one, two, three… infinitely many! (on counting gnomes)

This didn’t really fit the previous post, but I came across it while researching gnomes and had to post it nonetheless. Here’s Steiner on the problem facing anyone trying to count the gnome population:

Thus, in the solid earth element live spiritual beings of an elemental kind who are very much more clever than human beings. Even a person of extreme astuteness intellectually is no match for these beings who, as supersensible entities, live in the realm of solid earth. One could say that just as man consists of flesh and blood so do these beings consist of cleverness, of super-cleverness. Another of their peculiarities is that they prefer to live in multitudes. When one is in a position to find out how many of these astute beings a suitable earthy object contains, then one can squeeze them out as if from a sponge — in a spiritual sense, of course — and out they flow in an endless stream. But counting these gnome-like beings is a difficult task. If one tries to count them as one would cherries or eggs — i.e., one, two, three — one soon notices that they will not be counted that way. When one has reached say three, then there are suddenly a lot more. So counting them as one would on the physical plane is no use; nor is any other form of calculation, for they immediately play tricks on you. Suppose one put two on one side and two on the other in order to say that twice two makes four. One would be wrong, for through their super-cunning they would appear as seven or eight, making out that two times two makes eight, or something like that. Thus these beings defy being counted. It must be acknowledged that the intellect developed by man in recent times is very impressive. But these super-intelligent beings show a mastery over the intellect even where it is merely a question of numbers.

How can you not love this man? I mean, really. Here he is, sqeezing the gnomes out of the spiritual sponge. I want to know what his audience looked like as he delivered this information. How people reacted. How seriously they took him. I want to know what he was thinking. And why he said these things, even though making me laugh sure is reason enough!

8 thoughts on “one, two, three… infinitely many! (on counting gnomes)

  1. Meet Grumpy and Dopey, the Totnes gnomes who are upsetting a community.

    ‘But since then the gnomes have come under attack by unhappy locals and a group called the Council of Gnomes saying they are in fact dwarves and not gnomes at all.
    Chris Keleher , who lives in Totnes, said: ‘The offending gnomes may be appropriate in Las Vegas or in Disneyland but to claim that they enhance the image of Totnes in any way is to insult the values of what Totnes is supposed to stand for.

    Donation: Vernon Gay of china firm China Blue thought his gift of gnomes would be appreciated
    ‘At a major entrance to the town we should be presenting visitors with that kind of image rather than these tacky things which some misguided souls believe reflect the spirit of the place.’’

    Read more:

  2. There you go Alicia – Steve could use this quote in his ‘elevator speech’…oops I forgot Steve picks and chooses what he reveals to parents about the true Waldorf philosophy.

  3. The description of the cunningly elusive Super Intellectual Gnomes is the most fascinating I’ve seen by Steiner so far! And I think Alicia’s questions are very interesting. I guess much of what really happened in those days is difficult to research?

  4. It’s incredibly funny, I think.

    Do you mean what happened during his lectures? I guess his words were almost always written down… but sometimrs it’s the tone one wants to hear… and the reactions. Of course, lot’s of people have described how they experienced listening to him. And you rarely get the impression they didn’t take him 100% seriously…

  5. Some of the anthroposophical mythology seems very similar to that used in role-playing games like Dragons & Dungeons, World of Warcraft etc. And to the worlds of Tolkien, with it’s joyful racial mystique. But Steiner chose scientification, lecturing and organizing instead of play and literature. Why? Because he, like the swedish mystic Swedenborg, really beleived in the literal truth of his other-worldly revelations? Because he was gradually fooled by the seriousness of his audiences? Because his artistic skills had their limit? There are some interesting possibilities in how he and the anthroposophical movement developed in these respects. And perhaps it isn’t that hard to reserach because there are so many texts. If you have time to read them … Perhaps it would be easier to consult the Akasha Chronicle directly ;-).

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