det som raserats

läser om Catherine MacCouns helt bedårande essä Work on what has been spoiled. Somliga antroposofiska fantaster tycker nog att MacCoun är alldeles hädisk, när hon plockar ner Steiner på jorden, och presenterar honom mer som en människa än som en ofelbar idol. Jag minns när jag läste essän första gången, för så där ett halvår sedan, och blev överaskande betagen av den person som framträdde. Steiner är motsägelsefull, något lynnig, manipulerande, och väldigt rolig:

‘Now, in ordinary bourgeois life, it happens that people fall in love, that a man falls in love with a woman. People simply call it “falling in love” and that’s the plain and simple truth. In esoteric societies men and women also fall in love; the possibility cannot be ruled out, as some of you know from experience. But in that case, what you hear about it is not as simple as “X has fallen in love with Y.” In esoteric societies, what you hear about it often goes something like this: “Having thoroughly examined my karma, I find that another personality has entered it, and we have realized that karma has destined us to be with each other and to intervene in the destiny of the world in a particular way.’

Beskrivningen av det antroposofiska sällskapets konfliktfylldhet, under denna period ca 1915, är obetalbar; MacCouns spännande framställning tydliggör de bestående, inneboende svårigheterna i en organisation som opererar på flera olika nivåer samtidigt: en, den mellanmänskliga, jämlika och sociala, en annan, den hierarkiska struktur som är konsekvensen av ojämlikheter i insikterna om det ‘övermänskliga’.

MacCoun beskriver hur detta inverkar på alldagliga beslut:

Imagine then, a committee of anthroposophists facing a simple question such as “Shall we serve coffee after the lecture?” This would seem to be a strictly horizontal decision, one that could safely be delegated to even the newest member. Anthroposophists, though, would consider that caffeine might have an effect on the etheric body and, not feeling completely confident of their own ability to perceive the etheric body or the effect of a cup of java upon it, encounter questions and doubts that would be inconceivable in ordinary human organizations where the coffee decision is made quite routinely. In their perplexity, they would, naturally enough, seek the counsel of a great initiate.

Ett ansvar som Steiner hade svårt att delegera:

Now the great initiate, if he wishes to avoid being pestered night and day with such questions, would be wise to shrug and respond, “Beats me.” But Steiner, it seems, never met a question he didn’t like. The shrug was not in his repertoire.

Det andliga arbetets orsakande av oundviklig hierarkisk struktur (tanken här är ju ett gradvis uppnående av “kunskap” om de ‘högre’ världarna):

Upward movement, of necessity, exaggerates an inner hierarchy in which spirit stands superior to body and soul. Its fruit is knowledge and its social manifestation is authority. Downward movement is just the opposite–a state of inner anarchy. In terms of knowledge, the journey is nothing to write home about, for judgement is clouded and beings encountered on the way down are declassé. Dispatches from hell will never pass as higher spiritual knowledge.

Och:

His students didn’t view him as an equal, nor did he view himself that way. Social hierarchy in any path-of-ascent setting reflects the reality that some people do indeed ascend higher. […] The pretext of perfect equality simply leads people to become dishonest about the pecking order that exists in any organization, sneaky in their status-seeking and disingenuous about their power.

Kritik och ifrågasättanden blir i en sådan omgivning att se som hot mot den egna platsen och gruppens existens; de implicita (och säkert ibland explicit) reglerna skapar oro för ostracism hos den som annars skulle uttrycka sin avvikande mening. Se vad som skedde med Sprengel och Goesch.

I en del antroposofers fantasi, inbillar jag mig, antar denna bild av Steiner groteska proportioner. Man kanske tänker sig att nu får verkligen alla Steinerkritiker vatten på sin kvarn; denne Steiner är ju osympatisk, måttligt insiktsfull och rätt småaktig. Antroposofin ter sig besatt av hierarki och makt. MacCoun förlöjligar nog, i somliga antroposofers ögon, antroposofin och antroposoferna:

Anthroposophists, when they can be understood at all, express superstitions and prejudices that would embarrass a redneck. Fearing injury by everything from rock music to microchips to Jesuits, they have become a society of esoteric hypochondriacs, in neo-Amish withdrawal from modern political and economic life.

How is it that a movement dedicated to strengthened thinking produces so many goofy and morally useless ideas? How did the author of The Philosophy of Freedom become this ghost to whom his readers so idolatrously surrender their independence of judgement?

Det är i så fall galet trott av dem. I stället för att bli serverad idoliserande porträtt av en Ofelbar Upplyst, som saknar alla mänskliga skavanker, får man något som är trovärdigt, intressant och inte avskräckande. I stället för en perfekt antroposofisk rörelse: en som är benägen att drabbas av medlemmarnas helt vanliga mänskliga motsättningar och problem, fast med ockulta, extraordinära kryddor.

MacCoun skriver att ‘Steiner’s disapproval of personal needs and feelings continues to reverberate’, på grund av detta fortsätter konfliktlösningsförmåga att hamna på undantag. I dess ställe elimineras den misshaglige:

The inner gesture of rejecting undesirable elements of the self is replicated socially in the rejection of others.

Vilket anknyter till detta: vad betyder det då, att Steiner agerade så märkligt, och varför var han ‘tvungen’ att göra sådana tvära, humoristiska kast mellan den ‘esoteriska’ nivån och den ‘exoteriska’, varför angrep han individer i sällskapet på ett så tarvligt vis? (ja, MacCouns artikel är precis så här underhållande:)

To put the politics rather bluntly, when jockeying for position in a gnostic hierarchy, one discredits an opponent by accusing him of subjectivity. Steiner attempted to discredit Goesch and Sprengel by implying that they were carrying repressed sexual desires into the spiritual. Earlier in this article, I countered by pointing out the “shadow” characteristics of Steiner’s personality–i.e. his own unredeemed astrality–that may have impeded his judgement.

When under great stress, Steiner manifested many of the characteristics for which he berates Alice. Perhaps he was barking at his own shadow. […] The characteristics Steiner attributes to Alice in his various public remarks–vanity, grandiosity, illogic, melancholy, over-solidified imagination and sexual repression-are a description of what Steiner wanted very much not to be.

För sällskapet som helhet, dess livskraft, säger MacCoun måste det till fler, inte färre Dornach-kriser som den år 1915:

…anthroposophical discussion has become an exchange of esoteric factoids that have no discernable relevance to life as it is lived. In order for anthroposophy to become a moral force in the world, its practitioners must integrate the vertical and horizontal dimensions, even at the risk of getting them mixed up sometimes.

Förändring måste ske i ett samspel, inte i personlig isolering eller undertryckande av det personliga:

Correction, then, must come from outside of oneself. In taking the plunge into subjective speech and action, one risks screwing up and trusts that his companions will set him straight if he does.

Ok, det är en massa saker i MacCouns essä som jag betraktar som andligt trams. Men den är så bra ändå, på så väldigt många sätt, och de övergripande slutsatserna så giltiga även om jag inte köper de översinnliga elementen i förklaringarna.