Erasmus wanted to make better persons of people. In his Praise of Folly, Erasmus therefore ridiculed the whole of mankind. Eight photographers from Rotterdam show that mankind hasn’t changed a bit in all the hundreds of years that have passed since then. This is part one of eight: Annabel Storm

The famous thinker Desiderius Erasmus (whose 550th birth date we celebrate this year in Rotterdam) was quite critical about the behaviour of his fellow man. In his writings, he wanted to put people back on the right track again. He drew on the mental legacy of the Greek and Roman classics. His most stinging critique on society is in his satiric book Praise of Folly. A very smart book: by commenting through Folly, instead of writing on his own account, he could express himself much more fully.

About five hundred years later, eight photographers from Rotterdam pick up where Erasmus’ Praise of Folly left off. For you better believe it: folly is still amongst us.

Photographer Annabel Storm sees harshness in people, at the police, and in the administration.  Erasmus covers the harshness with cynicism and humor, but Annabel shows the foolishness of rules and people in cold detail.

What oaf mind! I suspect he’s from Holland

Dress a boy in uniform and he changes, according to the photographer: his soft boyish cheeks fade. The uniform shines, but the mind remains the same. According to Erasmus, it is a mind that is ‘oaf’.

A retail shop succumbs and is butchered by greedy shoppers. Eyes are on gold, crowds of people tumble over each other. It’s closing sale, so everyone else is a competitor. The Hitlerdoll greets us: it is but a fingerprint of the events that took place here.

Flattery is the syrop and the salt of all human intercourse

Flattery may have a negative connotation nowadays, but Erasmus thought that this sister of Folly was a kind aid for people: “My flattery raises people up when they are down, caresses them when they grieve, activates them when they are depressed, stimulates them when they are stuck, calms them down when they are enraged, enables love and keeps lovers together.” To be able to take a good look at the Swordman, you’ll have to flatter him with syrup and sweet, sincere words.

The people found and foster cities, the folly of kings demolishes them

Sometimes it seems the police do not care about the people, but about absolute power.

A co-operation between Erasmus Magazine and Vers Beton.

In 2016 Rotterdam celebrates the 550th birth date of the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. In this series, Vers Beton explores the meaning of Erasmus’ thinking for the city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Vers Beton is a journal for people in Rotterdam who like to reflect on their city.

This series has been made possible by a financial contribution by the city of Rotterdam.

This piece was published earlier in Dutch in the online magazine Vers Beton.

Translation: Melissa van Amerongen.