Fragment The Crossing

The writings on this page follow in the wake of De overtocht, or, as the Engish book title would be: The Crossing: Philosophical View on a Psychosis. My book allows me to write as a Girardian, as a member of the Dominicus community in Amsterdam and as someone who has experiential knowledge of madness.

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A Girardian is someone who takes a serious interest in the theory developed by the French American thinker René Girard (1923-2015), which is called ‘mimetic theory’. I am not a blind follower of Girard’s ideas, but I stopped spending time on theories and philosophies that don’t take his insights into account. Girard is the most important theorist in my book, and I am convinced psychosis will never be understood unless you have a notion similar to what Girard calls ‘metaphysical desire’. Psychosis – and I would say most psychological disorders – is not a disorder of cognition, but a disorder of desire.

Often psychoses are related to mystical experiences and rightly so. Yet in The Crossing I pay much more attention to the experience of conversion. Thirty five years ago my third psychosis evolved into a conversion to Christianity which proved to be enduring. Now, for some twenty years, I am part of the Dominican community in Amsterdam. The Dominican is a liberal community, very much alive, where there is room for meditation, poetry, ministry by women, gay and lesbian marriages and different types of experiments with celebrations. Though I am not allergic to traditional churches, the Dominican community, or the Dom, as its members call it themselves, definitely is the place where I feel at home.

Having gone through psychosis and conversion, and not having to defend an academic position or a literary reputation (I am a humble ICT-professional), gives me the liberty to think and write about subjects other writers may find difficult to approach. At times you can find me writing as freely about hallucinations as others might write about a holiday trip. I feel no shame about having been mad once. If you find my jumps of mind strange or difficult to understand, you can read the whole story in my book. The Crossing would not have been there without the help of Wouter Kusters, who also went through psychosis, and whose major study now has been translated into English as Philosophy of Madness.

Publication Trauma and Truth

The Mystical Moment in René Girard

Good mimesis – Hölderlin’s Sorrow Revisited

Preface: Einstein and me

As if on a journey…