Saturday, October 4, 2008

Strange Religions

Xavier and Irene (Hawina's niece who lived at Twin Oaks for some month a couple years back) have been gracious hosts to the crashing Star family - which is constantly reconfiguring, but currently is Sky, Willow, Hawina and myself. We are staying in their small apartment in Heerlen, about half an hour walk from the German border on the southern edge of the Netherlands.

It costs 29 Euros to take the train from Heerlen to Am*dam (about $45). And we have had good news recently about our recent choice to become community supported activists. People have been inspired by our various projects and are being generous in supporting us. Despite Wall St crashing, activist stocks seem to be rising (some might argue because of it). So 29 Euros would seem accessible, especially since we want to support the efficient, comfortable, comprehensive Dutch mass transit system.

But it misses the point - the point which is about radical sharing. And about story telling. And about dropping social barriers. And about taking useful risks. And about modeling behaviors for a more sustainable future.

i am talking about hitchhiking.

The Dutch weather is perfect today - it is cloudy and threatening. So even if i am not now wet, i could be in moments. You get to be a hero for picking up someone at the edge of a storm. Many people wave, some indicate that they are only going a short distance or that their vehicles are filled with family or junk. One woman gives me a thumbs down, but she is the exception.

After perhaps 45 minutes (i am without cell phone these days, so my clock is gone), a car stops on the wide breakdown lane entering the highway to the north. He is going to Eindoven and on to Tilburg - this is far enough along my way to give up my good spot, for what might be a poor one further on.

He is totally charming. Speaks good English. He is an art lecturer, who amazingly makes his money from the entry fees to his lectures. He rents out auditorium space, self promotes and makes enough to live relatively comfortably. I can't conceive of someone doing this in the US, unless they had a huge name - and then thy would not do their own promotion.

We talk about Jackson Pollack who i have never understood (my lover Caroline, now in art school in Barcelona, has offered to explain him, but i wanted to do this face to face). And Andy Warhol (who he respects the intellect of, but is not impressed with his art). I ask him about Rembrant and the Night Watch and why it is so important. He talks about artists as revolutionaries, as challenging our perceptions of the world. In Pollacks case, he talks about revolutionizing the tools artists use- throwing out the brush and the eisal. I tell him stories, talk about the commune and of course memetics. He is enchanted, very glad he took the risk of picking up a hitchhiker.

We part in Tilburg. We never shared names - often it is part of the culture of hitching - to be vulernable and nearly intimate with someone and never know this label on their identity.


Angie said...

I love this piece, i can see so clearly your and your driver's excitement and interaction, both leaving richer than you entered. And yet i realize i will probably never hitch hike, that my fears of being physically or sexually victimized are stronger than my desires for this new and potentially joyful and enriching experience.

memeticist said...

Wait till you've visited. It is so much different than the states. So much less crime, not none certainly - but enuf less such that you might consider trying it - at least here in the Netherlands.