Category Archives: writing

The Sommelier

The sommelier was a light-black hispanic man in his mid-twenties, perfectly mannered and composed, quick to react to my teasing wit, while at the same time leaving no trace of composition in his smile, displaying an honest exuberance. The sommelier had been held up in the wine cellar while we picked our courses from the menu and had inquired for his advice on the wine pairing. He stood lightly stooped over our table, one hand behind his back and pointed with his hand, extended in a straight angle from his shoulder, at the wine choice, an Austrian Grüner Veltliner by Hirsch from 2013, that paired well with the Spanish octopus and the Japanese hamachi.
“You got locked up in the wine cellar by your co-workers, it seemed?”
“They tend to do that, yes,” he answered with a genuine and gentle smile.
“The Château de Pressac, Grand Cru Classé, from Saint-Émilion is a French wine with a very dark hue and berry that pairs excellent with the Wagyu Beef.”
“Excellent, I trust you.”
As the sommelier walked off, one of the middle-aged Indian backwaiters walked over, holding a dark wood woven breadbasket in front of his pelvis and a silver bread tongs in his right hand hovering above the whole grain, mini bread rolls and elongated berry bread sticks, ready to grasp a single roll with his tongs and transfer it to our plates.
“No, thank you.”
We had gracefully declined already at least 3 times prior.
Immediately following the bread runner, sensing another window of opportunity to prove his value, came the water runner holding a thin, chrome water dispenser, and carrying a white napkin folded over his wrist. I could hear the ice cubes dancing in the can, clinging against the metal sides of the dispenser, creating a wild, loud motion inside. Barely without pause, his arm stretched in one flow with his walk, as his legs came to a stop the dispenser moved steadily forward, being stretched out without delay to the rim of the glass. The glass was not even half empty yet, but water poured down like an avalanche or waterfall in one wholesome fall, everything passing so quickly it could not be helped. Drops of water splashed all over the table, the glass now refilled to the rim in a wild splatter of an instant, the base of the glass soaked in condensed water rolling down the bowl along the stem of the glass and being absorbed by the saturated table cloth. Seeing the refilled bowl of water, the Hispanic runner’s smile was equally full with satisfied content of a job well done.

A Critique on Judeo-Christian Populism and Islam

Too often, I hear the claim by populists that Islam is a Trojan Horse in Western society, that the Islam is an enemy to Western values. The theory of a fundamental clash of cultures between Judeo-Christianity and Islam is the very pillar of Islamophobic popularism today. This co-called Strauss–Howe generational theory comes from amateur historians and populist authors William Strauss and Neil Howe from the US, who both see a war between Islam and the West as the ‘fourth turning.’ I studied history and am an amateur historian myself, but I believe in facts rather than ‘alternative facts’, in truths rather than convictions.

The true foundation of Modernist Western ethics and current social values however is not religion but happiness. As a humanist, I believe that the pursuit of happiness is what drives man. Man advances through learning. Happiness, Epicurus says, is the absence of physical and mental suffering. Happiness is ensured in Freedom and Democracy, which are the legal form of this pursuit. This pursuit of happiness requires, according to Lucretius, the seeking of truth. It is science, not religion, that is the foundation of the pursuit of happiness, and therefor the true foundation of Western modernist culture.

With the rise of populism claiming to be the true defenders of our Western values, it seems that we Western humanists of the 21st century do not know whom to fight. The left is easily cornered by the right to be defenders of Islam, and out of instinct too easily accepts this role. But humanists should understand that the anti-Islamic populists are not worse but equal enemies as is Islam. The left has become complacent and overconfident in its fight against religion.

When I grew up however, it was not Judaism or Christianity that shaped my thinking and my values, but a series of Western thinkers whose works radically opposed Judeo-Christian culture. Western modernist culture instead of being Judeo-Christian or welcome to Islam, is instead radically anti-religious. Continue reading

Of Queen and Peasant

For majesty a throne
She stands in grace alone
Her smile equally dosed
Decisively composed

The peasant has his land
He stands to serve her end
His honor is to bow
and serve he is endowed

The moon is to the sun
Not his own that is done
But in the bigger light
He shines a little bright

Uncanny Love

Through this dark night
Your heart is bright
Like a fair moonlight
My soul you guide

Into your loving bed
To suckle your breast
And clamp your chest
Into your womb my head

So you sooth
me like a boy
To be a man

Thus looted
By a woman coy
love uncanny

Faces (52)

The tip of her nose was powdered thickly, round like a ripe plumb. She owned a pair of glazing, dark brown eyes, circumligned by a crisp, black border, like burnt pits hanging from a tree, above her pointy, white chin, cleaved by the sharp, blazingly red stripes of her thin lips.

Vignettes of Lost Men: Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane wrote ‘we are the most successful in art when we approach the nearest to nature and truth.’ He described the inconsistent vocation of the soul of man and the incapacity of man to uphold a straight moral line. His novel the Red Badge of Honor gave him considerable success, and is perhaps a great read to reflect on the choices of former POW Bowe Bergdahl. Now forgotten and sinking to the lesser bowels of history, another unconventional thinker and a flickering light of guidance, lost to our collective memory. We are all in an open boat, at risk to capsize as soon as we shift our positions, so we stay put and drift along.

New Yorker: The Hectic Career of Stephen Crane

The Perception of Sea Time

she dances like bouncing particles
on top of the foaming waves
a venus rising out of passing water
from the splashed semen of Uranus

she moves like the soul a ship
a glazing stare of round fish eyes
hiding under the surface fleece
like the faring sea I see

then feel the sudden calm
before the rush of changing motion
a roaring gust of salty wind
that combs through her light blond hair

awning layers of hovering clouds
along the singing circles of air
casting a landscape of shadows
on the ocean’s running blues