Home: Die Werkstatt Südafrikablog: Kom die Kaap na!



'Transamericana - from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego' the title read, and so I recruited ten students to check out the thusly advertised slide presentation. As usual in situations when I move in public with students, it took me a while to discard the uneasy self-awareness of the teacher's role that holds my emotions in check on such occasion - keeping an eye peeled on the students, while keeping the other peeled on my own (doubtlessly role-model) behaviour, I don't usually allow myself to feel situations as intensely as when on my own. The less-then-unromantic atmosphere of the location - a VW saleshouse in SFG - didn't help much, but the show was really good, and so I slowly slipped into the trippy mode. By the time we had gotten to the Atacama, I was completely gone, absorbed in the beauty of the images of landscapes, nature, and people, which reminded me so much of my own experiences on my trips - the loneliness in the desert where silence is so complete as to hurt in your ear, the bumpiness of a dirt track, which makes your arms clutching the steering rubbery with vibration, the dust and grit and sweat and adventure. By the end of the show my soul was screaming to go, go, just fucking go, to where the eyes can roam and see no ugly buildings and asphalt, and I felt that familiar old nagging, yearning, longing, spreading from the stomach - strangely reminiscent of being madly, and unhappily, in love...
A sight from God's Window in South 'Africa - from my last voyage.
How far can He see?

And then it was over and we stepped outside into the SFG night - and I was a teacher again.


Life popping out of nowhere

I found this highly entertaining video when researching for my Evolution classes. It's too good to miss, so I'll benevolently share it with the lot of you...

There are more of this kind, all very well done. Just look for the 'Made Easy Series' posted by 'potholer54' on YouTube.


Great things a happening...

Yes, it is that time of year again here at LGH where the inmates hold their breath and doggedly endure the onslaught of applicants for next years admission. On the forthcoming weekend, more than a hundred hopeful aspirants to the claims of becoming an honourable member of 7th or 8th grade here at our valued state institution, will live through two days of excitement and selection. This day may seem important to them, but for us it is of crucial value... we recruit a new generation. No one knows what Space Cadets and Easy Riders we will allow entry to our sacred altars of knowledge and which Beethovens and Einsteins we will turn away. But, as always.... we shall see - and make the best of them.


Pizza with C.

There's something strange about meeting graduates from LGH... is it the changed roles, the acceptance of their adulthood, the knowledge that the closeness of former days is irrevocably gone? I had a first glimpse of this peculiar mix of emotions when I visited K. in his mathematician infested flat in Berlin last autumn. The boy, who had not found the words to say good-bye then, had now become, well, not quite a man yet, but something sort of approaching that state...
Of ocurse, there is also something very nice about visits from ex-students, seeing how they get on with their lives, just a mere half year after releasing them into the great wide open, with everything increasing, from independence, to responsibility, to troubles. Innocent youth has ended here, one might say, and life runs its course.

C., another close ally from the first generation of the LGH, and honourable keeperess of 'the hat', came by on a surprise visit last week, and we sat down for tea and chatted, as if we were still clinging to those (g)olden days, when everything was chaos in this new school, and we all felt just like a big family... we continued to go out for pizza and talked and talked. Even though there was no tequila this time, this meeting made me realize even more that once you let go of your loved ones, they unfold their wings and turn into butterflies. Dear C., it makes me proud to think I might have added a little of colour.


An evening with a German intellectual - Fassbinders 'Die dritte Generation' flops in Stuttgart Schauspielhaus

(Fassbinder during movie production with Hanna Schygulla; source: wikipedia.org)

It so happened that Lars asked my over lunch whether I had anything planned for the evening and whether I would like to have his tickets for the drama in Stuttgart. I replied no and yes, and so ended up going to S-town twice over a period of three days (whoppee!). Reason I am mentioning being that just on Saturday, I had been feeling very sorry for myself for not getting off campus more often, and so took off to the big city with the resolution of not becoming involved in work on the weekend just once - just to find myself sitting in a bar drinking beer, when a horde of LGH-students chanced to pass by, waving and cheering at me through the window... I ended up taking the same train home as they, and we walked through the starry Gmünd night singing 'California Dreaming' and other hits. So much for getting away from the usual crowd...:-)

Anyhow, Lars' generosity came as a gift from the heavens today, and as I believe in grabbing chances by the tail when they come along and bite me on the shin, I took off with a smile on my lips. Sometimes in life, things just all seem to fall into place - an life has actually been quite good for a couple of days now. Not knowing which production I actually had tickets for, I found myself sitting in the first-ever performance of an adaptation of a Rainer Werner Fassbinder movie, called 'Die dritte Generation'. Anyone who has heard of Fassbinders movies would expect a play of his to be hard stuff to swallow, but I found it unbearable to chew even, let alone digest. A scene from the late 70s in Berlin, laughingly incompetent terrorist schemings, actors smoking a lot on stage, a weird script, not a single character that would evoke a feeling of compassion or even a forced smile, repetitive dialogs that are heavy with symbolism yet keep you fumbling for meaning - German intellectual drama at its worst. Luckily for the cast, who were giving their best, as has to be acknowledged, there was no intermission, otherwise I bet two third of the seats would have been left empty for the second round. In the end, a weak excuse for an applause confirmed what I had been feeling from the opening scene - neither topic, nor interpretation were anything to push you anywhere to the edge of your seat, except maybe to drop to the floor snoring. A handful of die-hards actually waited int the foyer for post-production discussion, but I just hunched up my shoulders, and took off as fast as I could.

Anyhow, it felt good to have been immersed in a cultural setting, and I'd prefer bad Fassbinder to Hollywood mass productions any day. But let's work on the punch lines, shall we.


It's a valentine's day

One of the nice traditions that have been successfully established at LGH include a Valentino flower and chocolate service - you order by filling out coloured cards with the name of your valentine and, if you so desire, add some messages. Then on the 14th of Feb. the flower girls come breaking into the classrooms, interrupting even the most interesting English grammar lessons and dish out the accumulated well-wishes of friends, dance-partners and lovers.

In contrast to last year, were I left the class room empty handed (sob!), I was bestowed the honour of a red rose, complete with a heart-wrenching drawing of a surfer... ooooooh, sweet, man. Dear unknown red rose sender, I should like to take this opportunity to hereby thank you immensely - you made my day... ;-)

PS As some of you may have noticed, forthwith I shall be writing my blog in English. Larger publicity, global village, lingua franca and all that considered are the reasons, plus some friends who might have an easier time catching up on Ulfie's doings that way... All you Germans...I hope you don't mind...