Sunday, December 09, 2007

the eyes of a writer

after i graduated this july in germanic languages, i realized that i had mainly been focussing on english/american literature, and that i had somewhat neglected dutch/flemish literature (the two languages i studied were english and dutch). so i decided to read more of the latter. due to circumstances, i started reading a novel by Herman Brusselmans, a flemish writer. though he is hated by many because of his sometimes arrogant writing, i noticed how he more often than not exposes his weaknesses, his fears, his insecurities. i also saw how he could be babbling on an entire chapter, being rude and hard and almost aggressive, only to end up with a single sentence which turned everything around -- something like "but actually, i can feel nothing but love for my fellow man".

anyway, either you love him or you don't, it doesn't really matter. what matters is that i soon read seven of his works during the summer holiday, and some poems and short prose as well. now what is specific to his oeuvre, is that he writes very personally, and discusses the problems and fears he has to deal with. in short, even though there is a considerable amount of fictionalization, you really are thinking along his thoughts, living along his emotions.

last month i went to the Boekenbeurs (literally: 'the book fair'), an annual fair here in Antwerp where authors come to sign, where new books or editions are presented, where a large number of publishing firms have their little booths. many, many people visit the 'boekenbeurs', and among those a large number of famous Belgian people can be found, including, of course, many writers, who are either sitting at the booths to sign or are strolling around themselves.

of course, there was the habitual flash of recognition every time you see someone you are used to seeing in a magazine or on tv. but i've never been such a 'celebrity-humper', so i didn't really care.

turning around a corner, however, i suddenly looked in the eyes of this Herman Brusselmans. i didn't care about anyone else any more, for the sensation was so strange. as i said, i am no celeb-humper, but suddenly seeing, in front of you, the very man whose thoughts you have been studying so closely for an extended period of time, is an intense experience indeed.

the materialization of those thoughts was something that genuinely perturbed me.

all of this to ponder on the contrast between written words and the origin of those words. for behind every one of those verbal configurations of mental processes lie the eyes of the writer, watching inwards and reaching out to us, perhaps afraid, perhaps filled with self-confidence and pride.

i would not call myself a writer on this blog, but these, too, are words, and yes, here i am, and there you are, inside my head, reading whatever i think right now; and what comes out of my mind will be out there somewhere, supsended in a digital nothingness, visible for everyone with a connection to the internet. it's a strange, strange world.

sorry if this text is structurally very poor. i guess i started with one thought and ended with another. but perhaps that is also part and parcel of this hiding of mental instances behind verbal ones, for the mind works in mysterious ways. and, just to end up with some associative thought, if the mind works in mysterious ways, just like god is supposed to do, then Emily Dickinson was quite right when she said that "The Brain is just the weight of God".

and yes, this is how i prove that this grey pudding blubbering in our skull is god: by wanting to read more dutch/flemish literature. tune in next time, when i prove that mathematics is the true fabric of the universe simply by providing a good recipe for spaghetti bolognaise. hmm.

dammit, now i'm hungry!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dat heb ik ook al gedacht. Dat van Herman Brusselmans. Ik las ooit een stukje van hem over zijn eerste afspraakje met zijn vrouw. Ze waren frietjes gaan halen, zij werd ziek en moest overgeven. En hij stond erop te kijken en te denken hoe verliefd hij was. Achter die facade zit precies een heel kwetsbaar en onzeker iemand.

Zo zie je maar dat het soms moeilijk is om iemand te "lezen".