Johannes Klabbers is a Dutch/Australian writer and posthumanist therapist, currently living in Europe. He is the author of I Am Here: Stories From A Cancer Ward (Scribe Aus/UK 2016), which tells the story of an academic in the Australian outback who takes a voluntary redundancy and reinvents himself as a secular pastoral worker in the largest cancer hospital in the southern hemisphere. The Australian described it as “wonderfully insightful”. His website is johannesk.com and he tweets @johklab, is on Facebook @johkla and blogs on Medium @johannesk.
This piece is from Issue Twenty of Tincture Journal. Please support our work and buy a copy today.
Grenswisselkantoor Centraal Station Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1967. Photographer: L.H.Hofland. Used by permission. Copyright: Het Utrechts Archief.
The country of my childhood lives within me with a primacy that is a form of love. It lives within me despite my knowledge of our marginality and its primitive unpretty emotions. Is it blind and self deceptive of me to hold on to its memory? […] All it has given me is the world but that is enough. It has fed me language, perceptions, sounds, the human kind. It has given me the colours and the furrows of reality, my first loves. The absoluteness of those loves can never be recaptured: no geometry of the landscape, no haze in the air, will live in us as intensely as the landscapes that we saw as the first and to which we gave ourselves wholly, without reservations.
—Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation
In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.
—C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
i can’t work.
i can’t write.
there is nothing i can do.
i have to write something for tincture, they are waiting for it, my last piece for the last issue of tincture, the last episode of moederland. the deadline was wednesday. but i can’t write. can i write that i can’t write? can i write this? maybe this is the only thing i can write.
i go for a long walk.
it’s so beautiful. the autumn air is soft.
there was a death in the family, unexpected, violent. the funeral was the day before yesterday and all of a sudden i am here. i was never there before. for all but one of the major life/death events that occurred in the circle of family and friends over the past forty years i’ve been in australia on the other end of a phone, saying … what?
what can you say on the phone?