Planned Inspiration

There many ways to search for inspiration. “Moi aussi, comme les peintres, j’ai mes modèles” wrote Jacques Prévert a famous French poet years ago. Scientists find inspiration in data or theories, or in the combination of both. The planning of inspiration is, however, an other issue. You plan for something you don’t know what it is going to be. This makes the endeavor more risky and at the same time me exciting. As a social scientist going out into the “real” life is a sort of inspiration as multiple challenges await an explanation or deconstruction. The overview of current exhibitions through the scanning of catalogues from ongoing exhibitions is a welcome source to organize inspiration for the months to come. A glance through the catalogues gives a fairly good impression of what will be on display. The ideas can fly to distant locations and bring back more food for thought. It is a great service from the Munt library in Brussels. The combination of work and travel for inspiration is an interesting field of study in itself.


Stillness is the key”. This is the title of the American bestselling book by Ryan Holiday (2019). The subtitle tells more about the contents. “An ancient strategy for modern life”. Ancient philosophers and authors have all praised stillness with multiple words. Today we consider people who lived at these times to have an easy time to escape from noisy environments. After all there were no motorways, railroads or other noisy forms of mass transport. However, stillness is more than the absence of noise. Free yourself from external disturbances and you might immediately discover how difficult it is to not have lots of things passing your mind. I enjoyed the shortcut phrase: “stillness is brilliance”. Make stillness the prime time of your day and you will see how it helps you to retreat from the entertainment overload of our everyday life. All religions believe and practice some form of silence as part of their rituals. They all attempt to capture attention and attraction through silent places or cathedrals only to fill them with impressive sounds as soon as many adherents have gathered. Christmas time is a rather sad example of the noisy entertainment function taking over for weeks rather than days. Singing loudly “silent night” is perhaps the most demeaned form.
Take your time to go through the table of contents of the book. Almost all chapters are kept to 6-8 pages before you will find your stillness again. Some examples of chapter titles will suffice to exemplify the road to take: “limit your inputs”, “slow down, think deeply”, “start journaling”, “cultivate silence”, “bathe in beauty”, “say no”, “take a walk”, “build a routine”, “beware escapism”. These are just a few and already too many of the imperatives presented in the book. One for every coming year will do for deep thinking as well.
(Image: what ever comes up when you close your eyes and ears now)


Das musicorum Festival in Brüssel ist gut für außergewöhnliche Überraschungen. Am 20-7-2023 gab es dort ein Konzert des Trio Errance. Sopranistin Julie Gebhart, Pianistin Nao Momitani und Klarinettist Rudy Mathey hatten ein kurzweiliges Konzert mit dem Titel Ode au voyage zusammengestellt Von Mahlers Auszug aus der 4. Symphonie 4. Satz „wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden“ wanderten wir Schuberts Hirten auf dem Felsen folgend zu den modernen „trois itinérances“ von Claude Ledoux. Von Romantik bis zur Trauerarbeit nach dem Attentat in Brüssel 2016 waren wir auf traumhaften sowie traumatischen Reisen. Dank dem hervorragenden Trio und dem Komponisten in Anwesenheit mit kurzer Einführung haben wir uns nicht auf diesem Weg verloren gefühlt. Emotional gestärkt sind wir auf dem Weg vorangeschritten. Eine wirkliche Feier- und Gedenkstunde.

Black White

Working at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (, just like visiting, allows you to benefit from the many temporary exhibitions based primarily on their own collections and donations to the BnF. For those who like “dessins, estampes, photographies”, there is a small exhibition as of June 2023 which features on these three techniques in the work of a single artist Edgar Degas from the impressionist movement. Walking through the exhibition or slowly scrolling the press documentation allows you to follow the artistic life course of Edgar Degas. He started with the pencil dessin and evolved to the printing of a single or sequences of “estampes” (up to 20) to impress us beyond black and white with multiples of 50 shades of grey. Degas seems like continuously searching for the uniqueness of the moment to present strong emotions or to summarise interpersonal relationships immersed in a specific spatial setting. Having demonstrated the richness of dessins and estampes as artistic, but a bit laborious technique, he devotes his last few years to a more intensive work taking photographs and proceeding to their development or tirage as printed versions. No matter which technique he applies, he has a special artistic view that allows to capture emotions and immortalise them. The painter’s eye, as well as later on in his artistic career the photographer’s eye, keep scrutinising himself in various forms of “auto-portraits”. Beyond youth, the pervasive obsession with selfies nowadays had its artistic precursor Edgar Degas for example. Whereas most photographers would classify a double exposure as a “raté”, Degas experimented with this almost like a cubist, Picasso-like techniques in photography. Actually, the last few images in the exhibition show the artistic reference Picasso made in his work to images, impressions and techniques that inspired him throughout his artistic work. There are amazing links in and across the history of art or arts. (BnF expo Edgar Degas 2023).