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Catalonia for World Heritage

castellers

“King Charles has been every day on horseback, sometimes at Montjuic, sometimes round the city Ramparts, and is, indeed, the Life and Soul of the People, who seem not  the least dismayed; the shops are daily open, every trade goes forward; the women laugh, and the boys sing; and all sleep at night without dreaming of sieges; not but we stand upon our guard, which is reckoned as diversion, not a hardship: so hearty are they on this occasion.”

The Deplorable History of the Catalans, 1714-

I am an independentist. Let’s get that out of the way. My opinions about the #27s Catalan elections are neither influenced by the media or by my hopes. As a matter of fact, I am just trying to be realistic about the meaning of Sunday’s results.

results

For one, politics is changing in Spain. “New” parties are rising from an ever bi-party society. Both PP (the current government and what I consider to be the extreme right anti-catalanist party) and PSOE (considered “leftist” but just as anti-catalanist) are losing most of their voters. Meanwhile, younger parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos are emerging strong in the scene.  I have the impression these two younger parties will eventually take over the bipolarity of Spanish voters.

Surely, both leading parties paid the price for the constant corruption cases over the last 30 years and their “replacements” played the card of transparency which is so in vogue in today’s European democracies.

Ciudadanos made it literal when Albert Rivera, its president, decided to go naked on their first well known electoral commercial. He liked the experience and some years later decided to repeat it and appear naked again, along with other pregnant women. Certainly, their creative minds could not go further than to use nudity over political arguments. We hope though, with yesterday’s raise of votes, that they will now spare our eyes and buy some new clothes. We know you think you are hot Albert, but time passes by for us all.

Despite their obvious favouritism for nude beaches, Ciutadanos is leaning further and further to the right side of the force. Their representatives have repeatedly stated the anti-catalanist nature of the Party. They believe to be the only ones, the chosen ones to “stop the independentist movement” and assure “catalans remain being spanish”. Heroes them all. Certainly such speech, backed up with their results in the catalan elections, will grant them lots of votes in a country with clear animosity towards the catalan nation. And yet, as political rhetoric go it is quite void.

When a minority becomes persecuted politically, legally and socially and that represents the best political argument for any party, how do you call it?  We give it many names here in Catalonia and none of them resemble democracy.

Ciutadanos regional representative Inés Arrimadas, native from Jerez, arrived in Catalonia in 2006. She must be highly gifted to have understood the nation so deeply as to dare to represent it in the 9 years she has been here. She does not really speak catalan, of course, but not that it matters. In the end, Catalonia to them is no more than the name of a weird Spanish land; its culture, its language and its history is ultimately irrelevant. It has become so old fashioned to care about History anyway.

On the other side of the coin stands Podemos and their catalan version: catsíqueespot. Am I the only one to think that was really badly named? For instance “sí podem”, would have been a much more readable alternative. Although truth to be told, the word “yes” in their name must have been a typo hearing the latest declarations by Pablo Iglesias: “if we rule in Spain, we will be able to build a country project, a country project called: Spain, in which there will be space for a nation called Catalunya“. Why thank you Pablo, it is so nice of you to count us in. For a party that defended the Catalan right for a referendum, these last declarations – possibly moved by their epic fail in votes- prove that their self proclaimed left ideals are not as strong as their desire to be popular in Spain. We cannot all fit in your party mate.

But enough with the criticisms… Oh wait, I forgot to mention the greatest advert in the History of Politcal Marketing of all times! Can’t do, must be acknowledged. PP went for a desperate, so desperate, try to reach out to their Catalan subjects (subjugated to them being their main goal) and created this TV commercial:

For the ones who cannot understand it, basically you have the people from PP speaking catalan and saying they love Catalonia. Taking into account this is the same party whose former Education Minister promised to “hispanicize” catalan children, this comes out as some bizarre SM message, Mariono Rajoy’s face is proof of that (but… didn’t we hate catalans?).

OJAZOS

One thing we can say for sure: the catalan society is radicalizing in two main sides, sovereigntist and unionist. It is true the independentist – sovereigntist- movement did not reach fifty per cent this Sunday with a 48%, roughly, of the votes. It is also true neither did the unionist. We obviously cannot add to the unionist side parties who would allow a legal referendum or whose ideals rely in animals rights. Therefore, we can say that the “NO” side is slightly below the “YES” side and in between you have a few parties filling in the gray areas. If anything, we should add the minority Catalan Pirate Party to the “YES” list since in their last party query, 95% of their voters declared to be in favour of independence.

What we could have, though, if Junts pel sí and CUP united is majority of pro independence parliamentarian seats and THAT is amazing. I read a tweet the other day that said the following:

“We wanted more (votes), of course. But in 1991, in the Parliament, there were only 3 deputies openly independentist. Now there are 72!”

The independence boom which began increasing rapidly from 2011 has changed not only Catalonia but also Spain in the eyes of the world. Perhaps some people wanted an easy win but we are talking of a centenarian struggle that might not be resolved in a few years. What we are doing now is not solely for today but for tomorrow, for next year, for the next decade, for the next century. We are, right now, building the foundations of a constitution to be.

How unique, in political terms, is that left, right, centre parties all unite together for a common goal? When have we seen this in the history of this country? This is a true compromise with our future.

And because of this reason I did not vote CUP unlike the rest of my friends. We need a diverse unity, therefore a representative unity, in order to break free from Spain and have a plural new country. At this point in this game of thrones, to play the separatist role inside the so called separatist movement is just a pose. CUP the meta-separatists? I don’t think so. They are boosting now with their unprecedented electoral success without realizing as fast as it came it can go if they do not cast aside personal vendettas in order to effectively represent the wishes of their electorate. I can say the same about Artur Mas though. If it came to a point in which only he stepping down could make the process possible, could he put aside his ego to make it all happen? At the moment, negotiations are still taking place and so I will say no more, only this one thought: it is known in the History of Catalonia that the fragmentation among republicans cost us more than one cause. Isn’t it time to change History already? On this note, I will quote a very interesting article I read the other day:

“Doubt: Will ERC, Romeva and some independentists allow Mas not to be president? Will they maintain the treaty which made Junts pel sí possible, no matter what? Will CUP force a change of candidate knowing they have the 8,21% of the votes in front of the 39,55% of Junts pel sí? And won’t this be contrary to the idea that decisions must be taken by majorities and not minorities? Is it known what consequences could entail having Mas killed politically? In a moment to gather forces, is it worth it to generate distrust in specific social sectors? Will the international community understand such a change now of all times?”

This controversy over the Generalitat’s president emphasizes the great need for a genuinely charismatic spokesperson. We had some in the past. It will come to everyone’s mind the well loved Lluís Companys who was executed by the fascist forces in 1940 in Montjuic. I mention him, and not others, for his absolute devotion to a single cause called freedom which, eventually, would take his life. Such compromise, such vision, such honesty and courage is what we need now. Someone who even the new ciutadanos voter can related to; not because of their profound Catalan spirit – which will not be the case for such voters- but because of the project we have in hands. This is such an exciting time for politics, for the new generations to see a country being reborn and evolve. A place in which no one will need to renounce to their identity or language, a place that will cherish progress and reform and that will try again and again when it fails. A place that could be beyond frontiers and flags. It is possible. Only cynicism can stand on our way. Yes, it could be worse. And yes, it could be better. Let’s face it, it would not be that hard to make it better. Let’s embark on.

A charismatic leader could reach to all audiences and mobilize the 20% of “I could not care less” remaining in Catalonia. It is my impression such leader could be found among the younger generations. No, it does not need to be handsome or young per se to try to win some “coolness” contest with ciudadanos. But it does need to be someone who can understand and use new technologies on its favour without needing some intern to update the antivirus. My generation is ready, they are just lacking confidence I believe. And it is no wonder since all they have seen as adults was recession and rejection. They would never wish to be politicians. They are ideologists. And we most definitely need some new ideas to bring the percentage closer to the “YES” vote. This is our quest now; not to talk about the differences but about things which we all want.

I would like to take a moment to talk about the syndicates now that we are at it. I think it is commonly known and, even worse, accepted that our socialist syndicates are completely corrupted. Unfortunately, one somehow expects that from the political class. That is why syndicates exist in the first place, to denounce abuse and keep that class in check. Here though, syndicates stopped fighting for the interest of the working class and, instead, fight for the interest of their own statu quo. What happens when the syndicates are just as corrupt as the political class? I tell you, what happens is that regular citizens will organize. Let’s get this straight: the independentist movement in Catalonia did not come from the political class, syndicates or from any press; it came directly from its citizens. Therefore, when people speak of media pollution we have to understand that these citizens are independent minded and capable to discern. They are even capable to reactivate the political class and send a clear message worldwide by their own mere will. Volunteers have been the key in the republican process and it’s due to them that the independentist movement took place. It is, in all levels, a social revolution. I can see how foreigners could view the constant news about the catalan “smiley” revolution as propaganda but, in all effects, that is a much better headline than violence would be. This is what it entails to have a peaceful exit from Spain. We need support because we do not live in democracy. What other conclusion is there when our leaders are legally prosecuted for organizing a referendum? Illegal referendum, I repeat. That says it all.

Felipe González, a former socialist Spanish President, asked the other day:

Who wishes to be small and seal horizons when it can be grand?

In other words: who wishes to be an insignificant Catalan when it can be a great Spaniard. Where to start? The known History of Spain has been one of constant violence and repression. No democracy in the country ever survived. There was always one empowered leader above others. Nowadays, on the public Spanish TV a former vice-president of the Spanish supreme court “remarked as last resort” the employment of machine guns against civilians. I go on. The current president of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, is about to become Catalonia’s new martyr because of the ineptitude of Spanish politicians to be… democratic. Europe is somehow giving more importance to the unity of its integrated states than to a new fascist regime beginning next door.  Spain has been there before. How do you think that francoism began? In 1934, Catalonia had self proclaimed a republic , these are the words of Lluís Companys explaining why:

“Catalans! The monarchical and fascist forces which for some time have pretended to betray the Republic, have succeeded and assaulted the Power. In this grave hour, in the name of the People and the Parliament, the government that has invested me assumes all the faculties from the Power of Catalonia to proclaim the Catalan state of the Federal Republic of Spain and, with the wish to re-establish and strengthen the relationship with the leaders of the general protests against fascism, invites them to establish in Catalonia the Provisional Government of the Republic which will find in our Catalan people the most generous desire for fraternity in the common goal to build a free and magnificent Federal Republic. Catalans! The hour is grave and glorious. The spirit of the president Macià, restorer of la Generalitat, is with us. Everyone in their place and Catalonia and the Republic in the heart of all. Long live Catalonia! Long live the Republic! Long live Freedom!”

You cannot say we have not tried. But words are silenced soon in Spain and new regimes are build up in the ruins of their predecessors. We are in danger. Democracy is in danger. We seem to go and on in a historical loop in aeternum. If Europe allows such a clear attack to the basis of freedom, the so called “western” civilization will tumble.

We long for independence to be able to write our own story for once. Not to have to fight to keep a language alive but let it flow as all organic things do and grow as much as our civilization. Such people, who are still alive in the collective memory, fought against Time and Oblivion to avoid extinction, so it is not a fading night story we tell our kids: Once upon a time there was a kingdom called Catalonia. In an interconnected world that wishes to be multicultural there has to be a place for Catalonia. We all like to hear a foreign accent when we travel and discover a new favourite dish and see horizons we can’t reach from our windows. There has to be place for Catalonia. A world that needed to define human rights in order to recognize them, needs, so desperately, a place like Catalonia. Our mere existence, Mr. Gonzalez, would open horizons. The world isn’t just for the grand ones, there is enough space for everyone no matter how small; for the preservation of singularity in humanity, for the World Heritage.

“Life is atrocious, we know. But precisely because I expect little of the human condition, man’s periods of felicity, his partial progress, his efforts to begin over again and to continue, all seem to me like so many prodigies which nearly compensate for the monstrous mass of ills and defeats, of indifference and error. Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph, but order will too, from time to time. Peace will again establish itself between two periods of war; the words humanity, liberty, and justice will here and there regain the meaning which we have tried to give them.”

 Memoirs of HadrianMarguerite Yourcenar-

A letter on the mad

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Is this the destiny of man? Is he only happy before he has acquired his reason or after he has lost it?

Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, Goethe-

Dr. Maillard was the proud precursor of an unseen psychiatric system. It occurred to him that if he reversed the identities of his patients, offering them a sense of normality unknown to them; they might believe that role even further than their own delusions. For a true change, though, he needed to take one more step: patients and doctors traded places. The insane became sane. The hospital kept its busy routine in this manner, only that now it was run by those which once had treated. Tea pots-man, exhibitionists, Swiss cheeses which asked to be sliced and tasted; all kind of psychotropic alter egos had been replaced as a memory of the dementia those patients had overcome, giving them a purpose they had been missing all along.

Edgar Allan Poe imagined this in his short tale The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. And in many ways, we can see this vision screened on the exposition known as The Passion of Joan of Arc (or 12 and a marionette) by Javier Téllez; which I have to say, blew my mind completely.

When you first enter the exposition, in the dark, the voices of twelve women guide you to your sit. Dazzled by the sudden light of their projections, you bend your gaze toward their unsettling faces and right away, all this streaming of experiences, thoughts and fears come to find you unaware to where you are. You look around then, to face two enormous screens, staring and talking to each other. In one there is the muted film la passion de Jeanne d’Arc from 1928, but there is something off with it that at first you can’t quite tell, and in the other the most intimate, unadulterated interviews of real patients at the mental hospital  Rozelle.

I bet Javier Téllez saw this concept in his mind one day: Joan of Arc, the martyr, the mad soldier of God which was taken for crazy and doomed for her beliefs and, on the other hand, the old movie by Carl Dreyer telling her story both with images and inter-titles, back in the days of silent cinema. Téllez would find the voice of that story, later on, in his conversations with the patients.

He had a project. He went to Rozelle hospital looking for women who suffered a mental illness to rewrite the old movie’s inter-titles with their own view; as in Poe’s tale, he gave them a purpose. And, in this way, the so called insane became to co-authors of a novel version of the film. They were, somehow, rewriting their own stories, uncovering their truths for us to see. To them, Joan of Arc was just a contemporary patient in their same hospital which had been committed because of her belief to actually be Joan of Arc. The doctors, impersonated in the real movie as priests, diagnosed that she was suffering from grandiose visions and hallucinations and took her to her destruction; as the priests took the “real” Joan of Arc to her end. All and all, it fitted to perfection with how Rozzelle’s patients viewed themselves inside the psychiatric system.

During the period Téllez was working with the patients on the re-script of the movie, he kept on interviewing them. And that’s what you witness in that first screen of the exposition which so utterly strikes you and captivates you with such raw honesty and brutal awareness. While you sit in that room, this absolute sense of intimacy overwhelms you and you keep on turning your sight from one screen to the other, unease, with this feeling that you won’t be the same after listening to those confessions:

I fought before. I fought an army of men but now I face a mountain. I must fight a mountain of men, law, church and state. I must fight the forces of History which wish to consume me, categorize me, challenge me, condemn me and bury me. They wish to burn my identity, leaving only a heart which cannot be burnt no matter how hot the fire.

As the haunting words of these, often misunderstood, anti-heroines unravel the mysteries of a limitless mind; one question soars above any preconceptions: who is Javier Téllez?

Being the son of two psychiatrists, Téllez grew up surrounded by the familiarity of the unknown. His home was, also, his father’s private practice and the family shared common spaces with the patients; soon normalizing the stigma of mental illness and humanizing, well, humans. At a yearly festival they organized, both patients and medical staff would exchange uniforms for a day (Poe called it first).

Téllez’s father owned a large collection of more than twenty five thousand books and so intellectuality went hand in hand with his upbringing. From his grandfather, owner of a movie theater, he inherited the fascination for cinema and its visual narrative. It isn’t strange, therefore, to find all these biographical little pieces in the pure, curious and nonjudgmental presentations of the patients at Rozelle hospital. He succeeded in reaching out to the wondering minds to bring back their perspective, their pains, moral dilemmas and illusions for us:

In Australia there is an imperative to be happy, at all cost. I grew up in Wollongong and I did not fit in their culture. Besides, in my family life, my father was mentally ill and we lived fearing for our lives on daily basis.  My mother slept with an axe under her pillow, in case he came to kill us in the middle of the night. We lived terrified. For some reason, I was expected to be happy.

When I was 15 I had an overdose of pills because I was desperate. When I went to the hospital the psychiatrist in charge had me committed to the adult psychiatric hall. He told my mother that he did because there was nothing wrong with me, at all; nor mentally or psychologically but that I should be punished for having taken an overdose. When the nurse came to my house to pick me in an ambulance to take me to the psychiatric, I can’t remember a thing she said other than “Do not cry because if you do, they’ll keep you here for even longer”.  

I decided with deep passion that I wanted my life to be about preventing other people experiencing what I can only categorize as cruelty. I have been absolutely devastated to find in the experiences that I had in the last year, that not much has changed, not much has changed… Not much has changed at all.

However, something did change, for all the voluntary women who contributed to Téllez’s exposition. Once the project arrived at its completion, the patients assured Téllez the project had been the best experience of their lives. Something we are perhaps too used to hear in meaningless flattering lines but which, in this case, comes out as such profound truth. The fight for survival was not in vain:

The emotional pain sometimes is a lot harder to understand and heal than psychical pain. Because it can become like a cancer, it can kill you, if you don’t take care of it.

We cannot fully comprehend the struggle these women went through every single time they woke up, every single time they tried to make something work out and couldn’t; but thanks to them sharing it with us, we grasp the view from a blurry soul which never stopped shinning:

Have I fallen into temptation? Or have I rejected it? My heart has been broken and remade but in whose image? I saw my soldiers, my King and my God crying for revenge. I felt it was all on me. I wasn’t thinking of Joan of Arc last year, I was thinking about other warriors that might rise with a righteous anger against what was happening. I was quite overwhelmed by the war last year. The authorities which continued war were attacking the fundamental basis of occidental culture: international law, justice, truth, human rights, freedom, believe, hope… I planned to save the world. I was aware of spy satellites, the general culture of surveillance and governments tracking mobile phone calls. I felt I had to be the 21st century James Bond working in secret to save what’s important in occidental culture.

A community nurse came around my house one day and asked me: “do you still have any delusional belief systems working around?” And I said: “please, don’t come in to my house and ask me about delusional belief systems. The world is full of delusional belief systems. America is a delusional belief system.”

When the considered insane sound more reasonable than the common people, we should stop and wonder: WHY. Delusional beliefs systems, she said? Nowadays everything resembles a delusional belief system. That nurse should just look up to the world; they are gleaming with neon lights. Simon and Garfunkel knew it, Edgar Allan Poe knew it; even Obama knows it. Where is Snowden now? Who runs away from freedom? Only someone who knows just too well freedom is just an illusion we teach our kids to believe. So it seems is justice. O all the doomed tragic saviors of consciousness, prisoners of a lie. In the end, they will all be called insane, they will all be denied and yet, only the selfless confessions of those who know the disguise can open the world’s eyes.

Underneath the surface of prejudices, while listening to such experiences, one can only feel empathy. For an hour, approximately the time the interviews last, we feel what they felt. There is no attempt to glamorize their lives in Téllez’s screens, just a sincere and compelling try to bring us all a bit closer. We might feel like crying, we might feel like fighting or yelling but they also remind us to smile:

I was in a pub the other day and a lad came up to me and said: Why don’t you give some money for the Paralympics? And I turned around and said: look mate, I am in the Mentalympics every day.

One of the most well known fragments of the clips, which everyone seems to emphasize in their reviews, is the one of a patient which curiously decided to appear on screen with a marionette. The puppet took the role of a doctor, asking all kind of questions of her life. To me, her interview lacked in honesty and had some dubious pretensions; yet this exchange in roles portrays, once again, the need to understand ourselves as outsiders. So it happened to Poe’s reinstated patients, that once they left their identities they became laughable for themselves and, let’s face it, we all need a laugh:

When I was sent here, when I was 21, it was for writing SOS in Morse code on my grandma’s wall with all the dots and dashes. The police thought it was a suicide note, because that’s how silly they were. I can’t help to know Morse code, it’s in my memories. I know people don’t believe in past lives, but it’s from a past life experience. All the women in my family have the gift they just haven’t told anybody because if they do, they would be sent to a nuts-house.

In 1948 Antonin Artaud, after a stay in a mental asylum and being subjected to electroshock treatments, recited – literally– the darkest of thoughts:

Insane asylums are deliberate and premeditated receptacles of black magic, and it is not only that doctors encourage magic with their untimely and hybrid therapies, it is that they practice it. If there had been no doctors there would never have been patients, no skeletons of the diseased dead to butcher and flay, for it is through doctors and not through patients that society began. Those who live, live off the dead. And it is likewise necessary that death live; and there is nothing like an insane asylum for calmly incubating death, and for keeping dead people in incubators.

There is in electro-shock a puddle state through which everyone traumatized passes, and which causes him, no longer at this moment to know, but to dreadfully and desperately misjudge what he was, when he was himself, his own self.

To thus create death artificially as present-day medicine attempts to do is to encourage a reflux of the nothingness which has never been to anyone’s benefit, but which certain predestined human profiteers have been fattening on for a long time.

Actually, since a certain point in time.

Which one?

That point when it was necessary to choose between renouncing being a man and becoming an obvious madman.

But what guarantee do the obvious madmen of this world have of being nursed by authentically living people?

In other words, in our anti-heroine words: misjudgement, prejudice and cruelty were always on the menu of the day. For one of the patients, as for Artaud, it went even further. She read a series of reflections from the time she was exposed to electro shock treatments. Are there still electro shock treatments? The most unbelievable of all, is that it actually helped her. She, being a clinical depressive, found the longing peace of mind after months of electrical mental treatment. But what are the side effects? And, do they matter to them? These obscure methods have been the plot of many fictional stories but they happen to real people, people who find the will to creep their way out of darkness, their way out of the undead.

But can someone who went through so much, psychically and mentally, ever come back to life as we all know it? I think it depends as much on us as it depends on them. An old lady with sad tired eyes and a broken voice claimed, in the interviews, she was human; one of us. Fragile and becalmed, she asked of society to give up on rejection and embrace difference, embrace her. She said:

One of the most heart breaking sentences that I have ever heard was in the film “The elephant man” and the poor man cried out loud “I am not an animal, I am a human being”

“I am not an animal, I am a human being”, she repeated over and over as her image died away.

piçarra

Waking up

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What a wonderful morning here in Catalunya. I woke up to a sunny sky, a waving Catalan independentist flag on the wind and somehow in Istanbul.

It seems this century could be marked by the awakening of the so called Islamistdemocracies“, I was a bit envious I must admit, to see the people from Istanbul gathering together finally against their governments. In here, we wake up to waving dreams, which the light carries away, in an easy going monotony. What does it take to mobilize a country? Certainly the cause is just the same old cry, from the Scottish hills to the Egyptian spring. And yet, the Scottish are still nowadays trying to gain the title of freedom. This won’t be won in one night, but in a century of nights, til the dawn of a new civilization will finally arise.

Social networks, first taught by irc, have become the needed push for rebellion. But they aren’t enough to sustain new democracies, neither to assure fair elections; don’t be fooled, you’ll need way more than that to change History. Because it is set in stone, and you gotta break that stone day after day til you engrave your initials on it. This is a long long fight but it is worth it.

A few years back I came across this great manual in how to peacefully achieve democracies coming from dictatorship regimes: “From dictatorship to Democracy, a conceptual framework for Liberation” by Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution. You can click on that and it will get you to a nicely downloadable pdf, knock yourself out. I truly believe, to achieve a consistent and permanent change in Politics one has to get creative. Go beyond the regular demonstrations and find a way to express and spread your message world wide. Every cause needs symbols, which will work as logotips of a cause. I say this, answering to the populist idea that to rise media atention one needs to get violent; or the old arguments that, historically, only through violence History evolved. Well perhaps it is time to change that, we also have evolved since those times. This manual defends the same, to reach a breaking point and the imminent change afterwards, you just need Ideas.

About the picture I chose for this post, what can I say? I don’t know what it is more surprising, if the police going hardcore water mode on the people or the kind of people they were actually targeting. I mean, that lady looks like she was going for a fancy picnic to the park, with a red dress and a matching necklace and then: PUM, massive water ray. One has to love the fashion in rebellions.

What a wonderful morning, it feels like Istanbul is waking up with me:

http://vimeo.com/67432788

The Big big Internet Museum, free & open at all times

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Some time ago I had the chance to interview some of the founders of the Big Internet Museum, an initiative which stroked me as genius since the first time I set eyes on it. The founders, Dani Polak (art director, 26), Joeri Bakker (account manager, 31) and Joep Drummen (copywriter, 36) work all together in the well known advertising agency TBWA\ which enthusiastically supported the project from the start.

Here is some insight into this big project, by the hand of Dani Polak:

The usual first question, I guess, always is: How did you guys come up with the idea and what gave you the motivation to start it all?

Well, we were wondering if our kids would ever know what Facebook is. Then we started discussing about all the things that are already lost; like geocities, ICQ, Altavista etc. Then we knew there should be a museum for all of this… And since there was no internet museum yet, we started it.

So you do this on your free time, combining it with your jobs?

Yes. Which is really hard because we have a full time job at an ad agency. So we work on it 3 nights a week and 1 day in the weekend. We did that for half a year

I see, is it worth it?

Haha, yes absolutely. We never thought it would be such a big success. That’s definitely worth it 🙂

It is indeed. So this museum works just like a regular museum, except for the fact it is only online and because it is online that it opens a wide range of options for interactivity. For example the role of the curators. We see on your web that “Everyone visiting the Big Internet Museum can be a curator”, how does that work exactly? Can any user submit a new piece which, later on, will get voted by the users, in their rank of curators? How do you determine what pieces belong to the museum and which don’t, what is your criteria to follow?

Any visitor of the museum is indeed a potential curator. Anyone can submit something and if that fits our criteria (Should have had a (large) impact on the internet as it is today, should be global, not local, should be all about the internet (so not computers or technology) it will be on the vote page. The submissions with the most votes will get a spot in our permanent collection (after we researched it of course)

Who is in charge to write the information next to the pieces?

That’s Joep Drummen, one of our co-founders and also my copywriter at the ad agency. Joeri is in charge of the museum in general (keeping it all together) and I’m in charge of the design.

Are there going to be more wings? Is the museum going to grow along the internet?

Yes. But… the collection will change. New pieces will be added by the public and some pieces will eventually be archived. And there is a possibility that there will be more wings.

We see you also ask for donations, but of a very specific kind: twit donations. So is your goal to spread the word about the museum through the social networks with this initiative?

Yes. We’re not in it for the money. We just want as much people as possible to visit the museum

Is it working so far?

Yes it is. We had about 40 Twits a minute the first week. Which was really insane. Now we’re open for 3 weeks and got more than 150.000 which is insane

We see you have a lecture section, are the lectures going to be streamed online in your web page? What are they going to be about, do you have any already in mind?

Yes it will. We’re currently exploring all the options. We’d love people who where there during the beginning of the internet to tell something about their adventures. And that will be live streamed of course.

If someone wanted to visit your incoming Gift shop, what could he/she purchase in there?

 Internet related items 😉

Such as?

To be honest; we don’t know yet. We’re talking with different parties at the moment. All a big secret 😉

How do you project this museum in 10 years? What goals do you guys have both short and large term?

On the short term; we hope to become an authority when it comes to the internet and its artifacts. On the long term; our dream is to show the museum to our kids (we don’t have kids yet)

On a personal note, just to end, what is your favorite piece on the museum guys?

Well, mine is definitely Leeroy Jenkins and Joeri’s is the GIF. And I know Joep’s favorite is ARPAnet 🙂

A free, never ending project which everyone should take some time to dwell into it; past, present and future mixing all together in the biggest revolution in evolution of all times: the Big Internet Museum is, certainly, a grand idea.

Welcome to Dictionopolis!

Ghosts are but the words of eternity (Leyendas de Guatemala)

Today while creating this forum and looking for my first image I remembered, again, an old movie I used to watch over and over as a child. I tried to find it for years and it wasn’t until now that my mind just popped up an image: fresh baked cookies made of words on a plate. Googling around, I came across the movie on youtube! Fantastic. And then the whole film displayed in front of my eyes: the kingdom of letters (dictionopolis) confronted with the kingdom of numbers (digitopolis); rhyme versus reason.kingdom of wisdom

The Phantom Tollbooth (yes that’s right, that’s the name) seems to be inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, even though it takes off from that first entrance to the realm of “everything is possible here- letters grow on trees- numbers stab letters- you name it”, the movie actually develops into a mind blowing experience for a child; at least for the ones with a nerdy soul about to emerge. Yep, let’s merge into the Kingdom of Wisdom. And so to avoid getting lost in this journey, I give you The map you need to not wander off the path. We all know what happens when we do.

V.