HOW TO SPOT A CULT – er, “MOVEMENT”.
There are a few sign that scream, “Cult!” It is wise to look out for them. What follows is a little guide:
Copious pictures displayed of the “founder” of the “movement”. If there are multiple portraits in frames of distinguished quality hung with small plaques engraved with the name of the “founder” and their birthdates.
A brass sculpture of the “founder’s” head. Brass is not a cheap commodity, and to have a sculpture of a head made is a sign of devotion. Whether this is a sign of a healthy state of mind remains to be seen.
Complete belief in the “founder’s” “sciences”. Nothing like a bit of complete belief in invented medicinal and spiritual dancing to show you’re disconnection from the outside world.
Appreciation of the “founder’s” poetry. If the “movement” features learning the “founder’s” poetry, even if it isn’t very good, then you’ve made a sighting.
Copious discussion and the holding of lectures on the topic of the “founder’s” ideas. At every opportunity if a talk is held of this sort then see through the “enlightenment”, please.
Birthday parties for the “founder” – many, many years after the “founder” has died. Personality cults feature birthday celebrations, but not the kind that involves fairy bread, passing around a parcel (does no one want to pay the postage?), and sitting on chairs when the CD player goes bung. These are parties for people who aren’t even there to enjoy them; parties for people who kicked the bucket in a time just out of living memory, but who are adored anyway – called by some “the great man”.
A BIRTHDAY BASH FOR OLD R. STEINER
Today would have been Rudolph Steiner’s 153rd birthday. At school today it is being celebrated with a series of lectures on his philosophy. There are lectures to be held on art, eurythmy, Steiner and computer technology (for a man who died in 1925, he must have been very ahead of his time), meditation, Heilpaedagogik (special education), Steiners Sozialimpuls (Steiner’s social impulse), and Naturwissenschaften (natural sciences). This is just a taste.
It is such a shame then that I won’t be attending so I can sit at the back and not understand much of what’s being said. Yes, I’m a bit krank – sick, not grumpy. So I’m having a day off: starting my holiday early, which was slated to start tomorrow. “The early bird…” – catches the tummy bug.
Another Steiner school in the region, I’m told, is having a sports day. This strikes me as good fortune – firstly, I’m not at that school; secondly, even if I was I’m sick, so wouldn’t be going anyway.
Well, “the great man” – as some say – isn’t around to enjoy the fanfare of the beginning of his 154th year, and I didn’t think it was anything to get out of bed for.
AN INTERNATIONALY RECOGNISED CHAP
Yesterday I was recognised in Freiburg – by a local.
“You are an Aussie, aren’t you?” he called out from across the street, while he was standing at a bus stop.
“And, you’re from Orana School in Canberra, aren’t you?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
It was one of the exchange students from Germany who was in Australia last year or the year before that, I can’t remember which. We didn’t have a whole lot to do with each other, but probably said “hello” a few times. I couldn’t believe he remembered who I was.
Just shows I’m recognised everywhere I go. A bit ridiculous, if you ask me.
Rave reviews have been received for my discussion of the stationery delights here in Freiburg. I shall continue with a brief note – for the eternal internet record of history – of the pencils I “had to buy” yesterday.
These Staedtler Noris HBs are supporting the economy here – they’re made in Germany, see. And they have erasers on the ends…
(Now it becomes apparent why the rate of commenting on this blog is so low and why it is referred to as a “dilapidated little” thing: I write about the pencils I buy, for goodness sakes.)
YOU CAN’T DO THAT AT HOME
“You can’t do this at home,” we said, as we hurried across the street in front of a tram so that we were on the right side to walk home from the middle of the city – in ten minutes.
Perhaps Walter Burley Griffin thought that the Canberrans of the future would be so enthralled with the little cottages in Ainslie they all lived in that they wouldn’t want to go out. He obviously didn’t realise that not all houses are designed with the eye in mind.
Here going into the city is as big a deal as Canberra, except it ain’t that far. You can walk, you can ride your bike, or you can get on a tram, blink, and be there. And then when you do arrive there are other people there who are looking up.
Garema Place in Canberra is the home of the archetype. Every time you’re walking through there are public servants holding take away cups of coffee to be seen, protestors against China in Tibet, the pious, charity workers, people asking you for two dollars – “because they need to get the bus”, and throngs of teenagers who can only walk five across – blocking the path with a success yet unmatched by the riot police.
But Freiburg im Breisgau’s different.
For the purpose of poetic skill, a similar list of archetypes would be good. Something catchy, vibrant and exciting. Something that will be remembered by my three readers. I can’t manage it, though.
The stereotype for this green city would of course be the bike riding, anti-nuclear, non-shaving, organic food eating, and market shopping people, who, as a matter of principle, wear natural fibres exclusively. It isn’t like this, though.
The Germans are good at talking and they’re also good at being individuals. Groups of teenagers, “hanging out”, don’t look monotonous – they all look like separate people. Everyone out and about looks distinct – within reason.
It’s society without undefined blobs of identity.
A few of those kind people who’ve sent me emails (and there aren’t many – you can join this special group) have asked me about my postcard status: Have they been sent? have you bought any yet? when are you going to write them? will I get one?
So here’s a status update:
The first batch of postcards has been bought. The stamps I have yet to buy. None have been written. So, stop camping out at the mail box, folks!