Tag Archives: confidence

Narrator – Amsterdam: the inverted world

In Amsterdam I entered the inverted world of Holland and this inverted world took me on. A world with many centuries of embarrassing wealth and a deep discomfort [1], but that I learned later. For me the feast started. As an exotic outsider, I was not bothered by the discomfort and my lovers let me sharing in their wealth.

From the Harbour, I walked via the Damrak [2] to the Dam.


Earlier in the 17th century the Dam and its surroundings were the place where shiploads were traded against securities that were redeemable across the North Sea and Baltic Sea area. The traders in Amsterdam did everything to retain confidence in these securities. Still the Dutch relate the value of goods and the value of trust in human relationships to money. Money is for them still a metaphor for confidence.

When I arrived on that beautiful autumn day for the first time on the Dam, the last “Sleepers on the Dam” of that year were still present. A few years ago the police and Marines had skirmishes with the “Sleepers on the Dam”. In the opinion of the former Regents these lazy idlers were not in the position to sleep at the National Monument [4]. The text on the front of the Memorial seemed to leave the Regents in their right:

“Hic ubi cor patriae monumentum cordibus intus
quod gestant cives spectet ad astra dei.”[5]

(‘Let here where the heart of the motherland is, the monument – that citizens bear within their hearts – look at the stars of God.’)

According to the Regents the solitary monument should look at the stars of God commemorating the Second World War. Intuitively the “Sleepers on the Dam” felt that the Monument is a memorial to the inner entity of the citizens to look at the stars of God. In my native region the Maasai God Engaï [6] aroused in a distant past under the night starry sky the deceased back to life. In this inverted country the “Sleepers on the Dam” temporarily won the skirmishes until the winter chased them away. In those cold days the vapour of my breath gave a home to the breath of the villager killed in the overnight fire in the forest; almost all the nights I slept under the stars when the coldness allowed.


After a few months it was freezing period; the inhabitants of this inverted world were beset by ice-fever. For the first time in my life I saw frozen water – for me a strange environment. All the other people started ice skating; for them, it was a free world with a traditional free trade [8]. Many made long skating tours through the polders, a few of them came back home wounded – in Holland very usual.


Luckily I found accommodation at the home of my lovers during this cold period.

[1] See for the richness of Holland in the 17th century: Schama, Simon, The Embarrassment of the Riches. Fontana Press, 1987

[2] The Damrak was the former outer harbour to the South Sea for small vessels. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damrak

[3] Painting by Cornelis Anthonisz. Sourrce image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelis_Anthonisz.

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationaal_Monument

[5] The Latin tekst on the front of the Memorial is written by dr. J.D. Meerwaldt

[6] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[7] Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:National_monument_-_amsterdam_nl.jpg

[8] Until the modern era, liquor and prostitution were legally regulated for land and water. Ice was not mentioned in the legislation and therefore a free trade for liquor and prostitution was allowed on ice.

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam


Carla Drift – Study Humanities 2

In line with psychology and history, I studied the history of legislation and the limited role of language in the field of emotions, culture and character.

I studied the history of Law to receive a better understanding in the organisation of the society and the relations between individuals themselves. Long ago, everything was private and group law. In birds, the occupant of a territory has just a little better chance than an intruder – usually the intruder disappears unless the occupant is careless or is unable to defend his territory. The occupier needs the  territory to have sufficient food for the young birds.

A similar mechanism plays a role when people assert right on an area. In addition, people have developed customary law and hospitality for visitors. This hospitality is sometimes confined in guest law [2] – often exchanges of gifts as “objects in the middle” take place to achieve and consolidate confidence between inhabitants and visitors.

A long time ago, rulers already used law to show who had the say – was the boss [4] – in a given area. One of the oldest laws is the codex of Hamurabi [5]. With the dissemination of this Codex in cuneiform on pillars within his empire, Hamurabi showed who had control over the habits and the order within his reign. This codex of Hamurabi was a long list of penalties for infringements – most sentences had characteristics of “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Almost all penalties could be bought off with an “object in the middle” to restore confidence – the penalty on accidentally wounding the neighbour at work could be bought off with transfer of cattle to restore mutual confidence.


In addition to the right between people, there was also law that was aimed at the general interest. A part of this public law was included in treaties between kings and rulers themselves. The difference between these kings and rulers and the contemporary warlords is in many cases only gradual. The difference shows in the degree of cruelty and tyranny; occasionally the rulers and kings are wise and moderate. These treaties usually start with a recital that included the order and the habits already established between the parents or ancestors of the rulers; after the recital followed the agreements built on the former order and finally the provisions for non-compliance were mentioned in the Treaty. These sentences ranged from war statements to full eradication of family and populations.

Another form of public law was the law of war in which the habits for war and sieges were determined. A few examples. A city may usually prevent siege and looting by handing over a ransom until the time came when the city was completely surrounded; then only a complete surrender was acceptable. The looting of the city after the surrender or sacking took a set time of usually a few days. After that time the booty was distributed among the conquerors; after the conquest the inhabitants of the city were usually without rights for a certain time – sometimes they fell into slavery.

In addition to these forms of public law, there was also Community law – for example the use of common pasturage. By the end of my studies I read a study about old Irish law [7]; It is surprising how common this legal form – with many forms of mutual duties of care – still is. Much attention was given to preserving the general interest. Recently in our world, the Community law also includes the right of education, development and deployment for betterment of society. In the interest of the community, punishments such as “eye for an eye” are often changed in, inter alia, education and social reintegration.

In the field of language I studied how language reflected the relationship between people and how the world view is reflected in language. Later on our Odyssey we will encounter many examples.

Erich Fromm [8] has stated in one of his studies that we have lost the language for intensity and association. During my studies I noticed that our language is also very limited for expressing emotions, culture and character. In our contemporary society we cannot express ourselves adequately on emotions, love and culture. We do not discus much about these topics – language was not an adequate means for communication about deeper emotions between my great love and I. We always could communicate our emotions much better by using behaviour, movements and body language. The important decisions between my great love and I were always made intuitively – our underbelly was far more important than our thoughts and words. I once read that when French ask “Comment ça va?”, this “ça” relates to the lower abdomen – a beautiful thought. Probably we communicate in the field of emotions, culture and character more by behaviour such as body language and hospitality, openness and acceptance on the one hand, and ignoring, excluding and aggression on the other hand. In Holland until about 30 years through the pillarisation, the inhabitants were absolute masters in living next to each other with complete different religions. Nowadays ignoring between children is seen as a form of bullying – maybe this modus vivendi in Holland prevented far worse actions.

In my job I kept myself busy with statistics and correlations between results of investigations; staff and students in the Humanities could use some help in this area. As a limited intellectual challenge, I followed the developments of population mathematics; later I used this knowledge in different studies about crimes against humanity. This intellectual challenge I kept for myself – it seemed to me a good idea to play hide and seek at this point, because this form of mathematics was not included in the curriculum for humanities.

The next post is more about my daily life in Amsterdam – also a kind of hide-and-seek.
[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogels
[2] See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastrecht
[3] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastfreundschaft
[4] Man Leben would have remarked that “bhâsh” has the meaning “to speak, to name” in Sanskrit.
[5] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Hammurabi
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi
[7] See also: Kelly, Fergus, A Guide to Early Irish Law. Dublin: Duldalgan Press, 2005 (first edition in 1988)

Man Leben – interview 2

The previous post includes the first part of the interview about the description of your life. Now I continue with some questions about your move from South Limburg to Rotterdam.

“You started to live with your aunt in the vicinity of Rotterdam at the age of 12 and you went to grammar school. How was this change?”, I ask

“In South Limburg I have probably had the best years in my life. I felt fully at home, although I have been a misfit. First I could not understand the local language and customs, but after a year everything was fine and I could speak the dialect fluently. In Rotterdam everything was again completely strange. I lived in a Dutch and Christian environment with an accent from Limburg, Catholic habits and a Jewish background: all exceptional. The bad word for Catholic “paap”; this word means in the Sanskrit “wrong, bad, guilty” [1]. The first years near Rotterdam I have had difficulties to adapt myself. Luckily I was accepted at school in my class. My aunt also has had many difficulties: she had to finish a former life in a difficult environment; the possessions, the taxes and finances deserved attention. Also a new life had to be started. She was lucky that she could get a good post in a trading company due to a family relative. Later I have thought that she might have emigrated to America if I did not exist; She has never told this”, you say.


“You have said that the small capital that your grandfather has deposited in Switzerland around 1924, was very helpful”, I say.

“That I understood later on, when I was 21 years old. Before my aunt came to South Limburg, she had visited the bank in Switzerland where my grandfather has opened the account in 1924. This account remained outside the scope of others – including the authorities in Germany and the Netherlands. This is a small part of my arrogance: in that time for me very understandable. This small capital covered my study and a part of the capital for the homes of our family. Later, when our family had fallen apart, I also opened similar account from the sale of our family home for my children in future difficult times”, you say.


“In that time it was money outside the books for the Governments”, I say.

“That is true. It was a different time: by our family the authorities were not experienced as very reliable. It was wise to have some savings outside view. Later, when I put my trust on the wind and the Moon during my journey to Dachau, I began to see the vanity of capital. I saw the full meaning of the second commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. I began to understand that money is a metaphor for confidence. I put my trust on All en One – volatile as the wind and moving as water; from then on my way is lit by the Moon. In this world money is sometimes a useful medium of exchange, but a burden on the eternal way”, you say.

The next post include several questions about love.

[1] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigratie

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banking_in_Switzerland