Tag Archive

The Legend of Merlin


januari 21, 2022

The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is perhaps one of the earliest manifestations of European egalitarianism: The table was round so that no one, not even the king, would sit at the head and each would weigh equally . The twelve stars in the European Union flag seem to refer to the twelve knights – 24 knights are also mentioned. The duodecimal system is early European and (except on the clock face) has been supplanted by the simpler annotation in Arabic numerals in the decimal system. In the European flag, the twelve stars allegedly symbolize the halo around Mary’s head, but I actually like the symbolism of the Round Table better: every participating Member State is seen as equal: sovereign and therefore with veto power.

I read the following news item today on Scientias:

The fragments, carelessly tucked away in the binding of other books in the fifteenth century, date from the early thirteenth century.

That is what British researchers say after they have thoroughly examined the seven fragments. However, their research not only results in a fairly accurate dating of the fragments; the scientists also managed to read the entire text, which was no longer visible to the naked eye in places due to damage. They also managed to determine what kind of ink the writer used to put Merlin’s story on parchment.

Merlin is a wizard who plays an important role in the famous legend of King Arthur. In the fragments that were recently recovered, it is described, among other things, how King Arthur – together with a few allies, including Merlin – takes up arms against King Claudas. Merlin devises a plan of attack. And a detailed description of the battle follows. That battle seems to be turning against Arthur and his companions, but then Merlin makes a fiery argument and the tide is turned.

From: Science. (

Image: Merlin Taking Away The Infant Arthur By: Newell Convers Wyeth, found at:

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Italy as a political trendsetter


januari 21, 2022

By: Robert Visscher/NemoKennislink, cover image: Wikipedia

Many people see Italian politics as the exception within Europe. But the Italians are trendsetters, say Utrecht University scientists. The approach of Mussolini, Berlusconi and Grillo was followed by the rest of the world.

Laying lazily on the beach, lounging around a bit and taking a dip every now and then. “Long days doing nothing in the sun and enjoying life. That is the image that many people have of the holiday country Italy,” say researchers and Italy experts Pepijn Corduwener and Arthur Weststeijn (Utrecht University). “It seems above all a country of stagnation and disorder, but when you think of political innovation you probably don’t think of Italy. The country is indeed a trendsetter,” argue the two scientists.

Lazing in the sun, like here in Sicily. Many holidaymakers are familiar with Italy, but from a political point of view the country is a trendsetter, argue Weststeijn and Corduwener. Photo: Robert Visscher

In their book ‘The Italian experiment’ the authors provide a refreshing look at the modern political history of Italy. They describe how Benito Mussolini, Silvio Berlusconi, Beppe Grillo and Matteo Salvini became popular and set an example for many other politicians across the border. This is remarkable, because most historians argue the opposite. They emphasize that Italy is an exception in Europe and has therefore not been imitated at all. Now that many people are on holiday in the southern European country, NEMO Kennislink is questioning the scientists.

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Featured photo (Wikipedia): Alessandra Mussolini, Italian conservative politician, member of the European Parliament, former actress and model, granddaughter of Benito Mussolini, niece of Sophia Loren. Photo Nicoloro Giuseppe. Milano 07/10/2007 Festa Tricolore del secolo d’Italia. nella photo l’ unoriginal Alessandra Mussolini.

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so Brussels.

Cities, culture

januari 21, 2022

Brussels. I had been there a few times for business reasons, but now that Karin and I are taking it easy, an opportunity presented itself to visit the city more extensively. We booked two nights in a nice, simple hotel (Adagio) in a side street of Rue Belliard, Nijverheidsstraat or Rue de l’industrie which is all official in Brussels bilingual in French and Dutch.

The terrace on the Mont des Arts near the Royal Library with near the tower of the town hall on the Grote Markt and on the left behind in the distance the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Koekelberg.

The city is widely regarded as the unofficial capital of Europe, ie the European Union. Unofficially because the EU is not (yet) a country. How did Brussels actually become ‘European capital’? Allowing myself some speculation, I am stepping through history in seven-mile boots. Together with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Belgium belongs to the founding states of the united Europe and the Benelux, the first small customs union after the war, formed a sort of pilot for the later European Community. Belgium and Luxembourg had already formed a single state with the northern Netherlands (the former Republic) from 1815 until the Belgian revolt and secession of 1830-1839.

Brussels was already a royal city in the Habsburg Empire from the late Middle Ages, but the Belgian King Leopold II (1835-1909) has, from the moment he became king in 1865, as a ‘builder’ quite a household in Brussels and had numerous monumental buildings erected there. which now remind the city of Paris, especially because the streets are all paved with cobblestones or ‘cobblestones’. (Although the triumphal arch in the Cinquantenaire Park is virtually a copy of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.)

Thanks to Leopold II, who reigned from 1865 and died in 1909, Brussels is full of these neoclassical buildings along cobbled avenues that give the city a Parisian appearance.

This nineteenth century eruption of royal building fever meant that when the new European institutions needed housing in the early 1950s, Brussels was a good candidate. What also helped was that Belgium is a harmless small country that is bilingual – even trilingual because German is also spoken. Strasbourg has of course also been pushed, especially by France, but that does not seem to make it as a European capital. And Liège and even Amsterdam were briefly in the picture. But Brussels is on the border of Germanic and Latin Europe, geographically central and easily accessible from both Paris and Berlin.

Some fifty thousand ‘Eurocrats’ work in Brussels and every morning they want to go to the few square kilometers where the European quarter is located. Many do this by car, so in Nijverheidsstraat – and other side streets – traffic is blocked for a large part of the day because the traffic light discharges the traffic in a dosed manner onto the Rue Belliard through which it races continuously.

Tens of thousands of Eurocrats spend all day squirming by car through the narrow streets of Brussels on their way to the car parks beneath one of the many glass-concrete offices, invariably decorated with the flags of the countries of the Union and those of the Union itself.

Here, European Commissioner Frans Timmermans can still do some beneficial missionary work for his ‘Green Deal’ to make the European continent more sustainable and green. Here and there you see something that resembles bicycle paths, but there is still a long way to go here.

We have done everything on foot that is reasonable to do. Climbing and descending is especially tiring: Brussels is a hilly city. This occasionally provides beautiful views.

The European Information Office on Rue Belliard lavishly advertises all the charities the Union pursues

The information office of the European Union exuberantly advertises all the noble goals pursued by the Union.

We visited the Magritte Museum in the huge Museum of Fine Arts. His paintings have a dreamy surrealism that fits so well with Belgium and Brussels in particular. A split country and city. Magritte questions the obvious when it comes to the names we give to objects and concepts. The ordinary suddenly becomes absurd. Name, meaning and the object to which they belong become separated from each other.

Now that we have admired Magritte in his ‘natural Belgian habitat’, a country with linguistic and cultural borders, we understand better his pre-occupation with language, object naming and meaning. He was engaged in communication in a conceptual way.

Rene Magritte’s thoughts on image, understanding, meaning and naming.

In the House of European History you become immersed in the absurdity of war – especially of the First World War, which left deep scars in the collective memory much more than in the Netherlands. An unprecedented mass destruction of people on an industrial scale that is poured out on you from tableaux and from showcases and which leaves you depressed. Impressive, yes.

The House of European History is located a stone’s throw from the European Parliament where an employee of the information office almost drags us in for a half-hour audio tour where we can take a look at the main meeting room.

Here we are shown the lesson Europe has learned from its violent history. The 750 delegates can each speak in their own national language and a large number of simultaneous translators ensure that each delegate can listen in their own national language.

The Comics Museum on Zandstraat is located in a beautiful former Art Deco department store that is elaborately decorated with iron and glass ornaments.

Now we were ready for a little light-heartedness and you can find that in Brussels in the national comics museum on the Zandstraat or Center Belge de la bande dessinée, or musée de la BD for short. BD is comic in French. The former Art Deco department store in which it is housed is worth a visit in itself.

The European Union has chosen a dignified capital in which culture and nature could nevertheless conquer a little more space from the busy car traffic of hasty Eurocrats.

We close with a Brussels love song:

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