Johan Andreas Der Mouw
- Category : Humanities+Social-Sciences-Philosopher
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Distraction 1
Dutch man of letters, philologist, philosopher and romantic mystical poet who wrote under the pen-name Advaita.
He was born in Westervoort as the second and last child of the unemployed Jacobus Cornelis dèr Mouw (7 February 1833, R'dam - 31 December 1906, Deventer.) and Anna Elisabeth Zillinger (1832, Doesburg - 13 February 1892, Deventer), who married 19 April 1858 at Doesburg. He had an elder sister Elisabeth (27 January 1861- 1 Nov 1926).
On 22 february 1864 the family moved to Zwolle. His rentier father tried to earn money as insurance agent, but was without success. His 61 years old grandmother, Hendrika de Rijk, widow of the pastor J.A. Zillinger, and her two unmarried daughters Andrea and Berendina, moved in and relieved the financial situation in the extended family. The grandmother told him the stories of the Bible. On 1 May 1872 his mother got a job as the head of the HBS school for girls in Deventer, moved with her two sisters to Deventer and spent only in the weekend in Zwolle. His father and grandmother took care of him until the family moved to Deventer (End May 1873). In Dutch book city Deventer his father tried to set up a book-store, but was without success as he had a lot of competition, but little inherent drive.
In 1877 Dèr Mouw followed the HBS in Deventer, begin 1878 he changed to the Municipal Gymnasium (1878- July 1883). Here he wrote his first poetry. From 1883 till 1887 he studied Classical Languages at Leiden University. He also followed lectures Sanskrit with Prof J.H.C. Kern, studied the Upanishads and attended lectures on Philosophy. He got his Kandidaats exam early in one and a half year (instead of 2 years), tried to finish his study 1886, but ended the study 27 May 1887 with a honourable “cum laude” Doctoral Exam.
In 1887 he worked as a teacher Latin and Greek in Zwolle, from 4 October 1888 to 1904 at the Stedelijk Gymnasium of Doetichem. He lived in rented rooms. To the Doetichem citizens he appeared as a weird, withdrawn professor. His mediocre colleagues considered him arrogant and distrusted his unusual teaching methods using Socratic inquiry. But he was a capable and stimulating teacher according many of his brilliant pupils. He later (6 Dec 1915) wrote in poetry: “Aan kennis heette ik rijk, ik bedelaar” (On knowledge I scored high, me beggar).
A year after the death of his caring mother, he married on 14 August 1893 in Doetichem the ten years younger Hendrika Wijnanda "Nans" van Enst (3 September 1872, Doetichem - 15 February 1935, Velp). They moved to the Ruimzichtlaan (wide view lane) in Doetichem. They got no children, but adopted in 1902 after 9 years of childless marriage the toddler Hetty.
On 7 June 1890 he dissertated under J. van Leeuwen with the thesis "Quomodo Antiqui Naturam mirati sunt?" (How did the ancients view nature?). His thesis deals with the different cultural historical views on Nature of the Ancient and modern man. According to Dèr Mouw the Greek natural philosophers had a from the East imported intuitive Sense of Unity between themselves and nature. He called this mystical band “vinculum mysticum”. Later in history Dualism appeared as a problematic schism between man's spirit and nature: Plato and Aristotle asserted the primacy of spirit above nature. Only innocent children unconsciously experienced the original “vinculum mysticum”, but it gets lost in the process of socialization.
The unconventional Dèr Mouw resisted the formalism of Christian religion and authorial teaching practices. This made him an Einzelgänger under the teachers and this culminated on 20 June 1903 into a scandal and the loss of his job. He and the rector of the Gymnasium Dr. Schwartz had a conflict about his unorthodox methods of teaching. Dèr Mouw did not want to be the all knowing authoritarian teacher, but he preferred to stimulate authentic thinking of his pupils. So he held open discussions in the classroom about philosophical and theologian matters. One of his pupils was the later classicist and rector Maximiliaan August “Max” Schwartz (4 april 1884, Doetinchem - 23 december 1973, Nijmegen), the son of the rector. When the rector heard of the teaching practice he got mad, and scolded Dèr Mouw at his office (20 June 1903). Few days later Dèr Mouw tried to commit suicide by taking the sedative choral hydrate at 's-Heerenberg (meaning: lords mountain). It failed, but back in Doetichem he tried it again. On 25 June 1903 he was admitted to the Elisabeth-Gasthuis hospital at Arnhem. The diagnosis of the physicians Rensen en Sissingh was severe neurosis with hallucinations. Psychiatrists would now call it a psychotic depression. His idealistic world view was broken down.
But Dr. Schwartz was not impressed and started a press campaign in local papers to sable Dèr Mouw's spirit further down. Only one or two teachers supported Dèr Mouw, but the majority of teachers and the Head Inspector of Education Eggink opposed him. Some pupils and old pupils supported him. In the by him set up riot Dr. Schwartz felt offended and started a process against Dèr Mouw for scorn. As a defence Dèr Mouw had written a 125 pages printed book (by his father), that was not published but destroyed on request of his pupil Max Schwartz. Only three copy's were kept. During a process in Arnhem, that was postponed till Dèr Mouw's release form hospital he was defended by the socialist lawyer and politician Mr. Pieter Jelles Troelstra and was convicted to a symbolic fine of 10 guilders.
After his release from hospital he was cared for in the artists village Bergen (meaning in Dutch Mountains, but also “to store, to conserve a sunken ship”) by friends and the him defending former pupils De Bas en Jo Myer, who tried to prevent further suicide attempts. His wife and foster-child spent this difficult time in Egmond aan Zee.
On 3 December 1904 he moved to the Geestbrugweg (Mind bridge road) in Rijswijk, with his wife and three years old foster child. He started to give private lessons together with Dr. Eward B. Koster to prepare student for the State Examinations. Students could stay in his house. In 1906 he became private lecturer in Den Haag. One of his students at the Laan van Meerdervoort 333 was Victor E. van Vriesland (since Jan 1907), a poet and friend. He also gave there courses in Indian philosophy.
In 1900 he published “Dr. J.M. Hoogvliet's opvatting van taalstudie en methode van taalonderwijs.” The philologist and linguist J.M. Hoogvliet (30 juni 1860, Spaarndam - 22 juni 1924 te Den Haag) was a friend and soul mate of him (dbnl.org). In 1905 he published “Het absolute idealisme”, a work about Hegels interpretation by the idealist Prof. Bolland, the problem of Solipsism leading to existential loneliness: if we cannot know the world outside, if is impossible to connect with it. In 1906 he published "Kritische studies over psychisch monisme en nieuw-hegelianisme", but got no money for it. In 1907 he was co-founder and board member of the Dutch “Vereeniging voor Wijsbegeerte” (Association of philosophy). In 1908 he contributed to the “Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte", the leading Dutch Philosophy Magazine and became an editor of it in 1912.
Around 1910 he concentrated on poetry, trying to restore the lost world his dissertation spoke of. He wrote two books of poetry, but he had problems getting his poetry published. He debuted not earlier than 22 June 1918 under the penn-name Adwaita in "De Amsterdammer". In June 1918 he met Frederik van Eeden who was impressed by his work an published many poems posthumously in "De Amsterdammer". On 30 Augustus 1918 Albert Verwey wrote him a positive letter about the poems he sent to the “De beweging”. “De Gids' refused on 4 October 1918 his poetry but on the same day Willem Kloos accepted his 23 pages of poetry for “De nieuwe gids”. His student, the poet and literary critic Victor E. Van Vriesland had helped him and was also the curator of his partly unfinished work.
He died 8 July 1919 at Den Haag, shortly after he heard his work would certainly be published in a real book. He had been for unconscious about a week, but his physician Planten and the consulted prof. Jelgersma could not establish the cause of his death.
His “Brahman I, come to light” was published some weeks after his death. On 29 July 1919 "Brahman I" appeared, in Augustus 1920 "Brahman II", in 1933 (Forum) and end 1934 (book) "Nagelaten verzen", ed Victor van Vriesland. From 1947-1951 the six parts of "Verzameld werk" appeared. He was a poets poet, known only by intimate friends and connoisseurs. See DBNL reference.
About his coincidental philosophical work and poetry
It is of interest that Dèr Mouw had experienced mystical experiences as a child and as a student when viewing the Milky Way. It arouse his interest in ancient cosmology. Being a knowledgeable teacher of Classical Languages in a restricting Protestant community, a community that he knew from childhood and called “angstig donkre blok van't chistendom” (fearfull dark block of Christianity), he like Friedrich Nietzsche discussing the “kleine Leute” problem suffered from the cleft between our ordinary daily practice and the Psalm 82:6 promise: "I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you". As the poet “Advaita” he would ironically write about this theme a famous sentence: "'k Ben Brahman. Maar we zitten zonder meid." (I'm Brahman. But we are without a maid). So the urban matters of daily life went on.
Like Nietzsche Dèr Mouw was deeply influenced by Schopenhauer, but unlike Nietzsche who created his Western ideal of the “Übermensch”, Dèr Mouw stayed with the original Sanskrit roots of Schopenhauer and made poetry about the Brahman. Like Schopenhauer, he was a tragic, pessimistic and romantic philosopher. Suicide was always an option: he tried it twice (june 1904) and after that he always kept a bottle with poison in his house. Just for the case that his urban life would be to unbearable to him.
As a child he had mystical experiences, but he could not get it back in his moody ordinary life with all the daily obligations. But he expected that his "numinous" spiritual experiences were also experienced by genial thinkers like Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Von Hartman and Heymans. In his essay “De misbruik van de mystiek ” (The misuse of mysticism) he argued that persons could misuse accidental “mystical insights” (satori moments): “dat we die [mystieke] 'invallen' misbruikt hebben, door ze met allerlei wetenschap te systematiseren of ze te behandelen als inlichtingen omtrent bewustzijnssferen, waarmee ze niets te maken hebben.” Or we might confuse in philosophy and science the different levels of experience of soul, mind and body. We mistakenly might put them on one line. Note that this remark is on line with the views of the psychiatrist Roberto Assaglioli, who stated that there are different levels of awareness and that some forms of mental illness can only be spiritually explained on soul level.