31 december 2006

‘Passion’ or ‘End of Year Thoughts’

Yesterday I was at a party called ‘GeniusSouls – Meeting the best minds of your generation’ organised by Generatie 7080. Several genius souls presented their thoughts on what they thought were the prominent characteristics of our generation. I listened to several of them and the one that jumped above the mowing field (haha) was Leiden’s own debutant writer Thomas Blondeau (one again sees, not all good is from Amsterdam!). Thomas talked about Passion being the prominent feature/virus of the past 30 years. Not the internet, not other new ways of communication, no, Passion. Everything we do these days, has to be because we like doing it. Every person we are with, we must be with because we have an intense Passion for them. Forget ‘useful’ or ‘contributing’, we can only do stuff because we feel it is written in the stars that we should do it. He could not answer whether pursuing our Passions was good or bad, he merely recognized Passion as one of the main motivating factors of our existence.

And now that I come to think of it, this past year has definitely been my year of Passion. Not the my-bed-has-not-been-empty-for-more-than-a-week kind of Passion. No, in that department of the concept of Passion, I have been in outright starvation. Maybe the three months I spent in Japan are a good excuse ;). But, as in matters of Passion you are the only judge in deciding whether you lived up to them, I can say that in all other departments of (my?) Passion I have performed pretty well.

It actually all started long before the beginning of 2006. One of Pete’s manifestations turned out to need an immediate shutdown due to heavy malfunctioning, upon which I decided that from then on Passion would be the leading guideline I was going to live my life by. And as one cannot turn all aspects of one’s life into a Passionate enterprise in a second, it took a while for things to materialize. Looking back on 2006, this year has been the best manifestation of my Passion up until now, definitely!

Study-wise this year brought me some of the best teachers I have ever had. Be it Sebastiaan van der Lubben, Paul Nieuwenburg or Henk Dekker in the Political Science department or my thesis supervisor Chris Goto-Jones in the Japanology department, very Passionate, inspiring people (why only men though?). I also found that realising that this is probably my last year in Academia, propels me into higher states of motivation than ever. Working Passionately on my Japanese language skills and knowledge of Japanese politics again while in Tokyo was incredible fun, too!

Extracurricular activities-wise things have been pretty good too. I managed to scale down on my activities in the field of talking university staff into changing their policies, which has been liberating! These tasks (sometimes they really did feel as ‘tasks’) have been supplanted by De Publieke Zaak and De Slinger, activities which I picked up after moving to Amsterdam. Thinking about and directly doing things contributing to Dutch society has proven to be a Passionate enterprise. I also enjoyed organizing the Faculty of Arts symposium “Cultuur Tegen de Muur” very much. It was so inspiring to listen to scholars’ talks about their Passions. And, although it absolutely does not feel as something extracurricular, our own little reading society LDLG has turned out to be extremely gratifying!

People-wise this year has been the most Passionate ever. The year began with making new friends during two weeks of UNISCA in January and going skiing with one of these friends in March. During the sudden three months in Tokyo that followed, I had so many wonderful moments with the Sakamoto’s and my Japanese and Dutch friends that I learned that having a small social circle and a loving family is really enough to make me happy. Determined to put this new knowledge into practice when back in the Netherlands, I have tried to strengthen the relationships with people that I feel Passionate about. This worked out very well in Spain with Jesus, Lydia and Okasan’s family, and later in Holland with Sakura. Family, old friends, new friends (this year has brought so many new friends!), I wish I could thank them all for the love, friendship and inspiring talks we shared.

Passion as a guiding principle? For me it turned out to be a good one for 2006 and I plan on continuing to use it in 2007. I guess it all depends on what your Passions are and what you direct them at to determine whether Passion is a good or a bad guiding principle. But since it is making me pretty happy, why not just stick to it?

01/01/07 3:53 edit: I had fun tonight, yeah! Happy New Year to you all, make the most of it!

30 december 2006


Everybody meet Pete. It's time for him to face the world, shed all the different personalities he has taken on and realise that he has a choice: be an independent individual or disappear from the surface of this planet altogether. Life has not been easy for Pete. From the early days of his existence he has had to adapt to all sorts of different circumstances. Metropolises, little villages, competitive student towns and even virtual locations, Pete was the man for the job! His unrelenting back ensured that he could handle all of them. Due to the great variety of personalities he had to internalise Pete's character remained quite shallow, however. The most prominent of Pete's features were an immensely accommodating love, an ability to show up only when necessary and the capacity to stick to listening uncritically. This made Pete not really that useful to others, but with his easy presence he kind of got them addicted to his attention. Recently not only the addicted, but also Pete himself have realised that his continuing presence is not bearing that much actual fruit. Together they have therefore agreed that Pete should leave his castle to move either upwards into the vast unknown territories which can be explored in this galaxy or downwards into the beautiful place we call our Earth. Bye Pete.

23 december 2006

Interview: Al Jazeera's Wadah Kanfar

A couple of days off from studying and other things on my to-do-list are put to use by my body to throw out the semi-flu that had been right under the surface for a couple of weeks. In other words, no reading books in coffee bars for me today, I am at home, with an ear- and throatache. It has its charms, definitely. Seeing my bed for longer than 8 hours is kind of nice, and I have actually watched two dvds in 24 hours, which has not happened for ages. The best thing, however, is that I was able to watch the tv-programmes that I have wanted to watch all week: a discussion in Buitenhof with two prominent Dutchmen on current developments in politics AND Joris Luyendijk's interview with Al Jazeera's General Director Mr. Wadah Kanfar. Very interesting to learn more about the man behind the channel that is in the news a lot, but that I did not know so much about. Check it out! ;)

('Wereldgasten' had to cut out the clips Kanfar had selected due to copyrights, so the programme has been divided into 11 parts.)

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11

15 december 2006


"Paradoxically cities bring enormous amounts of people together on a small surface, but also keep them apart. Flaneurs set themselves the goal of creating a renewed sense of community spirit, or like Baudelaire said: "Being away from home while feeling at home everywhere". To reach this mindset flaneurs approach the world with an open view."

(Click on the image to enlarge, it's in Dutch unfortunately ;)
For the poem check http://www.muurgedichten.nl/baudelaire.html

(Source: Intermediair 30 November 2006)

7 december 2006

The Weather Today