Re: Sharon Gans: New York Group
Date: June 19, 2010 01:59PM
The group could easily disband once Sharon retires or dies.
I’ve been out of the Boston branch of School for several years, but before I left I thought Robert was getting burnt out on the whole esoteric scene. And the younger teachers in Boston lack the charisma to keep the group going. It might be different in New York, but I doubt it.
Over the course of years, Robert stopped attending classes for long periods of time that would span several months, maybe even a year or two. The junior teachers leading the classes would bring up (in ominous tones, no less) the possibility of classes disbanding, and tell us not to take the School for granted. I believe some of Robert’s absences were due to health issues, but some of them, I think, were because he just wanted a break from it all.
Robert would frequently complain and berate us older students about how terrible and uninspiring we looked during class. (Probably 90 percent of us were just counting the minutes for class to end so we could go home and get some sleep! …and he knew it). I’m sure Robert did not want to be there, and could easily think of a dozen other things he’d rather be doing.
Robert would spend inordinate amounts of time rewriting and rehearsing lectures for the series. He would get so run down he would get physically sick and the lectures would have be postponed until he got better. It seems that no one has his knack for taking somewhat factual material and giving it enough spit, polish, and spin to convince the naive recruits of their unbelievable good fortune at being invited to join such a special and unique group. As Robert gets older, his drive and stamina will only diminish. He’ll want to spend more time in Florida and less time in Boston and New York. Certainly less time working on lectures. And whatever ails him will only get worse as the years go by.
In Boston, the student population is aging, and I’m sure it must be the same in New York. Most of the older group falls in the 50 -60 year age range right now, with a good number of students over 60. My sense is many of them do not have the financial means to stay in school during their retirement years. Paying tuition on time has always taken precedence over saving for retirement. And if you were fortunate enough to be able to save something after paying all the regular tuition and class fees, you would be asked for more money for special projects. And if students can’t pay, they can’t stay….Right?
Many of my fellow classmates had some mysterious illnesses that are most likely stem from the lack of sleep and a weakened immune system. As the group ages, these illnesses and others will increase and further reduce the number of students. When I left, there were few students in the younger Boston class below 40, so I doubt there are enough young and able bodied students to rise up the ranks. And as the average age of students goes up, it will become harder to attract younger and more energetic new students.
I’ve heard that School is having a hard time recruiting, and the pressure is intense to get new students in the door. This poses several problems for the continuation of School. Students on the fence about the group will finally get fed up with the oppressive recruiting pressures and decide to leave. And without the results to puff up their egos, even the best recruiters will inevitably get tired of the relentless quest for new students and decide to spend more time painting, acting or being with their kids. They may stick around for classes, but will lose their enthusiasm for “adding new people to their list” and having all those endless meetings. As more students leave or slow down, it forces the rest of the students to question why they’re sticking around. A mass exodus is possible.
And for the younger class, it’s got to be disheartening to see the newest students leave after the free eight class experiment ends. … If any new recruits are making it that far these days! The older class has already stagnated from the lack of new blood, and it’s most likely happening in the younger class as well.
And if someone is foolish enough to join this group, there are plenty of red flags signaling the need for extreme caution. All the rules and secrecy, veiled as “protecting privacy”, the emphasis on not using the internet, the solicitous attention of their sustainer, Xeroxed copies of books and lectures handed to them without an author’s name so you can’t find the group’s history by looking up “Gurdgieff “or “Fourth Way School”, among other things. Of course, there are the lies you tell to family and friends about where you go on Tuesday and Thursday nights. And don’t forget the emphasis on tuition, not missing classes, and always telling the truth to your teachers. Isn’t it bizarre how no one disagrees with the teachers, or how obsequious and pandering everyone is around them? There must be dozens of tip offs that something’s wrong with this group.
And I’m sure at the back of their mind, every new student wonders if the group is a cult or not. The teachers and sustainers will never know when new students start doing some online investigating. The new students can’t help themselves, and inevitably they find enough material to convince them to leave.
There are enough loyal and diehard students for School to limp along for awhile, but eventually it’s going to just run out of steam and die. If I were Robert or Fred, I would stop now while I still have some vigor and energy left. They could finally have some time to themselves, and pursue the perfect tan or the perfect starlet, or whatever else makes them happy. It’s clearly not looking at their students, sitting in their little circle, for class, after class, after class, after endless class.
But I have a different view from the outside, and more freedom. I am one of many ex-students who woke up and had the courage to leave. We care deeply for those that are still in, and I would imagine the current students care and wonder about us, too. Please know that it’s so good to be out, so freeing, so wonderful. We wish everyone inside could discover this joy for themselves.