maandag 26 januari 2009

This used to be my land

I was born in a country said to exist only because of some strange coincidences.
Where surrealism became hilarious in the South and expressionism became cynical in the North.
The land of poets and artists, the land of René Magritte and Jacques Brel.
The country of all and ultimate relativity.
The nation where its people have no national feeling which they tend to replace with acerbic wit, especially against oneself. Where people feel slightly ashamed when abroad to admit where they're from, because, well for no particular reason really, but it feels a bit uneasy.

My dad saw horrors in the war. It was too terrible to talk about what he saw when his batallion free'd Büchenwald. So we didn't talk about it. But we knew dad, we knew.

Little country, little people, little mind - used to say one of our kings, born to big a king in too small a puddle.
And we made fun of ourselves, about our one little minesweeper in the Gulf war, about our wacky Frimout, l'astronout flamout, about our ridiculous llittle language problems (and shivered when seeing what happened in Croatia, that would never happen here no sirree), about our politicians making themselves immortally ridiculous abroad, about our demented king and his retarded offspring, about the stupidity you can watch on our telly nowadays.
We used to have one moment in the fashionspots in 1958. We used to be big in comic strips, we used to be famous worldwide for our chocolate and our beer. We used to feel one only at big football (soccer) games.

A few years ago my land became famous for its pedophiles. And when Marc Dutroux was finally caught, the whole nation felt as one and for the first time, no football game was involved. We thought - decided - this was the one exception to our cozy little life. Like one rotten tomato when thrown out of the basket. So we threw it out. And we learned to laugh again.

A few weeks ago a couple was arrested for torturing to death a retarded boy. The mother of the boy and his stepfather were convicted. They had done things on him for years until finally he died of his wounds.
Four days ago a 20 year old kid walked into a baby daycare center. He had a knife. He first killed the female attendant. Then one by one he started to slice the babies with his knife. Two died, several were in critical condition, most were butchered. The babies were aged from 2 two 9 months. The kid left the premises and simple drove away on his bicycle, to be arrested a few hours later. He wore make-up like Heath Ledger as the joker.

Today Belgium suddenly fails to see the joke.
And now I know why I am ashamed to be born here.
Lama, lama, lama sabachthani.

maandag 19 januari 2009


Never to be forgotten

Number Six has left the premises.

The Prisoner was the most intelligent production I have ever seen on television. I still remember what a huge impact it had on me when I watched it as a child (and I must thank my parents for allowing me to experience such epiphanies at a very young age), it probably directed me towards using at least a part of my brain.
Thank you forever mister McGoohan.

The Prisoner appreciation society
Six of One
Bogusmagus' obit
Blather obit

And to the movie executives who have decided to remake the series: go fuck yourself.

zondag 18 januari 2009

A Gravity's Rainbow reader

Effectiveness in Bavaria might be less than optimum.

I outlined the bits I liked the most. [Read more here]

zondag 4 januari 2009

The mother of invention

According to British behavioral biologist Simon Reader, innovative behaviour in a species is not the success story of exceptional individuals who tried to improve their world, but the revenge of fulltime losers, with a low social status, forced to find new ways to escape their misery.
Eating a new kind of fruit, perchance the last way to survive for the lowlife individual, maybe a dangerous way, but it might also be the first step towards a revolutionary diet. Similarly, looking for food on the other shore of the river is the behavior of critters who have noting to loose, taking the risk of encountering a predator but at the same time maybe offering a new dwelling place for the tribe.
And Reader quotes Plato: "Necessity is the mother of invention".

Vincent Van Gogh is nowadays considered one of the biggest artist who ever lived. During his lifetime as an artist he was an asocial drunk, depressed, often hungry, always extremely poor, with no friends and no one to consider more than a crazy bum - with the exception of other crazy bums like Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec.
« (...) qu'est-ce qu'un aliéné authentique ? C'est un homme qui a préféré devenir fou, dans le sens où socialement on l'entend, que de forfaire à une certaine idée supérieure de l'honneur humain. (...) Car un aliéné est aussi un homme que la société n'a pas voulu entendre et qu'elle a voulu empêcher d'émettre d'insupportables vérités. » Antonin Artaud: Van Gogh le suicidé de la société, Paris, 1947.

This resonates with the 'Principle of Least Effort' as theorized by George Kingsley Zipf (1902-1950) :" Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort" which was published in 1949. Robert Heinlein wrote in Time Enough for Love: "The Principle of Least Effort: 'Progress doesn't come from early risers — progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.'" And Zipf is referred to in Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow.
His main achievement is Zipf's law, which basically states that the further an event is situated on a scale of repetition, the lower it ranks. In any given language a small group of words are used extensively, but the occurrence of lesser used words degrades logarithmically. This theory has been applied to the internet.

Derisanamcope, November the 16th

PS it seems the more far-fetched linguists have the most bizarre names. One could write an essay and title it 'from Zipf to Whorf'.