VLOG: Sensitivity, a sequel

#4 Wk 09-21

Hi. Thanks for checking out this sub-1 minute video update…

Coming soon

On Saturday March 6th I’ll post on novelist Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s decision not to translate into Dutch the work of Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. Gorman, who approved of the decision to commission Rijneveld, shot to fame after reading her poem The Hill We Climb at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Rijneveld, who identifies in gender terms as non-binary, said she changed her mind after “uproar” at the Dutch publisher’s decision to ask a white writer to translate Gorman’s Black American experience.

Is Black the new binary? More in this sub-1 minute vlog.

It’s good timing, because…

This is a Dutch episode in the global culture wars - and, I think, a window on the ferment in both Dutch and US politics. It’s also rare, at least in the Netherlands where nuanced discussion of racial politics often appears impossible. Like Gorman, Rijneveld is an accomplished writer who achieved sudden recognition at a young age. But they ain’t Black.

Diverging opinions on what makes a faithful translation are telling in other ways - an index of mostly inarticulate sensibilities. Last year, the English translation of Rijneveld’s International Booker Prize-winning first novel, The Discomfort of Evening, was purged of ‘authentic’ local racism by an English publisher - as I reported here. Dutch media reacted defensively to this instance of anglophone political correctness: a case of “sensitivity nonsense” - gevoeligheidsflauwekul, wrote one.

And for the record…

Further to my post, Parliament rallies for Curfew 2.0, the appeal court overturned a lower court’s decision that the national curfew introduced on January 21 was unlawful under the 1996 Extraordinary Powers of Civil Authority Act - Wet buitengewone bevoegdheden burgerlijk gezag (Wbbbg). So new legislation won’t be necessary to maintain the curfew, after all. Pending another challenge by coronasceptics Vereniging Viruswaarheid, Virus Truth, the government has won the day: the curfew is no longer a misuse of legislation intended for acute emergencies.

And in another last-minute potential reprieve for the government, there’s at least a case to argue that in 2020 the Netherlands satisfied - just - its commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The coronavirus lockdown helped to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to this debate on Twitter — although litigants still have high hopes for judicial activism to enforce climate goals, as guest writer Douwe de Lange explored in A revolutionary court for the world.

Keep well. Met vriendelijke groet!




The boy-girl standard for New Dutch Writing

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (pronoun: they/them) wins the International Booker prize, after some sensitivity nonsense - "gevoeligheidsflauwekul" - in the English translation.

Follow the whale

An interview with British author Philip Hoare, winner of the presigious Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction, on the cultural legacy of renaissance artist Albrecht Durer’s adventures in Zeeland.

A separate development

Dutch rioters test a new kind of inter-racial cooperation.

Share 2nd Opinion

EVENT: March 16

Arun Chaduary at the John Adams Institute: March 16, 1930 hrs

On the eve of a general election in the Netherlands, the John Adams Institute welcomes digital strategist Arun Chaduary - a veteran of US presidential campaigns for Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, now advising the Dutch labour party PvdA - for an insider’s account of electioneering in the age of social media.