Bleri Leshi & Benjamin Verdonck

Het boek Liefde in tijden van angst van Bleri Leshi werd feestelijk voorgesteld op 14 februari 2016 door de Universiteit van Algemeen Belang, Vredescentrum en Uitgeverij EPO. “Bleri Lleshi’s oproep om de liefde in tijden van angst opnieuw uit te vinden, ze van de grond af opnieuw te denken, is niet alleen hartverwarmend, maar ook dringend nodig.”, aldus auteur Stefan Hertmans. Benjamin Verdonck gaf als onderdeel van de presentatie een respons op het boek. Hieronder de volledige tekst.

on the 25th of november last year
I experienced something extraordinary


a week and a half earlier
on november 13th
the latest attacks had taken place in paris


belgium too was on the highest state of alert

antwerp was spared the greatest level of risk
but that was only
because paramilitaries and their armoured vehicles

had already occupied the city months before that


the weeks following the attacks
it was awfully safe on the meir shopping street, outside the kinepoliis, in the bourla theatre
and at the delhaize supermarket to the south


on the 25th of november last year
I was with my youngest daughter in the woods,
at a youth centre on the ankerrui in antwerp,
for something
that had been announced on the calendar as
whacky woods
the craziest kid’s party in town
there were
pupils from different antwerp schools,
asylum centre dwellers
and children from red cross relief programmes


I looked with tears in my eyes
at that mishmash going bonkers
to just about every music style on the planet,
with as highpoint the appearance of tatyana from ketnet


what moved me was not so much that brief moment
in which all differences had been set aside
for a party with waffles


but the realisation
that the doors to the street were wide open
that the hall was full
that it was dark in there
that most of the parents didn’t understand what this was
that everybody was walking around and mingling
going outside
coming back inside
going to the loo
to the loo once again
and that from far and wide

there was not a district cop,

not a city supervisor,
not even a mailman

to be seen


the people from the woods
hadn’t thought a single moment
about taking even the slightest extra precaution


and this was not a statement
not an attempt to offer a response to rabble-rousing

but a simple ignoring of the entire discussion


I reflected later,
this is what harald welzer meant when he
noted down a guiding principle of resistance
... it’s about looking for places where it’s possible to perforate our dense reality

a reality we seem to be subjected to
because we think it is essentially unchangeable
yet even that isn’t putting it correctly
the mark of our age is sooner
that we freely subject ourselves to the ultramodern cage of serfdom...


since january of this year
I have been working for six months at a primary school in deurne


the reason for my being there is
a little film in which the economist milton friedman
uses a pencil
to explain how the mechanisms of the free market work
the lead comes from south africa,
the wood from the western united states,
the aluminium from china,
the paint from india
the eraser from the netherlands
and all those people,
driven by an invisible hand called competition,
work together on that pencil
so that you can buy it for the best price
and contribute to harmony and world peace.


I asked the pupils of the school
if they wanted to help me carry out my plan
to trace all of the parts of the pencil
back to their respective places of origin
as a way of
putting something to rest
but equally
to prepare the way for something new


I put a lot of time into explaining my motives
the pupils in the class where I am now working are 11 years old
and we discuss topics like
individual versus collective freedom
equitable sustainability
the earth’s resources
and robert musill
who writes that
if there is a sense of reality
there also must be a sense of possibility
the capacity to think about everything else that could exist just as well


I wanted to use a few examples

to make it clear to the class
what a sense of possibility could be

and wanted to show them
disziplin der subjektivitat
an art work by erwin wurm
that once was in the middelheim museum
a car that leans on two of its four wheels against a pedestal

with the help of a felt-tip pen


when I look at that photo again in the evening
I’m reminded of an incident involving the argentinian writer julio cortazar
and how strikingly that incident illustrates the sense of possibility.
around 1970, cortazar was reproached for making

work that was frivolous and noncommittally humorous
in respect of the political situation in his country.
he answered:
“I believe
that the struggle for socialism in Latin America
should confront the daily horror
with the only attitude
that can bring it victory one day:
a precious, careful watch over the capacity

to live life as we want it to be for that future,
with everything it presupposes

of love, play and joy.”


Benjamin Verdonck

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