Juan Dominguez Rojo attended the meeting of Davidsfonds. Juan worked on the text of Lecture For Every One together with Sarah Vanhee and Berno Odo Polzer. It was his first encounter with a ‘real audience’ of LFEO.
The ‘Lecture For Every One’ team goes to a meeting (“gewestvergadering”) of Davidsfonds at GC De Zeyp, in a calm and relaxed neighborhood in Brussels. The cultural centre has a 80s aesthetics, with a plastic transparent and curved ceiling in the corridors.
Sarah is going to give the lecture in Dutch. We arrive at 9.15am for the meeting that is planned at 9.45am. The meeting for the heads of the 20 Davidsfonds departments in Brussels is about communication: how to make a press dossier, how to use social media, print… The members are already there, in another room, where a basic breakfast is prepared for them. The age of the members – 20 men and women – oscillates between 55 and 80 years old. Only 3 younger people around 34 years old complete the audience; they are part of the organization of the meeting. It is a sunny day. Everybody seems in a good mood but maybe they’re always like that on Saturday morning for these meetings. I sneak into the breakfast room and take a glass of water and 2 Speculoos.
We wait till the people are in the room where the meeting is going to happen.
Sarah goes a few times through the text, concentrating, and waiting.
People sit down and somebody from the organization quickly introduces Sarah. The people clearly didn’t expect this. Sarah starts, says ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you for giving me the next 15 minutes to talk to you’. They almost don’t react. They accept the situation. Unlike at the other try-outs I attended, people here are more relaxed, they react less, and their thoughts are not so obvious. As I don’t understand the language and I know the text of the lecture very well, I focus on the faces of the people, on the small reactions. The bodies are still, the faces as the mirror of the brain. Sarah continues delivering her concerns in a casual way, but her concerns are not casual, she knows very well what she is reclaiming in every lecture to every one. The oldest member, around 80 years old, is regularly busy with drops for his eyes. Is he listening? Probably, yes, but in a different way than the guy that introduced Sarah, looking at her as if she was his daughter, with an amazing attention and very subtle reactions on his face with each new topic of the lecture. Beautiful. I have a woman on my side that is passing on notes to another guy. I cannot read what she is writing… This moment looks like we are in a classroom. Some of them are more skeptical than others but when Sarah starts to talk about caring, they get completely into it. I could stay forever watching their reactions, watching how they get affected, because, as in every act of intentional communication, what is more important is the impact of our acts. This lecture is an act of affection. It is a utopia of talking to every one of us who want to listen. It is not a story, it is a bunch of thoughts and sensitivities that try to affect different people, as different as possible. It is an attempt of not being silent, of talking loud in a situation where our words can have an impact.
The lecture never changes in its shape and content, but in a way it changes each time in the perception of the different groups. We are all different although we group together according to our affinities or needs. It’s this fact of grouping for something specific that makes the lecture different each time. This group of people is different from a Michael Jackson fan club. And they will receive the lecture in a different way, because as a group they are different from another group. Maybe we can think that an effect of the lecture is that all these groups in different times belong to the same group of people, people thinking about not being silent, about expressing their concerns, about how they affect reality. Probably, ‘Lecture For Every One’ is taking the energy of these groups that already had the goal to focus on something concrete and for a few moments they are being interrupted with very essential topics, topics of today. Tomorrow we will rethink and talk again.
After 15 minutes, we leave as we arrived. We leave the people with their agenda and we go for our own; this break, this suspension in time, is over. We go to the car and as if the car was an office we start to talk about what happened. About how we think the lecture has been received, about how Sarah has been affected by talking to this group that is different from others. Probably it’s rare for Sarah, to talk to groups with specific affinities. She talks to them as individuals, but individuals together, because of something that makes them different as a group. It’s this energy that affects Sarah in a different way each time, each time in another way, level and intensity. It’s all about how to affect and how to be affected.
For me it is also interesting how the context of the group creates a stereotype impossible to avoid. I create immediately my opinion of what this group can be or does, or invent the reasons why they do what they do, thinking that I am different. But then again, I also belong to another group, to another community. That’s the tension in feeling different and the same at the same time.
I’m thinking loud. All this would need much more reflection, but spontaneously and as an eyewitness this is what came to my mind.
Kisses to the group of people reading this section, a group with curiosity among other characteristics.