This bio has two parts. The first account is written by myself the second by journalist Tal Ben Yakir and is used with her permission.
Martinus Hendrikus Hogevorst Benders, M.H.H.Benders, yes that’s me, the guy who now has the double H the HAHA in his name. What can I tell you about my life that seems significant?
At the age of 7 I had a near death experience in bed. I actually died and reality exploded, and my mind ‘became one with the universe’. I put that in brackets because its impossible to describe. Why I would have that experience at such age, I have no idea but it is one of the causes of my lack of fear for death.
At the age of 16 I moved out of the house and started living in a squat. At the age of 17 I was obsessed with the philosophy and worldview as it was described in the Carlos Castaneda books and I immediately started practising these arts, for example the ‘Right Way of Walking’. I called out with my will to want to meet someone and a Nagual stepped on the breaks of his car when I was hitchhiking after doing LSD.
So you see, no point telling me those books arent real. I have evoked and met these people. After that a guy from Ordo Templi Orientis walked into my room and asked me to join. He demonstrated their magic and while the demonstration was quite impressive I was much in doubt about joining because there were things I did not like about Crowley and his system. Then I had two conflicting prophetic dreams. In one of them my feature self came to visit me telling me it ‘was okay to join’ – those were the exact words. Okay. Another dream I had was even more lucid and told that ultimately it wasn’t gonna make any difference – I will spare you the details of that one, it was too complex.
So I joined when I was 18, becoming an ‘occultist templar’ and rising to the degree of Magician when I was 22 years old. I was mostly involved with the German branch of OTO in Aachen. I actually had pretty nice experiences with them, great people, but still some stuff in their system just bothered me. So after the degree of magician I left to carve out my own path. Some of the problems I had: for example with the idea that thelema would be a religion, or Aleister Crowley a prophet. In my vision religions are part of the roman machine mind and part of the old pyramid structures that do not harmonize with the new realities. The Book of the Law has so much Bible in it, why would I work with that instead of working with nature? It is working with someone elses mental markup, not my own.
(Another reason is I dont think pyramid systems represent reality, I dislike the way Crowley talks about Women, I hate his poems and his buffoonery, etc, too much to dislike, not Path with heart for me. There’s only 1 sentence I really like from the Bible: by their fruits shalle ye know them.)
Becoming a sage
I focussed on becoming a Sage Warrior, modelled after the old Celtic Ollamh, where poetry was a prominent way of life instead of the modern roman falsification of the ‘Bard’ which is basically just an entertainer of crowds.
I have been practising the Toltec way and various other systems of initiation, combining them into a new path, creating an alternative for the otherwise rather lineair and bland pagan divisions.
Move to Istanbul
In 2005 I moved to Turkey with the artist Vildan Boran – we went to live in the island Buyukada where I have lived five years, after Buyukada I have lived 4 more years in the city itself. I was the head of a company, Myrmex Design, and I made money by doing projects over the internet. I had a network of about 10 people that were all good at somthing particular and thus we kept the boat floating.
In 2008 after a trip to India my daughter was born, Mavi Zee Benders. I had once again a visionary dream, a little girl was wasging my feet in the sea. I told vildan it will be a girl and in 2008 there she was, a wonderful little baby.
Life as a poet in exile
I published my first poetry book titled ‘Karavanserai’ in 2008, with Nieuw Amsterdam publishers. I got nominated for the prestigious Buddingh prize for the book, but staged a Laibach-esque performance on the awards, where Bart van der Pligt read an Anti-Price poem and Samuel Vriezen wearing a fake moustache yelled the prize had to be taken seriously from within the audience. I sang ‘Lezen is Lezen’ (‘Reading is reading’) from a dark corner, to the tune of the known ‘Life is Life’ song of the Austrian band Opus.
In 2011 I sabotaged the National Turing Poetry contest by simultaneously sending in poems that ended in the top 100, sending in a song about Jury Member Gerrit Komrij Kom nou Mr Komrij based on Frankly Mr Shankly of the Smiths) and making an alternate character named ‘Bert’ that severely criticized the quality of the top 100. Ramsey Nasr, the National Poet, gave a raving speech against ‘Bert’ at the nominations Gala day, not knowing it was Benders, and claimed Bert was just jealous for not making it into the Top 100.
After this successful action I vowed to stop this particular artform. I left my publisher and self-published a second volume of poetry named ‘Wat koop ik voor jouw donkerwilde machten, Willem’ (‘What do I buy for your darkwilde powers, William’) with 91 poems, which got raving reviews on major poetry sites but was ignored by the poetry magazine establishment.
In February 2013 I, as a situationist artwork, put a Bill Knott poem into the Turing National Poetry contest. I was present with 2 poems in the Top 20, but sent the Sesame Street character ‘Bert’ to collect the nomination. The jury took several ressentimental jibes at Bert, which he recorded and remixed into a video named ’36 Euro’.
This was written by Jeroen Nieuwland: “Much of Benders’ work combines not only literary styles, such as lyrical, conceptual, satirical, and absurdist influences; his work also moves across genres, media and modes. Some examples are: his Laibach-inspired performance at a poetry award including an Anti-Prize poem and choreographed chants from within the audience, and a fake moustache; several submissions to poetry contests intended as playful self-referential critique of poetry institutions and contests as such; Wôld, Wôld, Wôld! (2013) a personalized poetry book, including dedications and assignments to the reader, poems in Dutch and English, concrete poems, images. Stubbing Out a Cigarette on a Nightingale will be Benders’ first English language poetry collection. In 2014, Dutch publisher van Gennep has republished some of Benders’ works that had only been available as self-published prints.”
I published five books with van Gennep but in 2019 after a discussion with Ruud Poppelaars and Monique van der Kubbe I decided to get involved in the new publishing house De Kaneelfabriek, a name loosely based on a novel by Bruno Schulz. He has since published Baah Baaah Krakschaap/ De P van Winterslaap there, a counterprinted experimental volume of poetry that managed to sell out two prints, unique for such experimental poetry.
In februar 2020 I got married to the wonderful Veronique Hogervorst. We had been living in Noordwijkerhout for some time and decided to seal the magic. However, after the ceremony the Corona pandemic broke out and we couldnt go on our honeymoon, which evoked the idea to do ‘inner journeys’ instead and in April 2020
teacher plants found their way back into my life by means of the Kat plant and its wonderful extraction in the cathonine corner. The entheogen hit us HARD and I saw that over the years I had managed to become something that was in reality just a tiny and not so interesting part of me.
Since then I have written 4 books:
In the Sage system all ‘systematic drugs’ are abandoned by the sages. These are alcohol, nicotine, psychiatric medications, anti-depressives, all other drugs except for the holy substances.
In 2021 I founded Shamanita (www.shamanita.org) together with the Belgian topmodel Inge Geurts and artist Veronique Hogervorst. We organize Amanita Muscaria medicine ceremonies in the Belgian forest. Me and Veronique became nomads for the time being, and the story relating to this journey will be part of a future book.
Thank you for willing to be reading this excerpt of my life. It is just an excerpt, there are a million things I could not mention. I look back on my life with both amazement and abandonment. How lucky I was to be able to live in such fascinating times.
Books published by Martijn Benders include:
Perverts for whom this summary was insufficient, the wonderful and talented young journalist Tal Ben Yakir has devoted an article to my life in 2020, here it is as a PDF:
Thank you! And now for something completely different. Deeper and deeper into the miure of things!