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Rob Riemen is the Founder, President, and CEO of the Nexus Institute, a leading international center for intellectual reflection to inspire the Western cultural and philosophical debate. Mr. Riemen is[…]

The constancy of fragility.

Question: How do you approach life?


Rob Riemen: I am deeply convinced by the fragility of human existence; that human existence . . . that our existence is essentially, from its very beginning, a broken thing. And I think it is . . . If we want to give any meaning to our life, that is essential to start from the fact and the awareness that this fragility is there; that none of the things which are really important to us are a given. If you have . . . If you are healthy, it’s not said that you will be healthy next year. If you have the greatest love in your life, it doesn’t mean that an illness or an accident or whatever can’t happen . . . and so on and so forth. It’s not my intention to be gloomy about it or to be pessimistic about it, but it’s a simple fact of life. Everybody who has lived life for a certain while knows that all these things can happen. Now that is what I call real life in real time. And then the . . . Then the question is how to deal with it. You know is there . . . Is there the big escape? Or do you try to ignore it? Or do you get in full forms of _________ and so on and so forth? And if I can take this one step forward, I think one of the big problems we are facing in nowadays society is that we have lost a lot of the language, and a lot of the forms for people to make it possible for them to deal with the big questions; and to have . . . and to have an understanding about their own life; to have an understanding about what’s going on; and with it, to have an understanding about what kind of society we are living in.

Question: Is there an absolute truth?

Rob Riemen: Now death we all know is kind of ultimate, absolute power. When it’s there, it’s there. Nobody can resist it. There is death. And when it’s there, it’s there for eternity. As far as we know, nobody returns. So if somebody can write . . . If somebody can write, “This love is as strong as death,” the only implication can be that you say okay, if and when it or I . . . Even if this great love of my life is no longer there, and yet he or she is still speaking with me, the conversation in whatever form still continues. It’s the big difference between losing somebody because somebody dies and a divorce. In a divorce, yes. The love dies. There is no communication any longer. There is a divorce. However, profound experience and all poets I know about, and I think still a lot of people know about it . . . Yes. My father, my mother, my dearest friend, my child is no longer there. And yet the conversation continues. So this might be a definition of what true love is.

Recorded on: 10/3/07