johannes k.


he says : i even tried to find god for a couple of years but i was unsuccessful. there was nothing.

i say : well (i think) you are either the kind of person that can find god or you're not.

i am tempted to jazz up this slight but true story by adding something like : but if you found nothing, that may be better! but that would kind of spoilt it.

instead of 'it is' the germans say 'es gibt' — it gives or it is given. there is also the sense of something becoming apparent or revealed — or unconcealed, as the old german philosopher insisted.

in the english language, a given is a known, an immutable or established fact or situation, something which we do not have to discuss or negotiate : it is a given.

this seems like a waste of a word which has a lot more potential. i sometimes think in terms of the world giving things, things that are interesting or useful or beautiful — and events ... but also things/events that are the exact opposite and things/events that have a dark side, things/events that appear to be one way and then turn out to be another.

gift is not a good word for such things/events because of its association with giving presents. i wondered if the word 'givens' could be redeployed for such things/events. or would it be confusing?

let's give it a try :

yesterday there were a number of givens. argh ... it sounds stupid.

i am having frequent interesting conversations with someone who is formally undergoing psychoanalysis, striking differences between it and whatever it is that i do and equally striking correspondences.

for example transference and counter transference, which also happens in other relationships eg teacher student❊

there are disadvantages to my method such as it it, but one major advantage is that there are all kinds of continuities with other conversations with people, that are not and could never be sessions as such, and yet here you are engaged in a process which is more than a conversation — and it is being driven.

it begins as an ordinary conversation but it can turn at any moment ... or i can issue an invitation and then it can turn ... or not.

for a moment i am in the driver seat, my hands are on the wheel. we are idling. we were in neutral but i have shifted into first gear, the clutch is still depressed.

i look at you and say : wanna go for a ride? — where would we go? there is no way of knowing and we may never get to 'a there' ... but you won't be here any more ...

it's entirely up to you, from one session to the next. if you want to hide you can hide. you can avoid me for as long as you like.

ha ha ha ... i wouldn't be a psychoanalyst for quids ... sixty five for forty minutes ... what a rort.

oh! a quid is also a partly masticated lump of food that is dropped from the mouth?! it is apparently said of horses.

#work #psychoanalysis #conversations

on anti-realism

perhaps an appropriate something to go with that which i made almost twenty years ago :

one morning you wake up and, as the first of the sun's rays begin to appear on the horizon ... actually no ... wait ... it's a cloudy morning, deep dark clouds hanging low and at dawn, at first it begins to get light and then the skies darken again.

i imagine a different time, before the whatsapp, and too busy lives, and so many distractions, when people lived as nomads.

you notice he has pitched his tent in the distance. the flag is unmistakable. centuries later the design bots at apple would appropriate it as an icon for transparency mode on the airpods pro.

i am currently engaged in a highly speculative experiment with presence.

when i worked in the hospital i learned that sometimes all you can do for people is to be there, hence one of the reasons for the title of my book.

what are the different ways of 'being there' for someone? i have thought about that a lot in the nearly ten years i've been working with people directly as it were, existentially.

what constitutes a consoling presence?

what is presence?

this is not art but it is a practice, or rather a praxis — a process of practice being informed by theory and theory being informed by practice — and i would suggest, a theory and practice informed by ethics (and vice versa).

the most basic unit of ethics : respect.

a book like an action painting.

this is in part an action painting made with words and silences and ellipses and dashes, and partly a performance❊ with an audience of one — one who is not actually present in the space where the performance is taking place but nearby.

perfect for corona times. fuck one and a half metres. how about one and a half kilometres?

❊performance here in the sense of a kind of beuysian aktion but like i said, this is not art. so.


in the spirit of transparency — and also to undermine the possible power relationship — it is customary, in the world of narrative therapy, to give the person you've worked with the notes you took during the session at the end.

i was my narrative therapy teacher's worst nightmare (hi ron!) because there were all kinds of things i refused to do and one of them was to take notes during sessions. the wisdom was that taking notes shows the person you're working with that you are paying attention. my argument was and is that if you're taking notes it is impossible to give 100% of your attention to the person. you are not completely being there. and isn't the note taking like a performance then? also, at least for me, because i take words seriously, the fact that the notes are going to be read by the person i am working with (and possibly others) afterwards inevitably means that would be keeping the reader/s in mind whilst you are writing.

after 10 (or 28 depending on how you look at it) years of working with people i have become convinced that it is certainly valuable to share your thoughts/notes arising after a session with the people you're working with and indeed they may also be valuable (or of interest) not only for the particular person but for other people that you're working with (but if it contains personal information, only ever with permission) and i've started doing this slowly, haphazardly, as is my wont.

this morning a new experiment : voice recordings — because of course sometimes one does not have time and energy to write things down properly.


freud and jung : who doesn't love them? you could make a great fi... oh wait. you could also make a dreadful film about them that takes way too many liberties and i find keira knightley a little ... how shall i put it? pouty? and she always looks as if she's acting? and as for michael fassbender, he is just too damned good looking to be jung.

but like many people who did some interesting thinking a long time ago, some of it was useful and still is — and some of it was, but no longer is and some of it never was and never will be, and some of it has been co-opted by people whose intentions are ... questionable.

apparently freud wrote, in a letter to jung in 1906 : “Analysis is, in essence, a cure through love.” i've never seen this before but i haven't read much freud. it does seem like an odd thing to say from one so keen on maintaining professional distance and being a blank slate, but perhaps this was why?

i rather think freud wanted to have his cake and eat it, and if you've seen 'a dangerous method' you might be tempted to say, and so was jung. in fact there is a lot you could say about that, or i could.

in newspaper profiles of famous people the question is sometimes asked by lazy journalists : which person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with? and then they say something really boring like shakespeare or plato or some such. i would say, can i have two? jung and freud, but before the feud.

or, if they have to be living, i would say : arnon grunberg.

en nu ga ik nog even een ouwe koei uit de sloot halen.

jung :

‘I've treated a lot of old people. What is striking is that the unconscious usually completely denies the threat of total annihilation. So I encourage my patients to do exactly that: to go on living as if death doesn't mean the end. That doesn't necessarily mean that there is life after death, only that there is something in us that believes that.’

I found this quote (which I had also not seen before) in an interesting article in Dutch from De Groene by Arthur Eaton in which he talks with Sonu Shamdasani, the editor of C.G.Jung's Liber Novus: The Red Book, about, amongst other things, the way in which the alt right has co-opted some of Jung's ideas. That in itself is hardly surprising since both the old and the so-called new right have a history of appropriating ideas which they wilfully (or through ignorance) misunderstand in an attempt to lend legitimacy to their cause by including some names in their half—baked rantings. In this they are no different from the so called New Age 'movement' who do the same with Jung, quantum physics etc.

I like the idea that it is valuable and useful to believe in something, but what that something is, is not unimportant. To allow someone who is dying to believe that they are not going to die is tricky. I have worked with people who I felt were not ready to face the fact that they were going to die very soon. And some people die like that.

But it is the ego, consciousness, which rejects the possibility of its own annihilation, and this is at the core of the human condition. Instead of encouraging people to live as if death doesn't mean the end, I would suggest what is needed, the work, is fully realising the finite nature of the self — but not almost everyone is ready for that.

It does make me wonder if Jung ever read Being and Time?

archive copy of de groene article

#work #death #love #psyche

About Endlessness

The new film from Swedish director Roy Andersson (previously : A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, 2014) is About Endlessness. It sounds great. From the review in De Volkskrant :

Een priester heeft een geloofscrisis. ‘Wat moet ik doen, nu ik mijn geloof kwijt ben?’, vraagt hij herhaaldelijk aan zijn dokter. De dokter, die het ook niet weet, is zijn radeloze patiënt al snel beu en probeert hem met hulp van zijn assistente buiten de deur te houden. De priester moet afdruipen en vlucht in de drank. In zijn terugkerende nachtmerrie sleept hij een houten kruis door de straat, terwijl omstanders ‘kruisig hem!’ roepen.


natuurlijk mag er op de kamers niet gerookt worden? — nee meneer. dat mag niet. vanzelfsprekend. dat zou onwijs vunzig zijn. en u heeft geen kamers waar je wel mag roken...? — nee meneer. het liefst zou ik een kamer hebben waar eigenlijk niet in gerookt mag worden, maar voor mij wordt er een uitzondering gemaakt. — helaas is dat niet mogelijk. begrijp me niet verkeerd : ik zei dat niet omdat ik dacht dat het misschien mogelijk zou zijn maar om mijn relatie tot onmogelijkheid te benoemen.

De meeste mensen deugen (niet)

Ik hoef niet getroost te worden, maar ik geloof niet dat de meeste mensen deugen, zo eenvoudig is het niet. (...) Het kan wel zijn dat de meeste mensen deugen, mijn probleem is dat er zoveel mensen zijn die ik niet begrijp.

Een pareltje naar aanleiding van het lezen van De meeste mensen deugen van Rutger Bregman, van A.L.Snijders, 83, die eigenlijk Peter Cornelis Müller heet. Ik hoorde hem een keer zeggen, toen hij op de radio gevraagd werd hoe hij aan dat pseudoniem kwam, dat hij de naam ter plekke had bedacht omdat hij zijn Duitse naam niet wilde zeggen. Later pas realizeerde hij zich dat Snijders net zo klinkt als Schneider.

interesting! what is wrong with this picture? (in dutch)

word of the day : koekoeksjong

as almost everyone knows the female cuckoo lays her eggs in the nests of other birds, especially dunnocks and reed warblers, as derwent may explains in the times :

The female cuckoo watches these birds from an outpost and when she has chosen a foster nest glides down to it, usually in the afternoon. She removes one of the eggs in the nest and lays one of her own in it. She lays about 12 eggs in different nests like this in a season. When the cuckoo chick hatches, it heaves out any other eggs or chicks that are in the nest and remains as its large, solitary occupant. Its foster parents accept it and feed it for about three weeks. Neither of the cuckoos who are its parents takes the least interest in its future.

in dutch the word koekoeksjong (cuckoochick) is used for something (or someone) which develops, grows or exists at someone (or something) else's expense, including an extra-marital or unlawful child.

the description of donald trump's relationship to the republican party as that a 'koekoeksjong' in this article in de volkskrant, has a number of layers and is as apt as apt can be, right?

one could also be tempted to suggest that 'dunnocks' would be useful term to apply to people who allow/enable someone like donald trump to do what he did, and does, and will do.

jammie holmes, they're going to kill me (2020). foto azim ohm/jammie holmes & library street collective

is the egg of a guillemot shaped like a pear so it can roll around on a rock without falling off?

or does the egg of a guillemot not fall off a rock when rolling around on it because it's pear shaped?

(questions for derwent may)

an interesting article (via arnon grunberg's blog) about the problem of translation, specifically about the opening line of albert camus’s “l’étranger”.

i say, if you love a book, if you love a language, translation is impossible. it is an act of killing — and syntax is one of the weapons.

take the beautiful last line of this ingeborg bachmann poem which was d e s t r o y e d by the english translator who didn't have the courage to leave the order of the words exactly as they were in german : in the last hour, a leaf.

#writing #language

david shrigley untitled 2019

this is an old song these are old blues and this is not my tune but it's mine to use

and now wirelessly with active noise cancelling. 😃

and all that i've got and all that i need i tie in a knot and i lay at your feet and i have not forgot but a silence crept over me.

joanna newsom

iris murdoch and friend

fernando pessoa — text 331 from the book of disquiet — via orange crate art

yesterday was headache free! today i woke up with it.

i say 'it' rather than 'a' because of course they are not actually different headaches, it's always the same headache, although it varies in intensity and sometimes it goes on a little holiday, to terschelling perhaps, just for the day. i wish it would take it's little mate, tinnitus and his sister hyperacusis, with it — although someone said it might be misophonia rather than hyperacusis.

yesterday you-know-who asked me : can you believe that the headache won't come back?

what do you do when a sinkhole the size of a house suddenly opens up in the middle of what is essentially the collins street of your life? oh wait ... it's only one metre by one metre, but still. what if you were standing there? and i was.

we are dog roses flourishing but our fragile flowers are quick to fall.

(apologies to derwent may)

image by william arnold from 'suburban herbarium'

this article claims this is patti smith at the rock garden in 1977 but i have my doubts. it's patti, yes ❤️🙃🐓 ok, and it may or may not be the rockgarden, but 1977? i'd say early 1976, but i might be wrong, although i never am. did she fall?

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