under the st erik bridge

It would be more appropriate, more romantic, perhaps even healthier (one might imagine), if the sounds of your childhood were bird song and waves and the wind blowing in tree tops and over meadows. But when they aren’t, they aren’t. It occurred to me this evening, standing under the St Erik bridge, listening to the trains going over it, again and again, that this so very familiar sound is the sound of my childhood. There’s no beautiful song, exactly, but a very special, industrial one, one of iron against iron, wheels on tracks, echoing inside a shell of more iron and concrete and asphalt, a visually brutal combination of materials which holds it all up in the air. And it feels so homelike. The trains are different, the people are different. I don’t go there often. In fact it almost never happens. We walked there this evening and I was surprised by all the water lilies in the channel. It happened, back then, that authorities made the occasional effort to fish up all the junk that ended up in the murky water — divers were sent down, and returned to the surface with bikes and cars and bags and fanciful items of all kinds and perhaps even corpses (it wouldn’t surprise me). All very exciting for a child, and since we lived just by it, we watched it. But much of these parts of town are not like when I was a child. Many places, I barely recognize at all. There was, then, a lot more urban wilderness left.

Lower level, metro; top level, cars, buses, people. Earlier this year.

But the bridge was there, of course, and it was just the same as today, and it sounded the same and looked the same, the graffiti has reincarnated, I suppose, in new shapes and forms, but who sees the difference anyway? I think they — whoever — have shut off some of the space underneath the abutment, those obscure and dark vaults under the two-story bridge where almost violently crashes into — it seems — the buildings, although in reality it only passes between them, passes over into road and tunnel, above and beneath.

You can wish your memories were different, but sure as hell they won’t be. You can wish other sounds meant something than the ones that do, or that your childhood was accompanied by birdsong, but that just won’t make it true. Things don’t change, it sometimes seems… except, on further consideration, you and the environment and the way you think about things. And that, perhaps, is all there is anyway. An iron tune, reminiscent of something, calling into consciousness some lost feelings and memories otherwise only vaguely familiar. Zing. In actuality, it’s all gone. Any intuition that it isn’t, is error. I’m exterminating the notion that anything at all stays the same.

*

I got this wonderful song stuck on my brain, so I’ll share it with you. It’s a nice song, it’s an entire story.

 

*

So. I fail entirely at being upset. I fail to be disturbed, although I almost feel obligated to be. The anxiety treatment and the rubella epidemic. The latest little document showing that cancer is meaningful. The TV ‘debate’ about vaccinations. I suppose I fail because I don’t care; the UK free school issue, another thing that should matter, has been almost entirely wiped off my mind, lately. I don’t care much about the ‘domestic’ issues either, although some of them entertain me still, but on another level. I don’t care about the resentment coming from anthroposophists (who fail to understand the most basic thing) and I don’t care enough get myself entangled in the web of rightful anger of critics. I don’t care who wants to boycott whom. And yes that is bad — because it means I don’t care about harmful behaviour. Shock — I don’t care about the pregnant women whose foetuses’ lives are in danger from rubella, I don’t care about the children who are being risked as a consequence of measles vaccine refusal, I don’t care about the poor anxious woman who was treated with homeopathy instead of… whatever useful treatment there is (in that field of medicine, perhaps not that many). Personally, I feel fed up with it all — to the point where, to be frank, I don’t give a damn. Oddly, I don’t care enough to be hurt, either. People who try put words in my mouth that I never said or imagine thoughts in my mind that I never had. People who ascribe to me opinions that I never ever expressed and that aren’t mine.

I fear that sometimes I’ve become too indifferent. Too cold. To a degree where people start seeing this indifference as another statement of — something. Some special brand of hostility.

I don’t know.

I did start to do what I have done because it affected me; in fact, being affected drove me. Now it’s more a detached interest for what’s currently happening and another kind of deeper interest for the underlying questions. Often there’s not even a detached interest, there’s tedium. Which is a horrible thing to say about something that is, in most cases, quite important.

When I say these things don’t affect me — I think of, for example, being unaffected by things like stupidity, ignorance and meanness.

And when I encounter these things in anthroposophists, I sometimes think that whatever dear old Rudi was or whatever he said, he was far more interesting than the contemporary dimwitted defenders, he was much funnier than the drones, more brilliant than they can imagine (which, I suppose, doesn’t say much) — he was a lot of things they don’t even struggle to be (no matter how much they struggle to imitate his example), because they don’t understand them. This isn’t about perfection — it’s about the opposite of perfection. It’s about what makes people interesting, not what makes them perfect or sets them above the rest. That’s nothing but nonsense anyway. He’s a clumsy author — I’m reading his bio from start to finish and, oh dear Dog, it’s uneven in quality, to say the least — and he’s transparently imperfect, his human motives at times shining like beacons in the esoteric fog. (And if someone asks, I’m just saying these things because they sound fancy.)

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4 comments

  1. Melanie · ·

    I love the word ‘fancy’. There’s a picture book we have about opposites where a little pig is either plain – or (in a tutu) fancy.

    ‘It’s about what makes people interesting,’ and how dreary the Steiner Waldorf PR – the lists of celebs, the mindless word ‘holistic’, the lying and the spin. Fortunately for everyone concerned, much of our education happens outside schools.

  2. Exactly — the dreariness. Why? When did that become necessary? When tax money entered the picture? I presume at least the lust for it contributes.

    Jennifer Aniston — what on earth does she tell us about anthroposophy? It’s completely useless — both for the parents AND for annthroposophy itself and anyone who finds it interesting.

    The pig story seems familiar. I think I must have read something similar.

    And to hijack the thread, I posted this on facebook. Maybe I should have made a post of it.

    *

    On that boring old thing again: public funding of, e g, homeopathic remedies. (Not talking about them being allowed now, that’s an entirely different question. I’m talking about funding.) Let’s say, for simplicity, that we have remedy A, a medicine proven to be efficient if not necessarily pleasant, and remedy B, at best unproven and at worst disproven (after all, there’s no active ingredient left in homeopathy). I’m talking about effect on the physical level now — efficiency on the spiritual level is a matter of conviction not of scientific proof. Why would society take resources from medicine A and put them on the use of medicine B? And why does it surprise people, when they ask for public funding for med B, when others ask: does it work? Why are we supposed to contribute to this? With limited resources available, why not use them so that they actually make a measurable difference for the physical health and survival of people?

    It baffles me when anthroposophists don’t get that with public funding comes scrutiny. There comes, even, having to accept the presence of other people’s opinions (some of which aren’t going to be very informed, but neither are always those oif anthroposophists themselves). That’s exactly how it should be — it applies to them as it does to everyone else. It’s a good thing it works that way — or else lots more tax money should be wasted, presumably often on even worse extravagancies and certainly on many more brands of ‘fashionable nonsense’.

  3. That latter part should have gone on the other thread… Would have been more suitable I just realized.

    Anyway. The one thing I know about the Exeter school is that they’re expecting to enroll 700 students. I’m not sure how they manage to uphold that illusion. It’s what a waldorf school in a larger city would attract… Under favourable circumstances. And this is an addition to already existing, small but private steiner schools! I guess that they’re envisioning lots of parents who don’t know or care about anthroposophy to come flock around it. I saw MarkH tweet something about no anthroposophy yesterday…

    Ah, the dreariness of it all. The sad contortions they must inflict on their own philosophy to satisfy the desire for material gains and superficial success. It’s ironic.

  4. So, I have to post this — it’s a lovely old photo of the bridge. Before it was converted to a two-story bridge. The street where I lived is to the one to the very left.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53303620@N03/4992889002/in/photostream

    Ps. and this is the underground station:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53303620@N03/4992888746/in/photostream

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