Chekhov called them ‘the butterflies’. People who are not really competent in anything, but who are famous, you wouldn’t believe it, one is even more famous than the other, they fill prize fairs and magazines with glossy photos. Gombrovicz was annoyed by this in his diaries forty years later – because of the Polish ‘butterflies’, his fame came only when he had already become a sour old sock. By accumulating effect (more and more people, lower and lower quality of thinking centre), it is easy to make the case that this ‘butterfly effect’ will not get smaller but much larger over time, so that the real talents just won’t get noticed at all in the long run. I think we have already passed that point.
How utterly bizarre I find figures like Breukers and van Willigenburg – once actively involved in deleting and censoring my posts, and now moaning about how it’s possible that my poems are not sufficiently prize-winning. When you can only have the prevalent voice if you can delete others posts in the debate – and you value that over your regard for the other person’s writing – no, then you are forever disqualified as an intellectual, but I’m afraid that such an attitude has become standard these days. That whole talk about me being ‘a great poet’ but ‘not knowing how to behave’ is exactly the butterfly trick of the trade: a similar level of gossip was erected around Paul Snoek by the celebrities of his day.
If you go down a few more steps and really get into the stinking caverns of nihilism, you find places like ‘Meander’, where for a while I posted some reviews for the sake of humour, the crux of which was that an honest review would only make one out of every 500 reviews positive, whereupon the world-famous schoolteachers en masse revolted against this perspective, which was so unfavourable to them: just imagine, out of 1,000 pale reviews with surrogate criticism, 990 turned out to be radio positive.
Ressentiment – a key concept in Nietzschean philosophy. People who think that such ‘review sites’ are born out of some kind of love for literature are almost fatally naive: almost every form of collective reviewing is an attempt by mediocre poets to form a ‘consensus’ that will be mutually beneficial. The less talent, the more elbow grease. Until you have a balding CDA member claiming you are not a poet because you only started your work in 1999. The fact that I deleted a book as thick as Traktaat van de Zon in all its earlier poems did not occur to the Grand Inquisitor (‘This is Tongspeak!’). His few paltry collections on the Lord Jesus, which follow the example of his great sources of inspiration, Achterberg and Benschop, never even managed to elicit a review anywhere, so suddenly Peter Vermaat was the subject of high criticism. Of course, that level is not to be taken seriously, but worse is the resentment when it disguises itself as a servant of the higher. Subtly delegating to the sidelines – in the way that the eternally-retiring Gerbrandy thought he could do – supposedly dropping out of my best work, and all in favour of his own supposed position. It’s not particularly intelligent, actually, because it actually forces me to make a solid analysis of Gerbrandy’s entire oeuvre, so he may hope that his belief in death as the ultimate end will turn out to be as nihilistic as possible. In short – the whole mishmash of clerks and schoolmasters with the qualudy control is not really on my side, but in reality it never was. It was enough for Mischa Andriessen to get his hands on such clerks with a single Catholic plea, but that’s what our boy scout friend needs – not me.
So, is there something to be done about butterflies, can we exterminate them or should we just learn to enjoy their beautiful fluttering and flaunting of colours? Chekhov could still enjoy them, Gombrovicz considerably less. This is because in Gombrovicz’s time, the ‘butterfly effect’ was already much more pronounced, to the detriment of the real talents. Nowadays, however, we have the Strawberry Queen of Oomen and she will teach the Pumpkin Nestle a lesson. Thank goodness for that!