First Lines: Lof der Zotheid

One of the ideas behind my 40 books before 40 project was for me to challenge myself. To read something outside of my comfort zone. With Desiderius Erasmus’ Morias Enkomion, id est Stultitiae laus, commonly translated as In Praise of Folly or Lof der Zotheid in Dutch, I hit that squarely on the head.

Written in 1509 as an attempt to humor his friend Sir Thomas More, In Praise of Folly is an essay in which the goddess Folly praises herself and her gifts to mankind. It starts of light-hearted by praising self-deception and madness, but ends with a satirical put down of Roman Catholic doctrine.

Light reading matter, it is not. There are copious references to Greek and Roman myths, philosophers, and, of course, the bible. (This edition included some 370 end notes.) The language is long-winded, flowery, not quite to the point, and prone to endless lists of examples of the thing it is currently describing. Even though I can’t quite recall what I expected when I put this one on the list, but I’m quite sure it wasn’t what I got. I can understand why In Praise of Folly is a landmark in world history, but if you prefer your reading to fun, I’d steer clear of this one.

Book read
Morias Enkomion ofwel De Lof der Zotheid: Een stilistische oefening van Erasmus van Rotterdam (translated by drs. A.J. Hiensch, 1969)
First line
Hoe de mensen ook gewoonlijk over mij praten — want ik weet heel goed hoezeer de dwaasheid in kwade reuk staat, zelfs bij de allerdwaasten — ben ik het toch, en ik alleen die het in mijn macht heb goden en mensen op te vrolijken; een meer dan voldoende bewijs hiervoor is toch wel het feit dat zodra ik voor deze talrijke menigte naar voren trad om te spreken, onmiddelijk alle gezichten opklaarden tot een nieuwe en ongekende vrolijkheid, dat u onmiddelijk het gelaat uit de plooi bracht, dat u opgewekt en vriendelijk lachend applaudisseerde zodat het waarachtig wel lijkt of u — in zo groten getale van her en der gekomen — nu opeens dronken bent van de nectar der Homerische goden waarin lachkruid is gestrooid, terwijl u daarstraks nog somber en bezorgd zat te kijken alsof u net uit de grot van Trophonius terug was.

2014 in Review

Even though I’ve been seriously neglecting this website for most of the year (I’m still a write up of a book behind), I’m not about to stop writing up the past year in a series of lists.

So. 2014. In lists.

Books

  1. Erasmus — De lof der zotheid (2014-10-16—2014-12-22)
  2. Charles Vess (et al) — The Book of Ballads (2014-09-23—2014-10-15)
  3. Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell — The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains (2014-09-17—2014-09-21)
  4. Stephen King — Mr. Mercedes (2014-08-12—2014-08-28)
  5. Douglas Adams & John Lloyd — The Deeper Meaning of Liff (A Dictionary of Things That There Aren’t Any Words for Yet) (dates unknown)
  6. Bradley P. Beaulieu — The Flames of Shadam Khoreh (The Concluding Volume of The Lays of Anuskaya) (2014-06-25—2014-08-11)
  7. Bradley P. Beaulieu — The Straits of Galahesh (The Second Volume of The Lays of Anuskaya) (2014-04-19—2014-06-25)
  8. Neil Gaiman — Fortunately, the Milk (2014-04-06)
  9. Neil Gaiman — Odd and the Frost Giants (2014-03-06—2014-03-07)
  10. W.F. Hermans — De donkere kamer van Damokles (2014-02-27—2014-04-18)
  11. Bradley P. Beaulieu — The Winds of Khalakovo (The First Volume of The Lays of Anuskaya) (2014-02-13—2014-04-14)
  12. Richard Matheson — I am Legend (2014-02-06—2014-02-12)
  13. Jeanette Winterson — Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (2014-01-29—2014-02-06)
  14. Neil Gaiman and Yoshitakia Amano — The Sandman: The Dream Hunters (2014-01-28)
  15. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter — The Long Earth (2014-01-07—2014-01-27)
  16. Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die (edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malk) (2013-12-17—2014-01-06)

And I’m currently finishing Bradley P. Beaulieu’s collection Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories. Once I moved back to Amersfoort from Leeuwarden, my daily commute was cut in two, and also having a decent laptop at my disposal, severely cut into my reading time. And if you take into account that my bedtime reading habits all but vanished … it’s no surprise that I read less books than before. For next year, I see some possibilities to turn that around, though.

Shows

  1. Le Bal des Vampires, Théâtre Mogador, Paris, France
  2. Vellamo, De nieuwe bibliotheek, Almere
  3. “De passie: De Matthäus Passion meets Jesus Christ Superstar”, Theater De Flint (Stadshal), Amersfoort
  4. Daniël Lohues, “D”, Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie, Leeuwarden
  5. Wende, “Last Resistance: The Theatre Sessions” (tryout), Theater De Flint, Amersfoort
  6. Dream Theater, “Along for the Ride World Tour”, Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam
  7. Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam

My streak of seeing something cultural each month ended in April, after 79 months. Something with priorities. Picking a favorite is hard, as I’ve got good memories of all shows for different reasons.

Movies

  1. — The Fault in Our Stars (Euroscoop Maastricht)
  2. — Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano (Pathé Groningen)
  3. — The LEGO Movie (3D, Pathé Groningen)
  4. — The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (3D HFR, Pathé Amersfoort)

This year’s new list: movies seen in cinemas. The LEGO Movie was completely kick-ass awesome, The Fault in Our Stars was perhaps not as gut-wrenching as the book, but very good in it’s own right.

Tasks Checked Off from My List of 100 Things

  1. #20: Find the perfect place to live, and live there.
  2. #67: Read the books on my list of 40 books to read before my 40th birthday before my 40th birthday:
    1. W.F. Hermans — De donkere kamer van Damokles
    2. Erasmus — De lof der zotheid
  3. #89: Visit all occupied inhabited Waddeneilanden: Terschelling
  4. #92: Visit the Louvre in Paris
  5. #101: Officially leave the Roman Catholic Church. After I moved to Leeuwarden, the local parish send me a letter asking me if I a) would like to join their congregation and become a visiting member, B) would like to join their flock but be like the black sheep that only visits once in a while, or C) so long and thanks for all the fish. Well, since you asked …

Next year, I might just need to take a critical look at the whole list, and revise it a bit.

Places I’ve Been

As always, an asterisk (you know, the little *) indicates multiple stays.

  1. Zandfoort aan Zee
  2. Noorden*
  3. Leeuwarden*
  4. Amersfoort*
  5. Formerum, Terschelling
  6. Maastricht
  7. Paris, France

Museums, Zoos and Other Cultural Attractions

  1. Drents Museum, Assen
  2. Musée de Louvre, Paris, France
  3. Artis, Amsterdam
  4. Teylers Museum, Haarlem
  5. Burgers’ Zoo, Arnhem
  6. Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, Arnhem
  7. Museum Flehite, Amersfoort
  8. Museum aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht
  9. Wrakkenmuseum Terschelling, Formerum
  10. Natuurmuseum en zeeaquarium, West-Terschelling
  11. Eisenga Planetarium, Franeker
  12. Het Nederlands Stripmuseum, Groningen
  13. Natuurmuseum Fryslân, Leeuwarden
  14. Fries Museum, Leeuwarden

O, the joys of having a Museumjaarkaart. Even with skipping large parts of the Louvre, it was of course still the cherry on the top.

Speaking of cherries on top:

The list of the-number-one-with-sprinkles,-whipped-cream-and-a-big-juicy-cherry-on-top,-like-seriously-you guys,-best-thing-that-happened in 2014

  1. Sneakily getting married.

She’s awesome. She completes me. I luvs her crazy-madly-deeply-do. And then some.

As for 2015? There’s stuff coming up. Trust me.

Seen Live: Le Bal des Vampires

My favorite vampires (the non-sparkling, dancing ones) descended on Paris, France. I hadn’t seen an official version since 2011 (Seinajöki, Finland), the missus not since 2004 (Hamburg), the boy wonder and my brother hadn’t seen the show at all, so a road trip was in order.

It took a taxi, an early train to Rotteram, a Thalys and a couple of hours to get to Gare du Nord in Paris. (Fun fact: Rotterdam-Paris, France takes less time than Rotterdam-Leeuwarden by train. Good thing we’re not living there anymore. Anyway:) From Gare du Nord it was a quick stroll to a lovely apartment on the Rue de la Fayette, which my brother had skillfully arranged. (A massive thanks is in order, and he knows it.)

Since we had a show to see that night, we didn’t have much time to see the sights, so we went through Galeries Lafayette to their rooftop terrace for some views. Then, off to diner and a show:

Le Bal des Vampires

It was, as expected, très magnifique. The singing, the cast, the staging (this version was directed by Roman Polanski, and it showed), the whole-shebang. Even though my grasp of the language is a bit flakey, I was able to pick up a few details of the text and the jokes here and there, and it seemed to work well. Even adding more Chagal (my least favorite character) worked. His pas de problème! when he took down the cross at the end of the ballroom scene was a nice touch. The only quibble I had was with the ending of L’insatiable appétit: they cut the final verse, where Krolock turns to the audience, warning them There is a prediction that I now will make and I’m sure I will be right: When the next millennium finally comes the god most worshiped in this world will be the god of appetite….

Which brings us to Stéphane Métro. Boy, can he sing:

(And looking at these clips, I wouldn’t mind all of that on a shiny disk. No, sir, not at all.)

No, excellent, excellent show.

The next two days we had time for the sights: we hit all the mayor ones. The Sacre Cœur (including a climb to the top of the dome), the Arc de Triomphe and Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Notre Dame, the Eiffeltower and the Louvre. Due to the sheer size and the limited amount of time we had to skip large sections but, hey, we saw the Egyptian and Roman wings, the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. And it’s an excuse to go back. Plus, I got to check off number 92 from the list.

Excellent, excellent trip. And I didn’t even mention the food.

(There are some more pictures.)

Seen live
Le Bal des Vampires at Théâtre Mogador, Paris, France on October 18th, 2014

First Lines: The Book of Ballads

Neil Gaiman was my gateway-drug to Charles Vess, since he did the illustrations for Gaiman’s Stardust. Then came his illustrations for Peter Pan, and Instructions, again with Gaiman. Finally, his work on Gaiman’s Sandman and The Books of Magic are very pleasing to the eye.

Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Vess’ The Book of Ballads, which contains the great songs and folktales of the English, Irish and Scottish traditions in sequential art form. So, it’s old tales, retold and illuminated, followed by the original. Now, I’m not that familiar with those traditions, nor very inclined to change that. The main thing I took away from this volume is that it’s quite pretty.

Book read
Charles Vess (et al.) — The Book of Ballads
First line
I’m off to school ma. (from The False Knight in the Road by Charless Vess with Neil Gaiman.)

Seen Live: Vellamo

Once upon a time, there was time to kill in Almere, and a folkgroup called Vellamo (Pia Leinonen on vocals and Joni Tiala guitar) were playing a gig in the library. That’s about all I have.

They, however, have a video for one of their songs, which should give you an idea.

Seen live
Vellamo, binnentuin Bibliotheek Almere, on september 28th, 2014