Organisation - June 9, 2010

Sjaele zeiver

Cross-eyed and drooling, going on endlessly about nothing at all. Sjaele zeiver, plain gibberish.

 In the village where I grew up, I have listened to a lot of Sjaele zeiver. For two reasons, I like these words. Firstly, like so many other words and expressions in the Limburg, Drenthe or Achterhoek dialects, they have so much significance rolled into them. Translations in any form would not do justice to the power of these sayings. They have a couleur locale, their own irreplaceable meaning and as such, their own worth. The same goes for many values in our Wageningen society, this wonderful melting pot of individualistic students, researchers and co-workers.
The second reason concerns the subject matter. What's needed in something as serious as the knowledge business is in fact relativism. With a smile now and then when confronted with one's shortcomings. In 1933, André Malraux published his famous novel La condition humaine, translated into English as Man's Fate. What does it mean to a human to be human? The realization that existence has an end can lead to an uncurbed pursuit to elevate oneself in a useless attempt to deny death. I agree with the contemporary Flemmish philosopher Axel Ronse that the art of living is to accept this finality and, in doing so, not to succumb to complacency.
This means to pick a moment, to know when it's not sjaele zeiver and when it is. The indisputable grand master of sjaele zeiver was Toon Hermans, the king of timing. This year is the tenth anniversary of Toon's death. To me, he exists forever.
 
Joop SchaminĂ©e  
 

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