Reflections on Amsterdam by Suzanne Hoeben

Reflections on Amsterdam by Suzanne Hoeben

With a calm demeanor prone to giving others the impression that I exist on retreat, it is remarkable that these three August days with In Claritas were, in fact, my first[hand] experience and in this initiation encountered a [well]known city revealing some of its hidden corners  and recesses. Together we discovered and developed ways of responding to its bursts of energy, ingenuity, and to the unexpected “wilderness” of its concealed charms.

Our Friday morning dialogue on identity and governance received an additional spark from guests Arthur Wassenberg (NL) Political Scientist and Steve Austen (NL) Author and Political Observer, by their providing contrasting backdrops on the viability of linking identity with governance.  Arthur offered us the gift of his skepticism and his insight in the form of an essential and efficiently-worded coda:  ”A sense of identity enables us to seek a plausible role in an alien setting,” while Steve asserted that identity and governance must be kept in tandem lest we replicate the absurdities found  amongst the homo sovieticus in former soviet republics now subjecting their young to tri-partite formal training as an attempt to recapture their snuffed-out folk identities.

As the three days drew to a close in the back garden of a lovely canal house on the Nieuwe Keizersgracht and I found myself gazing rather intently at the garden house’s skylight wondering if it had been used as a sukkah, I returned to the proceedings when I heard Cam Danielson recalling having once been jokingly introduced to his fellow Indiana University faculty members as “a man who still thinks poetry means something” as a piece of a Leonard Cohen poem fluttered past: There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.



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