04/12/26 Links, novel progress #44
Yeah, I know it's been a while. I'll try to do better from now on.
Let's see. On December 13th I've sent in the thesis that I needed to write to finish my post-doctoral course in IT auditing. I'm not yet out of the woods - the thesis may get rejected, or I may fail the final exam - but for now, life is good.
While getting the thesis finished I've held off writing this weblog or working on my novel, hoping to channel the creative writing energy into the thesis instead. To a certain extent this worked - and to a certain extent it didn't. Though writing time is a finite resource - the time you spend writing one thing can't be spent writing another - energy and creativity aren't. One side effect was that I ended up jotting down a lot of pretty rough ideas for the thesis that, being in the process of finalising the damned thing, I didn't have much use for - while their fictional equivalents would have been perfectly appropriate for the first draft of my novel. I probably would have been better off continuing the work on my novel to some degree, though I never found the ideal balance between the two.
Anyway, on to the bigger picture. Well, slightly bigger, anyway.
As you probably know by now, Dutch columnist, television interviewer and film director Theo van Gogh was murdered on November 2nd. His assailant shot and stabbed him several times and possibly (accounts of the murder seem to differ) also slit his throat. The suspect was arrested after an intense firefight in which both he and a police officer were injured.
The suspect is a 26 year old Dutch-born man with dual Moroccan and Dutch nationality. He left a five-page letter on the body, and another letter was found on him when he was arrested. The letter that was left on the body contained threats to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of Parliament with whom Van Gogh had made a movie protesting the treatment of women within Islam, anti-Semitic slurs, and threats to Dutch society and western civilisation in general. Apparently, a large portion of the content was taken from various English-language Internet sources. The letter found on the suspect was a piece of doggerel expressing the expectation that he would end up a martyr for the cause.
From all accounts Mohammed B., the suspect, appears to have been a good kid, a bright student who volunteered at a local neighbourhood centre and was studying to be a social worker. About two years ago this changed, possibly as a consequence of the death of his mother and / or the aftermath of 9/11. B. began to wear traditional Arab garb, discontinued his volunteer work, was expelled from his mosque due to his extremist views and moved to a different neighbourhood to live with a number of like-minded young men, moving deeper and deeper into Islamic extremism.
The response of the government was to announce that we were now at war with terrorism. (Apparently this was brought about by a journalist, asking vice-Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm whether we were now at was with terrorism. Zalm answered in the affirmative, and was heavily criticised for it later. But I digress.)
That "war on terrorism" stuff worried me quite a bit. We don't seem to have the kind of army that makes invading another country a viable option and, hell, where would we start?
Over the following weeks, there were several attacks against Islamic schools, mosques and churches. In one case, burning down an Islamic elementary school to the ground, the perpetrators were three 13- to 15-year olds who had also been involved in an attempt to burn down a local mosque.
Things seem to have quieted down a bit (or the media have stopped reporting any new incidents - a distinct possibility, as I understand that even before the murder vandalism directed at Islamic targets was not uncommon but rarely received media attention) but for a while it was just one damned thing after the other.
I guess there should end this weblog entry with some kind of conclusion, but I don't have one. Nor does anyone else at this point, I suppose. We all kind of muddle on, as usual.
The one thing that I can say is, that never before I've been so deeply affected by current events. In the weeks after the murder I seemed to have a constant ache in my bones and joints - non-physical, but definitely there - and I found myself at a loss for words to discuss what was going on. Ah, well. I guess I'm better now.
More Dutch politics and current events:
Dutch politics in 2004
How TV shows are made.
Eye: Where writers are gods
Lileks: Just dang creepy
Opening hooks - a collection of literary beginnings
I see dead people.
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I've been taking a break from the novel as well. Still two new episodes in the past months, 1,381 new words, 61,942 words total.
Introduction and start of part 3
After the war (90)
After the war (91)
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