A Little “school” History: Thomas Farber, Alex Horn & Berkeley CA, circa 1967

Rosie, Sharon, AlexHello Fellow “Disgruntled ex-Students”, Soon-to-be-“Disgruntled ex-Students” & Blog Monitors:

Lately, I’ve been ranting about our current narcissist-elect, but today I’m thinking about something else. Blog monitors probably already know about “school’s” roots – 60s-70s, San Francisco, The Theater of All Possibilities, led by Alex Horn, etc, but some of you may not have had time to unearth the rot. These articles exposed allegations of violence, sexual exploitation and child neglect, back in the day.

don’t share the illustrious beginnings. They often vaguely allude to luminaries from the past or periods of great creativity and intellect: the existentialists, the Renaissance, and such. Occasionally, Robert announced, “… it has been said that [Hans Christian Anderson/Henry David Theroux/Shakespeare/Jesus Christ/Bugs Bunny/ etc. etc. etc.] was in a ‘school’...” his claims, always preceded by the pretentious, “it has been said…”

In my post-school rule breaking –i.e. internet research about “school”– I bumbled into an author named Thomas Farber. The Fulbright scholar, and English professor published a book, Tales for the Son of My Unborn Child, copyright 1971. It chronicles characters and vignettes from his mid-to-late 60s adventures in Berkley, California.

On a whim, I ordered Farber’s book because Chapter 10, Getting Religion, recounted his Alex Horn encounter. Here’s some of what he said:

“… Alex was right in front of Joe, telling him to say something honest, just one clean word. Joe faltered, and Alex hit him hard with one quick punch to the heart, slapped him backhand across the face, and said: ‘Joe, straighten up or get out.’ ” p. 137

” … Alex stepped into the circle and grabbed her by the wrist. She pulled away. He held her tight and, with the greatest deliberation, hit her very hard, once, and then again. She screamed, she cried, and in a delirium of vitriol, pain, and outrage, she ranted … And then, with a great effort, she broke loose, ran to and crashed through the glass door, and stumbled to the street calling for help. Two men started to go after her, but as they rose Alex said, ‘Stop!’ They froze, we all froze, and, as we held the positions of the moment of that call, Alex ordered us to do our Work. We did, even as her sobs and cries reached he room from the street below.” p.144

Isn’t that inspiring. “School’s” illustrious beginnings. Robert’s first “teacher”. Sharon’s deceased husband.

If you’re “breaking rules” in search of the truth about “school”, you can order Farber’s book on Amazon. When you read the Getting Religion chapter, the pretentious language will sound very, very familiar:
“We are a group that works together to build higher levels of being ..”
“We aspire to something finer”
“we must first confront the worst in ourselves, our mechanical-ity, our sleeping state …”
“with the help of the work we may be able to remember ourselves”
“Here we try to get past self-pity, we try not to live on our imaginations., we try to do our being-duty…”
“The Work is to go beyond life, to build being. Chief weakness … begin with self-remembering … pass false personality to essence…”
” … we were stars, that from the stars we chose a life on earth.”
“there was a wolf in us, too, which had to be fed …”
“there was no time for unnecessary suffering …”

Blah, blah, blah. Farber, for his part, eventually left this iteration of “school”. He did conclude that Alex was sincerely trying to do something, I guess, worthy, writing, “Who can judge him?” To which I’m happy to respond: sounds like he was a narcissistic, asshole with charisma.

So, my dear readers, those are the roots of our illustrious “school”. Couple that with your own experiences and come to your own conclusions.

4 thoughts on “A Little “school” History: Thomas Farber, Alex Horn & Berkeley CA, circa 1967

  1. Mr. S says:

    Very touching.

  2. The Gentle Souls Revolution says:

    Yes, Mr S. Heartwarming.

  3. Snowbird says:

    Actually Horn was Sharon’s husband til he died about ten yrs ago.

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