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Amsterdam. Easter. Calligraphy.

Easter Sunday. It was noon by the time I hit the street, too late for church, and, as far as I can see, none of the big churches around here are still having services. Religion not too big with the rational Dutch. I’d thought everything would be closed up tight, like in old Europe, but the cafes and bigger stores are open. I saw an entertaining unicyclist-juggler. He was great; cajoling and insulting the audience, even screaming “Cheap bastards!” at some people who left without giving him a Euro.

I’m looking for more ideas about how the Peng send the woogies down here. I was thinking graffiti is like van Gogh brush strokes is like…calligraphic script. Obviously the Peng should be using something like calligraphy instead of boring Fourier series.

One church I tried to go into, the Nieukerk, had a big show of Islamic art. This is by the nineteenth century calligrapher Abdulfettah Efendi, and it says, “Sultan Abduülaziz, son of Sultan Mahmud, victorious forever.” I love how all that information is in that mark, it’s what they call a tugra, it’s like your seal. Too bad the content is semantically dull, though. Same as the Egyptan heiroglyphic inscriptions, that are usually just praising a pharoah. And graffiti are normally just someone’s name. Would be nicer if these things were more like poems. I got some email from a fan, Guy Rombouts, in Antwerp yesterday, as “chance” would have it—he has an ”Azart” website devoted to converting roman-letter words into heiroglyphs.

It all fits. Or am I just experiencing what clinicians call ideas of reference? Well, no, it’s not clinical, I do know I’m playing around. It’s art. And during my long wee hours awake, I keep rewriting the outline for Hylozoic. Crazy like a fox.

Here’s some really fine religious calligraphy by Katip el-Antalyevi, dating from about 1550. They way he’s drawn clouds around the letters is really cool, it remind me of this amazing art-book The Humument

I walked along the canals. I missed my family terribly today. I kept thinking of how last time I saw Amsterdam was with Sylvia and Isabel. We always have a family dinner on Easter, it’s such a nice holiday.

A number of people live on tethered boats on the peaceful residential-neighborhood canals. Seems mellow. This guy is touching up the paint on his boat, I thought of the Dutch abstract expressionist De Kooning.

I finally got my Easter church fix by going to a concert in the Oudekerk—which also doesn’t have services anymore. Organ, viola, violin, and a mezzo-soprano singing some songs by Handel. “Seht was ihr hier im Luften dür reiche Schätze habt.” See you have here in the air for rich treasures. Again I think of the woogies. Of the gnarly computation in the currents of the air. The music is in the air, isn’t it? The Tibetan Buddhists say the universe began as an Om. De Broglie matter waves from the captive atoms, converging like an orchestra to produce, gaaak, a Peng! The Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word.”

The crowd was mostly Dutch, I think.

This is a nice picture, even if it’s a bit blurred. The pocket digital cameras are in some sense bringing us back to the early days of photography when it was more about the content than the image clarity. It’s good to have the camera along to keep me company. And the blog.

4 Responses to “Amsterdam. Easter. Calligraphy.”

  1. COOP Says:

    Sterolab’s first record is called PENG!, but maybe you already know that.

    I’m not religious, but it makes me slightly sad to think of churches slowly going out of business like lawnmower repair shops or Woolworths. Maybe Disneyland can build “Catholicland”, with animatronic sinners and such.

  2. merle Says:

    I’ve also admired the calligraphy at the Nieuwkerk, easily the nicest pieces of the exhibition to me (though I have a fondness for the long scroll there called ‘The Prospect of Constantinople’ by Melchior Lorichs) – I didn’t take any pictures, so yours are very welcome! You can see that Arabian calligraphy and marbling are art, in the boldness and intricacy of design.
    I hope you’ll enjoy Amsterdam in the sunshine, and I’m looking forward to hear you speak come wednesday.

  3. karen Says:

    oudekerk is built 1260, Yu
    they look vary happy

  4. Füsun Says:

    Wonderful photos, I loved the way you commented on the Calligraphy and Tuğra. You will see lots of them if you ever visit Istanbul…

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