O, darling of mine, my God, how you make me happy! O, this letter, this letter from you, that I kiss and kiss…O, that you love me—that you love me too, and said so… O, bliss, o, bliss, that I am something in your life.
–Jeanne Reyneke van Stuwe to Willem Kloos, April 1899
I think I must have been the last person in the developed world still writing love letters. By 19th-century standards (see above), I don’t suppose they were very romantic. J. and I were children of a less gushy, more cynical age. We had already gone way beyond kissing each other’s letters, but felt we were being very daring—stepping over an invisible line of appropriate distance and refusal to hope—on the rare occasions when we wrote “I love you.”
The point is, we wrote letters. Long ones, handwritten, with stamps. We kept track of last pickup times, ran downstairs when we heard the mail slot bang. We were patient: to send a letter and get its transatlantic answer took at least ten days. The phone, at a dollar a minute, was out of the question.
When one of J.’s letters came, I would carry it around with me for days. At quiet moments I would take it out, gaze at my own address written in his long-legged, beautiful hand, unfold the pages, and reread them. Sometimes J. sent me drawings or photos. Once he sent me flowers: he cut out, pasted onto paper, and mailed me the side of a milk carton with tulips on it. The day I lost one of J.’s illustrated postcards in the subway on my way home, I was as distraught as I would be now if my hard disk crashed.
If we had met now, and not 15 years ago, we wouldn’t be writing letters. We would be instant messaging, Skyping, taking out our iPhones to gaze at each other’s houses on Google Earth or Street View. We would e-mail links and photos, add each other’s local weather to our start page, friend each other on Facebook. We would exchange a lot of data.
We probably wouldn’t have missed letter-writing. Attachment to the letter as a physical object—isn’t that really just nostalgia? Writing letters is like listening to your old LPs: you like the way they look, you’re sentimental about their vinyl pop and scratch. But the music is the same.
Sometimes I wonder, though. J. and I are shy people. We felt safer on the page. In the digital world, would we still have gotten to know each other? Would it still have felt like a conversation?
The conversation on paper was, is, the magic of the letter. It’s why we write them, and it’s why we love to read other people’s. Later on, when I worked on a biography, I read folder after folder of my subject’s mail. Often it was like watching a passionate two-character play. The correspondents usually began as strangers and got to know each other over time. They gossiped, argued, made abrupt confessions, helped each other work out ideas, fell out, became friends.
A good letter-writer is a performer, playing a role for an audience of one. But performance can, paradoxically, lead to honesty, and distance enable greater frankness than a face-to-face talk. Belle van Zuylen, one of the all-time great literary flirts, wrote to Constant d’Hermenches in 1764, “I can’t speak to you the same way I can write to you. When I speak to you I see a man before me, a man with whom I have conversed no more than ten times in my life. It’s only natural that I should be thrown into confusion and not dare say certain words…”
We all know that feeling. Teenagers often have it; it’s one reason they would rather text each other than call. Could Belle van Zuylen still have flirted if she’d had a webcam? Would J. and I, through the static of Skype, still have told each other the truth about ourselves?
I miss the frankness of letters. But what I miss even more is the patience. Any letter, to anyone—I wrote a lot to friends in those days, too—took time. It had to be composed. You felt like you had to fill the paper down to the end; if you got to the bottom and weren’t quite done, you might continue along one side or add a note in the top margin. To achieve that feeling of a conversation, you had to think about what you wanted to say.
In his Atlantic article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” technology journalist Nicholas Carr writes that since he started using the Internet, he has become so used to skipping from link to link that he has lost the knack of reading. “I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text.”
In the same way, I’ve lost the knack of letter-writing. I find myself skipping, not just from link to link, but from friend to friend. Many of my friendsare links, on a social networking site. I keep in touch with more people than ever, but superficially. Even e-mail often feels too time-consuming or too intimate. To write a long message is almost bad manners. It’s a breach of the most important rule of modern etiquette: don’t take up other people’s time.
Many people I know, including me, now communicate by posting notes for their entire social circle to read. The other day, I mentioned in an e-mail to a friend 3,000 miles away that a mutual acquaintance had had dinner at my house. He wrote back, “I know. I read it on her blog.”
Without the focus that the individual letter demands, we spread ourselves widely but thinly among our friends. If I miss the letter, it’s partly because I’m worried that, in the words of New York playwright Richard Foreman, we’re turning into “pancake people.”
I haven’t written a love letter in years. To say something to J. now, all I need to do is cross the room. But I don’t think I say as much to him now as I said then. We used to spend hours alone with each other – an ocean, two mail carriers, and 80 cents in stamps apart, joined by a piece of paper.
It was paper that gave us the courage to be something in each other’s lives.
Trouw, January 3, 2009. The two excerpts from love letters are from Nelleke Noordervliet, “Ik kan het niet langer verbergen: over liefdesbrieven” (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1993). The translations are mine.
About the author:
Julie Phillips is a biographer, book critic, and essayist who moved from New York to Amsterdam to live with “J.” They recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary.
James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon:
Nicholas Carr: http://www.nicholascarr.com/
Video lecture on the wide & wild world of the YODEL based on the book YODEL IN HIFI. This film premiered in LONDON on 11 March 2014 at the Peckham Liberal Club as part of the Muckle Mouth series. Book YODEL IN HIFI: From Kitsch Folk to Contemporary Electronica. For info:http://uwpress.wisc.edu/
Break the voice and you enter the marrow of existence. The film documents the ubiquitous and unique presence of yodeling just about everywhere. From roots deep in the earth to soundings that probe deep space… And no genre is safe: opera, hiphop, rock, pop, folk, jazz, house, techno, reggae… FEATURES: Werner Herzog, Bernhard Betschart, Phil Minton, Myriam van Imschoot & Doreen Kutzke, Barbara Hannigan, Taylor Ware, Francelle Maria, Drag Queen Lady KinMee, Dominatrix Manuela Horn, a yodeling cat, Tarzan, Bob Marley, Aka Pygmies, Prison work songs, hollerin’, Jimmie Rodgers, SE Rogie, Mike Johnson, Kia Brekkan, Kishore Kumar, Cyrill Schläpfer, Erika Stucky, Christine Lauterburg, Alice Babs, Focus, Mental Theo & Charly Lownoise, Bobbejaan Schoepen, Honeymoon Killers, Harry Torrani, George Van Dusen, Brian Eno, Cranberries, Buzzcocks, People Like Us, Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger, Shelley Hirsch, Jacques Dutronc, Munich House Mafia, Franzl Lang, Fatima Miranda, Kristina Fuchs, Zabine, Meredith Monk, Neil Rolnick, Anna Kiefer, Paul Dutton, Mij, Tim Buckley, Slim Whitman, Mal Webb, Wandervogels, Chinese yodeling, tea-picking yodels, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Basques, Cambodian, Taiwanese, Persian, Tuvan, Georgian…
This film uses original footage but mostly relies on found and archival footage. My hope & goal is to make a feature length documentary using high quality stock and more original footage. I am looking to partner with a producer and filmmaker with interest in the subject.
All sources & credits for found footage used in this film available upon request.
Yodel in HiFi: From Kitsch Folk to Contemporary Electronica :: http://uwpress.wisc.edu/books/4594.htm
YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World :: http://www.routledge.com/
Wreck This Mess Radio :: http://www.mixcloud.com/wreckthismess/
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/
Bart Plantenga is a freelance researcher, writer, translator, and editor. He is the author of Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling around the World and the compiler of the CD Rough Guide to Yodel. He lives and works in Amsterdam and is the disc jockey of radio show Wreck This Mess.
EIoP is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary E-journal in the field of European integration research. “European integration research” is to be understood in a broad sense. Scholarly contributions from all relevant disciplines are welcome, e.g. from legal studies, political science, economics, sociology, and history.
EIoP has been published since 1997 under the auspices of ECSA Austria. The editorial office is located at the Institute for European Integration Research, Vienna. From Vol. 11 (2007) onwards, EIoP is, among other indices, included in the ISI Social Sciences Citation Index.
EIoP sympathises with the Open Access movement and is a “ROMEO green publisher” (see Open Access Policy). All articles in EIoP are available free of charge.
List of all published papers: http://eiop.or.at/
As the editor-in-chief (Gerda Falkner) and the founding editor-in-chief and technical director (Michael Nentwich), it is our pleasure to announce our of EIoP (article details please find at the bottom of this message).
Our work on this project has lasted for about two decades. The first formal publication was in April 1997 but the preparations for that had been laborious since the six kick-off papers were authored by superstars of European integration studies and followed twice by two more papers by other stellar scholars only a few weeks later. Finally, in 2007, the EIoP has even become an SSCI-listed journal! Overall, we published altogether 257 papers in 19 volumes.
We enjoyed the project and we are still in great support of the basic ideas: making top-level research available to everybody around the globe (open access), free of charge for both authors and readers. However, times have changed fundamentally. A shortage of strictly double-blind refereed journals in the field of European integration studies no longer exists. The same is generally true for online publications with easy access (although unfortunately mostly at high prices). In fact, the present times in our view rather suffer from a “write only” culture where, under ever increasing pressure, researchers produce ever more output. Read more
Today the speed at which we spread information is so fast that a single email can launch a worldwide awareness campaign, as with the Occupy movement. Yet as techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci seeks to show, the ease of social media can actually hurt social change in the long run. From Gezi to the Arab Spring to Ukraine to Hong Kong, she shows how today’s movements can miss out on the benefits of doing things the hard (and slow) way.
TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufek…
Subscribe to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector
By Islamic Historiography I mean written material concerning the events of the early period of Islam written by Muslim historians. This material is essential for any major research on Islam but has been continuously discredited by predominantly Western scholars. Therefore, before the study of these texts, an outline of their characteristics and a short discussion about the criticisms of these texts and their authors is indispensable.
Among the problems proclaimed in the criticisms are: the gap between the historical events and their recording, the fact that early historical compilations have not survived and have been paraphrased or summarized in later digests, the problem of the oral origin of many reports, the task of the historian, the incompatibility of non-Islamic sources, forged reports, political influences on historiography, the purpose of historiography and the originality of the historian.
In this paper the criticisms concerning the Islamic historiography and the answers of the some historians to these criticisms will be surveyed.
The origin, the terminology and the form of the early Islamic historiography
According to Robinson, Arabs produced very little written material before Islam and relied instead on orality.
It seems logical to conclude that the enormous volume of written work which was produced after Islam must be ascribed primarily to the emphasis in various Qur´ānic verses on writing and the stories in this book about the previous peoples and prophets, which encouraged the Muslims to narrate, and reflect and investigate about the origins of those narrations, examples are, the next two verses:
…By the pen and what they write with it…. (Qur’ān 68:1)
Relate these allegorical stories (to the people) perhaps they might think. (Qur’ān 7:176).3
The second important impetus seems to have been the traditions of the Prophet of Islam which were to be preserved for the future generations. Islamic Tradition informs us that the Prophet of Islam discouraged his followers, in the initial stages of his mission, to write about him in order to prevent any confusion between his sayings and the Qur´ān.
However the reports about the alteration of this attitude in a later stadium encouraged the biographers to write Sīra or biographical collections at the end of the first and beginning of the second Islamic century. The campaigns of the Prophet (Maġāzī) and the conquests (Futūḫ)  were the other historical works, produced in the period between the first works and the later great compilations.
The collections with the modern name for history, Ta’riḥ, appeared in the 2nd/9th century.
Their source material consisted of Aḥbār which according to Rosenthal means both information and the events and corresponds to history in the sense of story, anecdote (ḫekāyat). Later, when the term was used together with āthār, it became synonymous to hadīth.
The other sources were the above mentioned Sīra, Maġāzī and Futūḫ works, the books of aḥbāriyyūn and genealogical works and oral accounts.
Thus, the first historical works, as the ordered record of the events of the past, began as a mixture of the above mentioned genres. This is the same multi-faceted character that Robinson says history used to have:
“…coming via Latin from the Greek historia, generally meant ´inquiry´; it earlier described a variety of genres, including geography, folklore and ethnography, in addition to what we would commonly understand to be history.”
And the way Rosenthal defines history:
History in the narrow sense.., should be defined as the literary description of any sustained human activity either of groups or individuals which is reflected in, or has influence upon the development of a given group or individual….for the modern mind, the general concept of history may, in theory, be extended to include all animate or inanimate matters. 
While he also mentions that:
Muslim historiography includes those works which Muslims, at a given moment of their literary history, considered historical works and which, at the same time, contain a reasonable amount of material which can be classified ashistorical according to our definition of history, as given above. 
Thus, history is made up of many elements which together have certain meaning for certain people. This is by no means the denial of general definitions of or theories about history, rather, the emphasis is on the meaning of a certain concept, object or idea in a specific context.
Not only the combination of aḥbār and āthār became synonymous to ḫadīth, but also the form of historical narratives took the form of ḫadīth. According to Dūrī two perspectives existed among the early compilers: the ḫadīth perspective and the tribal perspective. Very soon, the first perspective prevailed which explains why the Islamic historiography has maintained the form of ḫadīth, thus, beginning with an isnād or chain of transmitters, continued by the report (ḥabar).
The problems concerning the Islamic historiography
Islamic history books and Muslim historians have been the subject of both praise and critique. There are problems concerning the historical texts and those concerning the narrators both historians and their transmitters.
One problem ascribed to Islamic historiography is the fact that there is a gap between the time of the events of the early period of Islam and their historiography. Is this gap so long that it can in fact disqualify the whole historiography? It seems that this gap was not considered to be very important when the Western scholars first came into contact with the Islamic sources of the second and third century of Islamic era. Perhaps this was caused by their earlier experiences with other historiographies. The later recording of the events in Islam had its precedents in other historiographies. For example, according to Robinson: The gap between event and record in early Islam is relatively narrow compared with our source material for the ancient Israelites, which usually dates from several centuries after the facts they purport to relate.
Thus the problem of late compilation does not seem to be restricted to Islamic historiography. Read more
Fatsoenlijk land – Porgel en Porulan in het verzet van Loes Gompes Het boek verscheen in 2013 bij Rozenberg Publishers – ISBN 978 90 361 0350 3 – Met DvD van de documentaire Fatsoenlijk land (Lumen Film – 60 min.)
Proloog ~ Verzet in twee werelden
Athene, Rome en Jeruzalem in Alkmaar
De Duitse inval en het ontslag van de vaders
De Vrije Groepen Amsterdam
Porgel en Porulan in documenten en voedsel
Bevrijding – Foto’s Jan Hemelrijk
Jan Hemelrijk gaf de groep de naam PP-groep. Dat gebeurde bij de oprichting van de Vrije Groepen Amsterdam (VGA) in 1944 toen elke groep een naam moest kiezen. Je zou kunnen denken dat het een verwijzing is naar Potasch en Perlemoer, de twee kibbelende joodse zakenlieden uit de bekende gelijknamige vooroorlogse volkskomedie. Maar dat was niet het geval. Jan liet zich inspireren door de ‘porgel’ en de ‘porulan’, fantasiebeesten in het clandestien verschenen nonsensrijm De Blauwbilgorgel (1943) van Cees Buddingh’.
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Mijn vader was een porgel,
Mijn moeder was een porulan,
Daar komen vreemde kind’ren van.
Raban! Raban! Raban!
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Ik lust alleen maar korgel,
Behalve als de nachtuil krijst,
Dan eet ik riep en rimmelrijst.
Rabijst! Rabijst! Rabijst!
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Als ik niet wok of worgel,
Dan lig ik languit in de zon
En knoester met mijn knezidon.
Rabon! Rabon! Rabon! I
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Eens sterf ik aan de schorgel,
En schrompel als een kriks ineen
En word een blauwe kiezelsteen.
Ga heen! Ga heen! Ga heen!
Cees Buddingh’ (1918 – 1985)