existant in the ancient days of the roman empire at all, says Samuelsson. Hanging prisoners unto a pole, however, was quite common in those days.
Samuelsson thinks the image of Jesus on a cross exists because of the imagination of ancient artists that were made long, long after his death.
‘There are simply no description of Jesus or anyone else in that time being crucified’ Samuelsson says, ‘the whole thing is based upon imagination and myth’.
Samuelsson vermoedt dat het beeld van Jezus aan het kruis is ontstaan door artistieke afbeeldingen die veel later zijn gemaakt.
Will Mel Gibsson remake his rather kitschy torture episode ‘Passion of the Christ’ now? Maybe a bit less dramatic, with a pole instead of a cross? Beyong doubt lack of nails and blood wouldnt fare well with hollywood audiences. And what about all these people wearing crosses around their necks, will they now be replaced with poles? Are we going to hear ‘He poled for your sins’ now when we get lectured?
These are exciting times!
The Open Air Library on the highest mountain of Buyukada is once again open. Kerem aka Argos Libertos managed to open it again after the police forced him to shut it down last year but they were no match to his persistance. Kerem cured well from his jump from 3 high in the centre of Istanbul and could walk well again after being operated, first half year with help of a stick. His library has now signed works of dutch poets Arjen Duinker, Tonnus Oosterhoff, K.Schippers and Alfred Schaffer who by means of Bart van der Pligt were kind enough to donate books. When you’re in Istanbul you should surely stop by and please bring a book or two!
A multi-channel video with immersive sound work, that addresses the themes of silence and landscape with location recordings of each of the seven volcanic islands captured in high detail. Its ten minute duration presents an ethereal sequence of scenes that resonates with the glory of the natural environment. Mink and Scanner captured the idea of silence and human intervention, by creating traces through different areas which addresses the existence of the real and imagined landscapes that they’ve confronted and readjusted throughout their journey…
One of the most special artists I’ve seen this month is American artist Christian Faur.
Faur is an artist that developed his own colour-code language to communicate with and he also makes works that uses scientific and mathematical formulas. Also special are the portraits he builds out of colour codes with nothing but crayons. Faur proves to be a many-sided and interesting contemporary artist and I got his permission to show some of his works here.
Christian Faur – Just Paper II / 2008
This is the work of Faur that touched me most. It’s made from torn pieces of paper stuck on a foam background. It’s the well known image of the tower of Guantanamo Bay. What makes the work special is that it’s build from the shredded constitution of the United States of America. Marvellous.
Christian Faur – Continuum / 2001
Faur also has a number of paintings based on mathematical and/or scientific formula. They come close to something I would call visual poetry, and very startling visual poetry indeed, that also has a scientific background. That background and fascination for the laws of nature sounds trhough in most of Faur’s work. Some of his work is also strongly conceptual; he has published an essay of Wittgenstein translated into his own colour language:
(original handmade artists book based on the text “Remarks on Color*” by Ludwig Wittgenstein)
Also special are the works that are build from hundreds of coloured crayons, which again contain coloured codes which will probably yield hidden messages when they are translated from the colour language Faur has constructed:
The Wind, the wind, 2007, Hand Cast Encaustic Crayons, 3 Panels at 19.5 in x 19.5 in each
The Wind, the wind, 2007, Hand Cast Encaustic Crayons, Left panel 19.5 in x 19.5 in.
In short, Faur is a fascinating artist that developed his own language and tries to grasp the forces and formula behind our realities. He definatly deserves the attention of a wider audience. Please take a look at his website:
The Kazakhstan born graphic artist Serik Kulmeshkenov is one of the few artists that keeps the ex Libris craft alive, a special genre within the arts. Ex Libris are special book seals people use to personify their person book collection. The works of Serik Kulmeshkenov are excellent examples of why this craft should never disappear:
Ex libris Natalya Chebotar / size 90mm x 90mm, 2005.
Ex libris Sergey and Irina Khrapov / size 80mm x 105mm, 2008
Ex libris Paul Elliott / size 65mm x 82mm, 2008.
These and many more magnificent Ex libris works you can view at the website of Serik Kulmeshkenov. Every serious book collector should have such an emblem, in my opinion.