Stripping Walls & the Need for Truthfulness


To those who regularly read my posts, I almost feel the need to make an excuse, for I have not published a word for 42 whole days, which never happened before since I started this blog. But then, I never promised to write every week, although that was my silent aim. Also, no one complained. Of course I took a holiday from work and occupied myself with non-philosophical things more. I occupied myself with what is called ‘redecoration’, but actually it consisted of un-decoration. I finally removed ‘decorative’ additions its former owner felt the basically rectangular concrete house needed. Additions which I not only thought ugly, but which bothered me on a daily basis. A Victorian house can have rich decorative features. It needs them. But a second half of the twentieth century serial house is betrayed by them. It must be my preoccupation with truth and truthfulness which drove me to spend the whole summer stripping walls and removing other clutter, before adding some simple paint to fresh plaster.

Now my never absent self critical observation asks me often if this need for what I call truthfulness, this being bothered by false dressing up of houses and other things, reflects just a failure to deal with the muddiness of life – or rather expresses a worthy desire for what is right. This same kind of reflections formed the background of the second thing which occupied me the whole summer – the ever increasing conflicts everywhere in the world, which transgressed seemingly clear spheres of interest. Western jihadi’s fighting in Syria and Iraq, an old man from my country whose mother had helped jews to escape nazi persecution, and who now lost relatives in Gaza due to Israeli bombing. World wide attention for another unarmed man shot in Ferguson by the police – whose reason of existence should be to protect people. Politically aware intellectuals weighing their views on Putin and the Ukrainian regime. On Obama – is he too hesitant to let the US army play a part in one of those conflicts far away, or not enough?

Those are only the most obvious conflicts. There are so much more. In some people are killed without arms – like in the one of the richer countries against the poorer ones – whose casualties are mostly dying in the seas, having embarked unfit boats that should bring them to a better life. Well, when stripping walls, and listening to the news while doing so, I got more and more perplexed by the growing desinformation going on. Not just on the internet, not only in heated twitter-debates by believers in some cause – but on all the actual serious news channels themselves. Some more critical than others. Disagreeing, or conflicting, among each other (which is no surprise, if you know that I watch and follow news from several countries and backgrounds). Sometimes getting the impression that even the truthfull journalist must be misled by some tactical information games played on higher levels. I had to think again of Victor Klemperer, reading whose diaries during the nazi regime and early Eastern Germany filled most of last year’s free time. He was so intensely preoccuppied by documenting what he saw and heard – troubled by this dilemma: that one can never understand history, for when you are in the midst of things, you cannot abstract and see what’s happening, and after the fact, you can never fully recover what happened. The curse not only of complexity, but still more so of propaganda.

Now we are again in the midst of things, large reshuffles in global power distributions seem to take place, or are at least prepared. But it is impossible to really understand what’s happening. As the intentional misinformation is – either part of the power struggles themselves, or a manner to cover up aspects of those power struggles. Some things should not come to light – so that those who will get a greater share in manipulating the world after the struggles are over will not appear as cruel, cunning or uncivilized. To mend the situation somewhat – that is, to find my way through the shrubbery of misinformation – I have been reading books in large amounts last year. In larger amounts than before. As they form my only defense against being misled too easily (although one can never trust to have gained a view that’s really clear on all points), I read books that try to interpret, reconstruct, criticize ‘conquerer’s’ histories and philosophies, conquerer’s science, social ideas and projects, conquerer’s medicine and policing. Conquerer’s progress. And the piles of books to read are still growing around me. They do not make me nervous (like that I would not have enough time), I am enjoying myself over their presence in the uncluttered house, for they promise further uncluttering of the mind.



  1. dickjan Nieuwenhuizen said:

    Dear Angela,
    I was thinking: have I missed some of your blogs? So You set my mind at rest in that respect.

    some remarks:

    Churchill wrote or said (or maybe both): the first victim of war is truth.

    Last week I heard a friend of mine say that he had heard that there was never in human history so much peace (or so little violence, I can’t remember) in the world. As an avid reader of history I think he is right. What we see in the news are the exceptions to the rule. When there is a bus accident in south america, we hear of it. Every victim of violence is shown on the television. But read history and you know that it has been worse: the Brititsh had 20.000 casualties on the first day of the somme, 1 july 1916, when the fleet of kublai khan was sunk by a storm (the divine wind or kamikaze) about a 100.000 people died. The same goes for a few roman fleets in their wars with Carthage. The examples are countless.
    Look at the bright side: When in history were people talking and fighting at the same time, as is happening in Gaza, or Oekraine?
    I totally agree with your view that the winner (or conqueror) writes the history, but truth is an illusive thing. It all depends on the viewer. Where does he stand, what are his experiences, what does he try to prove, etc etc. With the progress in the fields of psychology we get the good, but also the bad, the spindoctors. The only way is what you are doing: look at all the sides.

    • Thanks, Dickjan, for your comment. Perhaps one could call what I propose a democratization of truth. If most of the people just take official news in the service of the large players for truth they have less influence on their own future. The more critical truth seeking is practiced, the smaller the space for manipulation of the powerful.

  2. valentine said:

    You were missed… Speaking of books, I am taking a different route apparently… where you are reading books, I have now opted to read the ordinary day to day events and stories that take place in people’s lives…and also to listen to these stories in music… Nature is also another book I am watching/reading… It’s interesting what you will find, and just last week I had to ‘youtube’ Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds after it popped up in my consciousness and ever since I am finding joy in birds!

    • Thanks, Valentine, for your nice comment! Both kinds of reading are very important, I think, and important at different times, What I did not write however in my blog is that I take a walk every day to converse with the animals here in the neighbourhood, so it’s not just books for me. I am curious of what you read in events and lives – it will surely condense in a richer view of life!

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