Friday, 18 March 2011

KÁROLY ÁKOS

Among my souvenirs
A bibliography, and a personal reminiscence

From the archive

Not as assiduously as I ought, I have been continuing to box my personal archive. I do not have time to sort through all this stuff as it deserves but I am reminded that it includes all sorts of materials and items that possibly exist nowhere else. Here is just one example, selected here not least because it is short enough to retype, and because of memories that it engenders.

A bibliography

Some years ago now, I was given this typewritten bibliography by Károly Ákos –   

Select bibliography
Károly Ákos
Books 
Psychology of Mysticism, 1955, 191 pages, in Hungarian 
Do Animals Think? 1960, 140 pages, in Hungarian (Russian edition, 1965) 
The World of our Senses, 1960, 291 pages, in Hungarian 
Cognition, 1961, 234 pages, in Hungarian
Our Nervous System, 1963, 296 pages, in Hungarian
The Soul, 1964, 221 pages, in Hungarian  

The Critical Flicker Frequency Series Effect (with Magda Ákos), 1966, 245 pages, in English 

Conductive Education (with Mária Hári), 1971, 341 pages, in Hungarian (two Japanese and an English edition)  

In Whirl of Times, 1975, 361 pages, in Hungarian 
Fatigue in Psychochronographic Examination (with Magda Ákos), 1979, 475 pages 
Dina (with Magda Ákos), 1988, 252 pages, in German (English edition, 1991)
Papers
Around one hundred in all, including: 
Do animals think? In Science and Humanity, International Yearbook of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1960, in Russian 
The Growth of Science: its Premises and its Dangers (with E. P. Wigner, Nobel Prize Winner for Physics). Magyar Tudomány, May 1969
Additionally
Five books for teenagers: 

     Animals: an unknown World, 1960, 380 pages

     Man: an Unknown World, 328 pages, 1962 

Series on religion and psychology: 

     Sunday, 1962, 271 pages

     Sacrifice, 1963, 262 pages

     Devil, 1964, 230 pages
Editor of     

     Scientific Studies in Conductive Education  
     a series on Darwin 
     a four-volume medical dictionary
Translator of
Brehms Tierleben

'While in the fifties the sporadic attempts at systematic atheism tended to degenerate into anti-clericism and mud-slinging […] an exception was provided by Károly Ákos who, over the past twenty years, has published an impressive number of books and studies, popularising (at a good literary level) basic atheistic views concerning the genesis, history and current practices of the world's religions.'
Erwin László, The Communist Ideology in Hungary, Dordrecht, D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1966, p 82 and n. 5

A. K.
March 1992
A personal reminiscence

In the late nineteen-eighties and on into the nineties I used to visit the apartment where Károly Ákos and his wife Magda lived in Budapest, in genteel penury. They lived on the corner of Vörös Hadsereg útja as it was then called ('Red Army Road' (now Hűvösvölgyi út) and Kelemen László utca. In front of the house was a tram stop from which it was but a few minutes' tramride down the broad highway to Kútvölgyi út, where the main building of the Pető Institute stands. As far as I know, the Ákoses had never visited this building. Whether this had been a self-inflicted alienation, or whether they were personae non gratis, I do not know.

Suffice it here that students and conductors at the Pető Institute seemed not to know of the Ákoses and their work, and do not still (with one notable exception, for one of their daughters was a conductor). Others from outside Hungary, however, also visited the Ákoses' apartment. We would be very warmly received there, and hear their reminiscences, their powerful and frank views on András Pető,  and their critical comments of the path that his method was now following only a mile of so down the highway from their home.

I had very little Hungarian when I first went there (even less than now). We conversed, through the fog of Károly's growing deafness, largely in his remarkable English, with occasional help from his other daughter (a teacher) and, best of all, through the late Véra Szárkony who could interpret far more than just the language. Magda spoke English well, listened attentively to what was being said, and took care that the right message was being conveyed. His conductor daughter remained in another part of the apartment throughout my visits – I presumed so that she could honestly say that she had taken no part in these conversations.

At one visit I drew attention to a large book case that seemed to hold a special pride of place, and asked him its significance. 'These are my books,' Károly answered, with justified pride – taking particular satisfaction in showing me the entry that he had had published in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia. I asked him whether he had a bibliography and, when I visited him the next time that I was in Budapest, he presented me with the above document, prepared in specific response to my request.

Dina

This was in 1992. Over the previous year I had edited the English edition of Dina, translated from Gaby Haug's original German edition. Oh, he was such an awkward author to edit. I would send him batches of pages, say a couple of chapters or so at a time – and he would go through them meticulously to make sure that they exactly fitted his original meaning. Quite right too, so he should. Unfortunately, as noted above, his grasp of English was 'remarkable' – remarkably good and remarkably eccentric – and we had some terrible tussles.

(I had been forewarned about this by Joy Stevens who only a few years previously had managed the translation into English of the book Conductive Education. Her task had been even harder, as she had to cope not just with Károly, but with Mária Hári too, and the with disagreements between the two of them about what was meant by their original Hungarian text!)

Still, no bones were broken over Dina, and the book had been published in 1991, just about on schedule. Dina was the most ambitious book that our Foundation had published up to then and, let me tell you, in those days publishing was no easy matter. We had no computers, neither had our printer, and there was no hint of the on-demand publishing that we can now  take for granted. Everything was done on paper, it all took ages and, when we were ready, we had to order from the printers what seemed a reasonable number of copies of the book to make all the effort worthwhile – and to keep down the unit price. Then we had to sell them, to get our money back, and pay the authors some royalty.

Unfortunately, by the early ninetee-nineties the great Conductive Education furore was nearing its end in the UK. Following Standing up for Joe Conductive Education had had five good years of public acclaim, so perhaps it in part deserved the lean years that were to follow. By 1992, when Dina was published in English translation, the CE boom was going bust, with a vengeance. The Foundation for Conductive Education had invested money that it could barely spare to produce Dina, but the book did not sell in significant numbers. Parents who bought it still tell me that this quirky little book was the best thing that they ever read on bringing up a child with cerebral palsy, but these parents were few and far between. In the end, the Foundation had to write off the money spent on Dina, and accept the financial loss as just one more in a whole sea of troubles at that time.

I do not know how Gaby's edition fared in the German-speaking market place. I suspect that it did much the same as ours. She put the lack of interest down in part to the fall of the Iron Curtain. Conductors were fee to leave Hungary to work abroad, either with individual families or in newly opening conductive centres. Many families preferred this model to one that depended upon their own self-help transformation of their children's upbringing at home. Perhaps the lack of interest in the English edition may have reflected much the same trend.

Sales of our book fell well short of paying even the printer's bill and we were left with a  'Dina mountain'. The English Dina did not bring a penny to the Ákoses, and I have deeply regreted that. I know that they did too.

A gentleman and a scholar

Károly was as crazy and as awkward a cuss in his own way as all the other cussed crazies whom I have met with during over over thirty years' contact with Conductive Education around the world. But he was a gentleman and a scholar, and he could have contributed so much. What a terrible loss to Conductive Education that his earlier involvement had not continued.

Some bibliographic footnotes
  1. The bibliography that Károly prepared for me was a select one. I have not seen a complete list, though I am sure that he would have had one. 
  2. The titles had already been translated into English for me when I received it.
  3. It would be interesting to know whether he had published more books than he mentioned here, and the detailed references of of all those other items that he mentions
  4. As for his psychochronicity, this was very much 'their thing' (his and Magda's) but I have to admit that I never had the time to get to the bottom of it.
  5. As far as I know, subsequent to writing the above bibliography, Károly did not publish anything further.
  6. Dina went on to be published in Russian and Chinese translations (from the English text). I do not know how these versions fared either, in terms of sales and circulation.


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14 Comments:

Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

Emma McDowell writes –

Andrew

Thank you for calling my attention to this very good and heartfelt article of yours on the Ákoses. Although I cannot recall exactly how I went to visit them first (on your recommendation, of course, but I seemed to have read their German “Dina” by then, too), I know that I was at once fascinated by their personalities and their stories.

My visits always lasted for ages – usually until total exhaustion. I remember, more than once only an urgent telephone from my sister broke me away from them (after about three hours), in fact, once the family had to collect me from the Vörös Néphadsereg Útja by car, so that we could get to the theatre where we had tickets.

My brother and sister never could understand my fascination with “yesterday's” history, in particular with the emergence of CE. and why I put so much effort into that sort of research. They may have felt a bit that I had nearly become a “Salon-communist” out there in the West, in spite of the fact that I too had lived through the 50s and 60s, and I should therefore KNOW.

I feel justified now that in those intervening years between “then” and “now” I spoke to a lot of witnesses still alive and able and willing to talkof the days of the previous regime. This “now” is much less exciting or individual – besides, Hungary now is certainly “no country for old men”…

My son George also remembers the Ákoses, I took him there once. They were very eager to offer practical advice but I "knew everything”, at least what I needed to know to continue bringing up George who was by then 16 . Don’t forget, I myself came from a strongly ‘pedagogic’ family. Besides, (and mainly) I was getting sufficient guidance and help from the Institute just down the road.

Károly later did send me a list of their English language pamphlets (I am sure you have this list, too), they are interesting and educational, according to their summaries. But the tiny minority of parents who first of all have young children with cerebral palsym and secondly have heard of Conductive education very few indeed are willing to put in some research as to how to work effectively with their children at home, THEMSELVES.

Some of these little pamphlets would be, on the other hand, very useful for trainee conductors. I have got the list, but not the pamphlets themselves.

Don’t these trainee conductors have to write dissertations? What an excellent subject this would be.

Emma.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 18:18:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

Emma,

Thank you for your interesting response.

First, I have to be very brave and query your recollection of one old street name under Socialism. I am sure that the highway on which the Ákoses lived was called Vörös Néphadsereg Útja (the Street of the Red Army), rather than Vörös Néphadsereg Útja (the Street of the People's Red Army). I do not have one of my old street maps handy this evening to check this, and to confirm my recollection that there was also a Néphadsereg Tér (People's Army Square).

Anorak put aside, now to substance.

I am so glad to read 'I put so much effort into that sort of research'. I wish that more people in CE could understand that tudomány (science) means enormously more than outcome evaluation! They would save themselves a lot of trouble, and perhaps save CE from a lot of harm.

'Mindent tud': I never really grasped the precise force of this phrase. Is it used ironically'?

No, I do not have that list, I think. Any chance of a copy?

In Germany the Verein that Gabi Haug created all those years ago now, to promulgate the Ákoses' approach, a sort of self-help network of conductive parents, faded away. One reason seemed to be that it was about then that German parents woke up to the possibility of importing their own conductors, and the Fortschritt movement was born. If this was indeed causatively connected to the demise of Gabi's movement (and there has been no real historical research in Germany yet), then it is consistent with your own point.

Yes, a little basic historical research would be a wonderful experience for student-conductors, and for many others in CE.

Andrew.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 18:52:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

Whoops, I am drowning in all those foreign street names.

The family lived in Vörös Hadsereg Útja, I am sure (without Nép). Somebody with an old street map, please put me out of my misery and spare me any further embarrassment.

Andrew.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 19:11:00 GMT  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

Andrew,

My 1988 Budapest Belváros Zsebtérkép says: Vörös Hadsereg Ütja.

Susie

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 19:21:00 GMT  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

Andrew,

I am starting a bit of CE research myself at the moment. I moving slowly forwards in my attempt to track down Gabriella Haug.

I would really love to talk to her about the writing and publishing of Dina, and what happened to the “upbringing” families when Fortschritt came along. Any help gratefully received.

I will of course post on my blog whatever I find out

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 19:27:00 GMT  
Blogger Viktoria said...

“Vörös Hadsereg útja” is now “Üllői út”
“Néphadsereg utca” is now “Falk Miksa utca”
There was no “Vörös Néphadsereg utca”.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 19:40:00 GMT  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

Andrew,

I remember well where the Ákoses lived because I used to live nearby and I oftened walked there with one of my fellow students when he visited the Ákoses to interview them for his own research. I very much regret never having gone in with him but always leaving him at the door.

It was a house on Vörös Hadsereg útja, now Hövösvölgyi Út., the continuation out of the city of Szilágyi Ersebet Fasor, running parallel to Pasereti út.

Yes, Néphadsereg utca is now Falk Miksa utca.

As far as my old and new maps tell me, and my old memory of the time when having learnt all those difficult names I then had to relearn them very soon after, Üllői út was one that stayed the same. In Bob Dent's Budapest 1956 it is Üllői út.

Néphadsereg Tér is now Honvéd Tér, between Honvéd u. and Szemere u.

As for Vörös Néphadsereg utca, I do not remember it and I cannot find a street with this name on any map.

Hope this helps.
Susie

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 20:48:00 GMT  
Blogger Viktoria said...

This explains: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9Cll%C5%91i_%C3%BAt

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 21:13:00 GMT  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

PS
I think at one time a part of Üllői út, in the 18th District, was called Vöröshadsereg utca, all one word.

Susie

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 21:20:00 GMT  
Blogger Susie Mallett said...

It is the piece of Üllői út. that runs parallel to the Ferihegyi Repülötérre Vezetö in the direction of Vecsés. So there were two, one in Buda and one in Pest. The Ákoses lived on the one in Buda.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 21:34:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

Thanks for all this!

My history is not good enough. I guess that, if it were, I would know of a wealth of difference between the Red Army and the People's Army.

It is good enough to know of the terrible events of Christmas 1944 and the start of 1945, in the roads out of town to the West of Moszkva tér, during the battle of Budapest and especially during the attempted German-Hungarian break-out from the Castle district.

I did not know any of this at the time that I used to explore and stroll in those urbane suburban streets nor I did not know what had happened in Virányos út. in the days when the Foundation for Conductive Education had its office there. I think that ignorance was bliss in that respect.

By the way, do you know that there is currently a move to lose the name Moszkva tér?

http://bbjonline.hu/politics/hungary-in-makeover-mode_56651

Terrible events there too during the break-out.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 21:37:00 GMT  
Blogger Viktoria said...

No, both were the same as far as my memory goes but I don't have to rely on that:
http://www.valtozovilag.hu/budapest/u/U.htm
http://www.valtozovilag.hu/budapest/h/H.htm
Many streets can have the same names as long as they're in different districts.

Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 21:39:00 GMT  
Blogger Andrew Sutton said...

Emma writes further --

There was a beloved radio program for children in the late 50s(?) called Csin-bum Cirkusz, with lots of popular funny songs that we all knew. (I think it was recorded live, with a studio audience.) One character (the Clown) was called Bukfenc (meaning, ‘head-over-heels’) and the program always started with this clown saying in a funny, clownish way: Bukfenc Mindent Tud. Hence the saying, and of course I meant it with self-irony.
Sorry to have quoted the road wrong, of course the Red Army is Vörös Hadsereg in Hungarian, so the route where (in Christmas 1944) the liberating army came in was (for once) appropriately named after them: Vörös Hadsereg útja. (The Road of the Red Army). Hungary’s own new army was called Magyar Néphadsereg (The People’s Army). Since everything was then called “The People’s…” it was an easy mistake to make for me, approaching partial memory-loss, anyway (due to age).

Emma

Tuesday, 22 March 2011 at 00:37:00 GMT  
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