A Magazine by UCU Alumni
Cover phofo: Laura Scheske (â€˜10) / above phofo: Leanne Hoogwaerts (â€˜10)
It was difficult to keep from thinking everything had been for nothing: the cake, the dress, the white shoes, the rings, the hired old-timer.
A sudden feeling of disgust waved over me as I realized that I had, at least the last half an hour, all of these relevant and eloquently formulated thoughts, in the voice of Christopher Walken.
See page 19 for more Alumni contributions to the Squishy Cops project.
Post | A Magazine by the Alumni of University College Utrecht winter 2012
04 06 08 12 16 18 19 24 28 31 34 42 43
The End is Nigh and We Feel Fine How Dead is Print? The Dark World of the Suicidal Individual This Exquisite Forest Zwarte Piet: A Racist Heritage? A Message from the Housemaster Da Squishy Cops are in Town Photographically Challenged Horrified The End of the World or a New Beginning? Greetings from Rabbit Island! Who, What, Where? Colophon
the End is Nigh
And We FeeL
s the few remaining survivors are scuttling about outside, scourging for the last scraps of edible matter amongst the decaying remnants of what was once our vibrant and sprawling metropolis, you’ll be pleased to know that your Post editorial board is holed up safely (for now) in an underground bunker at an undisclosed location. They had warned us that the end was coming for some time and while, at first, we just made increasingly tired jokes about it on Twitter, the stark reality soon came crashing down on us when the boys in Post Conglomerate Enterprises’ SuperSecret Time Travel Division (PCESSTTD, for short) presented us with a rare document sent to them from the future. People poo-poo’ed us when we first presented the idea of using money from the alumni donations to set up a multimillion dollar time travel research division, calling it a “bad idea” or “gross financial malfeasance punishable by up to 12 years in federal prison”, but I think we proved the naysayers wrong when your editorial board, on its way back from one of Post Enterprises’ on-site luxury spa and saunas, walked by the Time Travel offices and saw the devastation that was about to befall us with our own eyes. At first we thought the guys that worked there were just slacking off and watching some kind of Hollywood movie, but then they filled us in on the extraordinary piece of film footage they had been sent through that time travel portal they swear they’ve been working on, but somehow never seems to operational when we want to take a look at it, by one of the rare 2012 survivors. Apparently, a German documentarian named Roland Emmerich had been following around this limousine driver that kinda looked like John Cusack when disaster struck and he was able to get it all on film. How a documentarian was able to get some of the overhead shots of the destruction while it was happening and was able to put together such a well edited piece of film
Post | winter 2012
Kiran Coleman (‘05)
and send it through a time portal we’re still a little hazy on, but we’ll let those nerds we hired worry about that. We’re not taking any chances. If you’re reading this it means you too have managed to stay alive long enough to grab this copy of Post and take it down into your own bunker (or maybe you scavenged it from one of our alumni’s abandoned houses, in which case: Welcome! We always like it when people outside our alumni community read our magazine as well). However you got your hands on this copy, you made the right choice by picking it up. We thought that, with all the death and destruction going on outside, you might like to take your mind off it by indulging in some light reading about a few cheerier subjects, so that’s why we put together this issue about, amongst other things, racism, horror, the death of print, and the psychology behind suicide and homicide. To be honest, we don’t really know how bad the destruction outside ended up being (they said we’d have internet when we moved down to this bunker, but those bastards at Tele2 have failed to deliver). All we can do is pray that by the time we’ll need to resurface to get supplies and start working on the June issue, most of the cannibalistic hordes will have already passed us by. Pantswettingly yours, The UCAA Board Chair / Kiran Coleman (‘05) Secretary / Indra Spronk-Baas (‘06) Treasurer / Sarah Carmichael (‘06) PR/External Relations / Leonie Hussaarts (‘08) Events Coordinator / Roeland van Beek (‘11) www.ucaa.nl firstname.lastname@example.org www.talkingpost.org
Elitsa Mateva (‘09)
/ˌfoˈfɑgrəfi/ Asia Korecka (‘04)
Photography with a considerable discrepancy between expectation and outcome, often dismissed as flawed.
Throughout this edition of Post magazine you will find a number of phofos posted by UCU alumni for this new collaborative project.
Want to contribute to the next edition of Post? Mail us at: email@example.com
winter 2012 | Post
How dead is
Stefanie van Rootselaar ponders the possible demise of the print media.
edia and journalism have always fascinated me. Without media, journalism and news mean nothing. Media are the messengers of news across the world. And the power of media is overwhelming. They have the power to shape our beliefs, drive public opinion and affect purchasing decisions. In the 1950s, media such as cinema and television were considered as central instruments of mass control: Big Brother is watching you... Media inform, educate, connect, globalize, empower and ultimately enslave. Think of the media communicating the message across the world about Charles Taylor’s involvement in blood diamonds. The media caused widespread attention for his actions, causing loss of face for him and Liberia. On the other hand, also think of all the new artists being discovered on Youtube; they get to start entirely new and exciting careers they would have otherwise only dreamed of. Media can make or break a person, country or nation. They play a large role in shaping modern culture and media have essentially changed the way we live our daily lives. Consuming media has become a basic necessity for many of us, just like sleeping and eating. We have become digital natives, used to consuming media whenever and wherever we please. I never thought I would be one of those people who starts and ends the day by checking Facebook updates… It’s fascinating how media have developed. The Industrial Revolution between 1750 and 1850 had a huge social, economic and cultural impact on society. It also played a large role in the development of media. Steam power was applied to the printing process, which led to a massive expansion of newspaper and popular book publishing.
Post | winter 2012
This stimulated literacy and demands for mass political participation. The phrase “the media” started being widely used in the 1920s. A term used to refer mainly to print media up until the Second World War, after which radio and television were introduced. These media allowed for the electronic duplication of information for the first time ever. During the 20th century, the growth of media was further driven by technology. The development of the World Wide Web started in the late 1970s and was commercialized in the late 1990s. The 21st century marked the beginning of social networks and mobile media. When television was introduced, everyone speculated that print and radio would die out. Similarly the birth of internet and social networks was supposedly going to mark the end of television. But we didn’t see this occur. These media didn’t die out, their functions simply changed, together with how and when we use them. Internet and social networks have taken over print media’s function of bringing the latest news. There is no way for print media to compete with the speed at which news travels with digital media. But print media, especially newspapers, still play an important role in society. The journalism they contain offers us the story behind the story, putting events and developments into perspective and helping us shape opinions by providing context. Other media have different functions: we often listen to the radio in the car on our way to work or while we’re cooking to pass the time and we mostly watch television to relax. Different media fulfill different needs. To pass the time, be entertained, to connect and share with others, to be informed or to relax. Media exist alongside each other; they all have their own strengths and that’s why they empower each other. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Illustration: Indra Spronk-Baas (‘06)
Do print me dia have a sustainable future? Maybe not, b ut I believe the added v alue of journalism does. ‘Print is dead’ is a slogan often heard of. I understand, but beg to disagree. Newspapers are still regarded as one of the most reliable sources of news, quoted frequently in social debate, setting the political agenda. Print media are in this way also social, which is vital for their existence. Social in the sense that they give us content to share; the latest news to discuss with others, both personally and professionally. Print media also engage, trigger and activate people, both mentally and physically. They can make us change our point of view and opinion, but also inspire us to apply for a new job, become a brand ambassador or go out and buy the latest gadgets. But with the speed at which technology and media are developing, print media face the challenge of survival. They have to compete with quicker and more interactive forms of media. But these media often only provide a snapshot. Will they provide the information we need to understand the bigger picture? No, I don’t think so. The question remains: how dead is print? Do print media have a sustainable future? In form, I think print media will die out in the next 50 years. Or maybe even sooner than that. But I do believe the need for journalism, for professionals putting news into context for us and helping us understand
the story behind the story, will always remain. The power of the content many print media contain, will live on in other forms of media, such as personalized iPad newspapers, for example. We will select the news items we’re interested in and read only about our pre-selected topics. Why read about (and pay for) science, if you’d rather just focus on (inter) national news and sports? As consumers are increasingly used to being in the driver’s seat, personalized content is becoming more and more important. Maybe we will even be helping newspaper editors decide which topics are ‘front page’ worthy in a year or two. In the end, it’s actually not so much about form, but more about added value. Who knows how technology will continue to shape media in the future... I can’t wait to find out.
Stefanie van Rootselaar (‘04) went on to do a MSc in Communication studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is currently a Marketing & Communications Manager at de Persgroep Nederland and is responsible for the branding of their various newspapers, magazines, websites and mobile products.
winter 2012 | Post
The dark world of the suicidal Marja Kuzmanic investigates the workings of the deeply troubled mind.
t is about hunger, about emptiness, never-ending emptiness, never-ending darkness, never-ending depth into which you keep falling and falling... If you could only see the bottom, you would at least know that eventually you will shatter, but there is no bottom, you are only falling, and you know and see that it is black and never-ending. Are you going to be falling for your whole life into eternity? - research participant1
Suicide. A difficult topic for a researcher and even more difficult for the one who finds oneself in the midst of a suicidal crisis, as they call it in suicidology, the science of suicide. Funny enough, Albert Camus2 thought that suicide, or the questions whether life is worth or not worth living, are the most fundamental philosophical issues. Whereas for Friedrich Nietzsche3 the thought of suicide was a powerful solace with the help of which you can make it through a bad night. Is suicide then something to be prevented, regardless of individual circumstances, or is suicide a truly existential option for every human being that shouldn’t be denied, for denying it might do more harm than good? Suicide meant different things to different people at different times – something which is still true today. However, a common understanding of suicide in Western history developed from seeing it as a sin in Christianity, to that of a crime in the legal system, and finally in relation to mental illness in today’s psychiatric and psychological discourse. These various understandings still have an impact on how we understand and deal with this phenomenon today. One of the most commonly encountered statements about suicide in scientific discourse is that it is a serious public health problem. In this sense suicide or suicidality are
Post | winter 2012
individual Throughout the centuries, death has been at the cente r of people’s outlook at life. considered a priori to be a problem to be solved, instead of phenomena to be understood. Moreover, suicide is seen as a complication of untreated depression, and related to mental illness, and hence is a problem in society and/or a problem of an individual (depending on the scientific approach) that should be prevented. Suicidology, psychiatry and psychology have thus focused mainly on the question of ‘why’ suicide occurs, in order to explain it and prevent it. The mentioned focus on explanation and prevention of suicide would perhaps not be such a problem if it wouldn’t also prevent suicidal people from speaking out about their suicidal thoughts – exactly what can help them bridge the profound isolation that they are often experiencing. Just think of a simple exercise: if someone tells you that you are not allowed to think of a blue elephant for the next minute – how difficult is it to really not think of it? It might strike you as a somewhat odd comparison, but not being allowed to consider suicide or speak freely about it, might be one of the most dangerous aspects of the attitudes towards suicide in a society. Feeling guilty or bad about entertaining such thoughts certainly does not help someone entrust their problems to others. Let alone the possibility that they might be locked up in a mental health institution against their
Illustration: Anna Denise van der Reijden (’05)
wish (so called involuntary hospitalization) since they are a danger to themselves. Suicide prevention might thus be driving suicidal individuals underground instead of towards getting appropriate help4. So you might also ask yourself - whose life is it then anyway?5 Don’t get me wrong though, I am not saying that individuals who want to commit suicide should do so and we shouldn’t give a damn. Quite contrary. I think that people can and should be helped, if they so wish. The only problem is that they often have to keep looking and looking, sometimes for a very long time, before they find the right person to talk to. During this time they might give up and/ or lose trust in others as well as themselves – every such negative experience isolates them more. My PhD project regarding the experience of suicidality has taught me that talking about suicidal ideation with someone who doesn’t judge it, but simply listens, can do much more than we might think. Being listened to, being understood, and being allowed to be who one really is, are all important aspects of such a ‘therapeutic’ encounter. Plenty of research shows that suicidal individuals do seek help, that they do try to express what is happening to them, but that they are all too often not heard, not taken seriously, and, perhaps most importantly, not understood. The attitudes towards suicide, amongst other things, make it difficult for these people to express what is happening in a straightforward matter. This is perhaps even more so in a ‘happiness society’, where we are, on the one hand, craving happiness and, on the other hand, we seem to think that life does not involve pain or suffering anymore. Being suicidal means being unhappy and is in this society seen as a failure, which makes it even harder for an individual. Perhaps the same can be said for talking about death more broadly. Western society mostly functions according to the logic of life and has to preserve life by all means, since it is considered to be the greatest good, often regardless of its quality. Throughout the centuries, death has been at the center of people’s outlook at life. In a modernist worldview, which emphasizes scientific analysis, progress through
reason, and our ability to control and dominate nature, the question of death has become marginalized6 and denied7. Suicide means death and should thus be prevented, as it goes against the root metaphors of society and medicine. In this way, suicide prevention is also a form of suicide prejudice, often rejecting suicide without considering the individual circumstances. Even if suicide is not criminally penalized, it is in fact not legal, because otherwise its coercive prevention would be illegal8. To a certain extent, the legislation and suicide prevention interventions also inﬂuence both the attitudes towards suicide and the prevalent norms in a particular social context. It seems almost like we have forgotten that, as Camus tried to point out, considering suicide and, more broadly, being aware of death as a possibility, has also something to do with life. Perhaps it serves an important function? Existential philosophers and existential psychotherapists have tried to bring back the understanding of death as a fact or a possibility that is an intrinsic part of life, something that can give life meaning, significance, poignancy and can even help one live a more authentic, one’s own life. From an existential point of view, death is a part of life and one
winter 2012 | Post
one of Marja Ku
zmanic’s patie nt
of the few certainties that define the human condition9. What is uncertain is how and when we will die. A further paradox lies in the fact that as a person who suffers from a physical disease such as diabetes, one has the right to reject treatment, whereas a suicidal patient has no such right10. What happens to an individual when this basic possibility is taken away, when someone is involuntary hospitalized even though they do not want to live anymore? This is done on the basis of a suicidal individual being seen as illogical and not capable of making rational decisions (i.e. ‘crazy’ or mentally ill) due to the consideration to end his or her life. Besides the mentioned problems with suicide prevention
Post | winter 2012
strategies, a further complication occurs because of the existing myths about suicide in most Western societies. One of these is, for example, that asking if someone is considering suicide or just talking about suicide can lead someone to also act on it. This is not true – often posing the question provides relief and an opening to express what one is going through. Another myth is also that someone, who talks about suicide, will never actually commit it. This one is also quite dangerous as it contributes to the fact that someone is not taken seriously. Suicide is often not an impulsive but a well thought through act. For sure it might start with vague thoughts about life not being not worth living, on which
accepting suicide as a possibility of the human condition, or as an idea does not mean accepting suicide as a solution.
one does not act. However, this might develop further along the suicidal process – especially if someone is not heard or taken seriously during this process of ‘slipping away’. So why do we find it so difficult to talk about suicide? Why are we as lay people, but even as professionals, often reserved to asking the question? Besides the mentioned myths and attitudes, it also has to do with our own relationship to death or our confrontation with it. Understanding our own biases and reactions to suicide, as well as our own issues with death, and how these are shaped through social norms, our anxieties and fears, is a necessary component if we want to be available to help someone who is suicidal. In terms of therapy or professional help, it is only when the story behind an act of self-harm can be fully shared with another person that there is there a common ground for such a relationship11. But accepting suicide as a possibility of the human condition, or as an idea does not mean accepting suicide as a solution. It means assuming an open and neutral stance that might contribute to a better understanding of individual meaning behind the thought or choice, and serve as a basis of an ‘I-Thou’12 relationship. With this contribution, I have tried to show that once someone finds oneself in the dark suicidal world, this does not have to be the end of the world. However, it can be if one does not find the right people with whom one can share what one is going through. By means of sharing it is possible to bridge the experienced disconnectedness and loneliness, and discover how one does want to live. Of course the person has to find the courage, trust and persistence to do this. It is also through such encounters that one can more easily change one’s attitudes towards life, world and oneself – find a new, different meaning in life. What seems like the end of the world can also be a new beginning
or an incentive for transformation. One research participant described this process of transformation as facing his fears, establishing his own values and understanding of the world (something to hold on to), and consequently living according to these – being more himself. What do you think is the opposite of fear...? It is very simple. Trust is the opposite of fear, and if you trust life you can go on living. If you don’t trust life then you cannot go on. Then you are afraid. You only have two options. - research participant
Marja Kuzmanic (‘05) holds an MPhil (‘06) from University of Cambridge and a PhD (‘12) from University of Ljubljana, both in psychology. She is finishing an MA study in psychotherapy and counseling and is setting up a private practice in counselling and coaching in Amsterdam and Groningen (www.marjakuzmanic.com).
Kuzmanic, M. (2012). Suicide from an Existential-phenomenological Perspective: Sense or non-sense? PhD Dissertation. Self-published by Marja Kuzmanic, Ljubljana, 2012.
Camus, A. (2005). The Myth of Sisyphus. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.
Nietzsche, F. (1989). Beyond Good and Evil: A prelude to the philosophy of the future. New York: Random House, Inc.
Webb, D. (2010). Thinking About Suicide: Contemplating and Comprehending the Urge to Die. Herefordshire, UK: PCCS BOOKS Ltd.
Cutcliffe, J.R. & Links, P.S. (2008). Whose Life is it Anyway? An exploration of five contemporary ethical issues that pertain to the psychiatric nursing care of the person who is suicidal: Part one. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 17, 236–245.
Cooper, M. & Adams, M (2005). Death. In E. van Deurzen & C. ArnoldBaker (Eds.), Existential Perspectives on Human Issues: A Handbook for Therapeutic Practice (pp. 78-88). New York: Palgrave Macmillian.
Becker, E. (1973). The Denial of Death. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Szasz, T. (1999). Fatal Freedom. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Heidegger, M. (1996). Being and Time. New York: State University of New York Press.
Michel, K. & Valach, L. (2010). The Narrative Interview With the Suicidal Patient. In: K. Michel & D.A. Jobes (Eds.), Building a Therapeutic Alliance With the Suicidal Patient. Washington: American Psychological Association.
Buber, M. (1970). I and Thou. New York: Scribner’s.
winter 2012 | Post
This Exquisite Forest - Introduction / Still from video
Aaron Koblin - Digital Storyteller In this interview for D&AD, Aaron Koblin tells of exploring the new frontiers in interactive storytelling.
aron Koblin is an artist and designer specializing in data and digital technologies. He leads the Data Arts Team in Google’s Creative Lab. Here, Aaron discusses his newest project, This Exquisite Forest, and how the web has enabled storytelling to branch out in new directions. This Exquisite Forest was created at Google and exhibited at Tate Modern in London. The interactive installation is open until the beginning of 2013 on the 3rd floor gallery. How does TEF build on your previous experiences? I’ve always had an interest in collaborative creativity, as shown in projects such as Bicycle Built for 2000 and The
Post | winter 2012
Johnny Cash Project. Both of those projects gave people discreet, defined pieces of a story that they were supposed to replicate. For This Exquisite Forest, we wanted to open the door and give the user far more creative control over the work. What have you learned so far from the way people are telling stories using TEF? The biggest lesson so far is that people have a tendency towards abstraction. It’s rare that a story follows a continuous narrative path in the project. In most cases, I would say, given enough time, a tree ends up becoming an abstract artwork until it reaches a point where it is a new idea entirely, and then it becomes another. It’s fascinating to
watch the different forms of collaborative creation though, and to compare the different interpretations of instruction and image. Do people tend to follow a provided path, or like to create their own narrative? People flourish when they’re given creative constraints. I would say the more constrained the ask, the more creative deviation occurs. People hate to be boxed in and it ignites a fire within which can be extremely creative and personal. Does collaboration enhance the ability to tell a story, or do too many cooks spoil the broth? This is completely in the eye of the be-
holder. In terms of concrete narrative, one creator (or a small group) will always trump the crowd. But the crowd takes the story in completely new directions, and seeing how that happens is what we wanted to explore. The scale and risk-taking is simply not comparable. Sometimes the broth may not be as tasty, but there’s a whole lot of it, and you find some amazing morsels when you swim around in it. Sometimes the broth may not be as tasty, but there’s a whole lot of it, and you find some amazing morsels when you swim around in it. Can you talk about your partnerships with Chris Milk? Chris and I work extremely well together because we both recognise each other’s strengths. Chris is very good at keeping the project focused on the original goal, and as a director, he understands
how to make things come alive and be entertaining. My role is to shepherd the technology and user experience, and to push the web as hard as possible to see through our vision. We’re both interested in experience, emotion, and engagement and we share many of the same design opinions which is hugely helpful. What potential does Google bring to the telling of stories? Storytelling at Google is all about the people who use the web and how it affects their daily lives. It’s a fantastic space because the web is so vastly diverse. It encompasses such a broad section of humanity, maybe more than any other technology before it. Google brings interconnectivity but it also brings concrete tools and technologies which are enabling new forms of collaboration and thinking. In my
People flourish when they’re given creative constraints. opinion, communication is almost synonymous with storytelling so it’s hard to imagine a greater potential. What are the implications if we are all creating different stories, do people miss out on shared experience? To me, the shared experience of Exquisite Forest is the platform itself. That is what people can experience in common. It is a wonderful feeling when a complete stranger branches off your animation... it’s a connection you couldn’t have expected, and yet is so gratifying. So, I do believe shared experience is really important, and I think
This Exquisite Forest - online interface
winter 2012 | Post
This Exquisite Forest - exhibition at Tate Modern in London
there is still a strong feeling of shared experience as people find their favourite pathways, and share and vote them up in the community - it’s just that the shared experience doesn’t need to be identical. How has the increase in prevalence of digital technologies aided brands telling stories? I would say there are just more options now, and some of them are incredibly powerful. It used to be that a huge media buy was just about the only way to get your story out there. Now, you can target campaigns with deeper understanding of the audience, and even get massive exposure with virtually no media buy at all. It costs nothing, in dollar terms, to put your work on YouTube. Your media buy is free. That platform equality comes with a caveat of course: you need to be really good to be noticed, but it’s totally doable.
Post | winter 2012
How effective have we been at recording and telling the story of the beginning of the digital revolution? I think we’ve all been so busy experiencing it that talking about it feels tedious. It’s become a truism to say that mobile phones are changing the world, for example. We get the digital revolution. The question isn’t how you tell that story, it’s how you push it further. The archives will do the rest. Will digital storytelling be around for the foreseeable future? I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface. There are so many big “I wish I had thought of that” ideas out there in the digital space that we are going to look back on and realise were totally obvious.
Aaran Koblin was an exchange student at UCU in 2002. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Electronic Art and went on to do a MFA in Design and Media Arts and UCLA. He is currently the Creative Director of Google’s Data Arts Team. www.exquisiteforest.com This article was originally published on the website of D&AD. www.dandad.org
Check out our take on the Exquisite Corpse technique the online story-writing project Squishy Cops - from page 19 onwards.
Elitsa Mateva (‘09)
phofographer unknown (see page 40)
Laura Scheske (‘10)
phofographer unknown (see page 40)
Laura Scheske (‘10)
Zwarte Piet: A Racist Heritage? As the debate surrounding the Dutch tradition grows louder, Laura Kraak examines the intricacies of including it on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
interklaas and Zwarte Piet. Who does not love this goodnatured man and his entertaining black companions who visit the Netherlands and Belgium every year to give presents and candy? The Sinterklaas celebration has been rated the most popular Dutch tradition (Strouken 2010). Nevertheless, the tradition has been increasingly subject to criticisms. Particularly the character of Zwarte Piet is controversial. In countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom it is unthinkable to dress up blackface, since it is considered racist and offensive. However, most Dutch people love Zwarte Piet. They defend the tradition as their cultural heritage and deny any malevolent intentions. In an interesting development the Netherlands recently ratified UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Similar to the well-known World Heritage Convention, countries can nominate items of their cultural heritage for an international list. As the most popular Dutch tradition, the Sinterklaas celebration will logically be nominated by the Netherlands. However, it will be interesting to see if UNESCO will accept this tradition. For a place on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), a tradition cannot be in conflict with the UN’s Human Rights instruments. Depending on how one interprets the character of Zwarte Piet, this could potentially be problematic.
Who is Zwarte Piet? The debate about whether or not Zwarte Piet is racist returns every year and the arguments usually get stuck somewhere when one party argues that Zwarte Piet is a slave and the other party claims he only seems black because he is a chimney sweep. In reality it is unclear where this character comes from. Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, was the bishop of Myra in Turkey in the fourth century AD. Although little is known
Post | winter 2012
about his life, soon after his death he was worshipped all over Europe. Throughout the ages he has been portrayed with a black devil by his side. This character probably functioned as a contrast to the white and noble saint. In many societies people dressed up to role-play these characters and act as a bogeyman to make children obedient. In the Netherlands of the nineteenth century Sinterklaas’ companion received more typical African characteristics. In the illustrations of a children’s book by Jan Schenkman (Schenkman 1850), Sinterklaas’ companion wore the clothes resembling those of Moorish pages, had big red lips and an Afro hairstyle. There are no sources that explain why Schenkman chose to portray Sinterklaas’ companion this way. It is also not clear from the book whether this character is a slave or free. There is, however, no question that this character held a subordinate position. Despite the haziness of Zwarte Piet’s provenance, he was certainly no chimney sweep. He was either a devil or a subordinate black servant. Not particularly positions people would like to be identified with. Opponents of Zwarte Piet argue that this unequal relationship between Zwarte Piet en Sinterklaas teaches children that black people are inferior to white people. However, defenders of Zwarte Piet argue that this relationship is not unequal anymore. Today, Zwarte Piet is no longer a servant but a friend, colleague or manager of Sinterklaas.
Zwarte Piet as intangible cultural heritage Despite this annual debate about whether or not Zwarte Piet is racist, the Netherlands will nominate the Sinterklaas tradition for UNESCO’s Representative List of ICH. ICH is not about beautiful old ruins or even paintings or objects. ICH
Illustration: Indra Spronk-Baas (‘06)
is about heritage we cannot touch, such as rituals, songs, and traditions. Items that are currently on the Representative List include the tango in Argentina, the Mexican cuisine, and carpet weaving in Iran. As these examples show, many different types practices can be considered ICH. One of the problems with the concept of ICH is that it is quite difficult to draw boundaries. In fact there are many cultural practices that are morally or ethically problematic. Examples include female genital mutilation, bull fighting, and ritual slaughter. By adding the requirement of compatibility with UN’s human rights instruments, UNESCO attempted to put a boundary on ICH in the context of its lists1. For some cultural practices, this is fairly straightforward. Female genital mutilation would not make it on the Representative List. This practice can be seen as conflicting with Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. However, Zwarte Piet is part of a tradition that finds itself in a grey area, where it is much harder to determine whether or not it conflicts with human rights. If dressing up as Zwarte Piet is racist, arguably the practice would be in conflict with Article 20.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
It should be noted that both UNESCO and the UN’s human rights instruments have often been criticized for promoting Western norms and values.
“Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.” However, there is no consensus about whether or not Zwarte Piet is racist. Moreover, there are no cases of hostility or violence against black people of which it can be proven that Zwarte Piet was the cause. Neither can we really speak of hatred, considering Zwarte Piet’s popular role as a children’s friend. It will be interesting to see what UNESCO’s interpretation of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet will be. This case illustrates one of the complications of safeguarding the big diversity of forms ICH on an international level, since there will undoubtedly be ICH in other cultures with controversial elements. An important characteristic of ICH is that it is not static. Forms of ICH change and adjust themselves to the time. UNESCO emphasizes this characteristic. Listing traditions should not freeze them. This poses many challenges, and the Convention is subject to much debate and criticisms. But for the Sinterklaas tradition this would mean that if it gets a place on UNESCO’s Representative List, there would still be room for the introduction of White, Asian, Middle Eastern or Indian ‘Pieten’. Laura Kraak (‘11) is currently an MPhil student at the University of Cambridge working on Archaeological Heritage and Museums. She is a volunteer at the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. SCHENKMAN, J. 1850. Sint Nikolaas en zijn knecht. G. Theod. Bom STROUKEN, I. 2010. Dit Zijn Wij. Pharos Uitgeverij winter 2012 | Post
Message from the
Housemaster Maarten Diederix shares his thoughts on the end being nigh. photo: Doudouce Luitse (‘10)
he end of the world. It sounds like a movie, but then with an un-Hollywood-like ending, not good at all. As far back as I can remember the threat of the end of the world has always loomed on the horizon. As a child we received classroom lessons on diving under your desk and covering your vulnerable heads to survive nuclear bombs and then leaving class in a tidy and orderly fashion. As if! Many people dreamed of digging their own bomb shelter in their backyard, with loads of food and some kind of ventilation system to filter out the poisonous fallout, all run on electricity of course. The nuclear threat of war between the Soviet Union and the rest of the world was so close at the Bay of Pigs, that the end as we know it was almost a reality. This and many other examples of living under this threat has had an effect on our behavior on the planet, and with the planet. The current world population now lives under a totally new threat: too much information. Every signal of a potential threat is broadly put on display on the world wide web, in full truth or just bollocks. I’m sure everybody knows beautiful examples of things being first very healthy turning into pure poison after scientific research, or the other way around. With the decay of religion as a backbone, the struggle to live long - not happy,
Post | winter 2012
but long - is in full swing in the rich parts of the world. Many people leave the planet definitively whilst screaming and shouting their injustice. As humans we play a major part on the planet but we are by no means the only ones. Each and every part of nature plays a role, whether big or small. Without humans the planet will continue, but just in a different manner, maybe even better. For me as a father the decision to have children, based on end of the world doomsday scenarios would be easy; every day on the planet
is one. And if you only reach the age of twenty or less, that is always better, way better, than no day at all on this extremely beautiful planet. The joy one can feel on any given moment and for any possible event justifies that. So my advice: if it is true that the end is nigh, who cares? Just live life like it will end tomorrow. Maarten Diederix is UCU’s housemaster (or, according to his LinkedIn profile, demand manager). He has worked for UCU since 1998 and is an unmissable part of campus life.
Squishy Cops are in town
Squishy Cops. Pudgy popos. Cuddly constables. “Who are these two officers of the law?” many people asked, “and why are they squishy?” The reference to Exquisite Corpse, the surrealist technique from the 1920s on which the experiment is based, was phonetic, and only vaguely at that, so the confusion was grounded. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop people from submitting some really imaginative stuff.
to it every other sentence. Or would maintaining a doomsy tone and atmosphere be enough? How important was it for the story anyway? What would happen to the “I”? Would the first person narrative stick, or would people start to use “he” and “she”, and become more omniscient narrators? And who would the “you” become, if anyone? What would the protagonist and the “you” do with their remaining time on earth?
The idea behind www.squishycops.com was simple: users are given two sentences written by previous participants, and asked to write the next. This way, we hoped to create a chain of input from different users, and effectively have them write some stories together.
We had a lot of these giddy questions about the possible trajectories the stories could take, but before they could go anywhere we would have to make everything work behind the scenes. Even without the server troubles we experienced this was more complicated than we expected, and we received quite a few questions about the why of certain elements. To answer the most common ones: we required sentences to be a minimum of 100 characters because it would force people to provide enough information for the next person to build on. Also, when you typed a period the character counter would go to zero, and your sentence was considered finished. If you weren’t finished you could press backspace and continue, but this wasn’t always clear and some people thought it was a bug. All in all, Squishy Cops wasn’t perfect but in the end it worked.
We wondered what these stories could look like. For example, would a certain storyline provided in the beginning somehow manage to be maintained? To which crazy situations and locations would the large variety of alumni minds, with all those different lives they’re living, take things? To get those minds started, we created nine stories with the following opening: “The incessant news reports about the approaching meteorite had become an almost unnoticeable drone in the background as I made my way through the people and out into the street. I looked around to see if - by chance - I would see your face somewhere, but of course I didn’t, so I decided to keep moving and make these last days count.” Would the meteorite still be threatening our planet ten or twenty sentences down the line? There would have to be some reference
It was also often wondered where the final (or ongoing) stories could be read. For now, we are publishing large unedited - parts of the ten stories on the following pages of this magazine, but the plan is to visualize everything on the website, along with developing the site further to be used more widely. We are bubbling with ideas, but to realize them will take time and moolah, so please be patient while we apply for funds to make it happen!
winter 2012 | Post
The incessant news reports about the approaching meteorite had become an almost unnoticeable drone in the background as I made my way through the people and out into the street. I looked around to see if - by chance - I would see your face somewhere, but of course I didn’t, so I decided to keep moving and make these last days count.
t was difficult to keep from thinking everything had been for nothing: the cake, the dress, the white shoes, the rings, the hired old-timer. And then there it was, as a free sample in a cheap supermarket, the only other love of my life presents itself about fourty steps away from me - inconspicuous to the hysteric crows around us but oh so noticable to me - but i was thinking of you. A pivotal moment of my life lies five strides in front of me and all I can remember is how good you looked in that blue dress that one time, even though you knew that I liked the green better on you. Only then she started to talk to me in that sweet, slightly smoky voice I remember from back in the day, and instantly this image of you was erased from my mind. I suddenly realized that the sensicles in my head were making as much sense as tentacles - the she and you, the you and she - were they merging into one; were my sensicles fusing images, melting thoughts, combining scents into one magical being? A sudden feeling of disgust waved over me as I realized that I had, at least the last half an hour, all of these relevant and eloquently formulated thoughts, in the voice of Christopher Walken. The odd thing about this is that for all the sensuality of the tentacled, carnal and olfactory merging, it was Walken’s voice that really helped me get it up.
OLO - the first thing that sprang into my mind, and judging by the chaos surrounding me - so did everybody else. The Japanese rocket scientist holds the key to saving our planet and people from all over the country - no, world - are praying that he wakes from his coma on time. It is unfortunate that his doctors, who should be trying to revive him, are out getting drunk and doing karaoke in seedy neon-lit bars, as they too want to make the best of their last days on earth. In those days, you know, the comatose were imagined to be on a blissful plane of endless inertia, tumbling in infinity - Yakubari had no intention of waking up to the cold hard reality of gravity. The floaty feeling tickled - like butterflies slowly drowning in honey in the small of his elbows and the back of his knees. There was a fragrance in the air, a moist wettness of unspoken words in Yakubari’s mind and piercing through al of it was the sudden realization that of all the names he could not remember the only one he really envied for was his wive’s. For it wasn’t this impenetrable blankness in his mind surrounding her name that upset him the most - it was the inability to picture any emotions towards her that came with it. Did he feel hatred; did he blame her for what happened; or did he love her - love, what was the meaning of love in all the emptiness now, he winced at the thought. Rather, he pitied her, for her inability to embrace the people around her, those that loved her, and wanted no more than to help her - such a horrible fate it must be.
Squishy Cops contributors: Adam, Alex, Alina, Bear, Casper van der Ven, Claudia van den Heuvel, Daniel Owen, Daniel Rutten, Derk, DRH, elit
looked around and up and down the street; things were a mess, like a scene out of some bad Michael Bay apocalyptic movie. Unlike a Michael Bay movie though, these effects weren’t special at all, or effects for that matter, they were real; there was nothing computer-generated about the chaos, the panic, and the fear in people’s faces: this meteor was coming. My mouth swallowing fear and awe, mystically and scientifically equally pissing me off, I was cursing the happening, but as the reflection of the striking monster-head grew bigger and brighter in my eyeballs, its shape altering, i saw something else. It was the long untouched tequila bottle on my kitchen sink that had sneakily grabbed my attention,in an ultimate attempt to defy and deny reality. I quickly grabbed the bottle by the neck and smacked the monster upside the head with it, with shards of glass and drops of tequila flying everywhere, and the monster letting out a loud “AARRRAGHGHHHH!” I was struck, in turn, by the monstrous vermin’s terrible spelling and punctuation, and was wont to ask it how on earth it could pronounce a character outside of its own defined utterance.
whistled a tune as the faces passed by, thinking of the things I wanted to do to make these last days count; a “Bucket List” so to say. First thing I did was down to the shop and get enough blow and MDMA to keep me going through the bucket list had in mind before the astroid hit within 5 days; with such little time remaining I planned to be up for as much of it as I could. Great - apparently others came up with this brilliant idea, too: There was a huge line in front of what I thus far had considered my secret place, my stoner’s paradise hideaway, my local hangout that only the coolest amongst us knew. I put myself in the end of the line where an old lady was standing with three kids and a shiny yellow bag. The kids glared at me with contempt as I started impatiently tapping my foot on the floor and humming to myself to numb the pain of not having an MP3 player. I imagined what it would be like to stuff them into the bag with some rocks and throw it in the river like we did when the bitch on the farm had too many puppies. Having rid myself of the itch, I realized not all was lost--after all, I still had the Ambien in my pocket and Johnny was going to pop by with a couple of suppositories. As the passers-by looked at me in disgust, I realized that I did indeed look like the junkie they sneered at me for being--and I also realized I didn’t give a flying fuck. There were more important things to care about, especially, you know, given the world was about to end. I figured it was time to start saying my goodbyes, so I pulled out my phone and dialed the number of my parents’ cattle ranch in Vermont, pressing the tiny buttons with my greasy fingers. As the phone rang, I visualized my parents’ ranch: the cows, the giant maple trees and the gentle stream, and I wandered how much of the chaos and fear of the last few days had penetrated into their peaceful existence.
bought a pack of smokes and a quart of bourbon to steady my hand before jumping in my car, first thing was to secure the ability to defend myself and gather suplies. I put on my seat belt, having remembered that the most important thing in situations like these is to wear a seat belt - I wasn’t sure if I would be facing zombies again, but if I was, I’d be prepared. Racing through the deserted streets, I realized I left my goldfish by itself to face the imminent onslaught, and having learned from similar mistakes in the past I doubled back to do the only right thing; fill the autofeed dispenser with valium. As I parked my car on the front lawn and unhooked my seat belt, I noticed Carl, holding a dripping bowl, with my goldfish between his teeth. The bag of valium I’d gone through so much trouble to obtain previously slowly slipped from my fingers and fell on the street, the white pills posing a stark contrast with the melting asphalt. Mouth moved as in a slow motion movie memoir, a sequence in which I attempted to break Carl’s inescapably bloody escapade - yet my ether-fuelled legs turned away before I knew it, I was scratching my knees on the tar and Carl was nowhere to be found. (...) I figured it was time to start saying my goodbyes, so I pulled out my phone and dialed the number of my parents’ cattle ranch in Vermont, pressing the tiny buttons with my greasy fingers. As the phone rang, I visualized my parents’ ranch: the cows, the giant maple trees and the gentle stream, and I wandered how much of the chaos and fear of the last few days had penetrated into their peaceful existence.
sa, Esther, Eveline Hertzberger, fleur, Frank Witte, Gabi, Gicky Grunfeld, IG Karfield, Ike Krijnen, Januschka, Jeroen, Jessica, john, Klementina, kroeffie,
The incessant news reports about the approaching meteorite had become an almost unnoticeable drone in the background as I made my way through the people and out into the street.
ll around me people were bustling around; I wondered if, from the meteorite’s perspective, we all looked like the mad bumper car-esque myriad of ants we create when purposefully (maliciously) trampling on that neat straight line they usually follow. I decided to stop thinking about the meteor for now, and focus on what I wanted to do: eat an amazing hamburger and then find you. Was it weird to feel hungry at such a time - or was this sudden craving maybe some kind of primal instinct coming through? All i knew was that my “last meal” burger (and to think I had not even killed anyone) had to come directly from a living animal, fresher than fresh was to be the meat on my grill. And with all this Michael Bay-esque apocoloptic chaos around, there was plenty of “fresh meat” trampelling about - where all these animals had come from I could not guess, but there were goats, chickens, and turkeys running around the intersections. I started to wonder whether the end was near and God was trying to hint at me to start building an arc or something, when a biblical downpour started coming out of the dark clouds above my head. What I ended up making was actually more of an arch than an arc, but either way there was no way I was going to fit my mate into it, let alone the turkeys. There was something coming, and this whole arch idea was useless--if only I had taken it upon myself to build an ark. I would have made an excellent ark, I mused to myself, having designed it using a PC computer with a technology on it, the fittings and form would have been sleek and modern. Like the novelty of an intel-developer-in-fruitexpressed’s last cathode ray tube monitor in 1999 - yeah, look it up.
I looked around to see if - by chance - I would see your face somewhere, but of course I didn’t, so I decided to keep moving and make these last days count.
ow that I had seen your true face I knew I would never forget it - though in your case I would gladly make an exception. The parsimonious make-up that appears to have been smeared on your pig-like face makes you look both hideous and fatuous, a combination that helped me decide the point I priviously made. In a way I was sort of happy a meteor was approaching earth and was going to make you go away forever - but then again, it was also going to wipe me out, which made me decidedly grimmer. The closer the meteor approached us, the more my initial judgement of your face altered - I started to see the beauty behind the mask, and it felt like I was wearing beer-goggles, appreciating the exquisiteness of your odd appearance - our eyes met. From that moment I decided that I would do absolutely anything in my power to stop that meteor from hitting the earth; hypnotized by your eyes I felt I had the power to launch into space and crash into the meteor, saving mankind, and of course, us. Yet somehow, my feet remained glued to the ground - as I’m, as far as I know one coherent piece of hokum, the rest of me stayed right where it was as well - and the nails sticking through my toes didn’t help much either. My nemesis, it must be noted, knew that I would not be able to do anything with my feet in such a state, but he hadn’t counted on your powers--and though I was unable to say anything about the nails, you could hear it in my mind and release me.
a, kroeffie, Lamar Heystek, Laurens Hebly, LBOMSCHESKE, Leanne, Leon Emmen, Maarten, Margreet Wiegers, Marieke, matthijs, Midge, Mike, Peter, Roela
A few big thank yous need to happen: first of all to Matthijs Dinant, an exquisite programmer, for helping us out way beyond his pay check. Also to Taco van Sambeek for doing front-end programming, to the Primus alumni for beta-testing, to many others for gamma-, delta- and epsilon-testing, and finally, to all the participants for writing some truly squishy stories!
knew I still had to accomplish one last task, a task so monumental, it would take every last ounce of strength I had left. This task, writing a sentence and successfully publishing it on Squishy Cops, had been passed down to me by my great-grandfather Archibald Straw-stalk, who died in a meteorite storm not unlike the one approaching Earth today. So I looked for a meteorite shelter with an Internet connection, since there I could protect myself from sudden death *and* write my last words for all to see. Clearly, not all Squishy Cops contributors share the same great-grandfather, but most are aware of the locations of meteor shelters, as Earth has been under threat of these showers for decades. As lucky as the Squishy Cops were, the closest shelter seemed to be located below the old Kromhout Kazerne and to be more exact, right underneath one of the old foundations of the Waterlinie Defense!. The shelters were not used for shelter, but for pumping iron,hustling and talking about Shakespear - but one day, as CoolSchool, the leader of the gang was getting ready to groom his hair, the strangest thing happened - Before him appeared the ghost of none other than Hermann Goering himself, in full military attire, babbling to himself in German about how Donitz was an unworthy swine and that the Reich should have been his. “Things are definitely going sideways, Johnny, CoolSchool murmured, “so you’d better chuck those suppositories at him or something right quick.” With a shriek, what Johnny actually did before he bolted down the corridor was more like sprinkle the opiates on the German officer much like bridesmaids would have thrown rice at a happy couple. But seeing that it was of such rapturously superb quality - the basmati of opiates - a slight sprinkle was more than enough to catapult the German officer into a realm of consciousness he wished he would never have to wake up from.
We were further inspired by Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk’s take on Exquisite Corpse: This Exquisite Forest. For an interview with Aaron, who did an exchange semester at UCU in 2002, see page 12.
knew there was one thing I still wanted to do: have an amazing hamburger with pickles and bacon and lots of cheese and maybe even one of those eggs that they sometimes put on it. Was it weird to feel hungry at such a time - or was this sudden craving maybe some kind of primal instinct coming through? Whatever it was, I would get my hamburger before that meteorite obliterated us all, and it would be delicious. Yet while holding this thought, and my memory of peaceful moments from childhood at the same time, I felt like a cat: Schrödinger’s cat to be precise. I was trapped and I knew it - I felt it with every breath that passed my lips, that filled my lungs and made my blood pump to my hungry tummy and my salivating tastebuds. I was unsure whether or not love--the true poison in this case--had killed me or not, and to everyone else in my life I was both alive and dead. It occurred to me that was a pretty depressing way to think about things, so I figured I’d quit reminiscing and get back to the task at hand. Lost in the whirlpool of emotions and utter mental disarray as I was, it wasn’t easy to decide whether to go back there or not. The truth is, the only reason I went back wasn’t for love or truth or any other noble or virtuous reason, but simply because I was tired of feeling like a bitch - and this seemed as good of a time to make a stand to make as any. “I crave some peanut butter”, my tummy told me, and with a snap that thought freed me from the whole whirlpool of emotions and made my head clear again.
and, Rogier van Dam, Sarah Dormaar, seb, Seline, Seuffe LeSeuffe, Simone Speelman, Suzanne, Thijs, Thorwald Stein, Vera Schölmerich, Vincent
Laurens Hebly (‘01)
Photographically challenged | There are countless photos being taken throughout the world today. Some of them are truly amazing. Many of them are pretty good. Most photos are just mediocre. But what about bad photos, what happens to them? Probably a lot of them are deleted instantly, only seeing the light of day for a split second or so. Or they are lost in the abyss of your digital photo collection.These hidden gems are shrouded in mystery and actually deserve a closer look. When selecting photos that are somehow flawed, foggy, or just a little frumpy an interesting thing happens: you start judging photos from a different point of view and with a new set of criteria. “Is this one blurry enough?”, “Can you see if its a turtle or a banana?”, “Is that someone’s face covering the lens?”. You may even start liking these spontaneous and sometimes abstract pictures, maybe even wondering how you were able to make them. Phofography is an experimental collaborative photography project that aims to explore the uncharted territory of flawed photography. It is different to other forms of photography in a number of ways. First of all it is very inclusive; everyone can do it and you don’t need fancy equipment, it’s possible with every type of camera. Secondly, in phofography there is no real technique and hardly any intention; the pictures are made purely accidentally. Phofographs can be blurry,
Post | winter June 2012 2012
underexposed, poorly positioned, low resolution, there are infinite ways to mess up a picture and this is what makes for such a wide variety. A phofo, as we also like to refer to them, can tell us something about the phofographer. Sometimes it gives a fleeting glimpse into the phofographer’s life and the situation they were in while taking the phofo. Phofos create more questions than answers and they triggers our imagination to figure out what we are looking at. Perhaps failed photos may one day be more appreciated, possibly even inspirational. We believe that anyone can be a phofographer. It is about recognizing phofos, and admitting to ourselves that ‘bad’ can also be ‘good’, it just depends how you look at it. It’s time we give less fortunate photos a chance to see another light of day. www.phofography.com On the phofography website people can view an ever-growing collection of phofographs. Anyone is able to upload and submit their own pictures or comments, these get fed onto the homepage. Eventually we want to expand this project by and create books and set up an exhibition. This all depends on how many people we can get to participate, so please spread the word!
Maarten van Doornmalen (‘05)
Niko Wojtynia (‘13)
Sarah Garcia (‘10)
winter June 2012 | Post
Mistale Taylor (‘11)
Stephanie Ros (‘10)
Post | winter 2012
Iris Otto (’09)
Roeland van Beek (’11) phofographer unknown (see page 40)
Elitsa Mateva (‘09)
Thijs van Himbergen (’03)
winter 2012 | Post
d e ifi
r r Ho
Kiran Coleman enlightens us on what the number one movie at the US box office around Halloween can tell us about 21st century Western society.
he horror genre has a long and rich tradition of serving up allegories commenting on the time in which they were made. Throughout history, those peddling in scary stories have tapped into our fears and the current zeitgeist, and made those fears into tangible and therefore all the more scary monsters. The 19th century gave us classic literary examples warning us about the dangers of giving in to lust or our desire to play God in Dracula and Frankenstein, while the 20th century warned us about a myriad of fears, be they giant radioactive ants and lizards standing in for the dangers of the nuclear age in Them! and the Godzilla movies, or the dangers posed by ‘the enemy within’ in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and McCarthy-era America. Filmmakers like George Romero have practically made a career out of their allegories; Romero letting his zombies represent everything from the angry mobs that abounded during the tumultuous ‘60s in Night of the Living Dead to the modern consumer society in Dawn of the Dead. Since horror movies are still being made, how do those that have been released in the recent past inform the society we live in now? Not every horror movie is a direct commentary on the time in which it was produced, but by looking at the trends reflected in the number one movie at the US Box Office in the weeks leading up to Halloween (the time movie studios tend to launch their biggest horror titles) it’s possible to get an idea of what scares us the most.
Post | winter 2012
The Post-9/11 World Number 1 at the US box office 2002: The Ring 2004: The Grudge Other notable releases: Dark Water (2002), The Eye (2002), One Missed Call (2003) Few would disagree that the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 comprise the first historical event that deeply impacted and in fact would shape the 21st century. Though perhaps not immediately obvious, this is reflected in this century’s first big trend in horror: the fascination with Asian horror. 2002’s The Ring, a remake of the Japanese horror movie Ringu, was the first Halloween number one produced after 9/11 and it was also in those first months after 9/11, when the initial shock and confusion caused by the event had settled down, that Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Ju-On started popping up in movie rental places (remember those?) and college campus living rooms around the Western world. What’s interesting about this focus on Asian horror movies is that, while the whole of Western horror ranges widely with regards to its monsters, themes and tone, in general, Asian horror is much more conventional, mostly focuses on suspense, and often features ghosts. More important than what region of the
earth the origin or inspiration of the horror movies popular in this time period had in common is that they were modern ghost stories about a person who had been wronged, beaten down but coming back stronger than ever to enact revenge against any and all living humans for the misdeeds that had befallen them. Where some of the traditional Asian ghost stories would revolve around spirits returning to exact vengeance specifically on those that had hurt and often were responsible for having killed them, the spirits from the stories that were told in the movies that became popular after 9/11 tended to go after anyone who was unlucky enough to come across their path. The little girl from The Ring killed anyone who watched her videotape (remember those?) and the spirits from Dark Water and The Grudge killed anyone who happened to set foot in the wrong house. As an allegory for terrorism, the idea that you or anyone could be killed by a largely unknowable and foreign force just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, is a scary thought. But rather than just settling for the tension that results from the possible loss of life by an outside threat (a common theme for almost any tale of horror), what further made these movies different from those popular in other eras, was that their protagonists also often try to investigate how their attackers went from being the innocent-looking children they first appear to be to the vengeful spirits they soon prove themselves to be. Though its exact origins are unclear, the vengeance spirit in Japanese culture (onryo) goes back many centuries. According to the mythology, they are human souls who are transformed by extreme and horrific events into spirits that are able to cross over and do harm to the world of the living, fueled by their vengeance. Not surprisingly, it was a form of storytelling that in Japan gained particular popularity in the nuclear aftermath of the Empire’s defeat in World War II. The reason why in so many of these stories the vengeance spirits, when in their corporeal manifestation, take the form of a young girl in white burial robes symbolizes a certain loss of innocence; a once pure entity corrupted by the harm done unto them by others. The aftermath of 9/11 was one in which Western culture, for the first time in a long time, was forced to look outside of itself, and with something to identify with in both the protagonists and antagonists, Asian horror seemed like a fitting place to look.
The Consequences of War Number 1 at the US Box Office 2005: Saw II 2006: Saw III 2007: Saw IV Other notable releases: Saw (2004), Hostel (2005), Martyrs (2008) In the mid-aughts the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had been going on for a few years and instead of the swift victory and conclusion that was predicted by some, it turned out to be a rather long and protracted affair. 2004 was the year the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal broke and beset upon the world some horrific images of what human beings are capable of. It also was the start of what would become the highest grossing horror franchise in movie history: Saw. Belonging to the genre often derogatively referred to as ‘torture porn’, the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal saw a whole slew of popular horror movies that featured people taken prisoner and subjected to virtually every depraved act screenwriters were able to come up with. While the Saw movies do actually attempt to pose some serious questions about morality and the meaning of life (the people the terminally ill killer in Saw puts in his quite literal death traps are all ones he feels have wasted their lives and he wants to provide with a second chance if they prove themselves worthy), what came to define the franchise and its many imitators are the often brutal scenes of pain and torture that the movie’s protagonists are subjected to. While the concept of torture was, of course, nothing new, it was new for it to be thrust upon the public conscience in the way those horrible pictures from Abu Ghraib were able to do. Especially in wartime such stories had existed, but never before were they captured and shared with the ease the development of digital photography and the internet provided for. Horror has a way of taking fears that permeate within society and extrapolating them into the extreme and, at times, absurd, but when reality has already shown itself to be as horrific as it is, the lengths the genre can go to get pushed far past the comfort levels of even those that seek to be pushed.
winter 2012 | Post
Found Footage Number 1 at the US Box Office 2009: Paranormal Activity 2010: Paranormal Activity 2 2011: Paranormal Activity 3 2012: Paranormal Activity 4 Other notable releases: [•Rec] (2007), Diary of the Dead (2007), Cloverfield (2008) By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had more or less faded into the background of our culture’s collective consciousness and our focus has since shifted more towards ourselves again. While conventional wisdom would’ve placed the sixth installment of the Saw franchise at the top of the box office in 2009, it was actually Paranormal Activity, a very small, very low budget movie from 2007 that had been out for weeks, yet kept attracting bigger audiences and kept expanding to more theatres, that eventually ended up taking the top spot. Unlike the vengeance spirits and torture that defined previous trends though, it’s not so much the contents as it is the form that makes the Paranormal Activity movies defining of our times. Though The Blair Witch Project had been a surprise hit back in 1999, thanks in large part to an effective marketing campaign that played coy with how much of it was actually real, it wasn’t until the end of the aughts that the found footage genre, as it came to be called, really came into its own. The times we live in today are defined by the pervasive and near constant documentation of our own lives. Through social networks we are not only always in contact with the rest of the world, the rest of the world is always in contact with us. Most every one of us has, at all times, a camera and computer in their pocket (sometimes we use it to make phone calls as well) and through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we let everyone know where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing all day. While Paranormal Activity is ostensibly a story about a haunting and possession, it is the found footage conceit (the entire film is made up of footage either shot by security cameras or the characters themselves) that makes it stand out from the horror movies that were popular before it. In a time where we’re already both filming and being filmed everywhere we go, the idea that those cameras might be picking up something sinister that we’re not seeing is a really
Post | winter 2012
scary one. Where other horror movies often try to find a way to work around how technology has changed our lives (take a drink every time a character’s cell phone has no battery or reception), the found footage movies embrace this reality wholeheartedly and can even make you look twice every time something appears to be moving in the background of your Skype window.
So what does the future hold for horror and society? It’s tough to say, as it always easier to look back then it is to predict going forward. Looking at the number one box office movie for Halloween 2013 and beyond might give us an idea though. According to next year’s release schedule it seems likely the inevitable Paranormal Activity 5 and another Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot will be the ones to battle it out for the top position in 2013, but that doesn’t mean another contender couldn’t still sneak in there. The Paranormal Activity series appears to already be on the decline in terms of box office receipts, and both its first installment and Saw were small movies with small advertising budgets that, thanks to the slower traveling word of mouth, only really hit it big by the time their sequels came out. So keep an eye on those smaller movies, especially if they do well enough to merit a sequel. I just hope it won’t be the movie about a group of women who accidentally kill a man only to then get hunted by the guy’s male friends that I recently saw a trailer for. That just doesn’t sound like a good direction for society to be headed in. Kiran Coleman (‘05) got his Masters in Public International Law from the University of Amsterdam and is the current Chair of the UCAA. He watches a lot of romantic comedies.
The End of the World or A New Beginning? Illustrations: Anna Denise
van der Reijden (’05)
Marieke Liem sheds light on familicide and identiﬁes two types of perpetrators.
nly the best was good enough for his wife and his two sons. A new car for her. A PlayStation for them. His salary was not enough, and savings he never had, but he had credit cards, lots of them. He used one to pay off the other. She shouldn’t work, she should stay in their suburban home with the kids. He enjoyed thinking about them, when he was at work: Knowing exactly where they were, his little family, any time of the day. Told himself that everything was going to be fine. Just fine. He had it all under control. Until one day, the first debt collector letter came. Then the second, and the third. It grew into a small pile. He had to stay in control. He could not let this happen to his family. He had to take responsibility. ‘Familicide’ is a term used to denote the murder of multiple family members. Its most common form is the killing of an intimate partner and child(ren). The perpetrator who kills his spouse and children is typically a white male in his 30s or 40s, who, compared to other homicide offenders, is more likely to have substantial economic resources and less likely to have a criminal record. Familicide is a rare event: In the Netherlands, its incidence varies from one to three times per year. In the US, familicide occurs on average 23 times per year. This type of mass murder occurs more often than massacres at work, in shopping malls, or at school. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that familicide usually leads to extensive media coverage, as it challenges our perception of the family and our private home as safe havens. Previous research has distinguished two major motivations
underlying familicides: Perpetrators who kill their family members in a ‘murder by proxy’ and those who kill in a ‘suicide by proxy’.1 The first applies to perpetrators who are motivated by anger and revenge following their intimate partner’s threat to separate or divorce. The thought of being betrayed by their wife leaves them shaken and alone. The perpetrator operates out of a profound sense of anger and revenge over his divorce, separation, or child custody battle, in which he sees the children as ‘her’ children, equally responsible for her betrayal. In this process, the children become objectified – through the eyes of the perpetrator. They constitute an extension of his wife, in which he denies them a sense of identity. The perpetrator
winter 2012 | Post
member’s lives. In such cases, the perpetrator commands a relationship in which he perceives that only he can satisfy the needs of his victims.3 Arguably, this may also be the reason why there are so few familicidal women: Women traditionally being less likely to identify themselves as the head of the household, and therefore less likely to link professional failures to potential impacts on the family life.
thus seeks revenge by killing her and all of ‘her’ children. From this perspective, familicides resemble intimate partner homicides generally, as the primary object of aggression constitutes the spouse rather than the children. ‘Suicide by proxy’ familicides, on the other hand, are said to refer to the familicidal male who aims to protect his family from the fate that would befall them without his (financial) support. I argue that ‘suicide by proxy’ is an inaccurate representation of the actual motive – the perpetrator’s primary aim is not to commit suicide, in which he takes his loved ones ‘with him’, but he rather considers the homicide of his family members and his ensuing suicide as a total, and only, solution:2 These men do not consider either killing themselves or their loved ones, but rather consider a combination of the two as the only available option. In these cases, financial problems ranging from the loss of a job to an increasing debt are prominent. These perpetrators become depressed, despondent, hopeless and emasculated: At the very time in their lives when they feel they should be reaching the pinnacle of success in their careers, they are instead fired, or find themselves deeply in debt. Men committing this type of homicide typically perceive themselves as the provider, controller and central figure in their family
Post | winter 2012
Both types of familicide perpetrators are characterized by a need to stay in control over the family situation when the family unit is threatening to disintegrate. This threat can be perceived, such as in a psychotic state, in which the perpetrator is convinced that, for example, the Antichrist will arrive and the world as we know it will cease to exist. Alternatively, the threat may be ‘real’, involving relationship troubles or financial problems. In both scenarios, apocalyptic thinking is pronounced, and, as Baechler (1975) put forward: “The final solution [is]: the pure and simple suppression of all data, including the subject” (p. 14).4 In this view, lethal acts of violence against others and against the self occur as a result of a rational decision-making continuum. Such a decision-making continuum is related to what Wertham (1937) originally termed ‘the catathymic crisis’, or an isolated, nonrepetitive act of violence that develops as a result of intolerable tension. The catathymic crisis begins with a fixed idea to commit a violent act as the only means to solve the intolerable situation, accompanied by increased emotional tension and a mounting pressure to act.5 The plan itself meets with such a level of resistance in the perpetrator’s mind that he is likely to hesitate and delay. For a while the perpetrator struggles and resists the idea to commit the violent act. Wertham describes that eventually, once the decision is made to act, the perpetrator experiences a feeling of relief from
emotional tension. This tension release is followed by a period of superficial normalcy, during which the perpetrator momentarily achieves insight and recovers to a mentally stable condition. This may be the reason why men committing these acts may still be able to celebrate a child’s birthday, call for pizza delivery or take out the trash hours prior to the event: They have already made the decision to proceed. From a psychodynamic point of view, the catathymic crisis arises in order to counter mental disorganization. The perpetrator carries out the violent act as a defense mechanism to protect his self-concept as the husband, the provider of the family and the head of the household. Killing his family members and, not infrequently, himself, allows him to restore this selfconcept. Another similarity between these two types of perpetrators lies in the belief that their self-concept is contingent on others: Their self threatens to disintegrate when their role as provider breaks down or when those who provide them with a sense of identity as husband and father, threaten to leave him. These men respond to the loss of control by taking charge again. They will eliminate the family as a unit in order to take their loved ones to a better place in the hereafter, where he will join them: He sees the death of his family members and himself not as an endpoint, but rather as a doorway to another life, a new beginning in which the holy unity – his family – can start over. It is not uncommon that pets are killed, too: They are a part of the family, after all, that need to be brought along in the afterlife. In the perpetrator’s mind, life after death allows his family to be undisturbed and in peace, without the risk of ever being separated. It has been suggested that, as the economy weakens and the unemployment rate rises, there may be more opportunities for catastrophic losses to precipitate a familicide. Intimate partners may have profound arguments on financial problems; they may lose their house to a foreclosure. A family business is more likely to go bankrupt. When job loss or indebtedness is involved, the motivation may become a lethal version of altruism.
large is affected by it, rather than a single person finding himself alone in the midst of financial downfall. Another explanation lies in the rare occurrence of the event itself, and low sample size inhibiting the possibility to make causal interferences. Fortunately, very few men are imminent familicide perpetrators, who become blinded by what they think is mercy, or duty, to the extent that they cannot clearly see the horrifying act they are about to commit. A week went by. They would come the next morning. They would take everything away. The car. The Playstation. His wife would leave him, thinking of him as powerless, as incapable, as unworthy. She would take the children, too. He walked to his sons’ bedroom. There they were, in the bunk bed. Now was the time. He would see them on the other side. Next, he leaned over his wife and pressed the pillow until all became silent. He left the letter at the nightstand and lay down beside her. That’s how they found them. Marieke Liem (‘04) completed a PhD in forensic psychology at Utrecht University in 2009. She now works as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government conducting research on the Recidivism of Homoicide Offenders.
1 Frazier, S. H. (1975). Violence and Social Impact. In: Schoolar, J. C. & Gaitz, C.M. (Eds.) Research and the Psychiatric Patient. New York: Brunner and Mazel. 2 Liem, M. (2010). Homicide-Parasuicide: A Qualitative Comparison with Homicide and Parasuicide Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 21, 247-263. 3 Marzuk, P. M., Tardiff, K., & Hirsch, C. S. (1992). The Epidemiology of Murder-Suicide. Journal of the American Medical Association, 267, 3179-3183. 4
Baechler, J. (1975) Suicides New York: Basic Books.
Wertham, F. (1937). A catathymic crisis: A clinical entity. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 37, 974-977. Schlesinger, L. B. (2000). Familicide, Depression and Catathymic Process. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 45, 200-203. 5
We tested this hypothesis based on US homicide data, going back all the way to the 1970s, and found no support for financial crises leading to more familicides.6 It can be argued that the lack of finding such a relationship can be found in the nature of financial crises: Society at
6 Liem, M., Levin, J., Holland, C. & Fox, J. The Nature and Prevalence of Familicide in the United States, 2000-2009 Journal of Family Violence (forthcoming).
winter 2012 | Post
by Alan T. Smithee
To Whomever Finds This, I became acquainted with the research of professor Estéban Stidzler while on a relaxing sightseeing cruise of the Caribbean Windward Islands, which I had booked after my second book, a work of historical fiction titled “Columbus: Beyond the Edge”, failed to sell even more spectacularly than my first book did. Although I can comfortably sustain myself as a freelance computer programmer, I don’t want to be a computer programmer, and my second literary failure took a toll on my mind that I couldn’t ignore. Months went by where I would sit behind my laptop whole nights, trying to watch everything on Youtube and ingesting sugared peanuts and coffee, mostly. On one of these delirious nights I came across a crackly old 80s ad for Caribbean cruises featuring a young couple with smiles intensely white and sparkly, and unignorably captivating. They were standing on the bow of a
Post | winter 2012
ship quite like in that movie that came later, and they were obviously in love, with the wind blowing playfully up into their hair, which in turn was soft and shiny and free and looked like it was having a great time. Strangely though, it wasn’t the couple that got me to book a Caribbean cruise - though I did long to have white teeth and happy hair as well. It wasn’t
even because the ad went on to show helicopter shots of the islands set to an excited synthesizer playing over a catchy drum beat. But it was really because of the names of those islands, superimposed in bright VHS yellow, that I knew I had to go. You see, there’s a free-spirited, loosey goosey, tipsy kind of way in which they have been named. Guadeloupe, Santa
Lucia, Dominica, Mustique, Martinique or Montserrat: to me they are curvaceous women dancing on bars, the kind you fall deeply, madly, pathetically in love with for the night. I haven’t had a lot of luck meeting women where I’m from, which could be explained by the fact that I’m inside my tiny, single-room apartment most of the time, conjoined with my laptop and writing screen after screen of code during the day and 600page books that nobody reads at night. But if I’m honest, I also just don’t see a lot of women to my liking out there. Love and writing: quite the frustrating pair of things to suck at when you crave both. My luck would change - I just knew it - when I would meet those Caribbean women, snoozing in hammocks on warm beaches, limbs all smooth and long and tanned, dangling over a bottle of rum without a label that’s sticking lazily out of the sand. I imagined that I could strike up a conversation and sip some of that rum with a woman like that. We would laugh at all those funny things that got lost in translation and, surely, we would fall in some sort of love. Of course I Wikipedia’d the hell out of the Caribbean before booking. Although the northern Leeward Islands included a group called the Virgin Islands, they also included Antigua and Barbuda, and if their Spanish names are to be taken literally they are populated by old ladies with beards. Another Leeward island duo was Saint Kitts and Nevis,
the former of whom sounded a little bit like a dominatrix cat lady in a latex nun’s habit to me. Nevis would then be her bewhiskered butler who moved about hushed and deliberately, topping off our cognacs and lighting our Royal Barbados cigars. Although it didn’t sound that bad, I decided I’d stay away from the Leewards altogether and book a cruise of the Southern, Windward Islands in order to explore the likes of Mustique, Martinique, and Santa Lucia. The anticipation of the cruise and the detachment with which I spent my savings on it somehow lightened my spirits. I longed for the sun, the funky cocktails, and all those crazy natural colors that would hopefully dazzle my brain in a permanent way. Little did I know then, of course, that my brain would be dazzled in an entirely different way, albeit a permanent one as well. I also wanted to check out an island group called St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because that is what I want to call my band if I ever started one.
“Hi, I’m St. Vincent, and these are the Grenadines.” I could see myself saying that into a mic. Of course, I won’t ever start a band because I am nearly forty and, worse, I am deprived of any notion of melody or rhythm. The only instrument I ever played for a few years in high school was the recorder, which I stopped playing when it was argued by one of my many unrequited crushes that it is not an instrument but rather the unfortunate demise of an otherwise quite nice and potentially very useful bit of wood. Whenever I played the recorder after that I always imagined two bits of wood having a shootout, with the bullet-ridden loser becoming a flute for some nerdy kid like me. Professor Stidzler had been sitting at the bar of a beach shack on the privately owned island of Mustique, downing tumbler after tumbler of some horribly orange liquid and muttering indistinctly to himself. Mustique is one of the Grenadines, which are composed of more than six hundred tiny and tinier islands - archipelagos, atolls, cays, enclaves, havens, isles,
winter 2012 | Post
islets, keys, peninsulas, reefs, refuges, retreats, sanctuaries, shelters - that stretch from St. Vincent in the north to Grenada in the south. Yes, I found those denominations on thesaurus.com and no, I don’t know which of them Mustique is categorized as, just that even a million words couldn’t do its jaw-dropping prettiness justice.
old couples get some rest, and I have to say I supported that call because a few of them were starting to take on a hue that, on the color spectrum, was somewhere between a tray of oysters and a bag of new tennis balls. Of course, I also wanted to explore Mustique to finally find my true love swaying lazily in her hammock.
The professor had a grey beard that went all the way up into his tattered straw hat; he reminded me of that desert island character, Herman Toothrot, from a video game I used to play a long time ago. The protagonist, Guybrush Threepwood, meets the delusional Herman on an island where he’s lived for as long as he can remember, but remembering is precisely his problem: he doesn’t know his real name, or that he is the former governor of a place called Mêlée Island and the father of the Guybrush’s love interest, Elaine. I always thought he was such a funny, tragic character, that Herman Toothrot.
After a few hours of roaming Mustique’s coastline I found myself in a beach shack on Pasture Bay without having encountered a single woman swaying in a hammock. I sat down, exhausted, with a tumbler of whisky and The Little Friend by Donna Tartt, and I would have sat there quietly reading and minding my own business had it not been for a sudden exclamation from that old drunk professor at the bar, in a voice so unexpectedly booming that it seemed to cause the whole shack to tremble.
A few weeks into the trip - unsuccessful weeks in regard to women - I had rented a small motorboat, along with its indigenous Carib captain. It was a small miracle that we had been able to close the rental deal, without a word of common language between us, but it had been achieved by much pointing towards the ocean and waving of dollar bills. He silently skippered me across the 8 mile stretch between Bequia where the cruise ship had docked - and Mustique. The cruise ship would stay in Bequia for the day to let the creaky
Post | winter 2012
“Creation is limitation! Limitation, I say!”
I had to do a double take, as something seemingly impossible had just happened. You see: I had been having that very thought, at that very moment, in almost those very words, in an attempt to understand what Ms. Tartt was talking about in The Little Friend. I had reread her first novel, The Secret History, countless times, but now I was trying to plow my way through a book so detailed and divergent that even though I was on a tropical island with my feet up on a chair and the sounds of the Caribbean all around me - of waves lapping up against the shore, and of a thousand songs from a thousand birds all blended into one blissful cacophonous mix in the background, and of the soft gusts of wind whooshing through the palms - I couldn’t help but feel frustrated at all the detours she was taking. But my frustration had soon turned into something else, a thought so fantastically ironic that it almost made me smile: my books suffered from the same problem.
You’ll have gathered that I love words. I was attracted to Mustique because of the name ‘Mustique’, which obviously sounds like ‘mystique’ but is also a bit musty: maybe the island is trying to fool potential visitors like that, to stay serene, and open to only those who really want to know her. I also came to Mustique because of the names of the places on it: its beaches, bars, bays and preposterously big villas. Tanama, Callaloo, Fort Shandy, Cactus Hill, Windsong, Pelican Beach, Pasture Bay, Stargroves, Shogun, Paradiso, Gelliceaux, Opium, Indigo, Sheherezade, Obsidian, Salamander, Ilanga, Ultramarine, Oceanus, Moongate. These names are each backed by a full-color moving image in my mind, one that is probably completely out of whack with reality. Other names just make me smile, like when I imagine Fort Shandy is Sean Connery saying ‘Fort Sandy’. The problem is, sometimes I might love words a little too much. My first book, also a work of historical fiction, consisted of 532 pages excluding appendices and glossary. In total there were 600-something pages accounting an imagined, half hour conversation between Adam Worth, a 19th-century American criminal mastermind, Charley Bullard, the safecracker that he worked with, and Kitty Flynn, the barmaid they both loved and fought over. It sort of sounds like a short story when it’s summed up like that, but I just thought of so many things I wanted to say about them. It is strange, I know, that it took a remote Caribbean island,
with all of its muchness of everything; of colors and sounds and smells, for me to realize that less is more. But then again, it had to be here on Mustique. Had I had the thought anywhere else I probably would have ignored it, but on Mustique it was so serendipitously echoed by that old man at the bar of the Pasture Bay Beach Shack. “Estéban Stidzler,” the professor had said, slurring both s’s and extending a wobbly hand. I think this is where I made the connection with Herman Toothrot for the first time. We shook hands and clinked our tumblers together. Underneath his slight slurring and the strange accent in his English - somewhere between Spanish and German - he turned out to be surprisingly coherent. I asked him what had made him call out that line, about limitation, and he told me of his research in the field of “creation”, a word which he accompanied with finger quotes every time he spoke it, so I will use quotes here as well. He defines “creation” very broadly, not to mention vaguely. His theories posit that every being is potentially what he calls a ‘focused creator,’ but only when ‘the absurd limitations of life are literally, and physically, imposed upon them’. In short, he explained his research quite simply set out to prove that an artist must struggle. I thought about the struggle that I conducted every day in that singleroom apartment back home, and about
my self-doubt, my lack of self-critique, my undisciplined and infinite books, and I realized I wanted to know more - much more - about this man. He was obscure about his methods, and I had to pull things out of him at a certain point. He claimed to work from a lab on the tiny Rabbit Island, just off Mustique’s coast. “Full facilities, my boy. I work with all the island’s indigenous species, all subjected to limiting environments and showing real, measurable creational activity,” he had said. “Opossums, bats, all sorts of birds, turtles, you name it.” Then he looked suddenly struck by something, his eyes shooting up at me suspiciously. “What about you son, why did you have that thought about limitation?” So I started to tell him about the book I was reading, but I realized that the book wasn’t the problem, I was. I stopped short, took a deep breath, and told him about my struggles as a writer, and how unwillingly extensive my books had become. I also told him about my disappointed mother, my youth as a loner, and my troubles finding love. I couldn’t tell if he was nodding off, or intently listening to my story; his eyelids seemed suspended in a limbo between those two states. When I was telling him about Adam Worth and Kitty Flynn, he suddenly veered up, exclaiming “Eureka!” and pointing a finger decisively up into the air, which apparently is really a thing that these kinds of secret lab professors do, and darted off.
winter 2012 | Post
As I beheld the professor scuttling away over the beach I felt an intense desire to talk to him more, so I put down some cash on my table and followed him at a considerable distance. I’m sure he could not have noticed me. When the beach was swallowed up by the jungle he ducked into a small, overgrown path. I followed, but the path became increasingly less pathy and more overgrown as it progressed. When the underbrush could comfortably be deemed impregnable by anyone on flip flops, which included me, I decided to stop. It was useless, and I had lost him. I turned on my heel and hiked back for a few minutes, knowing that the severely overgrown path couldn’t be far. But I could no longer find it. Or rather, everything was a severely overgrown path at that point. And then, out of nowhere, there was the professor. He looked different, mean, but I couldn’t wonder why because there was a big menacing stick getting really close to me, and then a dull knock, and a thud, and I was too unconscious to realize that the stick had landed right in my face. I am now going into the third week of the professor’s re-education experiment. He took me down from
Post | winter 2012
the ceiling quite soon, but I am still shackled tightly to the wall. I am extremely uncomfortable. There are no windows, but sometimes I think I can hear the sea. The professor feeds me only salted fish. Salted fish, nothing but it. I like fish, don’t get me wrong, but for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for weeks on end? I’ll spare you the details of my bowel movements. My only way out, he made that very clear to me, is this rickety old Dell laptop in front of me. On it, I must type this letter. It is a test, you see? The professor says that, to be focused in creation, one must first focus on one’s own liberation. On overcoming the limitations of life’s shackles. These particular shackles are quite the limitation, believe me. My arms are tied back tightly, and my fingers barely reach the keyboard. But if I pass the test and I am rescued, I will have created a document of true value and purpose. I guess I could have just written one of those “I am being held captive by a madman on Rabbit Island” notes, but the incredible story behind the chance encounter between the professor and me deserved some elaboration, I felt. It is time to finish this letter up though. Professor Stidzler will print
it out and put it in a bottle. He will then stand on the easternmost point of Rabbit Island and throw that bottle into the Caribbean Sea. The current will carry it north, leeward. It will, or so the professor assures me, wash ashore somewhere someday, and when it does, and so I assure myself, you’ll pick it up. You: Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat. You’re dreamily strolling along the shore and it’ll be there, lazily sticking out of the sand. Your foot will brush against it lightly; you’ll pick it up and read this letter. And your heart will tell you what to do. I beg you, please, get me out of this room! Fondly,
Alan T. Smithee
Andrew Gilmoor (‘10) phofographer unknown (see page 40)
Elitsa Mateva (‘09)
Thijs van Himbergen (’03)
Maarten van Doornmalen (‘05)
winter 2012 | Post
Iris Otto (’09)
Laurens Hebly (‘01)
Thijs van Himbergen (’03)
Suzanna Risseeuw (‘12)
Phofography by: Asia Korecka (‘04) Hannahhacq.tumblr.com Roeland van Beek (’11) Iris Otto (’09) Maarten van Doornmalen (‘05) Elitsa Mateva (‘09) Kiran Coleman (’05) Leanne Hoogwaerts (‘10) Indra Spronk-Baas (‘06)
Mistale Taylor (‘11) Stephanie Ros (‘10) Sarah Garcia (‘10) YourFutureLeader.tumblr.com Niko Wojtynia (‘13) Laurens Hebly (‘01) Thijs van Himbergen (’03) Suzanna Risseeuw (‘12) Andrew Gilmoor (‘10) Laura Scheske (‘10)
Due to some Tumblr technicalities we haven’t been able to retrieve the names of a couple of phofographers. If you see your phofo without a name please let us know and we will add your credits in the next magazine.
Kiran Coleman (’05)
Indra Spronk-Baas (â€˜06)
class of 2012
rtels / Kanjampa Ba d ar ch Ri / e us Kate Backho emer / Tanja Argillander / de Coninck / Daan Cr el er M / ht rg Bu r de n ing Bureepakdee / Stan va immelen / Seline FrĂśl Dr n va m To / s an em / th Ding Guido Danen / Liesbe Groot / Husna Hesam de en rt aa M / er rn sana Go / Coen van de Kraats / Tanya van Goch / Va ng ni Ko de id H / uw Jonkergo gensen / Joris ter or -J Anna van Hoek / Tina nd ra st ar M te et M Boyang Li / pacz / Henry Kurniawan / Karolina Poplawska-Ko / m oe Bl ek be er Ov ynor van Meulen Swijtink / Ra i Tamminga / Lotte Ta / h ng Si e av nd ra si / Ka / Massimiliano Ragu r / Xueqin Wu Weerd / Jasmin Werke winter 2012 | Post
Marriage and Babies
Susanne Engelen (‘05) married Willem Verschraegen on September 15, 2012.
Eelke Kraak (‘08) obtained his PhD in geography from the University of Oxford. His research was about the geopolitics of transboundary rivers.
Daphne van Munster (‘03) and Eduard Voormolen (‘04) got married on July 7, 2012. Milou van Gaans (‘08) got married on October 26, 2012. Asia Korecka (‘04) got married to Kasper Roet on August 24, 2012, in Poland. There was a crazy two-day party where Ray Henriquez (‘04) rocked it with a touching speech on the meaning of life. Kellie Liket (‘07) and Thomas Bunnik (‘07) welcomed their second UCU baby, Zia - a cute and squishy American-born baby girl. Maartje Ament-Searle (‘05) got married on August 25, 2012 to her awesome husband Rowan Searle. Peter Clausman (‘01) continues to be engaged to Eveline Verheijen. Somaye Dehban (‘07 gave birth to her son Jeso Jeremy Soshiyant on June 23, 2012. The boy is on the top line of the growth curve, and the happy parents guess he will be 200-210 cm when full-grown. Rosa de Vries-Schneider (‘03) gave birth to her son Aidan Alec Dwight Schneider on January 24, 2012.
Post | winter 2012
Asia Korecka (‘04) will defend her PhD thesis on January 21, 2013. Maartje Ament-Searle (‘05) received her PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from UCL in August 2011. Joost Stassen (‘05) defended his PhD on October 24, 2012. Hedwig van Driel (‘06) defended her PhD on December 12, 2012. Marijt Witteman (‘06) will defend her PhD on February 2, 2013. Dominique Stumpel (‘01) defended her PhD in pediatric oncology. Anca Minescu (‘02) and Mieke Maliepaard (‘04) both received PhDs in the Social Sciences for their theses “Relative group position and intergroup attitudes in Russia” (Anca) and “Religious trends and social integration: Muslim minorities in the Netherlands” (Mieke). UCU teacher Longina Jakubowska published her book Patrons of History, which is an ethnographic study of the Polish nobility, their charm, sensibilities, and persistence during the horrors of a bygone era.
UCU teacher Mary Bouquet published her book Museums: A Visual Anthropology, which provides a clear and concise summary of key ideas, debates and texts of the most important approaches to the study of museums from around the world.
Bojan Opacak (‘10) and Elitsa Mateva (‘09) co-founded Rational International (RI) - a visual communications collective whose mission is to visualize and communicate projects, campaigns and ideas that contribute to the public interest, and have a social and political impact. Work includes branding, graphic, web and print design, information architecture, art direction, illustration, motion graphics and film and video production. www.rationalinternational.net Irina Buga (‘08) won the Francois Prize of the Royal Netherlands Society for International Law (KNVIR) in November for her thesis on international treaty law and State practice. The prize is awarded every two years.
Other Diego Centurion Tapia (‘07) is moving to Singapore in December for a year for work reasons, and is looking to link up with former UCers throughout Asia Pacific. Roeland Verhallen’s (‘10) photography exhibit “Perfection” is ongoing in the Coffee Company on the Nachtegaalstraat in Utrecht, and another one, “Without a sound”, in the Quarter Horse Coffee House in Oxford (UK) opened on December 7, 2012. Dennis Ramondt (’12) was a part of the Dutch National Think Tank 2012, which tackled questions concerning sustainability in food chains this year.
Andrew Gilmoor (‘10)
Colophon Editorial Board Sarah Carmichael (’06) Kiran Coleman (’05) Laurens Hebly (’01) Thijs van Himbergen (’03) Leonie Hussaarts (‘08) Iris Otto (’09) Layout, design & illustration Laurens Hebly (’01) Thijs van Himbergen (’03) www.vanhimbergenhebly.com Illustration Indra Spronk-Baas (‘06) Anna Denise van der Reijden (‘05)
Contributors Kiran Coleman (’05) Maarten Diederix Laura Kraak (‘11) Marja Kuzmanic (‘05) Marieke Liem (‘04) Stefanie van Rootselaar (‘04 Alan T. Smithee (‘95) Many thanks to All the Phofography & Squishy Cops contributors Sebastiaan Cassé (‘03) D&AD (www.dandad.org) Aaron Koblin Doudouce Luitse (‘10) Bettina Nelemans Fritz Streiff (‘09) Rob van der Vaart
Printed by Drukkerij ZuidamUithof A very special thanks to all UCAA contributors and to the UCU administration for believing in this magazine and for making the many UCAA events possible.
winter 2012 | Post
University College Alumni Association