Vincent van Meenen

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Vincent van Meenen

(EN) Vincent van Meenen is a Belgian living in Athens. There, he feels useful. There, he feels accomplished by teaching the immigrants theater, talking and dancing with them. He loves Athens and the feeling of being useful in this place.

He studied acting and traveled Europe and New York like a thirsty migratory. In his childhood, his godfather told him:” You don’t have to do anything here as long as you take a book from the library and read it!”, so he did so. Now, he is a writer creating some amazing stories, trying to keep up his own style. He will release his first book this autumn and for sure it will be a best seller in a far away country (this thing with the best seller is a personal project he won’t give up because his friends won’t let him).

He’s carrying a curse with him: being interested only by interesting things. He can not do things without making them vast and without wandering about them: oaaaa! Anyone can easily find him as an unusual pattern to imitate, but I have no doubts everyone will fail! Though shaking, his hands are strong and gentle. Imagine this for a writer! There is a purity he holds inside; intelligence and kindness are completing each other into his body. He is a good one and this I can hardly find around me but, most important, he spreads this good and loving part around him. He has an opinion and he’s not afraid of saying it, though nothing seems to bother him in the first place.

“Generosity and kindness are the key to all life. I will go around Europe and spread this word through my writings, through my body, through my gestures and behavior. From now on, world is my Monastery.” This is what he was writing while passing San Joao d’Arga Monastery, learning generosity from Mario Rocha artist. This year, he presented the entire text written there during a speech he held at European Citizen Campus.

I met him in Ruse in a volunteering program intensively living his life and levitating his own craziness. For us, volunteers, he was a beautiful and strong man who made us laugh like crazy, the link between what we were and what we wanted to be. For me, he was beautiful and still is.

Vincent van Meenen

Ana Neacsa: What beautiful people are?

Vincent van Meenen: So, since in your eyes I am a beautiful person already, I have nothing to be ashamed of, except for my lack of faith. At best, I am a mixture of a warrior and a priest. All the other times, I am just Vincent. Beautiful people are those who have lost their identity, what they believe in, what they grew up in. If you manage to scratch away this part of your identity, what remains will be beautiful. Beautiful people often said no to a lot of things. Beauty is about compassion with what is around. It’s about the absurdity of our existence, and the awareness of our own disappearance.

Ana Neacsa: You do believe in…

Vincent van Meenen: I believe in God, in all the gods ever created by mankind, including the ones to be created in the aftermath. I don’t believe in money though, which I consider the God of our times. I believe only in inhuman Gods, because following Jesus makes no sense, nor does it to follow any other holy saint. Those guys were just following God as well, like we should, our own proper God. Following the saints is like following the waiter of the restaurant. It’s the food we want, not the waiter (unless you really want the waiter because he might just be the temple of your own fertility-cult).
How you call your God, is up to you to choose. I am a believer of all religions, of everything that is beyond what is here and now. Everything that brings me somewhere else, I will follow. I believe in the white shadow that is everywhere. As an artist, you have the ability to create work with your white shadow that touches the white shadow of a perceiver of your artworks. When two white shadows touch, you are going beyond communication and you touch a part of eternity together. I believe in snail-houses and spirals, in DNA and churches, in Holy places and Leonard Cohen, in equal rights and traditional costumes at the same time (because let’s be honest, traditional costumes are part of the oppression of mankind, wearing a traditional costume makes you bow for whatever paternalistic nationalist believe the ones that invented those costumes believed in.)

Vincent van Meenen

Ana Neacsa: So, you’re writing. I would like to know what about. What kind of character do you think world needs and it wasn’t created so far?

Vincent van Meenen: I try to write for people. What I write about is everything that connects human beings. This is why I am able to cry in the face of religious tourists, this is why I love people who are reaching to the sky just to surrender. We are doing our best, all of us. There is no salvation, not before, nor after death. The characters needed on this earth are all the characters whose feet are running upon it. I don’t think the earth can become a better place than it is.
I believe self-expression and love are the only thing we really need in life, and every moment not spend in either of those stades is wasted. A short life full of love, self-expression and generosity (because in art those two go hand in hand, there is no art without generosity, all art should be free, always, it is like picking a flower for someone and giving it away) is what I am going for.

Ana Neacsa: You do have a point of equilibrium, don’t you?

Vincent van Meenen: Equilibrium is a concept I don’t believe in. Either you are alive, either you are dead. As long as you are alive, your body, mind and soul must have found some equilibrium, because without it, you would be dead.

Ana Neacsa: Are you enough for the world? Is the world enough for you?

Vincent van Meenen: The world is way too big for me, and I am way to small for the world. I just try to wonder as much as possible. I’d be happy with a neighborhood. Just a simple neighborhood where I can drink my coffee, have my bread, buy vegetables on a local market and drink in a local meeting place with everyone who feels like it. In some countries drinking alone is considered a sin. I don’t believe in this. When I drink alone I feel connected to people long gone. When I smoke alone I feel like sacrificing myself to the cycle of life and death, and there is not a single action I undertake without consideration of life and death. We are skulls and bones, from the beginning till the end.

Vincent van Meenen

Ana Neacsa: Can you share with us some of your “pink power”?

Vincent van Meenen: Pink power is not any different from any other power in the world. Power corrupts. To be honest, this whole pink power thing is a joke, something we made up right here.
I don’t feel comfortable without a role in a group, and the role of the joker is often vacant. When you told me that everyone is whirling around me, I felt offended and ashamed, because so often I don’t go with the group, I stay alone in my room and do whatever the moment tells me to do. I try just to be, nothing more, how impossible that may seem. Wherever I receive something, I try to give something in return. In the end I am a very lonely person, just looking for his path, like all of us. I am less extraordinary then people think. Somehow I am just trying to spend the time until I die in a way that makes other people happy, whatever cultural action that takes. I have no borders, perversity is my biggest friend and cultural differences don’t scare me at all. I will adapt like a chameleon and carry the water to where it should be brought. I hope other people find their way to release themselves from any chains that are restraining them.

Ana Neacsa: The most beautiful word in the world is…

Vincent van Meenen: The most beautiful word in the world is Feltamadunk, which means ‘We shall rise from death’ in Hungarian, a language almost no one speaks, a language that has barely any similarities with any other language family. Still it is not dead. Feltamadunk! For all of us. Because the spirit of love is eternal, just like the spirit of killing.

 Vincent van Meenen

Ana Neacsa: It can be seen in your eyes that you’re still innocent sometimes, maybe most of the times. How come you managed to keep this so pure?

Vincent van Meenen: Innocence and wondering come together. If you truly wonder like a child about what is happening around you, your innocence will be evenly high. It is a dangerous thing.

Ana Neacsa: Today… what is so magnificent about today?

Vincent van Meenen: Today is magnificent because it is not yesterday, nor tomorrow. Today is the only day in which we are able to make a change. Today we can fall in love, change our religion, change our future or become another being. Today is where life plays its game. Beyond today is actually nothing, and before today, nothing was.

Ana Neacsa: There is nothing in the world like…

Vincent van Meenen: There is nothing in the world like a hug.

 

(RO) Vincent van Meenen este un belgian domicilat in Atena. Acolo se simte implinit. Acolo simte ca are un rost, invatandu-i teatru pe imigranti, vorbind si dansand cu ei. Iubeste Atena si sentimentul de a fi folositor in acest loc.

A studiat actoria si a calatorit in Europa si New York ca un migrator insetat. Atunci cand era copil, nasul lui de botez i-a spus: “Nu e nevoie sa faci nimic in aceasta casa atat timp cat vei lua o carte din biblioteca si o vei citi”, asa ca i-a urmat indrumarea. Acum, este scriitor si creeaza niste povesti extraordinare, incercand sa isi pastreze un stil al sau. Va lansa prima carte in aceasta toamna si cu siguranta va fi best seller intr-o tara indepartata (treaba asta cu best seller-ul este un proiect personal la care nu va renunta deoarece prietenii lui nu-l vor lasa).

Poarta un blestem cu el: sa fie interesat doar de lucrurile interesante. Nu poate face lucrurile fara sa le dea amploare si fara sa se minuneze de ele: oaaaa! Oricine poate crede cu usurinta ca e un sablon iesit din comun bun de imitat, dar nu am nicio indoiala ca oricine va esua. Desi tremuratoare, mainile sale sunt puternice si blande. Imaginati-va asta pentru un scriitor! Are o puritate pe care o pastreaza in interior; inteligenta si blandetea se completeaza reciproc in trupul sau. Este un om bun – un lucru pe care cu greu il gasesc in jurul meu. Cel mai important, insa, este ca raspandeste in jur bunatatea si iubirea sa. Are opinii clare si transante uneori pe care nu ii e teama sa si le dezvaluie, desi nimic nu pare sa-l nemultumeasca la prima vedere.

“Generozitatea si bunavointa sunt cheia intregii vieti. Voi merge in jurul Europei si voi raspandi acest cuvant prin scrierile mele, prin trupul meu, prin gesturi si comportament. De acum, lumea este manastirea mea”. Asta scria la un moment dat, aflandu-se in manastirea San Joao d’Arga, invatand despre generozitate de la artistul Mario Rocha. In acest an, a prezentat intregul text scris acolo in cadrul unui discurs sutinut in cadrul European Citizen Campus.

L-am intalnit in Ruse intr-un program de voluntariat, traindu-si intens viata si levitand in propria-i nebunie. Pentru noi, voluntarii, a fost un om frumos si puternic care ne-a facut sa radem ca nebunii, legatura dintre ceea ce eram si ceea ce ne doream sa fim. Pentru mine a fost un om frumos si inca este.

 Ana Neacsa: Ce sunt oamenii frumosi?

Vincent Van Meenen: Asadar, din moment ce in ochii tai sunt deja o persoana frumoasa, nu am nimic de care sa imi fie rusine, cu exceptia lipsei mele de credinta. In cel mai bun caz, sunt un amestec intre un razboinic si un preot. In toate celelalte momente, sunt doar Vincent. Oamenii frumosi sunt cei care si-au pierdut identitatea, lucrurile in care cred si cu care au crescut. Daca reusesti sa indepartezi aceasta parte din propria identitate, ceea ce ramane va fi frumos. Oamenii frumosi au spus adesea “nu” multor lucruri. Frumusetea este despre compasiunea cu ceea ce este in jur. Este despre absurditatea existentei noastre si despre constientizarea disparitiei noastre.

 Ana Neacsa: Crezi in…

Vincent van Meenen: Cred in Dumnezeu, in toti zeii creati vreodata de omenire, inclusiv in cei ce urmeaza a fi creati. Nu cred in bani, desi ii consider Dumnezeul zilelor noastre. Cred doar in zeii neumani pentru ca a-L urma pe Iisus nu are niciun sens, cum nu are sens sa urmezi niciun alt sfant. Acestia L-au urmat la randul lor pe Dumnezeu, asa cum ar trebui sa ne urmam si noi propriul nostru Dumnezeu. A-i urma pe sfinti e ca si cand l-ai urma pe ospatarul de la restaurant. Mancarea este cea pe care o dorim, nu ospatarul care ne-o aduce (cu exceptia cazului in care dorim cu adevarat ospatarul pentru ca el ar putea fi templul propriului cult al fertilitati).
Cum iti numesti Dumnezeul este alegerea ta. Eu sunt un credincios al tuturor religiilor, a tot ceea ce este dincolo de aici si acum. Voi urma tot ceea ce ma va duce in alta parte. Cred in umbra alba care este pretutindeni. Ca artist, ai la indemana propria-ti umbra alba cu care sa creezi, iar aceasta va atinge umbra alba a celui ce iti va percepe creatiile. Cand doua umbre albe se ating, ajung mai presus de comunicare si ating o parte a eternitatii impreuna. Cred in casele si spiralele melcilor, in ADN si biserici, in locuri sfinte si in Leonard Cohen, in drepturi egale si costume traditionale in acelasi timp (pentru ca, sa fim sinceri, costumele traditionale fac parte din opresiune omenirii, pentru ca a purta un costum traditional te face sa te inchini in fata oricarei credinte nationalist paternaliste in care cei ce au creat aceste costume au crezut).

Ana Neacsa: Asadar, scrii. Mi-ar placea sa stiu despre ce. De ce fel de personaj crezi ca are nevoie lumea dar nu a fost inca creat?

Vincent van Meenen: Incerc sa scriu pentru oameni si scriu despre tot ceea ce conecteaza fiintele umane. De aceea pot plange in fata turistilor religiosi, de aceea iubesc oamenii care ajung la cer doar pentru a se preda. Facem tot posibilul, noi toti. Nu exista mantuire nici inainte, nici dupa moarte. Personajele necesare pe acest pamant sunt toate acele personaje ale caror picioare merg pe el. Nu cred ca lumea poate deveni un loc mai bun decat este.
Cred ca auto-exprimarea si iubirea sunt singurele lucruri de care avem nevoie in viata si orice moment care nu este petrecut in oricare dintre aceste stadii este unul pierdut. O viata scurta plina de iubire, impartasire si generozitate (pentru ca in arta acestea din urma merg mana in mana, nu exista arta fara generozitate, tot ceea ce este arta ar trebui sa fie la indemana tuturor, intotdeauna, este ca atunci cand culegi o floare pentru cineva si i-o dai) este ceea ce am de gand sa indeplinesc.

Ana Neacsa: Ai un punct de echilibru, nu-i asa?

Vincent van Meenen: Echilibrul este un concept in care nu cred. Ori esti in viata, ori esti mort. Atat timp cat esti in viata, trupul, mintea si sufletul tau trebuie sa fi gasit un echilibru pentru ca fara el ai fi deja mort.

Ana Neacsa: Esti suficient pentru lumea asta? Estea ea suficienta pentru tine?

Vincent van Meenen: Lumea e mult prea mare pentru mine si eu sunt mult prea mic pentru lume. Incerc doar sa ma minunez cat mai mult posibil. As fi fericit intr-o vecinatate. Doar o simpla vecinatate unde sa-mi beau cafeaua, sa-mi castig painea, sa-mi cumpar legumele dintr-o piata locala si sa beau intr-un loc de intalnire autohton cu oricine simte la fel. In unele tari, este un pacat sa bei de unul singur. Nu cred in asta. Cand beau singur, ma simt conectat cu oameni care au disparut demult. Cand fumez singur, simt ca ma sacrific ciclului vietii si al mortii si nu-mi asum nicio singura actiune fara sa iau in considerare viata si moartea. Suntem cranii si oase de la inceput pana la sfarsit.

Ana Neacsa: Poti sa impartasesti cu noi putin din “puterea ta roz” (N.A.: in viata de zi cu zi, Vincent poarta roz, vorbeste despre “roz” ca fiind o stare de spirit).

Vincent van Meenen: “Puterea roz” nu este cu nimic deosebita fata de celelalte puteri din lume. Puterea corupe. Sa fiu sincer, chestia asta cu “puterea roz” este o gluma, ceva ce am inventat aici.
Nu ma simt confortabil fara un rol in grup, iar rolul joker-ului este mai mereu liber. Cand mi-ai spus ca toate lumea se invarte in jurul meu, m-am simtit ofensat si rusinat pentru ca de cele mai multe ori nu merg cu grupul, ci stau singur in camera mea si fac ceea ce imi cere momentul. Incerc doar sa fiu, nimic mai mult, oricat de imposibil ar parea. Oricand primesc ceva, incerc sa ofer ceva in schimb. In cele din urma, sunt o persoana foarte solitara, cautandu-si calea ca noi toti. Sunt mai putin extraordinar decat cred oamenii. Cumva, incerc sa imi petrec timpul pana la final intr-un mod care ii face pe ceilalti fericiti, indiferent de actiunea culturala pe care o implica. Nu am granite, perversitatea e cel mai mare prieten al meu si diferentele culturale nu ma sperie deloc. Ma voi adapta ca un cameleon si voi duce cu mine apa in locul in care trebuie sa ajunga. Sper ca ceilalti sa isi gaseasca drumul prin care sa se elibereze din orice lanturi care ii restrictioneaza.

Ana Neacsa: Cel mai frumos cuvant din lume este…

Vincent van Meenen: Cel mai frumos cuvant din lume este “Feltamadunk” care inseamna “Vom invia” in limba maghiara, o limba pe care nu o vorbeste mai nimeni, o limba care are prea putine similaritati cu oricare alta familie lingvistica. Totusi, nu e moarta. Feltamadunk! Pentru noi toti. Pentru ca spiritul iubirii este etern, la fel ca spiritul de a ucide.

Ana Neacsa: Se poate vedea in ochii tai ca inca esti inocent uneori, poate de cele mai multe ori. Cum ai reusit sa pastrezi aceasta puritate?

Vincent van Meenen: Inocenta si curiozitatea vin la pachet. Daca te intrebi mereu asemeni unui copil despre ceea ce se intampla in jurul tau, inocenta ta va fi si mai mare. Este un lucru periculos.

Ana Neacsa: Azi… ce e asa magnific la aceasta zi?

Vincent van Meenen: Aceasta zi e magnifica pentru ca nu e nici ieri, nici maine. Azi e singura zi in care e posibil sa facem o schimbare. Astazi ne putem indragosti, ne putem schimba religia, viitorul sau putem deveni alte fiinte. Astazi e ziua in care viata isi joaca jocul. Dincolo de azi nu este nimic si inainte de azi a fost tot nimic.

Ana Neacsa: Nu e nimic in lume la ca…

Vincent van Meenen: Nu e nimic in lume ca o imbratisare.

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