The Cinema Student
At a certain point in time someone must have raised his hand enthusiastically during a brainstorm session about the increasing lack of space at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences in Groningen, exclaiming: Cinema Pathé, people! Pathéééé! Pathé is the future! And thus started a new era, in which students frequented the local cinema to attend lectures, instead of skipping them.
My first course in Psychology was taught by Professor Douwe Draaisma. It took place in Pathé Theater 1, the plushest of them all. Immediately my bored pubescent brain conjured up images of finding ways to bypass the cinema employees and go to the movies for free. Of course it was never my intention to execute such a scheme (…I swear). Hence I never succeeded in doing so, but I assume some students did. Even though it is very tempting to divulge all the ins and outs of such a significant achievement, their anonymity will be completely guaranteed. Elegant attempts to undermine the system should be cherished, me thinks.
These cinematic lectures did however instill an insanely active listening attitude, because let’s not overlook the fact that first and foremost a cinema is what it looks like: a cinema. After entering, you sink your derriere into one of the red seats to slowly drift away, occasionally grabbing a handful of popcorn…right? The first dissociative experience occurs when the lights don’t dim. And then everything goes astray, because before you know it, a spruce woman or man walks in, who, without hesitation, takes the stage and starts talking about something brainy, something cognitive, something prefrontal lobe-ish until, two hours later, you leave the cinema in a state of shock, not knowing whether you just watched a movie or attended a lecture.
Ever since the start of these lectures, I am only reassured if and when the lights actually dim. But even then, when Leonardo DiCaprio explained in ‘Inception’ that we humans often aren’t aware of dreaming when we are dreaming, I half expected Douwe Draaisma to storm in, pause the film and start a rigorous scientific account on how dreams work in reality. Unfortunately, he didn’t.
(This is an adaptation of an article written by Roos Cornelius that previously appeared in Diemensies, the bimonthly magazine of the Psychology program at the University of Groningen.)