nauseum

I can’t watch this with sound on; I don’t want to hear the voice of that music teacher ever again in my life. But just watching the corridors and staircases, I… something grips me, and I feel sick. Not because of the revolting PR, which I guess is present in the film clip (as I said, I turned off the sound). But because I honestly feel sick to my stomach. I notice some former students have become teachers; I suppose they must have love their school. I suppose they don’t feel anxious and like they’re going to vomit. I do. When I watch this, I can’t understand I’ve managed to go there twice since my teenage years. I must have unconsciously decided to become numb to the environment. Happening to click on this link off-guard, however, it makes me very uncomfortable. As I said, sick. And I’m not just saying this. I feel sick. It’s more than 20 years on, and I feel sick. I can only watch a few seconds at a time. It’s a bit strange it happens now, maybe because I didn’t expect it, I wasn’t prepared. Maybe it was the camera movement in these corridors, stairs and rooms; I don’t know. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve seen footage from there, I’ve even been back there a couple of times as an adult, and it’s been alright. I’ll try again tomorrow.

I’ll tell you, because I don’t know if I have, I think I have, so forgive me if I tell you again. Once, when I was 13 or 14, my mum wanted me to go with her to a fair at the waldorf school. This was only a year or two after I’d left it. I thought nothing of it, I went with her, they often had lots of second-hand books, and I liked buying second-hand books. I mean, I was away from there, I was safe elsewhere and I knew it was just a visit and I didn’t expect it to mean anything in particular to me. My reason alone didn’t alert me to the emotional danger. Not that I reasoned about it, I didn’t understand I should have. I didn’t expect anything. I had had to go there for nine years, so what could a short visit do to me? A lot, it turned out. I totally freaked out. I understand now that I must have had a panic attack of sorts, but I didn’t understand it then. I thought I was going to break, physically too, to pieces. And that my brain was going to burst my skull. I couldn’t think. I had an adrenalin rush that helped put me in a flight mode, and I just fled. I don’t mean I walked away like a civilized person who only wants to leave a place. I fled for my life, like a chased animal, like a hare from a wolf. That’s how it felt. I ran for my life. I probably ran in the way of traffic and accidentally into people who were going uphill (you know what I mean if you watch the movie clip). I have a vague memory of trying to run at top speed among too many people, too many obstacles. I felt I was facing Death, and I have no idea what all these people were doing there.

Interestingly, something similar was the theme of many of my nightmares during those years. I used to dream I was shot, or butchered alive, or was bleeding from huge gashes, that I was among people but nobody noticed the blood, nobody noticed me dying in front of them. Not even if I had bullets gone through me or my organs were protruding from my torn apart chest. It was life as usual.

(How ironic! Not until I pressed preview on the blog post before posting did I notice that the front ‘cover’ (you don’t say that with film clips, do you?) includes a human skeleton. Appropriate somehow.)

(Edit: re the post title, see Tom’s comment.)

15 thoughts on “nauseum

  1. I know a couple of young people who are so freaked out by the School here that they can’t go near it – drive past it – or talk about why.

  2. My parents used to live two trainstations away from the school, so going from the city you had to go past it. That’s what I had to do for6-7 years every day, then I moved away so it was only when I visited. I used to not look from the train window. Now they don’t live there anymore, and somehow — and this is very strange — it feels like that never happened. I know I wrote, a while ago, that it was like a parenthesis for me, and though they stayed there 15 years longer than I did, it now feels as though it never really happened at all. Like a bad dream you wake up from and realize it was just a dream, nothing more. Going out there, in the suburb, has been viped off the map, it doesn’t exist, it’s surreal. You know all the photos I took in that forest and that I posted here occasionally. Well, it doesn’t happen anymore. Especially during spring and autumn that forest reminded me so of childhood and kindergarten. I suppose all forests smell the same, but it doesn’t seem so to me.

  3. Very impressive that you can write about this experience the way you do.
    I think in a way you have “objectivated” this experience, otherwise you cannot do this.
    It makes me wonder again what has happened in the time before, it must have been very bad.
    A school is made by the people who work at the school.
    When a school is using anthroposophical methods in his pedagogy, this says nothing about the social climate of a school, unfortunately.
    For all pupils a basic need in all schools is safety. On that level I think many mistakes are made.
    An idea/ ideal may never replace the human, social relation, between grown-ups, but also between pupil and teacher. Otherwise, indeed, you are experimenting on pupils which is inhumane and morally not right.

    I think you should not use the anthroposophical method, when you cannot stand behind it for 100%. Otherwise it becomes instrumental, cold, inhuman.
    I think there are a lot of teachers who don’t stand behind the anthroposophy for 100%.
    Can they teach on Waldorf schools? In the seventies in Holland there was a tremendous growth of Waldorf schools. All kind of teachers came to work there without knowing the anthroposophy. A very big problem. I think the world hasn’t seen much of “real” Waldorf schools yet.

    Real Waldorf schools should not only differ from regular school, but in fact very much differ from each other.
    A group of teachers A differ from group of teachers B, because of the simple fact they are different people. This implies that Waldorf school A should differ from Waldorf school B . They create a different atmosphere, do different things.
    Standardization of Waldorfpadagogics is a bad case. This another factor prohibiting the “real” Waldorfschool.

  4. in that music room, where THAT music teacher is interviewed on the movie (still haven’t listened, I don’t think I can bear hearing her), there are no chairs. Instead you sit on ‘levels’, steps, like a disproportionate staircase. Those who sit on the step above you, can kick you in the back as much as they want. Not that it happens to most kids, but to kids like me, it did. I was kicked so that I could not breath, I remember trying to walk home, not being able to draw breaths, could barely talk.

    And that’s what life was like. You couldn’t object, you just had to comply, and suffer silently. You couldn’t get away.

    In the last year or two, my mum had told me I could just leave — I didn’t have to attend choir or orchestra or whatever it was, one afternoon each week, but when I was leaving, the other children, acting like police, were bringing me back with force. It’s damn unacceptable to have children beat other children up as some kind of — I don’t know what — disciplining. If I cut classes, it was none of their business. It was mine, my parents’, the teachers’ — nobody elses.

    Then choir or orchestra or whatever it was became voluntary. People didn’t behave because this teacher was… well, it was no wonder people were acting up. Anyway, one day she got fed up and said that those who weren’t there because they wanted to be there and weren’t going to behave could just leave. Not expecting, I think, that people would actually get up and leave. Anyway, I did. That was the last time of the choir/orchestra thingy for me. Ordinary music lessons one couldn’t get out of though, and they were nasty. I hated all of that. I think I wrote about the music somewhere on the blog. Also about that music teacher. She disliked all children who didn’t consider her subject REALLY important.

    And I had never learnt to play the flute. I never got it, I had pretended since 1st grade and just kept chewing on the flute. Waving my fingers here and there, it would have sounded awful if I’d actually blowed air into the thing. I don’t know the music terminology, none of it.

  5. Jan — I saw your comment appeared when I wrote my rant above. I’m in a hurry and have to run (I think I said the same thing in another comment half an hour ago, but now I really have to run, LOL!) — will get back to it when I return to the computer!

  6. Hi Alicia,

    I really feel for you and your disgust at seeing that video of your old school. I too felt queasy because of the herky-jerky hand-held camera movements with the garish accompanying ragtime piano music as well as those other interludes sounding like circus or carnival music.

    Also, on a linguistic note, I think you mean “nauseous” for the title, the adjective describing how you feel. If so, you left out an “o” in the word. However, your spelling of “nauseus” struck me as very Latin, since the noun form in the feminine “nausea” is a direct lifting into English of the queasy feeling, which in turn comes from the Greek “naus” meaning a “ship” (since that’s where people in the ancient world would most experience nausea). But spelling it as “nauseus” could be the masculine form of the adjective with feminine “nausea,” and neuter “nauseum.” And I believe you will like the neuter form!

    And there it is in the Urban Dictionary!!!
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nauseum

    actually, they have both “nauseus” and “nauseum,” the latter meaning a “disgusting museum” and that is exactly what the Kristofferskolan is to you — a “nauseum” that made you nauseous.

    So, I have suggestions for the title

    Either correct the spelling to “nauseous” and leave it at that, or consider my more descriptive title:

    A visit to the “Kristofferskolan Nauseum

  7. Alicia,

    This is your song. I advise playing it while you view the Kristofferskolan Nauseum video.

    But first do watch the song’s video accompanying this wondrous John Lennon post-Beatles song. (Actually from his first Post-Beatles album with Yoko Ono in late 1970)

    A Working Class Hero by John Lennon

    These 2 verses spoke to me directly about you.

    They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
    They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool,
    Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules,
    A working class hero is something to be,
    A working class hero is something to be.

    When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
    Then they expect you to pick a career,
    When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear,
    A working class hero is something to be,
    A working class hero is something to be.

  8. On the music teacher: https://zooey.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/waldorf-tales-iii/

    I remember her as really old, a mean old lady. She can’t have been, if she’s still teaching. I left that school in, what was it, 1989 I think.

    Jan: In some ways, I’m sort of detached from it. I was detached when I was in waldorf. When you can do nothing to change the situation, you have to become detached. And since my way of dealing with things is writing — I don’t have any other way — I think the ‘objectivating’ comes naturally. You need to watch yourself from a distance, because you’re writing about someone who is distant, even if it is yourself.

    ‘An idea/ ideal may never replace the human, social relation, between grown-ups, but also between pupil and teacher. Otherwise, indeed, you are experimenting on pupils which is inhumane and morally not right.’

    Agreed. Yet it happens all too easily.

    ‘I think you should not use the anthroposophical method, when you cannot stand behind it for 100%. Otherwise it becomes instrumental, cold, inhuman.
    I think there are a lot of teachers who don’t stand behind the anthroposophy for 100%.’

    This may be true, but in my school, the more fervently anthroposophical teachers were the worst ones. Now, one may argue that the most fervent anthroposophists really aren’t the ones who’ve ‘understood’ anthroposophy the best. But still… They did stand 100% behing anthroposophy — to my detriment, I’d say! (I have a hunch my class teacher was not among those teachers.)

    Tom: ‘I too felt queasy because of the herky-jerky hand-held camera movements …’

    That is actually spooky!

    ‘Also, on a linguistic note, I think you mean “nauseous” for the title, the adjective describing how you feel. If so, you left out an “o” in the word. However, your spelling of “nauseus” struck me as very Latin, since the noun form in the feminine “nausea” is a direct lifting into English of the queasy feeling, which in turn comes from the Greek “naus” meaning a “ship” (since that’s where people in the ancient world would most experience nausea). But spelling it as “nauseus” could be the masculine form of the adjective with feminine “nausea,” and neuter “nauseum.” And I believe you will like the neuter form!’

    Ha! Yes I mean nauseous. It’s a word I miss-spell. There’s also the useful expression ad nauseam. I shall not alter the post title to ‘nauseous’, though — it’s nice to think of this as a little museum of nauseousness! I’ll change it to ‘nauseum’ — that’s brilliant! (the spelling mistake will be kept in the museum of — what’s it called? the permalink, I believe.

  9. Every time I start the computer, that film begins to run, because I’ve kept the youtube-page in a tab, thinking I’ll suddenly watch the film. Developing the guts to do so. I’m not really sure anymore.

    I always rush to my computer to turn it off. Maybe I should close the tab. Once and for all. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

  10. Alicia,

    Take my suggestion and play the John Lennon song while you watch the school video on Mute.

    But first watch the Lennon video because it centers on schoolchildren — i.e. from Lennon’s own childhood at school.

    Then I think you’ll be psychically equipped to watch your own school video and listen. Whatever it is, don’t keep shrinking from it. Your “Inner Dog” obviously wants you to through it. So go through it while walking Mr. Dog. He’ll pull you through!

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