Wednesday, 31 December 2014

I am really glad it’s the last day of the year. It gives me an excuse to spend today and tomorrow at home.

(For more than that I’ll have to don a formal hat and honour several conventions. And I might have done so were it not for the sleepiness or boredom I feel coming over me.)

At least half of 2014 was exceptionally nice. I managed to do quite a bit. I am exiting 2014 on a good point. I am therefore entering 2015 on a good point.

I hope at least half of 2015 is as good, or even better than 2014 … or rather, I will do my utmost to make it so.

Hope it’s the same for everyone.


Options for the unbeliever


To call yourself an atheist is somewhat silly in my opinion. Is it not similar to calling yourself “not a Yankees supporter”? Why not identify yourself as what you are – a Red Sox fan, a Giants supporter, and so forth?

The other problem with identifying yourself as an atheist is that the onus then rests on you to define what you do not believe in. What or who is the god in which you do not have any faith?

* * *

A few minutes of research have taught me that there is strong atheism and weak atheism. The Strong Atheist (also Positive Atheist) takes the view that there is reason to believe that there is no god, that it is even logically impossible that a god or gods exist. The so-called Weak Atheist (or Negative Atheist) believes that there is no reason to believe that there is any god.

Then there are the ignostics – people who take the position that every religious conviction assumes too much about the concept of “God”. The ignostic therefore says that both the “believer” and the “unbeliever” make too many assumptions about what they believe or do not believe.

Another alternative is to join the ranks of people who are opposed to any belief in the existence of a god, namely the anti-theist. Christopher Hitchens wrote in his book, Letters to a Young Contrarian that he not only believed that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but also that the influence of churches and the effect of religious beliefs do more harm to humans and to society than any good.


The loner’s voice at the end of a certain path


Brand Smit as manifested in 2003’s Personal Agenda: Book Two, 2004’s Book Three and Final Chapter, and the rest of the material from 2004 was a loner. More than that, he started criticising people who in his opinion couldn’t stand being alone. He insisted that people not treat him differently just because he wasn’t part of a couple.

Then, suddenly, starting from March 2005, he was no longer alone. Suddenly, the loner was part of a twosome.

* * *

I continued writing through 2005, and to some extent still in the voice of Brand Smit from Personal Agenda – I had no other voice. By 2006 there was no doubt: I was happier, my life was better, and I had definitely reached the end of a certain journey as a writer.


A name that tells you where to search


A name, this everybody knows, is more than a sound that is uttered when someone specifically wants to get your attention. It is more than a drawing of lines and curls on paper for administrative purposes. A name connects you to people, and to relationships. I am not just “Brand Smit” – I am “Brand”, son of “Barney” and “Adriana”.

This connection gives you an indication of how and possibly where you should position yourself. For example, are “Barney” and “Adriana” figures in the Russian criminal underworld? Are they Inuit living in a village in northern Canada? Are they wine growers in Chile?

As it turned out, my parents are potters and business people of mostly European descent who speak Afrikaans and who grew up in predominantly Afrikaans communities in Southern Africa. This gives me something to work with, or it gave me something to work with starting a little over forty years ago.

There is an important point that I suspect many people overlook or misunderstand. This information about my cultural, ethnic and linguistic origins did not tell me who to be or what to do, it simply told me where to look for ideas on what to do or who to be. It does not say: Be this. It says: Search here.


You’re happily building your house of cards …


You’re happily building a house for yourself – with playing cards. Someone comes along, observes what you’re doing, and pushes the house over. The cards flutter down to earth. You’re furious. “What the fuck …” you scream. “How dare you? I was building a house – a home! Does that mean nothing to you? Does it mean nothing to you that I’ve been working on this house for the past several months?!”

“I’ve just done you a favour,” the guy starts explaining. “I understand that you were doing something you attach a lot of value to, but my goodness buddy, your home was built with cards! With playing cards! What do you think would have happened if you and your family had moved in there and a storm broke out?”

You walk away in anger, yelling filthy insults every now and then over your shoulder.

The next day you see the man again. You shake his hand. You say, thank you, I understand now. “I was so focused on my plan,” you continue, “the idea of a home, a house of my own, that I overlooked the reality of what I was doing.”

That very same day you again start from scratch.