Sunday, 31 July 2011

Turning in the grave

Souls go marching on

This week on my Facebook page I posted links to two videos recently published on line.

These have provoked vigorous comment, raising impotant questions that I have to address in more detail. In the meantime here is my response to one specific comment made, in which conductor Judit Szathmáry expressed herself charctistically to the point –

Would Dr Pető András like it? You have got your answer. Sad very sad. Pető would shut the place down.

Time after time Conductive World has cautioned against believing all the implausible things that one hears beginning with words like ‘Professor Pető believed…’, ‘Professor Pető said…’. Perhaps, though, what Judit wrote here is somehow different, being less a statemnt of supposed historical or academic fact than a rhetorical way of expressing her powerful emotional belief in a certain poetic truth (no doubt Judit will correct me forceably if I am wrong).

I personally do not know how the mortal remains of András Pető might react in his urn in its perhaps surprisingly prominent position just inside the main gate of Farkasréti Cemetary in Buda, though I do suspect that he had a sardonic sense of humour – and did not suffer gladly...

Remember Mária

One thing that I do dare guess at is the glacial anger with which Mária Hári might have responded, and the harsh terms in which she might have expressed herself in her fragmented English.

Imagining this, I of course recognise and wonder at the historical validity of what I do. Had it not been for the cancer, Mária might now be a sprightly, alert octogenarian, free of institutional constraint and, even more than she had been ten years ago, relishing the new power of the Internet and her flourishing ability to woo the worlds of the media and politics. Perhaps she could not have beaten back the social and economic forces pressing down upon Conductive Education, but what a rallying point she would have been. Our present world of Conductve Education might have not been quite what it is now – and certainly less comfortable for some! And of course, political animal that she was, she would have learned to develop her ideas in the new environment, and probably to appreciate practical innovations true to the spirit of the heritage that she treasured.

Who knows? Counterfactual, what-if history...

An apocryphic tale?

All that I can do here is to pass on her final public pronouncement on the changing world of Conductive Education, delivered about this time of year in 2001 (she died early that October) as she stormed out of the Pető Institute for the last time, slamming the doors behind her.

As reported to me, close to the time, she shouted behind her –

You have destroyed me.
You have destroyed this Institiute.
You have destroyed Conductive Education.

Reliably reported? Apocryphal? Who knows? At least now this is in the public domain, and I think that she might have approved of that. I hope so, anyway.

Should the History of Conductive Education become again an an academic subject, this would make a wonderful basis for a seminar or examination question.

Gill Maguire and I are collecting materials for a resource book and reader on András Pető, to be published by Conductive Education Press. When it comes out more people might be able to make somewhat less uninformed guesses on what he thought of (some) things that he knew in his time. And even make their own guesses about what might set his ashes rotating.

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