The Nervous System

Welcome to my graduation project!

These are the stories people submitted in response to my film. The association you might have sent, will be added soon! I want to express my gratitude to all the people who participated in this project. The starting point; the film, would not have existed without them, and this story would not have existed without them. Through this project, The Nervous System outgrew its host.

I will make videos in response to your stories. They will be uploaded during the graduation show; the 24th of April until the 16th of May.


Now it’s your turn to listen to me, listen to my proofs, though I know you will not be convinced. Imagine this: walking through the countryside one day you come across a paddock. Lying there in their sides, in the dust, unnaturally still, are four horses. All four are prone, with no horses standing. They do not breathe and do not, as far as you can see, move. They are, to all appearances, dead.

And yet, on the edge of the paddock, not twenty yards distant, a man fills their trough with water. Are the horses alive and appearances deceptive? Has the man simply not yet turned to see that the horses are dead? Or has he been so shaken by what he has seen that he doesn’t know what to do but proceed as if nothing happened?

[Natasha Brown]

I want you to meet someone special

Beautifully expressed

But silent


Because you did not think of her

You did not think of me

We have died

Because of your infected mind

[Myriam Gras]

And now, all our minds

Are too

How I wished for her

To be a bee

Safely removed So that the others Would have sent signals To find their way home But here we are Humming Shouting Collectively dying Extinctively we continue our paths

The hermit crab is known for its soft abdomen. To protect his naked abdomen from hungry animals, he hides it in an empty shell or snail shell. Just like us (humans), a hermit crab is born naked. After birth, it must therefore immediately look for a place to live in. “Hermit” in Greek means “abandoned” or “uninhabited”. A name that suits him well. A young hermit crab prefers

small periwinkles. Once found, the hermit will do whatever it takes to transform the periwinkle into a warm home. But this shelter will be temporary. One day the Hermit will notice something peculiar. The little periwinkle used to feel like a small but cozy place, but now the walls are closing in.

[Hannelore van Balkom]

He gets the feeling that the shell is shrinking. In reality, this arthropod outgrew its borrowed house and has to look for something new. The crab leaves all its possessions behind for the next occupant and just manages to squeeze

its soft abdomen through the front door. While looking for a larger home, he feels naked, vulnerable, but also experiences a tingling sensation that could be called “nervous joy.”

He will experience this feeling more often in his life, but may not be as strong as when he first moved. The crab will have to look for larger housing on average 6 times in its life.

Are broken by statements, not tenderness
I always wanted much more than this

Heartsworn misguidance
Disguised in abundance
Of thoughts of the moment
Not facts of the day

[text: Jip Asveld – image: Maria Kapteijns]

Gestures are only as loud as the words

I was tricked by the movement

All sound went unheard

Obscured by the darkness, I reach for your face

But I find a cold emptiness has taken its place

Left all alone after making that find

A silent scream starts distorting the mind

And I’m always wanting much more than this
Left breathing in hope gently passed by your kiss
But the lifeline is broken in two equal halves
One closes up slowly
The second one laughs…

– “Contact” by Anne Clark

What I thought of, is that sometimes, and I think it’s funny, sometimes I speak with people about my relationship, people I do not know very well. I don’t feel comfortable enough to tell them what happened a day or an hour ago. Imagine I’m having a fight with my partner I do not want to talk about, but I also don’t want to tell nothing, so I tell a kind of synopsis – that

already sounds understandable and acceptable for me – of what happened for example three days ago, that is a little bit relevant for now. Then I get a response on that, and that response I take with me in the present, in reality. That affects how I carry on with the fight.

[Floor Hofman]

It is like having a discussion in the rearview mirror. I don’t do it consciously. I thought about it now, but usually, it’s unconscious. It comes from a feeling that wants to control the situation, but maybe also because often I cannot explain what I feel.

It has to surpass so many layers; first I have to understand what I feel, which takes a long time and then being ready to talk about it, usually takes a few days. That’s how the past mingles with a story of the present.

In my grandmother’s mind, fiction and non-fiction are intertwined. What she has experienced and what she fantasizes gets confused. But because I can’t look into her head, I don’t know if she’s aware when she’s telling a fabrication and when she’s telling the truth.

Maybe the dreams and fantasies in her brain are the same as reality. There is no distinction between the two. That is why she is often very confident and does not come across as confused. Her reality has merged with her fantasy and she no longer knows where one started and the other ended.

[Ira Hopkoper]

And she often seems to be completely satisfied with that.

I made my way here, a surprisingly smooth journey to the pink. I nestled and carried my children carefully in my spine, wrapping them up so they wouldn’t get dislocated (I was particularly worried about this).

 All I wanted was to reach the pink and let them make their own stories, their own journeys – don’t you think the pink offers them so much freedom? I wasn’t expecting to sink down into the surface of the pink, to be completely engulfed by it – (that’s something they don’t tell you before you arrive)

[Cathryn Klasto]

 Not only is it warm but the sticky threads wrap around you and slowly drag you in – let me tell you, it felt like a wave of relief when that began. I don’t see my children as often as before, like I said, they are off doing their own thing here, although I must say, since we arrived many of them have come back to tell me how grateful they are that I made the journey to get them here. 

This makes me overwhelmingly happy. Them telling me that makes me realise I’m alive, makes me realise I can do anything here – here the great pink; home”.

I was thinking of so many memories when watching it. Memories of me intertwined with nature, insects, being that young and how long it’s been since I had that connection to nature.
Going for a walk is kind of about basic Survival for me today, to do some moving of the joints.   It doesn’t do now what it did for me as a kid, because back then it was never just a walk, only being.
There was this intimate relationship I had with the wood-louses in our garden.
Checking in on how they were doing beneath a big rock. I don’t think I ever smashed them – that might be a rear-view construct from me, or a construct from pop culture which demands children to crush little insects.

[Mats Adler]

I do remember a destructive thing where I took a big piece of wood with snails on it, and put it into the lake just by the place where we always went in to swim.
It was like this Snail Titanic, so I wasn’t always nice. But I kept going to the same place to swim.
I think this has turned into a bit of rambling – I am not remembering too many concrete things – but the general feeling of being immersed into nature and my meetings with insects.

For a creature physically as weak as humans (compare your fingernails with the claw of even a housecat, and weep with envy), not allowing experience to shape our brains would have meant almost certain death in the rough-and-tumble savannah.

[Layla van der Oord]

For a long time, scientists thought they were parasites, and couldn’t figure out why the bigger plants didn’t release chemicals to kill them.
Turns out, the lil’ ghost redwoods benefit their hosts by filtering toxins and acting as a sort of backup immune system.
They’re vampires, and they’re commensal symbiotic mutualists!

[Pepijn Dijkmeijer]

The feeling that the imposed measurements on society nibble on my brain like animals. They are trapped and reproducing exponentially. And during this time, I’m having a damn hard time getting the bugs out of my head. If I could, I would have danced them out with all my strength and poisoned them with tequila or, if necessary, a B52 shot. They are in my company and

they guide my thinking. But they plan to stay, they are nice and warm and quiet. Slowly they consume themselves completely on my brain. For example, I am forced into retirement at the age of 29. I feel more and more comfortable with getting up early, taking a nap in the afternoon, baking something, and tilling the vegetable garden. Where is my mid-life?

[Marieke Reijnen]

I lit a cigarette, you didn’t (luckily, good choice) and when the break was over we went back inside.

Sometimes we didn’t even say a word to each other. Which is funny, because even though we didn’t say anything to each other, so many years later it is still a story. And actually also a story in a much bigger story. I don’t

even know exactly why I thought of that right away. Perhaps because we both felt a little unwanted and out of place there.

Fortunately, we ended up well. Or at least you did, and I don’t mind shamelessly hitching a ride on your success stories.

[Carlijn de Haas]

The purpose which guided him was not impossible, though it was supernatural. He wanted to dream a man: he wanted to dream him with minute integrity and insert him into reality.

[Tristan Bridge]

Everything you say,
I say,
It’s hearsay,
I know, I know…
I believe what you are saying,
but is it really true?

[Martha Thissen]

The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)

Black birds assemble on the black silhouetted fingers of a tree that stands, half-hidden,
behind the hill of your story island.

[Laura Rascaroli]

Forever distant, always nearby, they are in Bodega Bay,
they are in Hokkaido, and the blue sky itches.

Karasu (Ravens, Masahisa Fukase, 1977)

At first, I thought of a ‘gender correction’ (I deliberately put this in brackets, the black and white thinking about gender does not yield anything to me) of “The Origin of Species”, not a survival of the fittest, but of the creatures who can cooperate best. That fight for Darwin’s existence, that fight is so macho, so stupid and physical, and it 

denies the role of soft values like love and compassion. John A. Powell suggests using the term ‘Belonging’ instead of ‘Othering’. Not opposite to each other, but together.

[Stijn Peeters]

But then I thought of a radio show that I heard a long time ago. In that program in which Karel van het Reve was interviewed as professor of Slavic Literature and translator of Russian poetry. He told of the generations of poets who had been crushed in the Russian system, memories of the conversations he had had with now forgotten people. “But”, he said, 

“as long as I still think about them, they are still alive.” It is strange how you carry such a statement with you for more than thirty years. Because that means that Karel van het Reve is still alive.

I thought of sentences that unintentionally provoke an emotional reaction. Combinations of words associated with feelings and experiences that have settled in your body, and are very much alive.

[Ellinor Hagman]

Living rent-free in my head.

[Pepijn Dijkmeijer]

Even though I think insects are beautiful creatures, I think back to an experience of about 30 years ago. At that time I camped in Austria where it had been raining for days. I had put my tent in the grass under a tree, hoping that I would be less bothered by the rain (which of course was not the case). Everything in the tent got clammy; my sleeping bag, clothes,

towels, etc, etc … To make matters worse, when I wanted to go to sleep, I saw an earwig running over my pillow. And there was also one in my sleeping bag. Although, not one, but several! After I took them outside, I went to sleep, with of course nightmares about earwigs crawling in my ears and not wanting to come out.


[Christel Adrik]

The next morning there appeared to be earwigs all over my tent. It turned out that the tent was on top of an earwigs nest! Since then, when I see crawling insects, I always think back to this wet, rainy summer holiday in Austria.

The biology involved, however, does feature a couple of small issues; notably the endosymbiosis explanation. Here, a somewhat extreme shortcut, no doubt the result of needing the explanation to be concise, inadvertently and subtly introduces a human/animal dichotomy biology on the whole no longer subscribes to. Additionally, referring to prokaryotic organisms as

‘animals’ is a rather large cladistic jump, as Animalia is entirely eukaryotic. As more colloquial phrasing it is entirely acceptable and not without solid precedent, as Antoni van Leeuwenhoek called what he observed animalculi, or tiny animals.

[Dirk Jan Hoogers]

I will bake an egg and think about it.

[Floor Hofman]

I dreamed about 7 earthworms in a ziplock bag. They went with me to a camping party in a backyard of a terraced house. The faces at the party made me feel uncomfortable. Outside, I released the earthworms for a while, they could slide through the sand in the garden. When they crept a little further away, I lured them back with some green by the 

bag. I put them back safely. Later I cycled back through the woods and felt the ziplock bag on the inside of my jacket,  and I felt it was good. Warm and secure on the go with my girlfriends.

[Marieke Reijnen]

It reminds me of a lesson in Greek from years ago in which my teacher compared language to a parasite; language only exists where people exist, and people always develop some form of language /communication.

[Jet Jonker]

I guess there is not anything that doesn’t exist inside something else, and that there will always be smaller existence inside everything when you look close enough. For example, let’s say my soul, my spark of life is part of a bigger conscience that envelops all life on earth. In its free form, it would be merged with this conscience, which in

their turn is part of this universe, which, as I always imagine, is nothing more than one dusty snow globe in the collection of some giant being, who is, ultimately, in the same place as life on earth. There will always be a bigger scale, as there will always be a smaller one.

[Lisa Mettrop]

Inside my mind live other things, influences from outside, symbiotic thoughts that creep in among my own, changing the base structure of my being without me noticing. What symbionts do I want to host, what parasites do I want to evacuate? Where do I end and do outside influences begin? Their ideas become part of me, and so other souls become part of me, and even on

earth I exist merged into the great energy that forms life. I wish the mind would develop its own kind of rot so that when I die, my mind, the ideas I chose to keep, will form fertilizer for other souls. Rot is marvelous.

“Truth and news are not the same thing.” – Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post between 1963-1991.

All the news you consume – whether it is written, spoken or visual – is a story within a story. Every article you ingest is a regurgitation of another’s observation. Mixed into this observation are the reporter’s thoughts and feelings. If he or she is not the direct observer, but just another recipient in this collosal game of Chinese Whisperers, other people’s thoughts and feelings are mixed in as well!

[Lydia Halders]

Fake news is nothing new, and objective reporting is close to impossible. 

I don’t intend to sound negative by the way: Matters of perspective and context are just part of the symbiosis we have to accept. There’s no way around it. 

Watching your film, I was therefore reminded of Joris Luyendijk’s book: ’People Like Us: Misrepresenting the Middle East’, in which he describes the contrast between representation and the truth (and how these two are often confused).

Photography plays a part in this; here you can read how crucial framing is when it comes to spreading a visual account of the news.

Something totally different that I was reminded of watching ‘The Nervous System’ is the Venus’ Flower Basket. It is a glass sponge that acts as host and hostage taker of the Spongicolidae shrimp.  

I find the irony of being dependant and captive, but safe and alive as a result, so fascinating and poetic that I won’t rule out the possibility of using these creatures as inspiration for a future design project! 

Fine art is art that makes us think more than can be captured and made clear in the performance itself; a performance that no language can fully reach and make comprehensible. It is art that evokes a multiplicity of partial representations: the work of art does not refer unambiguously to anything but evokes a flood of sensations and thoughts that are impossible to

express in words. As a result, we experience fine art as inspiring: it does not expand the propositional knowledge of our mind but offers a prospect of an endless field of related images. A sensation that goes beyond thinking, and which therefore intensifies our liveliness.

[text: Ingrid de Rond – image: Simon van Iersel]

Making an open fire is bad for your health.

5 tips to burn wood.


1. Do not make a fire when it is foggy, or windless. The smoke can’t escape.

2. It’s prohibited to burn treated wood.

[Simon van Iersel]

3. It’s prohibited to burn paper and cardboard. 


4. Burn the wood at a high temperature and stack it loosely to allow plenty of oxygen. 

5. Buy firewood with the FSC or PEFC label. This comes from responsibly managed forests. 

I thought about a lot of things, but there’s one thought or very specific (true) story that was the most prominent in my mind and also related to a lot of the parts of the story.

I thought about the Narcosatanists cult murders in particular but also about cults and beliefs. The Narcosatanists (named that by the police) was a cult AND cartel led by Adolfo Constanzo (el Padrino) in Mexico in the 80s.  Constanzos used Palo (a syncretic religion with roots from African slaves in Cuba, mixing Congolese religion, Cuban Indian traditions and catholicism)

[Lovisa Zacrison]

as a basis for his cult and the religious practice was aimed at keeping the cartel business safe through rituals and sacrifice.
The cult murdered and sacrificed humans and one of the significant practices was to bury the victim’s remains with iron pale in the neck.
That way they could wait for the body to deteriorate and then pull the pale and collect the spine which they then wore as a necklace for safety.

Constanzo used Palo as a basis for his preaching but definitely interpreted and changed the teaching to reach his own personal sadistic goals. 

In thinking of stories living inside of other stories, parasitic or benign, I was thinking about how cults work and how living inside of something could be
believed to be “benign” but in general, are parasitic to its core, and perhaps how one experiences it depends on one’s beliefs. 

This also made me think about how you have to be “inside” of a culture, religion, or cult to follow its logic or belief.

In talking about being inside of belief and stories, the way they caught Constanzos was to use his own beliefs against him and burned down his holy shed. This made him mad and sloppy and they found him soon after.

Your film made me think about this occurrence in Naked Lunch (book and film) where the typewriter turns into a beetle. 

It has to do with the transitionings in the film. The bugs. The dead-ish alive-ness, or, changing materialities. 

It also has to do with stories inside stories.

I used to read the beatniks when I was in my late teens. I loved Naked Lunch by Burroughs. 

And Howl by Allen Ginsberg. And continuing deeper into this group I read On the Road and Dharma Bums

and now, I don’t even remember in which book it was, but there is this passage where a wonderful, utopian-like, 

situation is described. Everyone is super happy, there is music, a lot of drumming, dancing, that kind of stuff. 

[Imri Sandström]

As I recall, it goes on for ages. And I remember being like, ok, cool, that sounds great. Then comes this line 

that goes something like “and then came the women.” And that’s when I dawned to me, that what I had read 

had been all about the guys. I had read inclusion where in fact there was none. This utopia did not include 

me or any women at all what so ever.

I do not remember whether I continued reading the book or not. But that is when I got fed with the general style 

of the beatniks.

Hmm, it must have been about that time that I found Djuna Barnes, started reading her and dove into that whole 

Paris crowd. Gertrude Stein. Etc.

This is an anecdote that is almost an urban legend because I have heard it so many times now that I’m starting to doubt whether it is true or not.
It came to me the first time when I was listening to a podcast where they talked about celebrities who use their famousness to create something fun out of it. The greatest one they could think of was Bill Murray. 

[Olga Ruin]

As an example they brought up how a man was once sitting, eating french fries at an outdoor diner and suddenly a hand stretches over his plate, grasps a fry and takes it. When the man looks up, he sees Bill Murray putting the fry into his mouth and chews it, before smiling and saying “No one would ever believe you anyways.”

Well that was it, a small legend from the hollywood cosmogony

Watching this movie, I wonder how you experienced the stories we used to make up together. I really believed when I was 6 that I could fly off the swings in Grandma’s garden. Either that it transported us to another time or changed us into another form! In my mind we were in that same fantasy world.

But now, I am very curious what your version of that story looked like at the time. When I looked at the beetles we caught on one of our many hiking expeditions with the family, I was amazed by the colors and textures. Automatically I assume that everyone saw the same… But maybe not..?

[Juul Dijkmeijer]

All those stories about parasites made me think for a moment about your pathetic little rabbit. Those maggots had been growing under her skin. Mehh ..