3 Meeting with Kate and Jerry

Janei’s hometown can be characterized by a steady rise in population over the past three decades, endless panoramic views on
flatter-than-flatland, and a 90-feet church tower. In the period of the first research, the village was as dark as it was wintertime.
And if not dark it was grey, at most greyish-blue.

In the evenings of some of those winter days, Janei would wear reading glasses.
She had only recently started wearing them and felt a bit self-conscious about losing sharp vision. She thought wearing glasses
was kind of cool, though. Before falling asleep, she would wonder whether she would see sharper in her dreams. She treasured
her dreams like nothing else. They were what ultimately configured her memory of the past, she was convinced.
In the song Perfect Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan reflects on his memory of the past, in which he still still knows who ‘you’
(his lover) is, but now wonders who ‘he’ was. His memory of the past is led by a memory of another person who is no longer in his life.
Yet, this person is there in a hidden place. Corgan referring to this hidden place through art, a song, reminded Janei of the origin of all poetry as explained by Heidegger.

She had been listening to just about every lecture and interview on Heidegger she could find on YouTube, and was thankful for being able to make such an experience, regardless of how mundane the world of YouTube sometimes seemed. The special mundane might be exactly the most questionable (‘das Bedenklichste’) she could think of right now. If she could not appreciate the everyday of life as a hidden something that pulled her being forth while it pointed at the dynamic that presents itself with the un-hidden, she would have to agree that she was not thinking straight – not thinking at all, according to the late Heidegger. If Corgan could, not have remembered too vividly what his hidden lover was like, he would not suddenly have been confronted with a blurry image of himself, with his ‘real’ self. But were his memories not merely performances of images in his head, repeating the learned helplessness of earlier generations in art, instead of the desired existential unraveling of traditional thought?
This went on in Janei’s mind when she and Henry walked over to Kate and Jerry, a couple who had been their neighbor for as long as Janei could remember, and who had three children with whom Janei had sometimes played as a child. Kate and Jerry’s three children were all very bright and working as physicists and chemists at international universities. Janei and Kate had worked together in several local initiatives to improve intercultural respect and understanding. Jerry had been a physics and chemistry teacher for many years at a local high school.

While walking over to Kate and Jerry’s, Henry wanted to know whether Janei knew her neighbors well, over there in the US.

– “No, right?” Henry asked. “You? No.” She was fooling around again. Maybe she disliked the thought of having multiple potential lovers, but none for real.

– “I do know them. I talked to them, I know them since longer.”

“So, they are both not 100%?” she asked. Kate and Jerry had had some stubborn health troubles.

– “No, no, they always have something. It’s unbelievable. They walk in seven rivers (walk up against it every time).”

“You also don’t walk that natural, do you?” She had noticed before that Henry tread was not exactly catwalk-model-like.

– “No, are you kidding? My leg is not very well, but I’m alright.”

“Look, they have a television. Well, everyone has a television over here, right.” It was incredible how fast she was changing topics – quite familiar to Henry and therefore acceptable in this situation.

– “I…Jerry has one I think…have you been here before?”

“Last week last.”

– “Yeah…oh, so they’re watching something apparently. They can keep this one for my part…let’s see who it is…” Henry was basically filling in conversational blanks while waiting for Kate to open the door.

“Oh, hi ha.” Kate seemed happy to see them, as always.

“Hey.” Henry said.

“Hai.” Janei said.

“Let’s not shake hands, too great of a risk.” Henry was afraid to break Kate’s arm, which she held in a sling around her neck.

“Ha, ha. Well, my right hand is still functioning.” Kate wasn’t going ask for pity, as always.


“Hi, Jerry.” Janei said upon seeing Jerry.

“Hieee.” Jerry has his way of greeting people.

“Jerry!” Henry cried.

Kate demanded everyone to sit down.

“Ja! Ja. Ja.” Janei murmured. She had just lost all self-confidence and was hoping she didn’t have to talk much. Listening, she wanted to listen.

“How are things?” Henry wanted to know.

“Good. Good.” Jerry answered.

“Special occasion, here.” Henry couldn’t help but justify their visit – Janei was doing some kind of interesting research about identity formation.

“Is it okay if I do some audio recording?” Janei asked.

“Yes, sure.”

“It’s all anonymous, of course.”

“Although it can be used against you.” warned Henry, jokingly.

“Ha ha.”

“Eventually it can be used against you, yes. But let’s not assume so.” Janei tried to keep it professional. It was unclear to her whether she succeeded. She actually hated to step over into the researcher role. She just wanted to listen – and be a researcher later.

“It’s part of her studies, Jerry.”

“So I understand.” Jerry replied.

“Can I help you, Kate?” asked Janei, in a hopeless attempt to flee the situation as researcher and come back as herself.

“I have to bring a cup over there.” Thank god Kate seemed to have understood her need.

“What he is doing, and all, I don’t know..” Henry never made it a secret that he did not know what she was doing, really.

“Thanks for the sugar.”


“So eh…thanks for the computer.” Henry referred to the computer Jerry had given him – an old but as-good-as-new one – which Janei had installed and configured for Henry. “We installed it. It works.” Henry said.

“I had it from my school,” replied Jerry, “so the thing has got all nuts and bolts to it.” In Dutch he actually said that ‘in principle’ the computer was ‘totally complete’.

“Nice. Janei has tried…we have been busy..but we’ve transferred everything and kept [data] into the new one. And Windows…Office 2010 installed on it… we now made that into Office 2007..through a drive…so now everything runs again.” Henry made his usual disjointed remarks with regard to computers.

“It doesn’t make any noise..” Jerry added.

“It is very fast, and noise-free. That’s nice..we don’t hear it.” Henry added.

“No. That’s it.”

“I didn’t even notice that it was still running at our place. We have always had that tinkling box,” Henry continued.

“I had a computer once,” Jerry started a story that would prove his knowledge of computers, “which had a nasty noise. But it is no big deal, it’s not a relatively large operation, one can take out the feed…”

“Yes, or…we put our vacuum cleaner on it, the old one,“ Henry attempted to make similar conversation, “and that it was a lot less..it was just jammed in the back.”

“Yes, but that is most of the times the little engine. At a certain point in time, it begets a little room with the small bearings that flow around…”

“Yes, with the small bearings, yes.” Janei thought that Henry pretended to know what part of the computer ‘small bearings’ referred to, but she wasn’t quite sure herself.

“It is, it is…”

“It is a lot smaller, man! Chloe [Henry’s son] saw it and asked: what year does this thing come from? One can also put it on its side..”


“Yeah that thing on its side..you told me that’s possible, no?”

“I don’t no. I used it at school. I don’t know.”

“I wanted this morning to…put it in a side cabinet..nicely tight, but it stood nice there, on its side, that is..but the cd-rom of course has to keep running, that thing with cd’s and all. That’s not possible you think?”

“I have no clue. How that functions.”

“I never saw myself that they put cd-drives on their sides. Look, it’s about the cd-drive.”

“Sure, yes. Yes, I’m done with it. One sometimes sees closed that are like this…flatter and…”

“Well, then I would find it a speciality of this thing maybe. Look, I never but I talked with my colleague and he put it like this, and then like this, and it’s convenient because this size can be put underneath the monitor just like that..”

“Yeah, something like that we were, now..”

“And you see.”

“We in fact have no desktop anymore, that is.” Janei and Kate returned from the kitchen with coffee and tea. They had been chatting about her condition. “Thank you, Kate.” Henry eagerly looked at the wrapped cookies on the table.

“It is in itself small enough to do that,” Jerry continued on the conversation about how to put the computer in the designated closet in Henry’s living room. Janei wondered about the difference between hardware and software installments. This difference seems sliding – would not a similar discussion be possible about how to install hardware and softwareinto a computer instead a closet?

“Yes, but we have no space left in fact.”

“Have a cookie.”

“Thanks. Janei, Jerry also says (sic!) that the computer has to remain horizontal, in all likelihood.”

“Yes, that’s what you said before. Because of the heat..”

“Because of the heat, Jerry?” asked Henry, as though to put Janei’s knowledge to the ‘expert Jerry’ test.

“No. No. No.. baba..uh.” murmured Jerry.

“It’s not used to stand on its side in all likelihood. I’ve said it before, actually.”

“Babuuh. Yeah, is it an improvement, Janei?”

“Definitely, big improvement. It is faster, I think. It is..yeah, it is..” she didn’t want to talk, and especially not about this topic.

“Did you equip it with some extra memory?”


“If you don’t like it, it’s Willie’s fault. He bought it in the end. He he.” Kate referred to the cookies for which she was not responsible.

“Janei, that one..that…space we wanted to add didn’t fit,” Henry inquired further about how-to’s, “…there is 1010 on there, or something?”

“512X2 and that is..”


“If you’re not going to use that memory, I need it back because before…”

“Yes, you get it back.”

“The 512 doesn’t fit…” Janei said uninspired.

“No.” Henry added.

“No?” Jerry wanted to know.


“Mechanically not, or..?” Jerry wanted to know.

“No. It just doesn’t fit,” Janei murmured without much energy.

“Yes, I don’t know too much about it,” claimed Jerry, quite the opposite from the impression Janei had gotten so far, “but there are different versions of it…”

“Delicious,” Henry praised the cookies.

“Then it’s good,” Kate replied.’


Janei in the Netherlands Copyright © 2011 by Peter Blank. All Rights Reserved.


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