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She walked in clearly uncomfortable.

“I’m Sarah Hampson,” she said.

She had called about a week before to say she was a writer with THE GLOBE AND MAIL who wanted to do a story on Reg Hartt.

At that time he was doing a Sunday special program with several films each of which he introduced. He said, “Come by Sunday. Watch the program. Identify yourself to me only after it is over. Then you can see the sort of people who come here. At that time if you have any questions I can answer them.”

Sunday came. She didn’t.

The night she arrived Hartt had two programs scheduled. The first was at 7pm. The second was at 9pm.

She arrived a half hour after the 7pm program was set to start.

She left a half hour before the 9pm program was set to start.

She wrote, “He has kept me seated for a total of at least two hours. I had come the night before to see the much-banned Haxan (Witchcraft Through the Ages), directed by Benjamin Christensen. I was the only patron, and when I introduced myself to him as he ambled along the dusty hall from his kitchen, he started an extraordinary (unsolicited) extemporaneous monologue about his life.

“I never did see the movie.”

She had arrived at 7:30. She had left at 8:30. That is not two hours. It is one.

Generally when journalists arrive they want to hear what we have to say.

After the piece was published Hartt got a call from Gino Empry.

Gino said, “You met Sarah.”

Then Hartt realized she was the author of a piece in TORONTO LIFE which had gutted Gino.

Hartt had written a letter to TORONTO LIFE which they asked to publish with edits. He said, “All or nothing at all.”

It had not been published.

It had drawn the attention of Sarah Hampson to him.

Sarah is one of what writer David Mamet calls the veranda people.

“The musical exhilaration and reverie of (Herman) Hcsse’s early years were antipodal to what he was undergoing at school, which, until his fourteenth year, had for Hesse “the close atmosphere of a penal institution.” At twelve he was already clear in his own mind that he wanted “to become either a poet or nothing at all.” But this astonishingly early clarity of purpose was soon followed by the painful realization that, although there is a road, a school, a course of study by which one can become a teacher, a pastor, a physician, an artisan, a merchant, a postal official, and even a musician, a painter or an architect, there is no road, school, or course of study by which one becomes a poet. Out of the child’s question— whether his goal could be realized—grew criticism of the school’s authority. Leading to serious conflict, this precipitated the first real crisis in Hesse’s young life. The child had perceived lucidly the equivocal nature of a pedagogy—indeed, of the adult world in general—that because of its own mediocrity and lack of existential courage, allows greatness only as a distant idea in remote historical perspective.

It was the very same with the poet as with the hero and with all strong or beautiful, sanguine, and out-of-the-ordinary people and movements: If they lived in the past they were glorious and every schoolbook was full of their praises; but if they lived in the real world of the present day they were hated. Presumably the teachers were specifically trained and hired for the purpose of preventing as far as possible the growth of magnificent free men and the committing of great, splendid deeds.

“Thus the young Hesse soon saw nothing but abysses between him and his goal. Everything seemed devalued and uncertain. But he adhered stubbornly to his plan to become a poet. At thirteen the conflict began. Hesse’s conduct at school and at home left so much to be desired that he was sent “into exile” to the Latin school in Goppingen. His stay there lasted only a year.”

—Franz Baumer, HERMAN HESSE.






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