Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cornelis Verhoeven, Symboliek van de voet, 19 oktober 1956

54 years ago today my father promoted on his thesis 'Symbolism of the foot'. Though he rarely did anything special on his birthday, october 19th was a day he always made sure to celebrate with friends or us. He was quite proud of that book, and also of the speed with which he'd promoted, proving to his father and the rest of the world he was no slouch -though no one thought this of him, the guilt of being allowed to study instead of working on the farm like the rest of the family stayed with my father all of his life. To have a book proving your hard work and acknowledging your efforts worthwhile (he promoted cum laude) must have been a big relief for him.

He describes how he came up with the idea of the book as follows; he had written three essays of together more than 300 pages, the third and most lyrical being the one for history of religion, called 'symbolism of the foot':

"The idea for which i'd come up with a few years earlier, walking in the street behind a girl who had something devine in her movements and who also in other ways highly fascinated and confused me. I was surprised that the asphalt under her feet remained indifferent, that it wouldn't wave under the clatter of her sandals, and that no flowers sprouted forth from it, such as it happens in mythology when a goddess approaches and strides past. Of course i fell in love with this goddess, followed her ways and found her address, but my careful and shy advances were not appreciated. And with the first surly glance i had already set for the horizon. Maybe she dreamt of a young god in a red sports car  who would take her with him to the full life on beaches far away. As far as i know he never appeared. I myself started to suspect that also in amorous ways i was not born for a grand and thrilling life. But my enthusiasm about the idea of a carpet of flowers underneath the feet of a goddess did not suffer from it; it had in the mean time gained its own meaning and undisturbedly followed its own dynamic. A bit of a broken heart is also intellectually interesting."

From 'De glans van oud ijzer' ('The shine of old iron'), Cornelis Verhoeven.


First fruits of his intellect dedicated to the author's father

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