I had a girlfriend in 1996 who studied biology, and she often had to go to Burgers zoo to study the different apes there. I tried to tag along as often as possible. I am not sure if I ever met Frans de Waal, but he has written several well-known books, and I have read some of them. I met his mentor Jan Van Hoof who was a professor in Utrecht, where my girlfriend studied, and we also lived. It was fun to follow some of the lectures, but I am glad it was just for fun; she had to learn a lot.
I joined the Marines in 1992; the draft ended that year, so I was one of the last that had to go into military service. If I had stayed at school, I would have gotten an exemption, but I wanted to leave, but I also didn’t want to join the regular army. I had never really thought about joining the military, not because of some special reasons; it just didn’t seem so excited. Until then, most men in Holland had been drafted into the army for 12 months, and I had only heard stories about boredom and that it was a waste of time. Only if you got lucky could you get some kind of education out of it that is useful later in life, like medical training or getting your truck driver’s license. I don’t know how I got the idea to join the Marines, but probably because I still went to school in Rotterdam, and Rotterdam is the Marines’ spiritual home, so I guess that’s how I came in contact with it.
I moved to Rotterdam in 1991 when I was 19. My younger sister had just moved there the year before, and because we always were close together, I decided to also go to school in Rotterdam, this seemed a good idea, and it was. I grew up in a small place with 5000 people where not much happened besides all the things we could do in the forests everywhere. I remember little about that time, even when I look at the few pictures of the places we lived. I just remember that I was a good time living there; remembering a feeling is maybe easier than remembering facts. I do remember the little supermarket just outside the door that was open 24 hours a day; back then, most stores still closed at six, so this was special. I also remember the bike ride I took every day to the other side of the city, timing myself to go faster and faster.
My little bird is looking in the mirror right now. I don’t know what she is talking about, but it is a whole conversation with herself. It looks and sounds quite ridiculous from where I am sitting.
If I started talking to every person I see in the mirror, as the bird did (it stopped), I would probably be taken away slowly to a nice padded room. But then again, millions of people pep themselves up in the morning by talking to themselves, speaking loud, in front of the mirror.
But we also think. Sometimes we think, and forget from moment to moment that we are thinking; maybe that’s meandering through wordles words.
Other times we feel emotions, often strong ones intermixed with words, words that immediately get swallowed up by a new wave of feelings, feelings from forgotten corners of our mind.
You can also think in pictures like people do that never heard a spoken word. Pictures can represent words or just replace them, and I often see pictures in my memories or when I think about where it is.
And sometimes we just talk to ourselves, making plans on what to do or how to express our feelings to another in words. Sometimes it is really clear what we say, and we regret we can’t write it down standing in the shower, when water is running all over you.
The bird might think it is talking to a stranger, but we know that we talk to ourselves, and the pictures I see are mine and my emotions, well, those too.
So this is what I think, and therefore I am…really?
You jump up and swiftly swipe your hands where you felt it crawl; a tiny, harmless spider moves away, you wonder why this made you scared. This reaction to spiders and snakes is a classic example of a fear we inherited from our ancient forefathers. It can still be helpful if you find yourself wondering in a tropical jungle, but for most humans living today, in cities and urban areas, this fear of harmless spiders and other small insects is not rational.
Evolution theory plays a significant role in why we religiously look for meaning. One of the main principles of evolution theory is the survival of the fittest. Fittest, or sometimes also called strongest, is somewhat of a mistake made by Darwin. For predators, it can be advantageous to be fit and strong, and the same goes for the gazelle, but most gazelles will probably survive because they are skittish. You could say that most animals’ best survival strategy is to run away at the first sign of danger; even the Lyon will be wise to run away once it knows of the threat a man with a gun can be. Darwin should have called his theory: survival of the scariest.
First, something about science: there is often confusion when people read about the “theory” of evolution or the “theory” of gravity; some think it is just an idea of what these scientists have and that it is no problem to disagree with them. This is a common misconception between scientific theories and the theories we all have in our life about mundane subjects. You can have a theory of why milk was spilled on the floor or who was to blame for that car accident, but that is more an opinion you have. A scientist can have opinions, but their theories are tested by others, and till another scientist, using the scientific method1, can prove them wrong, they are treated as the truth.
First, something about anarchy. When most people think of anarchy, they think of lawlessness and political disorder. In the Standford Encyclopedia of philosophy1, you can read in the introduction: Anarchism is a political theory, which is skeptical of the justification of authority and power, especially political power. Anarchism is usually grounded in moral claims about the importance of individual liberty. Anarchists also offer a positive theory of human flourishing, based upon an ideal of non-coercive consensus building. Anarchism has inspired practical efforts at establishing utopian communities, radical and revolutionary political agendas, and various forms of direct action… At this moment, I am not so interested in the political side of anarchism. There are countless forms of anarchism, sometimes also called libertarianism2, and like with all political tastes, they all claim some unique knowledge on how the world should be organized based on their conception of what the world is.