Scenario #8 - Being Emotional

The right to be unhappy

With: Ali Clarke (KNOT Kollektiv), Marian Donner, Geert Lovink, and Pius Mosima. The moderator is Puck van Dijk.

This event will be streamed live on our website on May 28th, 20.00 - 22.00 CET. Everyone can watch and join the conversation. Let us know what you think our program is worth and "Pay As You Like" via the stream page!


Ecological grief is the grief humans can experience when species, ecosystems, and landscapes like polar ice caps and glaciers disappear due to changes in the environment. We realize that we are responsible for global warming and mass extinction. We live in extremely disorienting times. How are we going to deal with this?

In the last millions of years, the scope of our human experience was little more than our direct surroundings. Our brains are still stuck in that setting. In the meantime, our world has expanded to a globalized, borderless heap of stimuli, complex information, and alternative truths. The world is extremely complex, and we can merely experience snippets of the whole.

Simultaneously, Western society has us strive for continuous bliss. Our world has become far larger than our brains and cognitive systems can handle. We are on a never-ending search for meaning in grand narratives, religion or material goods, but we have lost track of the big picture. What connects us? Is it our shared feeling of disorientation, ecological fear, or sadness? How do we mourn? Is it possible to emotionally connect with other species and things? Should we as a species claim the right to be unhappy? Should we stop taking our collective desire to live longer so seriously? What role is played by technological developments when we consider these questions?

Ali Clarke

Ali Clarke (KNOT Kollektiv)

In her art practice, dancer and choreographer Ali Clarke focuses on the desire to redefine the role that contemporary performance plays in our society. As a member of KNOT Kollektiv, she wonders: ‘Wasn’t technology supposed to bring us closer together? What has happened along the way?’

Entwined within the paths we follow and the dreams we chase, we all breathe the same air and see the same clouds. And yet we travel past each other, distracted and unseeing, forgetting that every act, every step we take, influences the world around us. In a time when we are shutting ourselves away more and more from the rest, Clarke is curious how we can see the connection that binds us again. How can we monitor a sense of social responsibility? And how do we relate to this?

Geert Lovink Marita Liulia

Geert Lovink

Sadness is a design problem. The peaks and troughs depts of melancholy are written in the codes of our social media platforms. After all the clicking, browsing, swiping and liking, we are left with an empty aftermath of time, lost in apps. Geert Lovink’s Sad by Design (2019) is a critical analysis of the growing dissonance within social media. The intended grand design has failed, and internet studies are not always able to provide an alternative or radical criticism.

Lovink therefore appeals to us, our selfies, our messenger apps and our artificial intimacy by asking us to embrace it: “Boredom is the first step towards defeating ‘platform nihilism’.” Only then can we (re)organize and fundamentally disrupt the industry hiding behind this data mining.

Marian Donner Maarten van der Kamp

Marian Donner

Marian Donner is an author, columnist and ‘happy smoker’. She writes about popular culture, (new) media and technology for De Volkskrant, NRC Handelsblad and De Groene Amsterdammer. Her latest (Dutch) book, The Self-destruction Destruction Book (sub-title: Why we should stink, drink, bleed, burn and dance more), is “a denouncement of the self-help industry” and offers a critical view of the way in which we continue to confirm to what is expected of us. “There is nothing wrong with us; there is something wrong with the world around us.” How did things get so far that we are continuously striving to achieve a long, happy life? What would happen if we decided to let go of this (Western) ideal?

Pius Mosima © Ted van Aanholt

Pius Mosima

Pius Mosima from Cameroon deals with African and intercultural philosophy, globalization, traditions, politics and management, civil society, gender studies, culture and identity. He now researches what the (Western) world can learn from African wisdoms.

During STRP Scenario #8 he will share his view on Western (un)happiness. Where we here are quick to believe that depression is an individual problem, Africans sooner believe that depression is a disruption of the collective. What can the West learn from this? And which other different cultural perspectives exist in terms of our shared search for happiness – and unhappiness?

Puck van Dijk

Puck van Dijk

Moderator of this online evening is Puck van Dijk. Puck works as a philosophical discussion leader, moderator, and trainer in the public and commercial sector. She also works as a theater director is the co-founder and co-artistic leader of PLAY productions where she creates immersive performances that consist of an integration of film, theater and location.

& Time

  • 28 May
    20:00 – 22:00