The difference between “wang” and “woef”

I’ve now taken two months of Mandarin classes, and last week our teacher taught us the words for cat (māo) and dog (gǒu) — and as a sort of fun extracurricular, she also explained the sounds they make: “miaow” and “wang” — or rather; how those sounds are perceived by Chinese. In the Netherlands, a […]

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H is for Hawk review

Helen Macdonald has written poetry before and it shows. She writes not just about things seen, but also things felt — intuitive thoughts and feelings turned into words. Macdonald writes about taming a hard-to-handle goshawk as an escape from the world and the loss of her father — and even though the subject is very […]

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Through the open doorway

I find debates on objective reality not in the least useful, because eventually you arrive at the question whether all of the truths on which we base ourselves are true. And the answer has to be yes. Even if the truths we hold true would be false, believing so is clearly no option. Taken to […]

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China’s young identity market

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.) It’s hard to imagine how different China was only fifty years ago. Chinese people largely dressed the same, ate the same food in cantinas and decorated their homes in similar fashion. Few brands were known, most originating from before the Japanese Occupation, the civil war and the tumultuous 50s, 60s and […]

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Een glimlach uit het Oosten review

Libbrecht starts as a jovial old man, not too serious with modern life and its many quicks, but gradually pulls the book into other territories. Some gathered paragraphs: “I carry within me the whole past of the earth. I’m the product of everything that has preceded me, and in fact of the entire cosmos. However, […]

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Heart of Darkness review

“If you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in which you—you so remote from the night of the first ages—could comprehend. And why not? The mind […]

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Burning the Days review

Maybe Salter just lucked into being a great writer — but more likely it’s the inevitable result of someone who graduated from a military academy, flew fighter planes in the Korean War, dined with celebrities in Europe, and one who had the desire to write it all down. Salter was probably an even better conversationalist, […]

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Crazy Shanghai

(Originally posted on Seventy-Magazine.) When you look down at the city from the 121st floor of the Shanghai Tower, it’s as if you’re looking at a computer simulation. The view that houses 24 million people is insane. Across all horizons, the skyline is filled with exotic skyscrapers and thousands of high rise apartment buildings, nearly […]

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One big café

There’s anonymity in crowds. The urban cacophony of Shanghai creates a wall of sound that absorbs everything. It’s pleasant, like a big café. And with a population of 24 million citizens, you never have to worry about onlookers, because you’re likely to never see them again. When someone cuts you off in traffic, there’s no […]

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Waves

Last week was China’s ‘Golden Week’, when the country goes on a collective holiday. Traffic jams and popular tourist destinations are filled with crowds. So too on Nantong’s Mount Lang, its pagoda providing a view across the city and the Yangtze river. I explored the place and behind the facade, I found this trashed frame with […]

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