Monday, November 28, 2011

Agnes's Jacket

In nineteenth century Germany a madwoman stitched her diary into a jacket, thus uttering her true feelings. What painstaking labour to sew her soul onto a piece of garment! To wear it like a skin, like an enormous tattoo. Even across a century and a half her strength of character cries out to me!
In her book Agnes’s Jacket Gail Hornstein uses her story as a symbol to rehabilitate the mental patient as a person.
I find this extremely moving. I have seen mental illness from close by, and I have always been struck by how the true nature of the patient is inescapably there under the psychosis: the gentleness, the ambition, and the traits that make him lovable in spite of all the misery. Hornstein’s book goes beyond that.
It is not written by a lay person like me, with a psychiatric family member. She is an expert with enormous empathy and the courage to view psychiatry from a patient’s perspective.
For me it opens wide vistas of imagination.
For patients I hope it will eventually lead to a different approach to mental illness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Emperor's New Clothes

Yesterday we went to the theatre to view performances by young actors who had not yet finished drama school. Before the intermission we saw two episodes from A Streetcar Named Desire. After the break we were presented with a lecture, the Benefactor, by a post graduate student, Julian Hetzel, about his aims for success. Each student had been given 2000 to set up a program to create their own success.
Julian gave us a slide show in which he cleverly lead us from his aims as an artist, through his needs as an entrepreneur, through politics and hunger in the world, to his project of donating the money to a starving child – a girl child – in Africa. This was called a performance, and he had already been awarded an award for it.
At the end I asked “Where is the actor in this?” The actor was the performer who had given the presentation. Thus he had created his own success.
Bollocks! I felt cheated. My daughter, an actress, was also creating her own success, by working as an actress in commercials, by teaching in inner city schools, and by scrubbing toilets, if the need for money would arise. Without a subsidy from the government.
Riding home I realised that Julian had had us all on. He had sat in his student digs with the 2000 in his hands, thinking about the hunger in Africa. He decided to donate his money to a charity, and then spun a whole story about this being a piece of conceptual art.
Clever Julian! And we all bought it: his teachers, who stood there proudly beaming; we, the audience; even the highbrow TV station Arte, who had awarded him his prize.
Is it art? No.
Clever? Yes!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

LOOK TV Schiedam

Zaterdag 19 november werd een vraaggesprek over De Brander uitgezonden op LOOK TV Schiedam.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Presentatie De Brander

Gisteren werd in de Jeneverie te Schiedam de Brander gepresenteerd.
Het werd een vrolijk feest, waarin de jenever centraal stond.
Het boek is te bestellen bij de uitgever, of bij

Ook kun je het volgen op facebook.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mama Staat; Papa Zit

Ze zijn als een stoel. Een keukenstoel. Mama de achterpoten en het rugstuk, staand. Papa de zitting en de voorpoten.
Ik mag op Papa’s schoot zitten. Er zijn geen armleuningen. Hij steunt mij niet. Ik voel zijn dunne knieën onder mij als ongemakkelijk knoestige takken. Zijn benen wiebelen. Ik moet mijn evenwicht proberen te bewaren. Het hobbelt onder mij. Toch mag ik niet tegen de rug leunen. ‘Ga rechtop zitten,’ zegt Mama. Dus ik wankel.
Ik weet niet hoe het gebeurt. Ik weet zelfs niet óf er iets gebeurt. Maar nu lig ik op de grond. Alleen. Niemand die mij opraapt. Ik wil terug op Papa’s schoot kruipen. Ik weet niet waar hij is. Ik zie zijn voeten niet. Hij reikt geen hand naar mij uit.
Zou Mama nog steeds rechtop staan? Ik denk dat ze over mij heen kijkt, maar ik zie haar niet. Alsof ze lucht is geworden. Koud, als een wind die langs mijn oren giert.
Nee, niet giert, want ik hoor het niet. Het is een gevoel: kil, eenzaam, troosteloos.
En Papa is weg.