Too Dutch by mattsteinglass
June 28, 2008, 4:12 am
Filed under: Netherlands

Canal in Haarlem, Netherlands

I’m in Haarlem for a week or so and the great impression it gives off, like much of the Netherlands, is of an excessive perfection. Too neat, too cute, too well organized, too efficient, too environmentally responsible, too morally unimpeachable, the roses in the flower box on the front stoop too thriving and well cared for. There’s a passage in, if I remember rightly, Dostoevsky’s “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions” where he talks about the impossibility of Europe; he refers to it, if I recall rightly, as a precious grove of birch trees, in which everything seems to go perfectly, as if of its own accord, whereas everywhere else everything turns to crap. It’s a kind of cri de coeur of developing-nation despair: what is the point of aspiring to something that can never be achieved anywhere else, yet achieves itself there in Europe as if by magic? I have some of the same feelings when I look at Holland, particularly when I’m thinking about transportation policy.

On the other hand half the time Holland drives me absolutely nuts with its incredible dull conservatism and niggling detail-mindedness, which is helpful and reassuring in its own way.

1 Comment so far
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Succinctly put! Truly remarkable, isn’t it?

Comment by Teapot Army

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