steiner’s sanity (ii)

(Because I can’t call people stupid on the list once again in such a short time, lest Dan shall have to boot me. Also, writing this at all is against my better knowledge. I should just leave it. I know I should just leave it. But I can’t. Sorry. It’s not the first time.) ‘Zurueck’ wrote:

There is a lively discussion going on at Ruhrbarone: [link]

I’m sorry to say it makes me sick to read. Any worthwhile messages, if there are any, drown in the ‘steiner was insane’-shit — a stupid old routine that keeps playing on repeat. People who are ‘insane’ can’t possibly have anything to say, huh? Interestingly, one of few in this discussion, who seems to have managed to press that button on his brain that says ON before publishing his comments, happens to be a (former) waldorf student, this is Ansgar Martins. (Also found at here.) I suspect some of these more or less anonymous commenters are in reality identical. The rest of the thread may be lively — and there are some decent comments from Steiner critics — but intellectually speaking a dead-end, unfortunately, at least from the moment when the question of Steiner’s mental health rears its ugly head (and it actually does already in the Ruhrbarone-post itself, to return in full force on comments p 2). Pathetic and tragic. Rudolf Steiner is not mentally ill; anybody can answer that question. He’s dead and buried. Unless we’re to believe he’s present as an insane ghost. (That would be utterly bonkers.)

And Steiner being wrong has nothing to do with his mental health, and his mental health has nothing to do with him being wrong or right or whatever. Lots of people who are highly intelligent and who have many true things to say suffer from mental illness. Some people who are fully sane have nothing interesting to offer whatsoever. Being sane doesn’t mean you can’t be mistaken. So let’s say Steiner was 100% insane. Does this somehow render his pronouncements about life on Atlantis more wrong than they’d otherwise be? If so, how on earth is this possible? Let’s say he was the epitome of sanity — not that I think he was, but for the sake of the argument, let’s say he was — does this make his statements about potatoes causing materialism anymore believable? If Steiner was sane, were his statements about the spiritual characteristics of human races any less appalling? Also, to connect again to the thread, madness doesn’t preclude creativity. Quite obviously not.

I’m not saying Steiner’s psyche isn’t interesting. It is highly interesting, in many ways. Its possible pathologies are too. It just isn’t at all interesting in this context. Revolting prejudices about mental illness aren’t very pleasant either, and should better be kept away from all kinds of contexts.

If saying Steiner’s insane is all there is to Steiner criticism, then it plainly isn’t worth anyone’s attention. Luckily this isn’t the case. It’s not all there is. Reading certain discussions makes you wonder though. If anthroposophy succeeds at anything, it is at bringing out the worst in practically everybody. Even in some of its critics. Oddly enough.


17 thoughts on “steiner’s sanity (ii)

  1. Alicia,

    Anything posted on Ruhrbarone is a creation of Andreas Lichte, who suffers from a severe case of SDS (Steiner Derangement Syndrome), so it’s OK to call him bonkers because he truly is.

    (And yes, he makes 90% of the anonymous comments, talking to himself, yet another symptom of SDS.)

  2. Have no fear. I’m writing to Michael Eggert about it and especially quoting your last paragraph which, to put it mildly, is a great assessment of the psychological warfare we are all involved in.

  3. Actually it’s WW I and we’re caught in the No Man’s Land between the opposing trenches. There’s SDS extremists on both sides:

    Extremist Critics suffer from Steiner Derangement Syndrome
    Extremist Defenders suffer from Staudenmaier Derangement Syndrome

    (I don’t know if the term made it out of the US to Europe. Its origin was Bush Derangement Syndrome, which applied to all the rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth critics of GW Bush when he was president 2000-2008. They became deranged in their criticism. Andreas actually reminds me of those Bush-era crazies.)

  4. Maybe Steiner was on to something when he designed the 2nd Goetheanum. It’s the perfect bunker. It should be bullet proof enough. One could set up camp there while the 2 sides shoot at each other. As long as the ‘Extremist Defenders suffer from Staudenmaier Derangement Syndrome’ aren’t allowed inside the building, because that would defeat the purpose in a major way…

  5. Yes, he functioned too well.

    Though it isn’t so much the insult that bothers me, it’s the thinking I find appalling.

    If we had Steiner brought back to life and took him to the psychiatrist for an evaluation and he was found to be batshit crazy (choose your own preferred diagnosis). It wouldn’t tell us anything about the value of waldorf education, to name one example.

    Crazy beliefs aren’t necessarily due to insanity. Look at priests. Look at the creationists. They can’t all be insane, because if they are, the word insanity is pointless. It’s useful to make a distinction between being mistaken and being insane, I would think.

  6. “Personally, I don’t think you could get more retarded Tom …

    (with sincere apologies to retarded people)…

    But hey, every village has to have its idiot… and we thank you for your role…”

    [Tom = Tom Mellett, aka “Hollywood Tomfortas”]

  7. Tom isn’t retarded, obviously. He’s possibly too clever for his own good, as people sometimes put it (I don’t think anyone is in the position to judge). But that’s another matter.

    You however, village idiot, aren’t welcome. Stick to Ruhrbarone, is my advice. Further comments from you will be deleted. (This time around too.)

  8. Well, in the words of Hillary Clinton: “It takes a village.”

    In the words of Marshall McLuhan: “The world is now a global village.”

    And in the words of Tom Mellett: “The world is my global Camphill village, idiot!”

    Let’s see you translate that into German, Andy the Light-Boy!

    Don’t forget, I’m still your guru, Andy-Boy! Which means, of course, that you are just as crazy as I am — and Rudolf Steiner, too!

  9. Rudi, however, is steadily becoming saner. Everything took a turn for the better after he got rid of the bad influence of some eurythmist friends in 1925 and started hanging out in the ethereal café instead.

  10. Oh this is too funny. Andy the Light-Boy just CC’d me on an e-mail he wrote to Dan Dugan, quoting my above message and asking Dan:

    Von: Andreas Lichte

    Hello Dan,

    is Tom Mellett still a member of “waldorfcritics” ?

    I wish you good luck for your lunatic asylum …


    You know the old saying: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then pretty soon everything looks like a nail.”

    I have to upgrade it for Andy-Bandy:

    “If you think Rudolf Steiner is insane, then pretty soon the whole world becomes your lunatic asylum.”

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