Slowly I pass, like one who comes from so far

that he does not think about arriving

Borges In praise of serenity


In a detective novel of which I forgot the title, someone commits a murder with an icicle.

What is it exactly: ‘to commit a murder’? Does a killer cherish his victim, himself, his weapon? Aggressive people are often techno-fetishists, men who continually wriggle coins in their trouser pocket as if it were their prick, or lovingly fondle a concealed knife they need to pick a bone with someone, whomever. People, who like to have a pair of antlers hanging over their fireplace, rifles hanging on the wall.

In their chilling film No Country for Old Men Joel and Ethan Coen put an over sized spray canister in the hands of their mega-killer.

With a steel-straight face this butcher has ‘heads or tails’ decide over the life and death of his victims. Under high pressure the ‘gun’ attached to the canister shoots an air pulse into the brains or bangs out the locks from its door. Like the icicle, leaving no trace.

He is as unmoved as the chilling device with which he finishes people’s lives. Without a trace both fetish and fetishist lose themselves in each other. Man become the Thing incarnate.

As Polanski, in The Fearless Vampire Killers, has a silly professor of good will stupidly helping evil spread over this world, in No Country for Old Men two friendly boys aid the creep with the canister escape.

Could it be, that the inspiration comes from Shakespeare’s Othello, who said to Iago: “If that thou be’st a devil, I cannot kill thee.” Othello then adds: “I am not sorry neither: I’d have thee live; For, in my sense, ‘tis happiness to die.” Evil, like Coen’s Butcher ‘tortured’, but living on.

Jenseits von Gut und Böse – Beyond good and evil.

Also look at sierksma.wordpress.com, my daily blog; or send this piece to friends.

Sierksma, Haarlem January 2010


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats.

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