My heart is a tow-shack full of unknown languages

My heart is a tow-shack full of unknown languages

Last night, the blaring of Frans Bauer’s music echoed through the village again – Cherry Pop, or what is it called? Pitpop? It happens every year. As the sounds of the coarse folk festival reverberated through the narrow streets, I found myself lost in thoughts about the French writer Céline. How, in the opening of his famous novel “Journey to the End of the Night,” he depicted France as a place where all sorts of people had more or less randomly drifted, and then managed to draw a border around it.

“It is a continent of mediocre stories, a collection of people who, by the greatest chance, ended up here, encapsulated by imaginary lines, living under the illusion of a unity that does not exist.”

As I considered this train of thought, the contrast between Céline’s cynical view of the human condition and the lighthearted, almost naive celebration of life in my village became painfully clear. Where Céline saw the world as a chaotic collection of directionless souls, here echoed the cheerful music of Bauer preaching the illusion of simple misery.

What a gypsy folk this is, I thought, also thinking of the caravans parked everywhere this month. See-Gypsy, see there. The-grass-is-always-greener-next-door music. The thought of this nomadic lifestyle, always on the move, always looking for something better, stirred a melancholy within me. Life seems like an endless journey, a quest for a place that may never be found.

Yet, there is a certain beauty in this quest. In the movement, in the unrest, in the eternal longing for a better world. Perhaps it is precisely this restlessness that makes us human, that propels us forward and compels us to try again and again, to find meaning amidst the chaos. The caravans, the music, the festivals—they are expressions of that human urge for connection, for community, for a home that always seems just out of reach.

The memory of that follower from South America, a Dutch architect married to a South American woman, has deeply ingrained itself in my memory. He had once read my poems to her, and her reaction was unforgettable: “My goodness, is he Dutch? He sounds more like a passionate Spaniard with rape running through his blood.”

In my poetry collection, “Poems to Read in the Dark,” there is a kind of parody of that, inspired by Hans Vlek, who was infamous for his 20,000-volt electric chair. There I tell of an affair with his daughter, while overlooking a typical Galician hórreo where I fantasize about having stored his body after visiting Franco’s birthplace just that day.

This is such a typical hórreo.

Am I a cruel Spaniard or just a sweet boy? I think I am someone whose empathic abilities are so great that he can easily move into any position. I think that watery fluidity characterizes my oeuvre more than anything else. Therefore, I have little respect for fans who love Ginneninne, for example, and who do not like Baah Baaah Krakschaap at all (yes, these people exist, but both collections are really excellent, just in a different way),

Another letter from Gala de Lucia:

I live in a small village in the Netherlands called “Mierlo.” That means ant village in Dutch. When I was eating a self-baked cake with Martijn Benders and Veronique Hogervorst a while ago, we suddenly started talking about James Brown, Martijn said, do you know that song ‘Ants in my pants and I need to dance’? Could we make such a song in Spanish? And so we came up with the title, and started writing the song.

The legend of the donkey that poops golden coins is well known in Cuba, but it is also known here in the Netherlands. There is a large amusement park here and there is such a donkey, they call it ‘Ezeltje Strekje’ and if you pull its tail a gold coin literally falls on the street, children find it very funny.

The song is actually only inspired by the brilliant title of James Brown. I wanted to make it a more feminist song. We can keep it quiet, but we all know how our internet guys look at naked women. What you should do with it I do not know, but I wanted to include it in a song.

‘Home sweet home’ is what they call it in the Netherlands, when you have settled down with someone in what is supposed to be love. In my song, the fire keeps burning, is a donkey with golden coins enough to extinguish that fire?

The moral of the story is, look at your own wife if you are in a relationship. Why else are you in a relationship? Maybe this all sounds a bit moralistic, but I don’t mean it that way. Maybe I am the donkey that poops golden coins.

Gala de Lucia

I find it a pleasure to work in the Spanish language with Gala. I now see the Netherlands as something that drifted into my soul by chance. My heart is a tow-shack full of unknown languages. But I do not like fixed camping, I love the permanent search for meaning, for a home that is not confined to one culture or place.

In Céline’s work, I always found a profound resonance with this restlessness. His words in “Journey to the End of the Night” paint a world where chaos and meaninglessness dominate. Céline wrote:

“The only journey worth making is the one within, amid the bullets and the rain.”

The rain of bullets Céline speaks of symbolizes the constant threat and violence of life, both literally and figuratively. We are daily bombarded with challenges, fears, and the harsh reality of our existence. But amidst this chaos lies the true journey—of self-discovery, of finding meaning in a world that does not offer it readily, and that is something the doomscrollers should keep in mind. (Yes indeed, nothing is more nihilistic than doomscrolling…)

Martijn 30-06-2024

About the author

Martijn Benders has published twenty-six books, eighteen of which are in Dutch. Critics such as Komrij and Gerbrandy have hailed him as one of the greatest talents of his time. He has also written three philosophical works, one of which is in English and focuses on the Amanita Muscaria, the Fly Agaric. Publishing on the international platform of The Philosophical Salon, he has also gained international recognition as one of the most remarkable thinkers from the Netherlands.


There exists a considerable group of leftist individuals who vigorously opposed the prevailing coronavirus narrative, including some of the world’s leading philosophers, such as Agamben and Kacem. However, this stance was heavily censored and vilified by what is referred to as ‘neocon-left’ or ‘woke-left’, as something associated solely with what they deem ‘far-right’. In my book, I discuss the reasons behind these actions, the underlying motives, and how this is emblematic of a new form of fascism aimed at seizing power permanently.

The middle section of the book is dedicated to poetry. It features a beautiful selection of poems from the Mediterranean region, by poets from Turkey and Greece, who have been imprisoned and tortured by the regime.

The final part of my book is a manifesto against literary nihilism, as manifested in the Literature Fund. It reveals how this fund is dominated by a group of Christians and ‘wokies’, which is undesirable in a free society.

Amanita Muscaria – The Book of the Empress is an exceptional work that sets a new benchmark in the realm of mycophilosophy. While one might be tempted to classify the book within the domain of Art History, such a categorization would fail to capture its true essence. 

Amanita Muscaria – The Book of the Empress – De Kaneelfabriek, 2023

You don’t have time to read this, but that’s because you are no longer human. If anything remained of the original person within you, the old mycelia of childhood, you would learn a great deal from this book. In fact, its magical knowledge might become your most valuable possession. This is a book about human imagination and how it fell into the iron grip of transdimensional cockroaches. Additionally, it offers magical tips to significantly improve your life and time acceleration. M.H.H. Benders also takes a light-hearted yet scathing look at the entirety of Dutch literature. What more could you want?