Tahafut al-tahafut



Programme note

In his introduction to his anthology School of Poetry (W. Versluys, Amsterdam) Herman Gorter wondered in 1897 whether there is not another way. A road leading to the understanding of the world around us, to find what moves us and what makes the world around us move.

Gloeiend groener nog is an answer to that question. It is an answer to which the poet that answers as poet perishes. He perishes as a poet insofar as he merges into the world of the word. Then what remains is the world of poetry, that recreates the poet from that moment.

The Moorish philosopher Averroes, who lived from 1126 to 1198, once wrote a book that had to destroy another book, that of Ghazali. The book of Ghazali was called Tahafut al-falasifa and that religious book was intended to destroy the philosophers. Averroes wrote his Tahafut al-tahafut as a destruction of such destruction, as confusion of that confusion.

Gloeiend groener nog is a poem that confuses and destroys itself and is again confused and destroyed in the music. This squaring of confusing destruction is a small world that continues to destroy itself, and in doing so keeps moving and thus moves.

[antoine de kom, June 2001]

On Tahafut al-tahafut (which means 'confusion of confusion'): this work is a radio play based on a poem by antoine de kom, called Gloeiend groener nog. The poem (read by the author) was digitally altered and combined with a "virtual" orchestra of strings, winds, piano and percussion. New meanings emerge in the text, that confuses itself and in which words, phrases and fragments of sentences spin around and overtake themselves, so that music and language can merge.

The work has two parts of each approximately 22 minutes and unfolds slowly; in the first part mainly string harmonies play a role alongside the voice. The sounds are, among other things, transformed by granular synthesis: a sound (music or text) is recomposed from small fragments of that sound; the second part begins with a long introduction in which slow flute melodies and resonant piano sounds play a role. At the end of the piece, when the text speaks of "smoldering grass", all sounds are consumed by fire: a vocoder applies the tonal characteristics of the sound of burning branches to those of the voices and music, until everything is 'ashed' and drowned out by noise.

[Ivo van Emmerik, June 2001/February 2013]


ca. 45 minutes

First performance: 17 June 2001, Stedelijk Museum Zwolle

First integral radio broadcast:

4 July 2001, Concertzender


You can read the text of this radioplay, the poem Gloeiend groener nog ( in Dutch) at the website of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library The Hague):

antoine de kom

Ivo van Emmerik - Database © 2019