Riemen heads the Nexus Institute, a place to discuss life’s big questions.
Question: What do you do?
Rob Riemen: Professionally I’m doing two things. At the moment the minor part of myself, the most important part, is that I am a writer. I am an essayist. But most of my time I still devote to an institute I founded – a journal I founded. The institute is called the Nexus Institute, and essentially it functions as a kind of intellect . . . international intellectual center for intellectual reflection; and trying to stimulate what we call the culture philosophical debate. Now I know these are all big words, and people are a little horrified for these big words. But it basically comes down to this very simple, but also important question – that we constantly would ask the question, “So what is the meaning of . . .?” Now everybody realizes that this is a question nobody can escape. What’s the meaning of your life? What’s the meaning of the world? What’s the meaning of your relationship? What’s the meaning of things which are going on right now? So if you look at the conferences I have put together in the last 13 years, they are always dealing with big questions which are important for everybody. We did a conference on life and death. What’s the meaning of life? What’s the meaning of death? Are they connected with each other? Yes or no? We did a conference on loss . . . the anatomy of loss. How do you deal with loss in life? But we also did a big conference on Europe’s identity. So what is the identity of Europe? How does it relate to transcendental things ___________, so on and so forth? And I did a conference on evil. So that’s . . . And you know so that’s the main interest. We want to . . . We want to ask the larger, bigger questions related to, on the one hand, what’s going on in our society; or more concrete, what’s going . . . how does it relate to the human condition. We invite a rich variety of people, you know, to present their argument and to have a debate with each other. And so to give of, you know . . . To create a space . . . to create a space in a world, in a society which is so much obsessed by so many things which are not that relevant at all if you really think about, ________ can happen. And then next to the issue we have a lecture, and we have an essayistic journal and so on and so forth.
Recorded on: 10/3/07