Two days ago, my students, a group of 7 girls (3 from Poland and 3 from Lithuania) writing on Jim Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers, upon having received the highest grades in their oral exam were all ready to follow me – they didn’t know where, but they were ready. Some cried, and it wasn’t because they were over the moon, but because another of the students had suggested that it’s because I have, what she called, ‘the touch.’ They all agreed. Even the external examiner felt ‘touched.’ Yet he turned to the group and said, “yes, this woman can be very convincing, but you know, authorities can be challenged.” While they all agreed again, one of the students suggested, however, that where I was concerned, challenging me is extremely hard.

Indeed while this may appear to be so, I guide myself and the students through supervision by following some simple rules. I have a routine. I always start with looking the students straight into their eyes whereupon I lay down the conditional premise: if you work with me, I work with you; if you fuss, you’ll stumble, if you don’t, you’ll marvel. So two days ago, another marveling situation made me think that my days as a teacher may not be quite so over. In any event, the whole touching situation was rather touching. Of course, as I never lose my wits, I had enough presence of spirit to anticipate the reaction from the Danish Minister of Education should he learn that the students, after the exam, instead of being sent home with a solidly scientific figure, were instructed that what they had just been experiencing was the result of cosmic constructivism of the poetico-philosophico-metaphorical kind. The external examiner was ready to give me a grade for coming up with such a useful term. We all have our talents.

This reminds me of a conversation with my sister a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about our potential abilities to channel through other people whatever we may wish, both for them and for ourselves. As she is a psychologist, however, who believes more in projections rather than cosmic vibrations – whereas I think that I believe in a bit of both – she told me that the whole thing is more normal than paranormal, as it only takes the effort of focusing slightly more intently than otherwise in order to achieve a result. She gave me an example using her own son, a 14 year old. They were traveling together from Arad to Bucharest by train. This can be a most tedious and tiresome ride, especially if you have to share the compartment with a noisy family consisting of two incessantly talkative parents and 2 extremely noisy kids. For 10 hours. My sister and her son are people who prefer silence to circus. So Paul David, my nephew, decided at some point that the whole family simply just had to get off as quickly as possible. He was whispering this wish into my sister’s ear, in a voice that recalled for her an unusually focused intent.

And then what happened? Lo and behold, at the next stop they were rid of the unwanted. Now, this wouldn’t be so unusual, if only, after the four people had gotten off, they will not have also realized instantly that it was the wrong stop. They all started running after the train, yelling to my sister and her son to try to find the conductor and have him stall the train. But how could they? The train was already moving, so the request remained unrequited. And so it went. My sister ended telling me about the incident with these words: “you see, that wasn’t too difficult.”

Now I’m thinking that I would like to take some lessons from my nephew. Last I saw him, we were focusing on empty beer glasses at Carlsberg in Copenhagen: I, thinking about what in logic is called the rule of resemblance, he, thinking of Groucho Marx’s rule: “I resemble that remark.” Things belonging to the family of resemblance have no boundaries. The only rule is thus this: if you want it badly enough, you will have it.


Anonymous said…
Great, so let me ask you for some advice.

I supervise a group of 6, composed of five average-self-obsessed-prick-shaped-young-boys and one beautiful, intelligent, witty, exuberant young woman.

Today she complained to me that the horde of lombrosians surrounding her have contributed almost nothing to their joint project. She wished that they would all fail the coming exam.

Well, her wish is not yet my command. But still. She only needs to wish it hard enough. Just as you said.

But Goddamn, I slowly become your yesman! I promise to disagree with you in my next comment.

So actually I don't want any advice from you.
Camelia said…
So, Herr Lektor, bist du sicher dass du kein Rat haben willst? Wir können es jetzt auf Deutch geben, oder auf Yiddish: Ay, a khasuren die kalleh is tsu shayn...
Anonymous said…
Hehehe, thanks a lot for expelling me back to our primary roots :)

I am speechless, don't know what to say. All right, I accept your advice. But let me say just this: the great Father has chosen the right bride in this case. She makes my eyes burn with laughter.

P.S. No German will ever come out of my keyboard.
Camelia said…
Hallelujah! If the eyes burn with desire, or was it laughter? - same thing really.

About the lombrosians, well, that's easy: ask them something esoteric - math is all about that anyway, so you'll be in your full right to do so. Your lady student will be eternally grateful, especially if the question will touch upon complex analysis. Through in some holomorphic functions and you'll have a beautiful conformal map that the "five average-self-obsessed-prick-shaped-young-boys" will find useful to make their way out of the evidently emerging F, which you may or may not grant them, or rather force it upon them in the end. Such delighting and painful uncertainty is bound to make things very instructing for everybody.

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