maurice van es
rooms of now
MvE: Actually thinking of a big Facebook break, would be really great. TA: You mean like abandoning Facebook for a certain time? MvE: Yes, I’ve done it before, for six months. It was the greatest time. Costs so much time this whole Facebook thing. TA: Agreed, but I consider it such an important communication tool for me, don’t think I could do that. MvE: Don’t you feel bad about promoting yourself? For me it feels weird to do that. It helps too. But still … TA: Hm, yes, a bit … but I still don’t have the feeling that I’m serving people something they don’t like, it still feels like sharing what I’m up to with the internet folk. It’s not like ‘Hey buy my prints’ or so, and you aren’t doing that either, so I don’t see the problem. MvE: Yeah but it’s all about the approval thing. You prove you’re approved by a magazine, curator/whatever and then there’s the danger people like your work because others like your work. Really don’t like that. Judgement should be only about the work itself. Everything is in there already. The work itself doesn’t change because it has been in MoMA. I guess there aren’t many individual thinkers in the art world, a lot of people are looking at what others are doing. I recently received an interview request ‘because I see your work everywhere’. Yeah, so what? I was recently thinking to erase the CV section on my website and change my news section with just the words I AM DOING FINE. But on the other hand you can always think: don’t take it too seriously, this is just the way it works. But I really don’t like this. - interview from 2013
What is innocence? Innocence is a lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, or wrongdoing. In a legal context, innocence is to the lack of legal guilt of an individual, with respect to a crime. In other contexts, it is a lack of experience. Innocence can imply lesser experience in either a relative view to social peers, or by an absolute comparison to a more common normative scale. In contrast to ignorance, it is generally viewed as a positive term, connoting an optimistic view of the world, in particular one where the lack of knowledge stems from a lack of wrongdoing, whereas greater knowledge comes from doing wrong. This connotation may be connected with a popular false etymology explaining “innocent” as meaning “not knowing” (Latin noscere (To know, learn)). The actual etymology is from general negation prefix in- and the Latin nocere, “to harm”. People who lack the mental capacity to understand the nature of their acts may be regarded as innocent regardless of their behavior. From this meaning comes the usage of innocent as a noun to refer to a child under the age of reason, or a person, of any age, who is severely mentally disabled. Nonetheless, the word “innocence” is used to describe childhood innocence as a notion created and controlled by adults. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau describes ‘childhood as a time of innocence’ where children are 'not-knowing’ and must reach the age of reason to become competent people in society. However, this is not the case anymore as technology advances, this has given children in the contemporary world a platform where they are referred to as 'digital natives’, where they are seen more knowledgeable than adults. Furthermore, because of digital media and the internet, young people have become well-informed of the world around them and have a better understanding. In some cases, the term “innocence” has a pejorative meaning, where an assumed level of experience dictates common discourse or baseline qualifications for entry into another, different, social experience. Since experience is a prime factor in determining a person’s point of view, innocence is often also used to imply naivety or lack of personal experience.
What is a face? The face is the front of an animal’s head that features three of the head’s sense organs, the eyes, nose, and mouth, and through which animals express many of their emotions. The face is crucial for human identity, and damage such as scarring or developmental deformities affects the psyche adversely. Facial appearance is vital for human recognition and communication. Facial muscles in humans allow expression of emotions.The face is itself a highly sensitive region of the human body and its expression may change when the brain is stimulated by any of the many human senses, such as touch, temperature, smell, taste, hearing, movement, hunger, or visual stimuli.
What is patience? Patience (or forbearance) is the ability to endure difficult circumstances such as perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding in annoyance/anger; or forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can have before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. Antonyms include hastiness and impetuousness.
What is television? The word television comes from Ancient Greek τῆλε (tèle), meaning ‘far’, and Latin visio, meaning 'sight’. Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black and white), or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program (“TV show”), or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news. Television became available in crude experimental forms in the late 1920s, but it would still be several years before the new technology would be marketed to consumers. After World War II, an improved form of black-and-white TV broadcasting became popular in the United States and Britain, and television sets became commonplace in homes, businesses, and institutions. During the 1950s, television was the primary medium for influencing public opinion. In the mid-1960s, color broadcasting was introduced in the US and most other developed countries. The availability of multiple types of archival storage media such as Betamax and VHS tapes, high-capacity hard disk drives, DVDs, flash drives, high-definition Blu-ray Discs, and cloud digital video recorders has enabled viewers to watch pre-recorded material—such as movies—at home on their own time schedule. For many reasons, especially the convenience of remote retrieval, the storage of television and video programming now occurs on the cloud. At the end of the first decade of the 2000s, digital television transmissions greatly increased in popularity. In 2013, 79% of the world’s households owned a television set.
What is time? Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change of quantities in material reality or in the conscious experience. Time is often referred to as a fourth dimension, along with three spatial dimensions. Time has long been an important subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars. Nevertheless, diverse fields such as business, industry, sports, the sciences, and the performing arts all incorporate some notion of time into their respective measuring systems. Time in physics is operationally defined as “what a clock reads”. Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in both the International System of Units and International System of Quantities. Time is used to define other quantities – such as velocity – so defining time in terms of such quantities would result in circularity of definition. An operational definition of time, wherein one says that observing a certain number of repetitions of one or another standard cyclical event (such as the passage of a free-swinging pendulum) constitutes one standard unit such as the second, is highly useful in the conduct of both advanced experiments and everyday affairs of life. To describe observations of an event, a location (position in space) and time are typically noted. The operational definition of time does not address what the fundamental nature of it is. It does not address why events can happen forward and backwards in space, whereas events only happen in the forward progress of time. Investigations into the relationship between space and time led physicists to define the spacetime continuum. General Relativity is the primary framework for understanding how spacetime works. Through advances in both theoretical and experimental investigations of space-time, it has been shown that time can be distorted, particularly at the edges of blackholes. Temporal measurement has occupied scientists and technologists, and was a prime motivation in navigation and astronomy. Periodic events and periodic motion have long served as standards for units of time. Examples include the apparent motion of the sun across the sky, the phases of the moon, the swing of a pendulum, and the beat of a heart. Currently, the international unit of time, the second, is defined by measuring the electronic transition frequency of caesium atoms. Time is also of significant social importance, having economic value (“time is money”) as well as personal value, due to an awareness of the limited time in each day and in human life spans.
What is feeling? Feeling is the nominalization of the verb to feel. Originally used in the English language to describe the physical sensation of touch through either experience or perception, the word is also used to describe other experiences, such as “a feeling of warmth" and of sentience in general. In Latin, sentire meant to feel, hear or smell. In psychology, the word is usually reserved for the conscious subjective experience of emotion. Phenomenology and heterophenomenology are philosophical approaches that provide some basis for knowledge of feelings. Many schools of psychotherapy depend on the therapist achieving some kind of understanding of the client’s feelings, for which methodologies exist. Perception of the physical world does not necessarily result in a universal reaction among receivers (emotions), but varies depending upon one’s tendency to handle the situation, how the situation relates to the receiver’s past experiences, and any number of other factors. Feelings are also known as a state of consciousness, such as that resulting from emotions, sentiments or desires. People buy products in hopes that the product will make them feel a certain way: either happy, excited or beautiful. Or, they find the product useful in some way, even indirectly such as to support a charity or for altruistic economic reasons. Some people buy beauty products in hopes of achieving a state of happiness or a sense of self beauty or as an act or expression of beauty. Past events are used in our lives to form schemas in our minds, and based on those past experiences, we expect our lives to follow a certain script. However, storytelling, commemoration and reservation of commemoration (the unwillingness to overtly impose remembrances), research and investigation, and many other activities can help settle uneasy feelings without “scripting”, without the ambivalence that feeling can only be “handled” by proxy, which is not always true. A social psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, conducted a study on the influence of feelings on events alongside other researchers. The results showed that when the participants predicted a positive feeling for an event, the higher the chances that they wanted to relive the event. Predicted feelings were either short-lived or did not correlate to what the participant expected. Individuals in society predict that something will give them a certain desired outcome or feeling. Indulging in what one might have thought would’ve made them happy or excited might only cause a temporary thrill, or it might result in the opposite of what was expected. Events and experiences are done and relived to satisfy one’s feelings.Details and information about the past is used to make decisions, as past experiences of feelings influence current decision-making, how people will feel in the future, and if they want to feel that way again.
What is evil? Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, although in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil (as in the case of natural disasters or illnesses), and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal. Evil can denote profound immorality, but typically not without some basis in the understanding of the human condition, where strife and suffering (cf. Hinduism) are the true roots of evil. In certain religious contexts, evil has been described as a supernatural force. Definitions of evil vary, as does the analysis of its motives. Elements that are commonly associated with personal forms of evil involve unbalanced behavior involving anger, revenge, fear, hatred, psychological trauma, expediency, selfishness, ignorance, destruction or neglect. Evil is sometimes perceived as the dualistic antagonistic binary opposite to good, in which good should prevail and evil should be defeated. In cultures with Buddhist spiritual influence, both good and evil are perceived as part of an antagonistic duality that itself must be overcome through achieving Nirvana. The philosophical questions regarding good and evil are subsumed into three major areas of study: Meta-ethics concerning the nature of good and evil, Normative ethics concerning how we ought to behave, and Applied ethics concerning particular moral issues. While the term is applied to events and conditions without agency, the forms of evil addressed in this article presume an evildoer or doers. Some religions and philosophies deny evil’s existence and usefulness in describing people.
Average life span animals in human years Bat 24 years Bear 40 years Beaver 20 years Sheep 15 years Tiger 22 years Rabbit 9 years Pigeon 11 years Mouse 4 years Grizzly bear 32 years Goat 15 years Donkey 45 years Crocodile 45 years Hippopotamus 45 years Giant Tortoise 152 years Horse 40 years Fox 14 years Chipmunk 12 years Swan 10-12 years Ox 20 years Parrot 80 years Seal 20 years Wolf 18 years Squirrel 16 years Mouse 4 years Kangaroo 9 years Polar bear 20 years Lion 35 years Leopard 17 years Lobster 15 years Ant (Worker) half year Galapagos Land Tortoise 193 years Alligator 68 years Gorilla 20 years Chimpanzee 40 years
The keeper of sheep II My gaze is clear like a sunflower. It is my custom to walk the roads Looking right and left And sometimes looking behind me, And what I see at each moment Is what I never saw before, And I’m very good at noticing things. I’m capable of feeling the same wonder A newborn child would feel If he noticed that he’d really and truly been born. I feel at each moment that I’ve just been born Into a completely new world I believe in the world as in a daisy, Because I see it. But I don’t think about it, Because to think is to not understand. The world wasn’t made for us to think about it (To think is to have eyes that aren’t well) But to look at it and to be in agreement. I have no philosophy, I have senses If I speak of Nature it’s not because I know what it is But because I love it, and for that very reason, Because those who love never know what they love Or why they love, or what love is. To love is eternal innocence, And the only innocence is not to think
Doorbells 2013 I remember there was a night in 2013 where I photographed the doorbell of every friend that was living in The Hague at that time. While taking the picture most of them were at home that night.
To whoever is reading me You are invulnerable. Didn’t they deliver (those forces that control your destiny) the certainty of dust? Couldn’t it be your irreversible time is that river in whose bright mirror Heraclitus read his brevity? A marble slab is saved for you, one you won’t read, already graved with city, epitaph, dates of the dead. And other men are also dreams of time, not hardened bronze, purified gold. They’re dust like you; the universe is Proteus. Shadow, you’ll travel to what waits ahead, the fatal shadow waiting at the rim. Know this: in some way you’re already dead. - Jorge Luis Borges
To My Heart, on Sunday Thank you, my heart: you don’t dawdle, you keep going with no flattery or reward, just from inborn diligence. You get seventy credits a minute. Each of your systoles shoves a little boat to open sea to sail around the world. Thank you, my heart: time after time you pluck me, separate even in sleep, out of the whole. You make sure I don’t dream my dreams up to that final flight, no wings required. Thank you, my heart: I woke up again and even though it’s Sunday, the day of rest, the usual preholiday rush continues underneath my ribs.
I lately see the display of Instagram likes as price tags. Everything you see on Instagram, is presented with a certain judgement attached to it. You don’t only see the thing (photo / object / person depicted in the photograph) itself, but also what it’s “worth”, valued, for whatever reason, by others than yourself. Why should we all the time (when we are online) know what others think about something? I think it makes it harder to observe something completely for yourself, and value something completely for yourself.
The Poet and the World They say the first sentence in any speech is always the hardest. Well, that one’s behind me, anyway. But I have a feeling that the sentences to come - the third, the sixth, the tenth, and so on, up to the final line - will be just as hard, since I’m supposed to talk about poetry. I’ve said very little on the subject, next to nothing, in fact. And whenever I have said anything, I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that I’m not very good at it. This is why my lecture will be rather short. All imperfection is easier to tolerate if served up in small doses. Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves. They publicly confess to being poets only reluctantly, as if they were a little ashamed of it. But in our clamorous times it’s much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they’re attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself … When filling in questionnaires or chatting with strangers, that is, when they can’t avoid revealing their profession, poets prefer to use the general term “writer” or replace “poet” with the name of whatever job they do in addition to writing. Bureaucrats and bus passengers respond with a touch of incredulity and alarm when they find out that they’re dealing with a poet. I suppose philosophers may meet with a similar reaction. Still, they’re in a better position, since as often as not they can embellish their calling with some kind of scholarly title. Professor of philosophy - now that sounds much more respectable. But there are no professors of poetry. This would mean, after all, that poetry is an occupation requiring specialized study, regular examinations, theoretical articles with bibliographies and footnotes attached, and finally, ceremoniously conferred diplomas. And this would mean, in turn, that it’s not enough to cover pages with even the most exquisite poems in order to become a poet. The crucial element is some slip of paper bearing an official stamp. Let us recall that the pride of Russian poetry, the future Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky was once sentenced to internal exile precisely on such grounds. They called him “a parasite,” because he lacked official certification granting him the right to be a poet … Several years ago, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Brodsky in person. And I noticed that, of all the poets I’ve known, he was the only one who enjoyed calling himself a poet. He pronounced the word without inhibitions. Just the opposite - he spoke it with defiant freedom. It seems to me that this must have been because he recalled the brutal humiliations he had experienced in his youth. In more fortunate countries, where human dignity isn’t assaulted so readily, poets yearn, of course, to be published, read, and understood, but they do little, if anything, to set themselves above the common herd and the daily grind. And yet it wasn’t so long ago, in this century’s first decades, that poets strove to shock us with their extravagant dress and eccentric behavior. But all this was merely for the sake of public display. The moment always came when poets had to close the doors behind them, strip off their mantles, fripperies, and other poetic paraphernalia, and confront - silently, patiently awaiting their own selves - the still white sheet of paper. For this is finally what really counts. It’s not accidental that film biographies of great scientists and artists are produced in droves. The more ambitious directors seek to reproduce convincingly the creative process that led to important scientific discoveries or the emergence of a masterpiece. And one can depict certain kinds of scientific labor with some success. Laboratories, sundry instruments, elaborate machinery brought to life: such scenes may hold the audience’s interest for a while. And those moments of uncertainty - will the experiment, conducted for the thousandth time with some tiny modification, finally yield the desired result? - can be quite dramatic. Films about painters can be spectacular, as they go about recreating every stage of a famous painting’s evolution, from the first penciled line to the final brush-stroke. Music swells in films about composers: the first bars of the melody that rings in the musician’s ears finally emerge as a mature work in symphonic form. Of course this is all quite naive and doesn’t explain the strange mental state popularly known as inspiration, but at least there’s something to look at and listen to. But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens … Who could stand to watch this kind of thing? I’ve mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It’s not that they’ve never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It’s just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don’t understand yourself. When I’m asked about this on occasion, I hedge the question too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners - and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.” There aren’t many such people. Most of the earth’s inhabitants work to get by. They work because they have to. They didn’t pick this or that kind of job out of passion; the circumstances of their lives did the choosing for them. Loveless work, boring work, work valued only because others haven’t got even that much, however loveless and boring - this is one of the harshest human miseries. And there’s no sign that coming centuries will produce any changes for the better as far as this goes. And so, though I may deny poets their monopoly on inspiration, I still place them in a select group of Fortune’s darlings. At this point, though, certain doubts may arise in my audience. All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they “know.” They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don’t want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments’ force. And any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life. In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society. This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. If Isaac Newton had never said to himself “I don’t know,” the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them with gusto. Had my compatriot Marie Sklodowska-Curie never said to herself “I don’t know”, she probably would have wound up teaching chemistry at some private high school for young ladies from good families, and would have ended her days performing this otherwise perfectly respectable job. But she kept on saying “I don’t know,” and these words led her, not just once but twice, to Stockholm, where restless, questing spirits are occasionally rewarded with the Nobel Prize. Poets, if they’re genuine, must also keep repeating “I don’t know.” Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift that’s absolutely inadequate to boot. So the poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their “oeuvre” … I sometimes dream of situations that can’t possibly come true. I audaciously imagine, for example, that I get a chance to chat with the Ecclesiastes, the author of that moving lament on the vanity of all human endeavors. I would bow very deeply before him, because he is, after all, one of the greatest poets, for me at least. That done, I would grab his hand. “‘There’s nothing new under the sun’: that’s what you wrote, Ecclesiastes. But you yourself were born new under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun, since those who lived before you couldn’t read your poem. And that cypress that you’re sitting under hasn’t been growing since the dawn of time. It came into being by way of another cypress similar to yours, but not exactly the same. And Ecclesiastes, I’d also like to ask you what new thing under the sun you’re planning to work on now? A further supplement to the thoughts you’ve already expressed? Or maybe you’re tempted to contradict some of them now? In your earlier work you mentioned joy - so what if it’s fleeting? So maybe your new-under-the-sun poem will be about joy? Have you taken notes yet, do you have drafts? I doubt you’ll say, 'I’ve written everything down, I’ve got nothing left to add.’ There’s no poet in the world who can say this, least of all a great poet like yourself.” The world - whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we’ve just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we’ve got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world - it is astonishing. But “astonishing” is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We’re astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we’ve grown accustomed to. Now the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se and isn’t based on comparison with something else. Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events” … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world. It looks like poets will always have their work cut out for them. - Wislawa Szymborska’s speech after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, december 1996.