zondag 1 september 2013

Between Harun Nasution and Oek de Jong

When I was invited to teach in Indonesia between 1981-1988 at the institute that is now the UIN, Universitas Islam Negeri, the State network of Islamic universities, Prof. Harun Nasution said to me that he was shocked that in the 1960s western theologians talked about the death of God and he wanted to prepare the Indonesians for this kind of ideas. In fact it was only in Yogyakarta, that I was giving courses on Modern Christian thnking, while in the first period, 1981-3 I gave mainly courses on modern Qur'an interpretation  and Indonesian history of Islam (with the first result: my book on 19th century Islam in Indonesia).

Above I am standing with my wife  after the examination of Herman Hidayat at the Jakarta IAIN. Or was it at the formal ceremony of the graduation?

Today I read a nice quote  from the poet Wallace Stevens in a book by Oek de Jong Een man die in de toekomst springt, commenting on the death of Frans Kellendonk:
The final belief is
to believe in a fiction,
which you know to be a fiction,
there being nothing else.
The exquisite trith is to know that it is a fiction
and that you believe in it willingly. 

This resembles the famous quote from Simone de Beauvoir: Même si la vie n'a pas de sens, qu'est-ce qui nous empêche de lui en inventer un ? [Even when life has no meaning-direction-sense in itself, there is no problem or nothing/nobody to prevent us from inventing this direction/meaning ourselves!]

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