Response 4

Response by other applicants to the JC Society


by Erik Friedl (69)

Who can ever forget that morning at Meditation in 1967 when JC neatly dropped the A-bomb on the entire student body. I still remember Chris Howson later saying, “Did you see Miss Trott’s jaw hit the floor!” The body count was still rising as students and staff soundlessly made their way to first classes. Shock and awe indeed.

School management had apparently been growing uneasy for some time about a perceived excess of profanity in the air; the more spirited students were expressing themselves a little too freely (“It’s not school policy,” Nigel Denham would intone sotto voce from the back of the class in his lilting Yorkshire accent). Nothing really too out of the ordinary for a boarding school of some 160 moulting young souls, but someone had signaled the alarm and it was time for JC to take action and clean out our mouths.

JC had mounted the Meditation stage in Belvedere and after a few minutes of lulling this writer almost to sleep—others were more attentive to his gentle discourse on how language can be used as a tool for precise communication—he abruptly changed his tone and blurted out in the most carefully enunciated Oxford English a laundry list of words that should NOT be included in everyday communication— words that he no longer wanted to hear uttered in the environs of fair Chesières. The F-word alone sailing out of JC’s mouth triggered a seismic wave and three flies in Clairmont kitchen fell out of the air. We had all been ambushed by the gentle, quiet one and dealt a surreal, if momentary, shock to the system.

Years later, when I had the privilege of being asked to make a new school film, JC had me up to his flat in Alpina for drinks. He reiterated that he wasn’t in favor of a fast, cutty editing style in the film, especially when it came to the local scenery. He wanted the viewer to be able to drink in and savor the school’s setting as if listening to a gentle Bach Cantata (in fact, I used Bach’s Cantata No. 208, “Sheep May Safely Graze”, in the chamber music sequence with Miss Lowe on harpsichord).

JC also offered that he was now in the third phase of his life. In the first third, he explained, he had been an architect. The second phase had been all about education and starting his own progressive school in the alps. He was now essentially awaiting a definitive signal—a direction pointing the way to the third act which he was sure would have something to do with parapsychology. I saw him again the following year in New York City when he and Miss Lowe invited me to fly up from Texas (I was in my third year at Texas A&M) to attend the NYC premiere of the new Aiglon film. The lights dimmed, the Bell & Howell was switched on and JC at the wheel of his cherished XJ12 was about to take Chesières hill one more time.

December 31, 2010

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Response by other applicants to the JC Society

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