Robert Dijgraf: “Everyone always thinks they have enough common sense”

Curators of this year’s science gala, Sarti van Kamp and Eric de Jong (together they are Spenface), spoke with scientist Robert Dijgraf about art, music, science and this year’s gala theme: Common Sense.


Robbert Dijkgraaf: “For me, science makes life worth living. It is my identity. One of the few things that goes beyond the ordinary. Science is greater than me and at the same time I am part of it. When I think of the world, I think of the limits of the universe, the smallest particles, the deep past, things beyond Everyday field of view. Science is a can opener.”

Saartje Van Camp: “You have this enormous universe, and you feel that it exists and that sometimes shocks you. We’re part of it, part curious, wanting to understand something about it and you have the science for that.”

Eric de Young: “My dad was a mathematician and a physicist and was actually working all day. So at the same time it was ‘something my dad does’ and that’s why he was a little bit outside of me. Emotionally, I have a love-hate relationship with her.”


Van Kamp: “I could hardly stand up and hold onto my mom’s piano and he asked if I could play. I’ve been making music my whole life and in fact I’ve always sung or played. The great thing about music is that you need time. Nothing is without time, because then you don’t You hear it.”

De Jong: “Like others eat all day, we made music all day. My mother played the harp in my grandfather’s dance orchestra and my father was also a musician and during a car trip or on a lost evening, you wouldn’t imagine if there was singing. When I was a kid, singing was It’s totally normal for me. I also remember exactly when I first made something. I was six and in school in Rotterdam and we learned that the Joepie Joepie song came in canon. Then something like a vein exploded in my head. There I thought I could improvise to Infinity to this tune. All day I did Bach-like improvisations and went home in secret. My conclusion was that I could do something.”

Dijkgraaf: “The medium of music is time, but at the same time music of all arts is the most timeless. You can hear a piece composed in the Middle Ages move you as powerfully and directly as the people who heard it at the time. It is almost curious how music can pass through Time, not age. For me, music is the most abstract and context-free art form.”

Common sense

Dijkgraaf: “Common sense is what everyone thinks they have enough. Not too much, but certainly not too little. Humans are biased and think they know enough to make the right decisions. Part of science is knowing exactly what you don’t know. Often times I’ve been thinking Realizing that something was put together in a certain way, but the reality turned out to be a little different. ”

De Jong: “It’s twofold. It’s important to keep your sanity in the muddled reality. But your common sense can also mislead you. We can all think something is not true in reality. So we need it and it’s dangerous.”

Van Kamp: “In Dutch the word wit is in the concept while you mean it as Common sense Translate into English. This expression is stronger. Feel Refers to the senses. What you feel at first, you hear and see. The common is what also applies most to the other. The great thing is that we need both parts as human beings.”


Van Kamp: “Just like composing music, I’ve been doing it all my life. I’ve always had a diary, but you still write as if someone else was reading it. That’s how I learned it and now I write lyrics and songs and so much more. It’s a game of words, rhythm, and sounds.” A sentence comes to my mind, a wolf crawling into the garden and then another phrase and another and all of a sudden you have a song. It becomes a thing, it automatically relates to something, but what it’s about often wasn’t the initial goal.”

De Jong: “If I write a sentence a day, I am very satisfied that I am a very slow writer. The trick is that it looks as if the song was written all at once. I throw a lot and I’m on the road for a long time in a song. But when it’s done, you hear it and immediately realize that it It couldn’t be any other way.”

“Writing a song is very different from writing an essay or a poem. The song happens at the right time and you have to deal with the sound. It is about the words, the silence, where you give or, on the contrary, withhold power. It is all the information that you cannot capture on paper. I’ll write it down, but I’ll record it as soon as possible and only then will you hear how it works. I’ve been asked sometimes to put my lyrics together, but it doesn’t sound good at all, because you don’t hear the music.”

Diggraph: Writing is a conversation with myself. I noticed in my own life that I learn a lot from conversation. I see it as a tennis match. I say something and you reply back. Write in a crazy way a tennis match with yourself. You hit the ball – the moment you write something – and then you read it, you can’t agree with that or think it could be better. Writing is a way to create and then organize ideas. I am a person who writes a lot in metaphors, maybe too much. Someone once called it: a nervous metaphor.

Amsterdam International Theater

Djgraph: Theater should be theater. A candy box where everyone is sitting around you. Science deserves this beautiful platform and that golden list. I think it’s so special that we can stand on stage one day a year for the science gala.”

De Jong: “For me it’s still Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam and this is such an iconic place. Every time I go backstage I think of all those great actors who’ve sat here, waiting, nervously moving back and forth, looking in the mirror again to rehearse the last line and then heading out. to the beautiful theatre.

Van Kamp: “Not only the theater but the location is great too. The whole city revolves around the building. Awesome.”

science party, 23/11 in International Theater Amsterdam, Leidseplein 26.

Robert Decgrave

(Riderkirk, January 24, 1960)
Robert Dijgraf is a university professor at the University of Amsterdam. His field of study is theoretical physics. Since 2012, he lives and works in the United States where he is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Sarti Van Camp

(Antwerp, 3 July 1974)
Saartje Van Camp is a cellist, singer and theater maker. She writes music and creates shows for adults and children. She works with Spinvis, among others, and performs with him as a duo or with the band.

Eric de Jong

(Spijkins, February 2, 1961)
Eric de Jong’s music career began in 1976 when he joined the punk band Blitzkrieg. In 2002 he made his self-titled debut, which also included the success of the Luggage Carrier. Since that time, he has released nine albums, of which (2020) is the latest.

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Megan Vasquez

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