PhD candidate creates bath book for adults

The key to avoiding burnout is to keep playing, according to Monique Hendriks, who is pursuing a PhD at Human Technology Interaction. She also argues that people need moments of rest every day. That is why she created a special plastic book about Bobbie the Burnout clown who has to take a bath. The story becomes more colorful when the soft pages get wet, which she demonstrated last week at Cafe Rozenknop.

photo Gabriël Walenberg

The book is published by poetry publisher Opwenteling, known for its genre-blurring creativity. Monique Hendriks, who graduated from Computer Science in 2010, previously worked with them to create a “book” of poems on a View-Master. The latest publication is a bath book for adults. The black-gray-white and faintly colored plastic can magically brighten in color. This happens when the special ink gets wet. Publisher Arnoud Rigter, guiding the audience through the evening, explains that it does not necessarily have to be water. “Whiskey or lemonade have the same effect. Even a tongue can bring out the colors. And no, it doesn’t give you a weird rash.” Someone in the audience asks if the ink can run out. “We don’t know that yet. Would be good for sales, though.”

Before Hendriks’ “clown act”, Rigter interviewed the book’s illustrator, Maarten Berkers, and announced city poet Iris Penning. She also enjoys blurring genres and says the audience should decide for themselves whether it is music or poetry that she is performing. “This is my house and I decide,” she sings, meaning that she decides for herself that rats are welcome in her house. Next, she sings a burnout prevention song, very useful for those days when everything seems to go wrong. The title: “Er is niks aan de hand” [Everything’s fine].

Seasoned expert

Sometimes everything is NOT fine, as Hendriks knows all too well. “I was personally on the verge of burnout during the pandemic, but fortunately I managed to turn things around in time. There were many people in my environment who experienced burnout during that period. But also before and after.”

Being highly sensitive herself, she finds it difficult to function in an environment that is not attuned to that. “Think open-plan offices, overcrowded trains, full inboxes and WhatsApp messages you have to respond to immediately. Even for non-highly sensitive people, I think it’s difficult to find peace. Taking a vacation once a year is not enough; people need moments of rest every day.”

In addition to resting, it is important to keep playing and to use your creativity, Hendriks believes.  “Playing is something you do with your full attention and involves no expectations. You play because it’s fun, not because you have to work towards something or because you have something to prove. For me, playing is synonymous with creativity. If I try to make something “good”, for example, something that I hope will win awards, it doesn’t work.” She likes to be guided by her own curiosity.  Free of pressure, she finds the space to let things unfold.

“During my research work at TU/e, I also notice that I need time and space to come up with truly new ideas. So the best ideas often come to me on weekends or during a coffee break.”

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