60 years ago today Cornelis Verhoeven got his PhD on his thesis Symboliek van de voet (symbolism of the foot). He describes how he came up with the idea of the book as follows; he had written three essays of together more than 300 pages, the third and most lyrical being the one for history of religion, called ‘symbolism of the foot’:
“The idea for which i’d come up with a few years earlier, walking in the street behind a girl who had something devine in her movements and who also in other ways highly fascinated and confused me. I was surprised that the asphalt under her feet remained indifferent, that it wouldn’t wave under the clatter of her sandals, and that no flowers sprouted forth from it, such as it happens in mythology when a goddess approaches and strides past. Of course i fell in love with this goddess, followed her ways and found her address, but my careful and shy advances were not appreciated. And with the first surly glance i had already set for the horizon. Maybe she dreamt of a young god in a red sports car who would take her with him to the full life on beaches far away. As far as i know he never appeared. I myself started to suspect that also in amorous ways i was not born for a grand and thrilling life. But my enthusiasm about the idea of a carpet of flowers underneath the feet of a goddess did not suffer from it; it had in the mean time gained its own meaning and undisturbedly followed its own dynamic. A bit of a broken heart is also intellectually interesting.”
From ‘De glans van oud ijzer’ (‘The shine of old iron’), Cornelis Verhoeven.