Stories Found

Lofzang op een schermer

Lofzang op een schermer

Ik ben op dit moment aan het ontdekken wie Anna Maria van Schurman is. In het boek dat Pieta van Beek over haar schreef kom ik de volgende passage tegen van Anna Maria (oorspronkelijk in het Latijn geschreven):

To Mister Gerard Thibaut

who was the first to adapt the heroic art of fencing,
by a wonderfully simple method, ingeniously to mathematical principles
that art of fencing which was unknown to everyone and everywhere
or that art that was explained blindly without rules.
And with the highest honour should he not be recommended to the heroes of fencing or even be included in their ranks?

I, Anna Maria van Schurman, wrote (this) in Rhenen on 25 August 1623

[Bron: The First Female University Student: Anna Maria van Schurman (1636), P. van Beek (2010), pp.23 ]

Ik moest even opzoek wie Gerard Thibaut was. Wikipedia to the rescue. Fantastisch om te lezen hoe iemand in die dagen dacht over de juiste houding bij het schermen en daar een hele studie van maakte.


Pullman on the importance of culture

Pullman on the importance of culture

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.

But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.

These are the words written by Philip Pullman for the tenth anniversary of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2012.

How can I not agree with this?

(via Jon Husband)


“Put the helmet down wondering and lifted it knowing.”

“Put the helmet down wondering and lifted it knowing.”

I found this wonderful short documentary by Callum Rice about the Scottish poet Robert Fullerton.

Fullerton was seventeen and welding apprentice, not a profession easily associated with poets.

Now if you’re not going to read it, give it back, because there’s dafter people than you that need it. I thought you were sensible son, you would have got through that in a week! That’s what Archie said to me.”

This is Fullerton’s opening anecdote how he started reading at the shipyard. The short documentary is mainly an ode to Fullerton and the Glasgow shipyard, but to me it is also an ode to an object rarely used this way these days: a book, passed on, read and learned from, regardless of your background.

That was your education in the yard. It wasn’t the library. You didn’t join and get a card. Somebody stuck a book into your pocket. You looked and what was it? Das Kapital! You learned of really rough older men.”

For Fullerton there is no doubt that being a welder made him a writer:

I learned how to write under a welding helmet. Didn’t know it at the time. Now it’s as clear as day. […] It’s the perfect thinking laboratory

And comparing the two trades, welding and writing:

They are both done solitary and in silence.

Put like that, it was inevitable for this man to become a poet. Now watch it all. It’s beautifully filmed and told.

Bridging the Gap: Resilience | Mining Poems or Odes (subtitled) from Scottish Documentary Institute on Vimeo.

Found at Aeon.


When everything is not going to be okay, what do you say?

When everything is not going to be okay, what do you say?

A classmate who died during a car accident, a sport mate who committed suicide, a fellow student who died due to a stupid bacterial infection, a friend diagnosed with cancer, another friend who lost his spouse way too early due to cancer, a nephew who lost both his parents at the age of seven. These are just a few examples of the loss and grieve I have encountered in my life when anything you say feels wrong, because you know that the future life of loved ones are lost, forever.

Over the years I have observed loved ones who deal with loss and know that the hole left behind will always be there. Time doesn’t heal, it only makes it a bit more bearable with every day passing.

Online friend Stephanie Booth shared this article today, written by Liz Petrone, and it brought tears to my eyes, because what the author writes rings true. She explains that her mantra always was: Everything is going to be okay. Yet, after losing her own mother she discovered these words didn’t work.

Now the words were hollow and flat, not even touching the ache in my heart. Because here’s the thing: there is no “okay” in grief. There is the loss, and then there is the hole in your life shaped like the person you lost. That hole doesn’t fill back up, I have come to realize. Time might heal wounds but it doesn’t fill holes and it certainly doesn’t bring anyone back. It’s been three years and I still think I sometimes see my mother out of the corner of my eye in a crowded grocery store or driving down the highway. The best I can hope for is that the raw edges scar over and I don’t have to walk around torn open and ragged forever.

The she asks the question:

How do we comfort each other when the simple truth is life is so hard and loss is inevitable and it hurts like a son of a bitch pretty much forever?

She discovered the words that do work while consoling her son after he took a tumble:

“I’m here,” I said quietly, trying it on. It felt right. It wasn’t a lie. “I’m here,” I said again, louder this time, and he softened into my chest, accepting that there was indeed space in me for him.

I’m here.

Those are exactly the words that describe what I’ve learned over the years when dealing with other people’s pain. It is a simple guide to know what to do when shit hits the fan in the lives of those you love: just be there. And being there can come in many shapes in our connected world.

Source: Huffington Post


Of course he is a reader. And a writer.

Of course he is a reader. And a writer.

The sensible people I know are readers. So it’s not a surprise to me that Barack Obama is an avid reader. Michiko Kakutani from The New York Times interviewed Obama about literature and what books meant for him during his White House years.

In that same interview he also tells about his writing (in his journal and short stories):

Was writing partly a way to figure out your identity?

Yes, I think so. For me, particularly at that time, writing was the way I sorted through a lot of crosscurrents in my life — race, class, family. And I genuinely believe that it was part of the way in which I was able to integrate all these pieces of myself into something relatively whole.

For me, writing is not so much about integrating pieces of myself, but more about discovering what I actually think and believe. Only when I write it down on paper or screen, I really know what is going on inside. It took me a long time to acknowledge that writing is essential for my well-being. Whenever I have a period that keeps me from writing, I start to feel restless and unhappy.

Later on in the interview, Obama projects his role of storyteller into his next role in society:

When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.

Look, I don’t worry about the survival of the novel. We’re a storytelling species.

I think that what one of the jobs of political leaders going forward is, is to tell a better story about what binds us together as a people.

What holds us together is an idea, and it’s a story about who we are and what’s important to us. And I want to make sure that we continue that.

I’m so glad to that he puts his storytelling and presidency skills to good use in the coming years:

And so in my post-presidency, in addition to training the next generation of leaders to work on issues like climate change or gun violence or criminal justice reform, my hope is to link them up with their peers who see fiction or nonfiction as an important part of that process.

Lots of other good stuff in this interview:
The transcript from which I quote.
The article written by Michiko Kakutani.