She felt exhausted by the sheer continuity of it all.

Anita Brookner, The Misalliance


Almost everyone who has survived the progenitors will some day have to remove from the parental home everything in it. Even if that blood relation is still alive and has indeed not changed the temporary for the eternal, but as in the case of my mother merely her house for a ‘home’…

Unnumbered kilograms of waste went into gray bags:




After which the house, once actually cleared, suddenly looks three times larger than what is remembered from the decades having lived in it:




Hundreds of kilos of meaningless journals and never used glass and pottery, kept in overfilled cupboard after overfilled cupboard – souvenirs of one knows not what, already pointless when my mother was still living there.

Under its burden the first carton gave away immediately – a box type of which I bought fifty pieces, stamped with the guarantee of ‘first class mover material’… As a result the whole floor was suddenly covered with ruined pieces of glass and broken bits of ceramics from pots, bottles and goblets which, only a moment before, I had so eagerly and gleefully stamped to smithereens. From then on there was nothing else to do but tape the bottom of every bloody single box.





Only to hear in the ‘Milieu Street’ of Leyden City that there had been no need for all this neat separation of the mess or, for that matter, for writing in grand letters on each box what was exactly inside it. Everything was simply thrown on the same huge pile. So much for my ‘ecoïsm’.

My parents’ taste was not mine, call theirs brutally tasteless. The truck and its two Strong Men had to drive twice to the landfill, fully loaded with not only trinkets, journals, ghastly suits and dresses, glass and pottery, but also with very ugly chairs, cabinets, beds and mattresses.

The past rejected.

Also part of my own past. Yet, with what relish did I first cut and rip and break and saw all that appalling stuff into bits and pieces.

Two bookcases were saved. Those I brought – at the end of all this misery – to my own house in Haarlem. First, however, they had to stand overnight in the hallway awaiting their departure.





Then an immigrant Kurdish driver who is funding his studies in this manner transported both cabinets and my very own self as his co-driver to my hometown.

But, then indeed, you do have something! A sweet, Artdecoïsh bookcase is now smartening the bedroom, filled with my father’s books which I withheld for myself. So, at least, there is some continuity between then and now.




The hundreds and hundreds of other books in his anthropological library went for a song to a used book store.

Yet, how alarmingly quick this ‘new’ stuff has already become part of my private interior. Only a month ago… Now, after looking at the picture above while writing this piece, I decided to walk into the bedroom and once again really observe and enjoy the cabinet.

Rejected history. Virtual history. Real history.

And history already fading and vanishing again. Sic transit Gloria Mundi.

Sierksma 31/01/17


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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