that place

I got this image from somewhere online. Unfortunately, I no longer know wherefrom, so I can’t tell you. Hopefully, using it is ok anyway.

One summer, long ago, when I was a child, we rented a cabin on a mountain in the Alps; it was, more precisely, on a slope above Schruns, Vorarlberg, Austria, a village known for being a favourite resort of Ernest Hemingway. It’s not far from the Swiss border, and perhaps somewhere around a 100 kilometers from Dornach. I have very vague memories of my mother wanting to go to Dornach and that we also did so. What’s odd about it is that none of us took any pictures. I guess I didn’t want to and my father didn’t care. Or we never actually got there. It’s all deeply odd, because I also have a distinct feeling it was a very hot day. Perhaps we did go there, but it was closed, and we had ice-cream in the village instead. Perhaps I stood at the foot of the hügel, or the foot of the imposing bunker itself. It’s vaguely there, impressed on my brain cells — or perhaps on my astral body, who knows. I really should ask my mother about our travels some day, but in a way I prefer to contain past events sealed up (though not air-tight) in a jar of mythical memory, shrouded enough to remain sufficiently mysterious! Also, at that time in my life, the last thing I wanted to see during a vaction was anything anthroposophical.

Be that as it may, I have developed this tiny desire, this insignificant little urge — don’t be surprised — to go there. Bjørneboe wrote that anthroposophical life in Dornach seemed to exist to keep people — anthroposophists — out of the lunatic asylums, even though that could hardly have been the intention, he noted. I wouldn’t care much about stuff like that. And I don’t want to watch the mystery dramas. Or eurythmy; please, Dog, save me from eurythmy. But there’s this thing in me, this force, that tells me: go there.  That I must see the grey concrete with my own eyes, that I have to breathe the air, I must see the stairwells, the windows, the doors and door-handles, the other buildings; all those things that look so fascinating on picture. I must get a real life sense of how large it is, physically. I just have to know how threatening it is; I need to know if that monster of a bunker will devour me (it certainly looks like a being that could eat a human or an entire army of men, and I suppose in a way it has). If I can survive touching it. Maybe it will burn. Maybe it will be ice-cold.

The main building is a very odd architectural creature, isn’t it? It’s like an animal, from outer space, creeping up on you, silently, in attack-mode. Or hovering menacingly on the hill above you — depending on the angle and distance between it and you. That’s not all there is though, Dornach is full of crazy buildings; the heizhaus, for example, is perfectly surreal.

8 thoughts on “that place

  1. Haha! What a place!

    Yes, it’s a very peculiar building. I once read a text/lecture by steiner in which he talked about it. It made it… even more peculiar.

  2. The concrete is not very grey, I am afraid, except when it is wet. It is more off-white. Because of all the subtle curves in the form the changing light has a very dramatic effect. Surprisingly, the building is quite benign once you have got over the initial shock of an alien spaceship having landed in a peaceful little Swiss village. Inside, it IS beautiful!
    Mr dog would have the right feeling for it no doubt. (You can take that several ways)

  3. That’s exactly what I like about concrete! I actually like it very much. I want to see the big monster in rain, of course. I like the brutality of it, in contrast to all the soft coloured fluff. But it does look like an alien spaceship, you’re right about that. Except: a spaceship that does look like it could not possibly fly (with alien technology, everything is possible, I suppose). Bjørneboe suggested the building should be donated to the state of switzerland for use as a bunker. He wasn’t the most reverential of anthroposophists though. Mr Dog would say: ‘what a splendid dog house! Where’s the kitchen?’

    (I did find a comment containing the links to Steiner’s heizhaus lectures. I’m too embarrassed to link to it though. Very silly thread. Apparently, chimneys are ahrimanic.)

    Edit: I just remembered a picture — no, a crop of a picture — I was sent a while ago. It’s the heizhaus chimney. Or rather, a part of it. It gets very interesting now.


  4. Oh no — that can’t be true! Mr Dog is appalled. Clearly anthroposophists have distorted Steiner’s essentially canineosophical message as expressed on the heizhaus chimney!

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