Diary note 47: A gift

14 XII 2021

Unexpectedly a gift seems to be the start. In Leiden, the day before yesterday, I was saying goodbye to Akse, the antiquarian bookseller, at his shop the Klikspaan, when he donated me a book. It was a fine green item in a cassette, a Pleiade, worth 25 Euro, a French edition of three classics of Taoism: Philosophes Taoistes.

I had been looking around for days for reading matter to unscheduled Berlin. His book suddenly filled the void. I discarded what I had assembled.

So I took this precious gift as a talisman, with its own story to tell in the next 3 weeks.

Its first story came at the check-in at Schiphol Airport, when I was docilely submitting to radiation. This discovered my suspenders as suspects. Then I saw my bag being selected by some spying machine and diverted to a separate band. All watery elements having been previously taken out, only dry ones were inside the bag. What could be interesting to the spying mind?

An officer asked me to open the bag for inspection and took out the Taoist book. Then put it to several tests. Took off the covering cassette, went briefly through the pages, cased it and put it back. Nothing wrong with it.

Then he turned to me and confided that he hated his job.

Nearby a woman was sobbing in her wheelchair.

We were entering dystopia.

The book in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade presents as philosophes taoistes:




And is among others revised by Étiemble (a rather quirky writer).

I looked for traces of Kristofer Schipper, the Dutch Taoist expert also working in Paris, but did not find a trace of his works. So I looked for the date of publication: edition 3 IV 1980.

Forty years… that was before K.S. became well known. Perhaps he was still in Taiwan at the time.