Ute sort de la cabane

Après ses déboires amoureux pendant le confinement, Ute s’est mise à boire plus que de raison. Qui plus est, toute seule chez elle. En débouchant une bouteille de vin, commandée récemment avec le reste de ses courses sur Internet, elle s’amusait de la proximité de ces deux mots en français : boire – déboire.
En même temps, elle se sentait triste et se demandait si elle pouvait tomber encore plus bas. Non seulement elle était célibataire, mais en plus elle devenait alcoolique. La tristesse passait généralement après le troisième verre. Continue reading

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Je serai un pèlerin après la pandémie

Heureusement, je peux quitter ma maison, mais pas sans quelques restrictions ! L’enfermement restera dans ma mémoire et je devrai certainement endurer toutes les conséquences qui auront également des répercussions sur la société dans laquelle nous vivons.

Le Pèlerin (António Cristóvão)

Dans un environnement d’enfermement, notre cerveau salivait avidement pour un après, afin de pouvoir goûter la liberté. Nous n’oublierons guère comment nous vivions auparavant et, dans l’angoisse, nous nous posions des questions naïves, telles que : saurai-je encore conduire la voiture, faire du vélo, peut-on encore voler ? Continue reading

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Natura naturans (3/3) – Reconsider Life, openly

immune system

Artwork by Enrique Cropper

“In which case” continued George, always keen to have the last word, “there’s only one thing I don’t quite understand.” Michel, Sophie and George’s wife each drew in a small breath, fearing the conversation was about to start another round of debate. Though George could feel his wife twitching to clear the table and bring out the dessert, he couldn’t resist asking his question. Santiago looked at him, ready to hear. “I get it all about the wolf and that he is more than just a ‘top predator’. But the way you’ve explained this theory of biology, all this idea of species interacting in an ecosystem….” He paused very briefly, attempting to take any unintended edge off his question. “Well, isn’t that just a materialist viewpoint, like any other?”

Santiago’s face opened into a calm smile. “Ho, ho, George. At last, we got there” he chirped. “Am I propounding a view of biology, which is nothing else but just materialism in another form? That is the question!” Continue reading

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Natura naturans (2/3) – Take a wolf

brown-wolf

Photo: JOOIN Creative Commons

The word “Ridiculous” resounded across the barbecue table. George was now in a tricky situation. Should he continue to engage with his lively guest? Of course, after all, for George, engagement was the highest form of respect to anyone. Or should he try to get off this unexpected track, and save more embarrassment to his friends? George stayed calm and took a middle path.

“Interesting, very interesting Santiago” he said, in as sincere a tone as he could muster. “Four point five billion years of continuous struggle does make you wonder if there had been any time-outs along the ….”

“With all due respect” interrupted Santiago, “this is not a light matter. It seems to me that the ancients were much more developed in their biological thinking than we are, subjugated nowadays to the materialist hegemony,” he stated, huffing the words ‘materialist hegemony’. “To the ancients, the four humours”, he continued, “the four elements – fire, air, water and earth – and the aether and the soul were notions at the same time physical and metaphysical. They had an open world view, one that saw the Gods, Humankind and Nature as co-actors in an ebullient vision of life. Life for them was not just some debased scramble for resources.”

“But you seem to be suggesting that biological thinking has regressed, rather than progressed, in the last two millennia!” George sounded. “How can today’s science be all wrong?” he pleaded, trying to bring the conversation back to the present.

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Natura naturans (1/3) – Shattered into pieces

Lightning purple ball copy

Artwork by Enrique Cropper

The fifth week of COVID confinement had just begun and Belgium was in lockdown. It was a fine April evening and George sat looking out from the terrace, towards his favourite part of the garden, where the budding oak tree rose amongst the yellows and the pinks of the newly flowering shrub border. Fatigued by another full day of télé-travail, he clutched his half-full glass of Margaux and took in the evening call of the song thrush, whose rich tones and accents were filling the deep, blue, domed sky that enveloped them both. “Yes,” sighed George, nodding to himself and lifting his glass to take another slow quaff. The fine wine reminded him of an occasion, now many years ago. “That impudent young biologist,” he whispered to himself, and the memory of the conversation all came flowing back into his mind.

**

That week had been particularly busy for George, doing what satisfied him most: “Another timely regulatory intervention” he was telling himself, as he sat back in the bar round the corner from the office that Friday evening at the invitation of his new boss Guy Lecomte. Lecomte was only a few years older than George, but one who had risen quickly after his “posting in Cabinet” in the European Regulatory Authority. Lecomte, noted George, liked to use more combative language to describe the week’s actions. Even Friday night drinks had started to feel more like a military operations debrief. “We are really just the Fire Service, les pompiers vous savez, of the ERA” George could overhear Lecomte saying to an impressionable young functionary, new to the department. “Another flambée des marches financiers, another quick dowse from the regulatory hose and, hey presto, problem put out, job done, we can hang up our extinguishers and go home.”

By the time his train had reached La Hulpe station, George, somewhat weary after his hectic week, had managed to put Lecomte’s boorish words behind him. “Not so much the fire, as the medical service of the ERA” George had mused, reflecting on the feverish way in which his Director General had barked down the phone just three days before: “George, for God’s sake, can’t you find a remedy to this little problem, before it spreads any further?” Little had George known, as he set off from the station up the hill to his house nestled in the La Hulpe woods, what was awaiting him at dinner that night.

George always had to be careful not to spend too long cooling off in the bar on Fridays, especially the evenings when he was entertaining guests. His wife, Patricia, would have already prepared the table and laid out her special range of appetising salads. Next to the barbecue, she would have left the meat, seasoned in that charming, fresh style that was all hers. “Only thing to do now,” George was merrily saying to himself, his journey nearly done, “will be to slip into something more comfortable, and light the briquettes.”

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