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Dear Mom,

yeah, I am fine. Let me tell you about last night. You know me well, better even than I would like you to know me, so it will not come as a surprise to learn that I was in the theatre last night at the Botanical Gardens to see a play by Dominique Caillat, Darwin’s confession. As usual, you do not get much of an idea of what I am babbling about, this does define our relationship, the so-called mother-daughter relationship; but let us not go into that one now, and let us never go into that one.

Last night I decided to leave my monk’s nocturnals and joined society for a few hours. We, a bunch of philosophers, social scientists, and other illuminati, joined at a round table in one of the worst joints near the university. But you know, bier is bier, and the place no longer stinks of smoke because smoking is now prohibited in all restaurants in the canton of Bern

The play is worthy of further study and consideration, that is, I did not quite get it all. I was challenged by my brilliant idea that a Canadian colleague was sitting between Machiel and me so that we could take turns in translating. After the play we went to get a bite to eat, and then although the restaurant has been nicely refurbished and the food is decent, the so-called service left just more than a tad to be desired. That said, I have had worse service, and if you are ever in town, that is not the worst place to land at. Clearly, I am in a positive mood. Well; let’s not go into that.

Yesterday I read a paper that I am satisfied with, but it is clearly work-in-progress. I experiment these days with reading papers, instead of giving presentations with audio, visual and graphical media to assist me. I am experimenting with writing and giving speeches. It is a totally different discipline, or art, to write speeches over that of presenting or doing interactive workshops. When reading a paper, there is this fine art of keeping eye contact with the audience; having been trained in managing large room workshops interactively, this ends up being discovery; adding constraints, removing degrees of freedom. I like to see how people take diligent notes when I speak, and I do wonder what they will make of it. Giving that what I am exploring right now is the relationship to narrative and the use of language, it is quite refreshing to add a few constraints in the way that I am using both in verbal expression.

There was an interesting moment last night when Manuela asked me a question that I did not want to answer. Not that I have anything to hide, but there are certain constraints that I need in order to function, or coerce myself to function, in the way that I want. At that moment when in public faced with the question, I had to think on my feet, and it became clear that it was a need that I have. Left to my devices, how would I be? But these are my devices! I use coercion to modulate my behaviour, and sometimes I think that it is greed that drives me to do it.

Don’t worry, be happy, or so the song goes. It is just that the word “happy” annoys me more than anything else annoys me; lots of things annoy me. Annoyance is a good thing, I need to be annoyed on a regular basis. It is the pearl effect; out of an irritation, a pearl is born. I like pearls, there is no secret here. I said yesterday that public is not the opposite of private, and indeed you may be very private and personal right out on the open. As a matter of fact, that is about as viable a mode of existence as there is, it encompasses authenticity and integrity.

I suspect that the times that I liked to write about myself are gone. These days I do find “myself” to be a most boring subject, but I am quite fascinated by some of the characters that I have been working on and for whom I have constructed whole identities. The exercise is giving me good insights in the function of identity. It could be that once more, I will lose myself in the depths of fiction. I just wonder whose fiction that will be.

I think.