maandag 25 februari 2013

2013/07 The Indian Artist

The Indian Artist
It is quite strange actually: You hear that people are afraid of a federal Europe. For example, they might fear that the EU will set things like pension levels or mortgage interest rates or the price of water. That is why they do not want more European integration. And despite my preference for an integrated Europe, they might be right. In exchange for financial support, Portugal is being forced to sell its water company. The EU does indeed protect multinationals more than people. But without European agreements, all the decisions are made by financial interests, housed everywhere in this world. So, that system does not work.
But maybe I should be careful here. Performing on stage, I have learned that everything that is put into the spotlight becomes irrelevant sooner or later -- or at least less important. It will be put in the history books on modern times, published by millions on their profiles, and forgotten in no time. So, I have learned to keep the most important things backstage. Meanwhile, people keep accelerating toward more new things. At the moment, changes occur so fast that things like engine oil or pencils get newly designed packaging once a year. Every city redesigns its squares, and streets and crossroads are turned into traffic roundabouts because of some existing available funds. Old monuments are covered with a mighty glass entrance or graced with remarkable architecture. Slowly, we are becoming a society of inventing what already exists -- of creating what is already there. That is exactly the problem I have with design, which is the most popular thing in our city’s branding strategy. If the heart changes due to wisdom, love, or knowledge, you still look the same, still have the same face and wear similar cloth. It also works the other way around: if you decorate a tree, it is still a tree.
Let’s add an Indian perception: Imagine you are starting to paint or write poetry, and you keep that up for a while. You discover and explore the art of painting or poetry. However, in India they say: when you are a painter, you are not an artist, you are a painter; when you are an actor or a poet, you are not an artist but an actor or a poet. There are eight skills in the arts. If you explore, discover, develop, and present at least four of these skills, you may call yourself an artist. The impact of these words is severe. Several years ago, we had 16 million artists in our country, and they all wanted to have their Andy Warhol minutes of fame. In the last few years, probably for opportunistic political reasons, we have dropped to only 8 million artists. But after reading this Indian wisdom, there might be only a few left and things may become clearer.
Most people do want to live together. It is just a lack of knowledge, a reasonable lack of trust in our leaders, and a true lack of leaders for the people that make not us cherish and use this wisdom.
To me it is quite strange actually.
I’m sure this column will make me focus on other things in upcoming columns.

vrijdag 22 februari 2013

2013/06 Take Time

Take time

Last week, I was skeptical about political intentions. This week, I’m mainly surprised about the amount of information we must deal with: multi terra bites. So, my opinion is not melted solid in concrete, because there are always so many emotions and ambitions and targets going on alongside reason. George Soros noted, and probably for good reason, that most politicians are not intentionally doing wrong but just incapable of understanding the complex technical situation they are in. Thus it is that Jariko Vos, leader of the youth department of the liberal (relatively right-wing) party, emphasized that a referendum to remain part of the EU was far too simple a solution for a complex thing like the EU. Elections would do more good. So, maybe Europe will become an issue in the Netherlands, too. Now, we only need to wait for the politicians to take European democracy seriously– that means without being a lobbying group for their own self-interests or giving free rein to financial cowboys. If you do not mind, I’ll keep on going, while others might wait.

According to the PP Reflection [see MMU 05], change takes years. 
This gives me some time to tell this little story:

I got a small painting in Kunsthaus Tacheles Berlin from a great, great, very great, Belarus artist called Alexander Rodin. It’s a sketch of two people kissing (or biting) each other. One seems to have a crown, maybe the other one as well. There is some text that says: Bruderschaft. Brotherhood. He said, “You will find your story.” He was the second artist to do this and insisted in such a way that I had to accept his suggestion and respect it completely, because I usually never make up the stories. But in this case, I had to, and soon I found my story. There was this television program that posed the question “Why do we feel better when we do things that make others feel better?” Actually, it was a documentary trilogy about how humans interrelate to one another, with the titles “Liberté,” “Egalité,” and “Fraternité.” I only saw the last one. Brotherhood. They had an experiment. A number of people are placed in separate rooms. They get a candle, a box of matches, and two pushpins. The question is: Can you light the candle without holding it or using the floor? The reason: We want to see how long it takes people’s creative minds to find a solution. One solution is to fold the matchbox in such a way that you can pin it to the wall, creating a little platform on which to place the candle. The human brain takes an average of 2-3 minutes to find that solution. Then another group of candidates is asked to do exactly the same experiment but with one little difference: they are told that whoever does it fastest will get 100 dollars. The result is that these candidates take much more time to find the solution. Competition does not make us better, creativity does. And I learned this simple lesson in the program called “Brotherhood.” So, I found my story and remembered the power of Alex Rodin, to be seen in paintings.
Easy to find, hard to believe, funny to enjoy and amazing to love. 

zondag 10 februari 2013

2013/05 King Hollande

King Hollande

“King Hollande” might be a nice title for the new Monday Morning Update. In my country at the moment, all of the channels and parameters are focused on the abdication of Queen Beatrix. Long live the new king. It has been clear for years now that this news was coming, but still. I guess that happens when you look from the outside to the inside. You only see yourself. Meanwhile, I previously mentioned my concern for Mali, and now President Hollande of France was welcomed as a king there after his army chased away the rebels to other places where they can be rebels.
I must say I had mixed feelings about this military intervention. As a pacifist, I do not believe in military power, and as a skeptic, I have learned there is always some unknown self-interest in the game. However, in this case I was not so sure. The ideas of the rebels were extremely aggressive towards those who have other ideas. Cultural destruction and actively writing history are by definition barbaric. The people in the country were suffering long before the rebels arrived, and they still are. But France also showed some glimpses of self-determination. Since the EU has swallowed up most of the visionary ideas, politicians have only been conditioned to compromise for more of the same. As a warm supporter of the European idea, it is painful to see how we Europeans are using the possibilities so small-mindedly. I am with George Soros when he speaks out about not intentionally doing something very wrong. A Dutch politician recently remarked to Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain that the EU is not a supermarket, where you take what you like and leave what you do not like. It would be the simplest of metaphors to see society as a market: a supermarket. Meanwhile, the EU recently announced a guideline that paves the way for privatization of the water companies…
The PP reflection is in progress. The PP reflection is the Politics–Public reflection, where politics are slowly responding to public opinion and, at the same time, but independently from each other, the public is responding to the way politics operates. While politicians are acting like grown up consumers, the public learns to trust politicians without any vision, other than more of the same. But Hollande showed that there is something like foreign politics in the EU. Maybe that is the good news. I don’t know. As I mentioned, the institutes made me a little skeptical and Hollande did not intend to become king, I suppose.

I do not know if it was Goebbels who said this or Churchill, but he said, “The most stupid thing you can do ever in your life, ever, is make propaganda and then start believing it yourself.”

maandag 4 februari 2013

2013/04 Improvising on Images

Improvising on Images

As if the sun came before the rain, we might think we have knowledge of the rhythm of life. Meanwhile, we have been conditioned to live in our cocoons. It is a normal thing to hire a carpenter or lawyer, to pay a doctor, but to ask the same question of someone who lives in the same block, in the same street, is much more difficult, since you do not know the person. Cocoon life is safe for those who do not want to be involved in more than there already is. And more of the same is already there.

This is how I got disconnected from my society. I have asked a lot of my friends. I have asked so much that I have started to feel uncomfortable about it. I have tried to give back what I have: music, images, stories, atmosphere, smiles, good aura. But gradually “what I give” became “my product.” Recently, society said, “What you do for us, go and do it for yourself.” If I’m successful, they will embrace it. But if I’m not successful, they will leave it for what it is. The content is not the matter and not the point. It is now time for me to learn how my society really defines success, because I kind of thought I had been quite successful in my work the last 10 years. But if this success is incompatible with the defined success formulas that go around, I can think whatever I like, but I will not get the response I need.
This week I attended the meeting of a grassroots organization presenting their activities in South Africa. I am into Africa. If this little column reflects on the interplay between the world and home, Africa, in my opinion, is the continent that deserves the most attention. Everything we would want to improve in the world is taking place in Africa. Since my visit there last year and the events currently taking place in Mali, the country has my great concern and attention. A friend who could not attend asked me how it was. In some ways, it was a little embarrassing. There was quite a lot of talk before my submission. My ammunition was used up before I started. So I gave a free interpretation of “improvising on images.” And probably most of the audience’s ears were flapping, like mine would, probably, if I were to hear it again.
Reasonably inimitable, with a strong emphasis on reasonably.So, actually it was fun. Although, I really did not feel like I was at the right place at that moment. I had a strong desire to be somewhere else: aversion to chumminess and pretty tired of talks that want to say anything but do not want to feel, besides eardrum vibrating, maybe. So, I took them along into another world of understanding, which they vaguely recognized and finally perceived.
Forget understanding…
What was that?
That’s fun!
It was something like that.