Questions about love… Emy Koopman – De Groene Amsterdammer

Johannes von Engelhardt

How was your first love?
It was my first crush in high school, with a normal boy with beautiful brown eyes. But I don’t really consider it my first love. When I remember my first desires and feelings of love, it was more about horses. Even though I’ve never owned a horse, I’ve always fantasized about it. I had a subscription to such a magazine, Benny, And then I was looking at those beautiful horses and I wouldn’t have them anymore.

Taking care of a horse was not an obvious choice for my parents. When I was able to take riding lessons years later, I didn’t want to anymore. Maybe it took too long. Or maybe I just didn’t like that actual horse, whose excrement you have to clean up. The same is the case with cravings: in order to continue experiencing it, the object must remain at some distance from it.

Desire and madness are very recurring themes signs of the universe And Orwoot. To what extent are these aspects essential requirements for romantic love?
“Depending on how you define ‘romantic love,’ you could also call the less possessed forms of love ‘romantic,’ like the platonic Agape, which is unconditional and universal. I find it clear to retain the term ‘romantic love’ for eros, infatuation, which is already defined Largely through desire, which is neurobiologically linked to psychosis and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Given your background in language and literature in particular, how different does love make between Dutch or English?
In English, it is easier to create a space and express yourself at the same time, because both are not your language. Because we grew up with the American media, where emotions can never be big enough, I think we use big words in English instead of Dutch.

Now my subject of love from the book is French Canadian; Although we mainly spoke English, his mother tongue is French. I really wonder how that Francophone affects the romantic life. We associate French with love, but how is it that if you yourself are French, you also use empty sweet words more easily? For example, the radio station that now exists, FIP, these presenters do not talk, they whisper, as if they were reporting from the bedroom. They are chosen for it, it seems that this is the culture. What does it mean to communicate in everyday life? Is it all sensationally charged, or is it flat because it’s already the standard? This issue needs further research.

In your book, you describe an obsessive story about a man referred to as an “A”. I can imagine it was a confrontational journey. What questions are answered in it?
“When I started writing, my personal question was, What the hell happened here? Gradually A began to twist our love story, making it a slightly different story than I had thought. I followed through on that and at a certain point, to save his relationship, I even took it up a bit, which Making myself less important. As a result, the origins of the obsession became increasingly vague to me. I doubted whether A really had feelings for me, and whether I had not convinced myself of everything. So I went back to the beginning of the story to finally be able to prove the following : I was especially angry about falling in love.

What questions remained open after that story?
I myself have verified the factors that play a role in losing oneself in love. How feminine is it? In other words: To what extent is it socially acceptable among men compared to women? To what extent is this my personal perversion or is it more universal? And how do the interactions between all these aspects continue? There will be no unequivocal answer.

Then questions and ideas unfold about how I as an individual and we as a society find “independence” an important value and that we have turned “dependence” into something dirty and weak. There is still a lot of shame and condemnation about losing control. I think it gives us a lot of room if we can admit that when we lose ourselves sometimes. We are dependent beings after all.

Which sex scene has always stuck with you?
Because I did research on rape scenes in literature during my studies, I’m thinking of a scene from blue eye by Toni Morrison. In it, her father raped a daughter, taping his view. There is something very problematic about that. Morrison’s style is lyrical and sensual. Also in this scene, until you are drawn to this child as a reader. On the one hand, it’s well done, but the problem is: Morrison has indicated that through this book she wanted to evoke sympathy for Piccola, the daughter, and she doesn’t, that child’s voice is almost absent. Literature, of course, has a long tradition of highlighting morally reprehensible characters. We seem to find that more exciting. I noticed it myself. I try to keep in mind that my descriptions don’t do justice to people who have actually survived the violence, and that pain isn’t romantic, but I’m sure I don’t always succeed—if Morrison had a hard time…”

Have you ever experienced romance in Boekenbal?
I don’t usually like shallow talk at parties, but at Boekenbal I do. I think there are a lot of writers who usually struggle with that. We are talking about a highly self-conscious group of people. So everyone drinks a little more. In this way, on the smoker’s porch at Stadsschouwburg, I also had a short but intimate conversation with someone I was on the editorial board of a magazine about the ambivalence and feelings we had for each other about which we did nothing. No kissing, no cuddling, just expressing an intense feeling and looking at each other – for me that might still be the height of romance.

Have you ever tried to seduce someone through a book or poem?
Funny question. Serendipitous, well, actually because my friend Googles sometimes, I found out that in the catalog of the Northwest Veluwe Library in Gelderland, my book was described with the text: “A young woman loves to chase handsome boys and tries to find them. Literary tricks.” Haha, that got me thinking: Is this what I’m apparently doing? I will not deny that a number of passages, especially about love in the past, can certainly be explained in this light.

titanic ship or Diaries?
“Well… I am honest with the feelings of my thirteen-year-old self: Titanic.

Margaret Atwood or Amy Hempel?
“It’s unfair…Amy Hempel is more in my heart. Her work is more gentle. She goes wherever it hurts herself. Margaret Atwood has something a little further away and that’s probably partly why she creates wonderful worlds.”

real romance or blue velvet?
Blue Velvet.

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