2016.11.07 ii

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Peaceful snow today. The icy winds of the past days felt more appropriate for my state of mind; being flogged and battered by the weather seemed right, almost like a relief: the violence from without competing with the violence from within.

We used to walk this path often. He liked it; the ground was soft earth, not unfriendly gravel.

For the first time since he left me I tried to shop for food, but what is the meaning of anything when he’s not alive? I tried to remember what interested me before this happened; I have no idea. If somebody asked me what ‘anthroposophy’ is, I wouldn’t know — what is it, but an empty word? I tried to find a book on any topic — just any book that I could read or look at without reading. It is not possible. I suppose there were things I couldn’t do when he was still here, but I have no idea what they were. Perhaps to bake better bread? But they taste bland regardless. I really, truly don’t want anything in this world — except the one thing I can’t have.

2016.11.07

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Last Monday, a week ago, on our walk, I asked him to sit on that stone bench, while I took a photo of him; I paid him with a piece of a cookie. To be sure of his co-operation, you always had to bring a cookie. Now that I look at the picture, I see how tired he was. He was a little unwilling to walk, but it was cold (and I knew how much he hated the cold) and I had recently discovered that one of his paws was a bit sore (it had happened before, and didn’t worry me, I started the familiar treatment), so I carried him a lot. There wasn’t anything particularly alarming about it. Neither was I particularly alarmed by his lack of appetite; it was “normal” for him. We came home, and he went to sleep, and I looked at him and felt strangely heart-broken (I even wrote that I did), because I was again made aware he was an old dog.

But that was alright, as long as he was with me; I could carry him. I had bought a new bag for him to sit in, whenever he wanted to. Increasingly over the past two winters he found the climate unpleasant, and his paws were very sensitive to walking on cold and wet surfaces. I was in the process of devising a prototype for a dog shoe I’d try to make for him. We were going to make it through the winter.

Or so I thought. He was “just” an old dog, he could have had two months or two years left of his life; on Monday last week, there was no way of knowing, not for me. I should have known, but didn’t.

And then, the rapid deterioration.

This evening, five days will have passed without him. To be home is intolerable. I walk, and I walk, and I walk; my legs and feet are sore. I walk, and when I walk towards home there are short moments when I think he’ll be there; he’ll be there, and we’ll go out together. As if by some kind of magic he could return. As if I could will him back. If I want it enough — he’ll be there. And he isn’t.

I don’t know what to do.

2016.11.05

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I’m writing this in the morning of the third day after the best dog in the universe, the world’s greatest canineosophist, my beloved mr Dog, whose real name was Åke (which few of you know how to pronounce), passed over to the higher worlds, went to his eternal sleep, or died — whichever way you prefer it — at an age of twelve years and three months on the day.

You wouldn’t believe that a dog who weighed a little less than three kilograms could leave a void larger than the entire universe, but he could. My whole life was an emptiness that he filled with his presence; his absence is unfathomable.

In the emptiness and silence, I still hear him, I smell him, I sense him — I need him — I hallucinate him back, then realize he’s not there. There’s nothing there, just me and an endless row of unbearably long days without him.

He was my reason to get up in the morning, my reason to go out, my reason to come home (always missing him when we were apart, even for just a few hours); everything everywhere reminds me of him: we were together every day and every night for twelve years and three weeks.

Of course there were tricky times; he was a very hyper-active dog during most of his life, he was a true terrier and had a mind of his own, and wasn’t easily impressed by my efforts to reign him in even a little a bit, but he was also extremely endearing: he liked everybody and almost everything, except cats. He required a lot of attention and had a lot of energy that needed to be drained. I thought his recent tiredness was only old age, but in hindsight it probably wasn’t — I should have known, it wasn’t like him at all, but for another dog it would have been entirely normal. He still had more energy than most lap-dogs do when they’re five. Be that as it may.

His deterioration was very quick. From the first clearly noticeable symptom — sudden and complete blindness (but he had cataract for years) — to a realization that something much worse was going on only 18 hours passed. I increasingly understood this during the last night when I slept with him on the floor to help him deal with his sudden loss of sight. Then, after talking to his veterinarian early Wednesday morning, I sat with him, him laying on me, all day long. Keeping him warm, keeping him safe, feeding him ice-cream with small pieces of sausage, which he ate with unexpected eagerness, he was very thirsty (his kidneys failed). She — his vet — was out of town that day, but came back in the evening; by then his consciousness level had dropped even more, and while we waited for her, him tightly wrapped in a blanked in my arms, I don’t think he knew much of what was happening. He was put to sleep, and it was entirely peaceful.

I think I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that keeping absolutely calm through that day required an almost inhuman strength; in fact, for a weak bipedal like myself, I can’t believe it was possible, and that I could keep the strain of it from over-powering me; I honestly don’t think mr Dog would have thought me capable. To sit, or half-lie, with him nuzzled under my chin, and knowing: so and so many hours from now, and he’ll be gone —

then he’ll be no more, his little head, the warmth of his fur, the almost intangible scent on the head between his ears, his little nose, his little tail, that still could wag just barely on that morning, it would all be gone —

and afterwards, after the fact, the body is limp, lifeless, so surprisingly lifeless, it’s the greatest shock, because you realize how unfathomable, how enormous that rift between alive and lifeless is: before, something was still there that kept an increasingly tired body alive, and seconds later — gone.

A being who had been so full of energy and life — and then, nothing.

And then, the grief that tears the world a part, that soars through the cosmos — you cannot believe that the earth does not shatter, the buildings around you don’t come falling down, that your own body doesn’t disintegrate and become dust.

I guess most of you are people persons, and perhaps you like animals, but still, you are people persons. I’m not. I’m not really even a dog person; I like dogs very much, but it took me a long time to bond with mr Dog. Many, or perhaps most, people fall almost instantly in love — be it with other people or with animals. Not so for me. I guess that makes me vulnerable to loneliness. (Though I must add that during this awful time, there have been friends who made me think more highly of humanity than I used to. I will be eternally in debt to them.)

But mr Dog was not only a separate being — or a separate person, because he really was a person, a big personality, a gigantic soul — we were a part of each other.

So here I am, with a part of me — the most important part — ripped away, and there’s an open wound that can’t be stitched together, and the waves of sorrow makes me want to scream and curse — and an empty and colourless world stares back at me, blankly, flatly.

There are also the small things: everything reminds me of him, we had a long time together, all the things we did together; everything at home reminds me of him; all the streets remind me of him, we walked them all, we walked endlessly during those years; all the parks and forests and the buses and the entire world remind me of him; it’s really as if it all existed just for him, and now it has lost its purpose.

I still hear him and see him and sense him — I mean this quite literally. His sighs as a changes position when he sleeps, his paws touching the floor — the vague smell of the fur between his ears —

I try to have breakfast and the gruyère cheese that is still in my fridge reminds me of him; he had a low appetite during his last five days (this happened from time to time, and didn’t actually alarm me), and I grated that cheese on his food and used small pieces of it to entice him. The last of his favourite crackers; the vanilla ice-cream I got for him; the remaining pieces of sausages in the freezer —

His things, everywhere.

His coats and sweaters, the dog beds and blankets, the toys, his plates and bowls, the leashes on which he kept me so that I wouldn’t get lost —

and now I’m so utterly lost. How could he let go and leave me lost like this?

Then there’s this realization: what I did, during all those years with him, whenever I felt distress was to take a long walk with him. He was always up for a long walk. He loved his walks. We walked a lot; I think we could have gone into the Guinness book of records, the walk section. And now, in the greatest and deepest distress ever, there’s no mr Dog who presents himself, with enthusiasm, for a walk.

There is instead this bottomless grief — so dark and so violent —

I needed him for my survival and he came into my life. When I was with him, the feeling of unreality, no matter how pervasive it could be sometimes, always lifted. What was unendurable became endurable, because I had him. His presence made everything lighter and easier, gave the world another colour. I love him so much —

and he is not here.

(Image: mr Dog a couple of months ago.)

2016.10.10

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It’s a hideous situation when your only minor gift in life (if that’s what it was) is with words, and you find yourself increasingly bereft of words. I grope around in the dark, the words seem to be disappearing right before my eyes, and those that I still have I can’t put to use. And because words were everything, I’m left with nothing, a void, no way to express any meaning — nothing, just emptiness. I’m grasping at words with teeth and claws — and nothing. Perhaps I’m just beyond weary of words, I’ve felt this thing, this numbness, coming on for a long time now, years even — or perhaps they’re really deserting me.

Every now and then, I struggle to write a post or two just because abandoning the idea of expressing myself (with words, which is my only way) would mean a total defeat. But there comes a time — there has come a time, now — when it seems pointless — why torture myself for a few words on a blog or (more often, because I constantly fail) in some document never seen by a human eye?

What do you do when words are gone? When you’ve stood on your bare knees begging for words to mean something — just something — and they just stare back at you, empty?

There’s no place among the humans either, because there’s nothing else to human interaction than to produce an endless flood of words — to get people to understand your words (and fail), get them to agree, to disagree, anything goes, as long as the constant stream of words is kept flowing. All those words just to prove yourself worthy.

Of course, that is a minor issue. But what about when all you could do was to write, when that was all that proved you existed at all? And then you can’t do that anymore, because the words stare at you malevolently, they won’t oblige anymore — they turn their backs on you. They make themselves entirely numb to you.

I have no attachment to writing, except it’s all I have that anchors me, in the most brittle way admittedly, to the human world, in which, mostly against my will, I am forced to live. (Mr Dog doesn’t care much about my words, which is a blessing if there ever was one.)

At this particular moment, I’d rather do something with my hands, or anything that doesn’t require words, but that’s always been a — I don’t know how to put it — non-option. There’s a path that’s been staked out — or it’s a dogma that I’ve had to adhere to: every supposedly “intelligent” person needs to dedicate him- or herself to words, or numbers. It’s the only thing that matters. The words written on tests, and so on. Competing with other people’s words, proving yourself again — to be worthy — with words. Being the most “right” — with words, again. So the hands go off and live their own life, detached; idle hands nervously scratching winter dry skin ’til it bleeds.

And then the words fail, they’re gone, and you stand there with nothing, no crutch, because the words were everything. I think my relationship with words have been going downhill for a long time; dealing with them has become an obligation — an obligation that exists only to prevent you from looking into some abyss or other. And only because there is nothing else, which basically amounts to the same thing as the abyss.

And because of that, I’ve continued to struggle, as if I could wring or tear something from those elusive words — if I only hit my head against them hard enough, long enough, insistently enough, it — whatever it is — would work its fragile magic again. To what avail? Nothing happens, just frustration and the occasional pointless text.

If I lived in a society in which the ability to walk a thousand miles was an asset, then I’d be alright. But in a society where everything that counts is sitting all day at a desk producing words — and then in your spare-time producing even more words in the company of other people who produce words, words, words — in order to afford a car that will carry you those thousand miles — sitting down, producing more words in the meantime — in such a society someone like me is lost. Because it all depends on the predictable production of words. Or numbers (but that was never my thing). It’s a culture less about having a brilliant head than having a reliable head — a reliable output of words.

But though I’m not too bad with words, when the muse allows it, it’s never been predictable and I’ve never been able to use words for anything that ultimately proved useful, rather the opposite: it’s all been for no good at all. So it is of course right that the ability itself should desert me; what other reasonable punishment is there for wasted resources? For what reason should it stay?

(I don’t know what Steiner said about things like these. If someone could refer me to something, it would be splendid — or else, simply forgive me once more for not being “on topic”…)

This was a long-winded way of saying I’m going to go through my older documents and perhaps I’ll publish some pieces I wrote earlier — but apart from that, I will, for the time being, relieve myself from all of my imagined writing “duties”, I will stop battling words like a knight battling a too powerful dragon. I’ve tried to become decent at writing again by forcing myself to write, and it clearly doesn’t work; instead I’m having a premonition that words will abandon me completely if I continue to force it. I’d like to arrive at a place where I once more feel a spark for these things, writing and so on, and words come to me without me chasing them, and threatening them with violence, screaming at them, tormenting them, and where language can be a source of communication rather than a dark monster hovering over me, demanding that I achieve something that I can’t see what it is.

I have no idea what I’ll do instead — possibly walk until my feet ache. That’s all I know how to do.

(Image: a forest back in the Autumn of 2014.)

2016.10.03

One quite signficant thing I had blissfully forgotten when I wrote the Michaelmas post last week — forgotten, despite having come across the phenomenon many times: here in Sweden, Michaelmas is no longer called Michaelmas. It’s not even enough to ameliorate the impression of the pious word (on the mind of the ordinary materialist?) by adding, mendaciously, that it’s really just an Autumn or harvest festival and certainly not a religious festival. No, it is no longer spoken of as Michaelmas at all.

The novel concept to be used is “dragon play” or “dragon playing”.* The entire festival appears to be called “dragon play” these days. As if it were suddenly a game with no meaning or purpose at all. Bereft of all ties to a worldview.

If this cowardly change of terms also colours the experience, then the experience is rendered effectively meaningless, possibly even pointless. Which, if so, is perhaps all for the best — it all depends on perspective, I suppose. But if it doesn’t, it appears to me a superficial adaptation aimed to suit those who feel better about hypocrisy than about the explicit presence of something with a slight whiff of religion to it, a whiff which is conveniently left unexplained.

* “Draklek”, which means, if you know Swedish, “play” as in children’s play in this case, not as in a drama production.

2016.09.29 — Michaelmas (and more)

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It was in the air we breathed, in the water in which we swam – the spiritual atmosphere was far more salient than what we were taught. Knowing that the merely intellectual was not what was going to take us anywhere, in the long run, that’s hardly surprising. Reverence and enchantment took precedence over the fact-based world, dry and cold and theoretical as it would have been.

When I say ”we” I mean that’s what happened, not that I think this is something other people thought consciously about. I accept that I’m probably alone in being affected at all by it, in this particular way, that leads me to write this. Even for me, the experiences have receded into the mists of fading memory; there are patches left of incomplete images and the remnants of an atmosphere, there are the lingering gnomes and fairies of the mind.

So, dry and cold, no – that it wasn’t, but there could be a certain coldness – another kind – in the constant striving to enchant, to live in a world of enchantment. It can just as well cut you off from a connection with the world as intensifying it.

Waldorf people speak (and write) about awe and reverence all the time, of the importance of enchantment – as if these things were good and necessary in and of themselves. Sometimes I don’t think they know what they mean anymore. There are obvious traps here: people envision a goal, which is mostly an esthetic one, and set about creating it, but without substance; people produce empty kitsch rather than engaging in meaning; people ”do” tradition, but fail to realize that these things can’t be done half-heartedly – it’s not really the usual theatre of human life (or can’t be, there is to be a point to it at all).

***

It’s a matter of contention (or whatever else shall we call it?) between other critics and myself whether the promotion of fantasy (that is, those things that are not facts or real) in waldorf education causes harm. The fact that I don’t always agree that it is so may actually speak against myself; perhaps it iss the surest sign indeed that it has, that I myself am too entangled in this phenomenon, this mystical web, to see it for what it is. And, in fact, I didn’t accomplish anything much in life but pointless daydreaming: who knows, without this spiritual brain damage, would I not be an accountant or a dentist, toiling away, content in fulfilling the dreary tasks of the material world? I understand the point people make: education ought to prepare you for this world, and to prepare you for life within its physical contours. It ought not make you metaphysically confused.

So that’s the objection: the world of fantasy and imagination (the unreal things replacing the world of facts) causes confusion and anguish – in the end, it also prevents a correct attachment to the world as it is. Art does not seem to be an object of the same kind of distrust, though in essence the areas overlap; mysticism and art overlap in that neither deals solely with crude physical reality.

***

To its strenghts or weaknesses – be that as it may – waldorf education takes the non-material world seriously indeed. I don’t know what it’s like these days, when fewer teachers have a personal commitment to spirituality, to anthroposophy more specifically, which matters a lot (we’re not dealing with random fluff), but if they are (and at least some are) – you have to understand the difference: this view of an immaterial world is pervasive, it permeates everything, mystery is not restricted to the half-hour during which a fairy-tale is read, soul-lessly, from a book, it is in the atmosphere at all hours of the day, it is in the blood that runs through the veins of the pedagogy, and if any content is taught at all, it is in it as it is in the walls, in the songs, in the verses, in the meals, it is pervasive and it is supposed to suffuse you – that’s what it is.

Then, of course, you know what children are like: they laugh, outwardly or inwardly (depending on what is permitted), at adults who believe in silly things, so there’s not necessarily a wholesale absorption of the enchantment that adults serve up. At least it wasn’t for me. Perhaps that is easy for me to say, I don’t think I ever had any particular difficulty understanding the various ways in which fairies could be existent or non-existent – at least I don’t remember it. Although you may, at the same time, call me confused – to this day.

***

To include a point of actual criticism, so as not to disappoint my dear friends: the issue here, in my eyes, doesn’t so much seem to be the beings who lack physical presence in this world, but the absence of an academically sound education – of cold facts, among other things – to complement the world of those beings, and eventually, if needed, override it. It lacked somewhat, to put it mildly, in that latter department. And if you object that the following has little to do with education, I agree. Therein lies the obvious problem, not for this text (for it isn’t my problem) but for waldorf education as education.

***

There weren’t only the fairies, of course – there were the gnomes scurrying to their burrows and mines, the ancient myths and the adventures of the gods, the legends and the saints, the heroes and villains, angels and demons, the darkness and the light, good and evil, the hidden forces of nature, the devotional items, the rooms in dark and candlelight, the scent of beeswax, the rituals and rhythms, the soft and dreamy sounds of the lyres and flutes, the sing-song voices, and there were the living and the dead, matter and spirit. But there weren’t facts or even books; no lessons on how to distinguish the Real from the Unreal.

There were two random anecdotes I once told my waldorf critical friends: one of teacher who used to talk about the dancing fairies he had seen on his way to work; another who communicated with the dead. Harmful things perhaps, but I don’t feel harmed by them; and in any case none of it more harmful than other beliefs people have. The dogmatic religious threat of eternal damnation and hell, meeted out for silly earthly sins, seems no less harmful; the world’s major religions are filled with unreasonable dogma and cruelty. You can object, of course, that the confusion created in the child’s mind, when the beliefs of the teachers don’t match the beliefs of the child’s home, but so what: there’s a multitude of strange beliefs in the world. You can say, of course: there’s no place for such things in school, it’s not knowledge, and confusing knowledge with such beliefs endangers the ability to know truth from untruth. Yes, well, so it may be. Or not: it is, under all circumstances, an ability subject to development, and it is an ability that doesn’t evolve if it isn’t triggerd or exercised. If nobody pokes at your capacity for discernment with a tiny sharp object (or a tiny gnome), it isn’t brought into awareness – it doesn’t evolve. Rational facts, good as they are, are swallowed without any such process taking place; they are absorbed, sometimes only with effort, but usually without being spurred by intellectual irritation.

Now, to those fairies. I think most teachers spoke about fairies, but for some reason I remember this teacher in particular, the one I once referred to in a discussion with my waldorf critical friends: he was a mild-mannered and soft-spoken man, not necessarily weak (though we may have gotten that impression), but light as if floating on a cloud somewhere above ground. Elemental beings may well have meant more to him than children; he was a bit aloof; he didn’t know who the kids were individually. This isn’t a subjective feeling – it was quite objectively so: he had no idea who I was, for example, and you can see that from the text in my end of year report. He was not alone; many teachers may have known how to identify a huge number of elementals, but children were more like bees in a beehive. (Then again: would they be individually different to me? Only the interesting children, hardly the masses.)

On the way to school, he saw the fairies dancing – we all saw them, but my sober friends in the world I now live in, call them ”mist” not fairies and I do, too, naturally. But what is the difference to a child if the adult arrives in class talking about the fairies or if he arrives expounding on a scientific explanation (which, considering everything, I’m not sure was this man’s domain anyway)? What would you actually remember, three decades or so later? What lesson is there in seeing mist swirling over the meadows on an Autumn morning? Is it a scientific one, a poetic one, one about elusive elemental beings, or one about paying attention to nature and everything happening around us? I have no doubt that they all – almost all – believed in elves and gnomes. Not as physical beings, but spiritual ones.

Are there still, in the schools today, people of this ancient breed of anthroposophists? Or do the new teachers learn by heart how things are supposed to be done? Feigning a conviction (even to themselves) or a celebration of ”something out there” but essentially – as with most spiritual people, no matter how bonkers beliefs they subscribe to, no matter the lack of critical thinking – their view of the world is materialistic, essentially materialistic. The idea of the fairy or the gnome or the angel is but a condiment; it means little. As with fairy-tales, most adults can purposefully engage in ”make-believe”, if it is thought conducive to the child’s creativity and imagination. But it is as with Santa, a meaningless mental construction – at best, a pedagogical crutch, conceived for the purpose of utility, but with no consideration taken to sincerity.

The teacher who communicated with the dead (they almost all did, I presume, but didn’t talk about it explicitly) was another one of those teachers; a stern Steiner lady to the bone. Fascinatingly, the female Steinerists were often harsh and strict, seemingly cold, almost regimental, with a heavy air and a greyness around them; the male Steinerists, soft and just slighly feminine, yellowish and light like the sun of early spring. One ought to investigate this phenomenon – how is it so? It’s quite attractive in its own strange way. I don’t remember much else about her; she was very serious indeed.

***

This time of year, with michaelmas approaching (it is today, in fact…), followed by martinmas and advent and christmas, it’s worth pointing out that none of these things are games or children’s play – these are dead serious things. The michaelic battle with the dragon is no game – it is real. There’s a darkness to this which people wouldn’t like – because they mistakenly think darkness is bad and something childen don’t ”get” – so it’s recast nowadays as harvest festival with fun games and so on. That kills it, but not the dragon, obviously – who would, if he existed, thrive on being neglected or denied. Rather it is – if anything – an kind of initiation rite; like the advent spiral much darker than it seems when presented as a children’s game. From the same kind of percieving springs the notion that fairytales and myths aren’t fiction but primeval truth. The battle with the dragon is not a symbol merely – it’s a reality, even if not physical, material reality. Fairytales are truth, not make-believe, but another kind of truth. Fairies are real beings, not imaginary ones, they’re not physical beings – but they are true nontheless.

Herein lies the point. People distinguish sharply between two poles with an ocean between them: the physically real and material on the one side and the imagined and the products of make-believe on the other. This scheme is not apt to describe what fairies are in anthroposophy. Or gnomes, or Michael or the dragon. If something is not real, people think, it must be imagined. Either or. So what you get with waldorf is an education that focuses on imagination – oh, how creative this is, people muse. But it’s less about free imagination than about a different kind of truth – one that doesn’t fit the ordinary, simplified schemes.

Happy Michaelmas and successful dragon-fighting to you all!

(Picture: Dancing FairiesÄlvalek — painted by August Malmström in 1866. One of my favourite paintings.)

2016.09.26

If you think about endless destruction and the infinite suffering of humanity, perhaps your mind wanders to bloodstained wars, unrestrained violence, rape and murder and cruel dictators or to the possible future fate of mankind when antibiotics have ceased to work, the polar ice has melted and arid deserts cover more of the earth with subsequent starvation and floods of refugees that resemble nothing like we’ve seen so far. These things are not hard to imagine.

Little did you suspect, I presume, that one of the most severe threats against the fate of humanity — or the wellspring from which all of the above flows, one might say — is the editor of a critical edition (that is, not an edition of criticism, but one that traces changes to the text and the sources used) of Steiner’s works, whose supposedly unforgivable (and, it should be said, frequently misunderstood) deeds make the overcoming of materialism impossible, the consequence of which is a deluge of destruction and suffering that knows no end. Only anthroposophy can save this world — and, somehow, seemingly harmless ink on paper prevents this. Anthroposophy, an ostensibly obscure philosophy, whose name only a few of us know, is the center of the universe.

You’ll find it summarized here, with a link to a longer tome that offers a challenge to one’s patience. It is, however, fascinating and frightening in equal measure to behold such monumental and hysterical exaggeration — exaggeration almost as an art form, taken to the highest levels. Though part of the fringe of anthroposophy, it is meant seriously, and more than a few people take it seriously.

2016.09.24 ii

Malmö stads sociala myndigheter som i en obehaglig liten skrift upplyser oss om att

Kärleksnormen utgår ifrån att kärlek och sex alltid hör ihop …

verkar äntligen ha kommit ikapp Steiner:

… the concept of love and the concept of sex go together like the concept of ‘locomotive’ and the concept of ‘being run over.’ It is true that, on occasion, locomotives do run over people, but that is no reason for putting these two concepts in such close juxtaposition.

Nu befinner sig socionomerna och Steiner förstås inte i samma universum, och talar endast ytligt betraktat — och taget ur sitt sammanhang — om samma ting. Eller, ja, i alla fall är deras ambitioner vitt skilda, vad det verkar. Steiner skulle häpna; det tror jag, och han förefaller mig inte vara en person som chockerades av mycket. Trots den ytliga likheten i dessa lösryckta formuleringar kunde man på temat anordna en riktig mikaelisk kamp mellan synsätten: det materialistiska och det andliga, för att nu göra uppdelningen enligt det gamla välbekanta schemat, även om somliga skulle befinna sig ha hamnat i strid för en oväntad sida.

Egentligen fann jag mest en förevändning att använda ett av de — i hård konkurrens — roligaste Steiner-citaten. (Men det förstod ni nog.)

2016.09.24

Jag börjar med att lista några antroposofiskt-medicinska påståenden:

Den vanliga andningen har motsvarigheter i större andningsförlopp, som dygnets växling mellan natt och dag och de upprepade inkarnationerna. Allting är egentligen samma “grundrörelse”, och även kroppen har många andningsfunktioner, bl a är ämnesomsättningen också ett slags andning;

Mineraliseringen av människan utgår från huvudets andning och processen, då kolsyra binds vid kalk, innebär att något dör men att samtidigt att eterkrafter (livskrafter) frigörs, och föreställningslivet uppkommer. Denna mineraliseringsprocess och föreställningsförmåga finns inte hos barnet, varför barnet är mer känsligt för sinnesintryck. Dessa verkar på kroppen och kan ge upphov till sjukdomar;

Hos barnet är “mittenandningen”, “luftandningen in mittenmänniskan”, mer rörligt än hos vuxna, vilket ger ett livligt känsloliv. Tänker gör emellertid barnet långsamt. Alla problem hos barn är egentligen problem med andningen;

Andningen i dygnsrytmen: det finns ett samband mellan dag och natt, där själen kommer närmare kroppen under dagen och lämnar den under natten. De människor som möts under dagen, t ex lärare och elevgruppen, möts också under natten, i de andliga världarna;

Innan människan föds är hon i den andliga världen; kommen till den fysiska världen “vaknar” hon med hjälp av sinnena. Antroposofin räknar med fler sinnen än man vanligtvis gör, t ex livssinnet, rörelsesinnet, beröringssinnet; de har sitt centrum i olika delar av kroppen. Genom de lägre sinnena “förnimmer [man] sig själv som inkarnerad människa. […] De metamorfoserar sedan till de de högre sinnena.” De riktas mot det “andliga jaget”;

Cancer uppkommer då kroppsligheten “blir för fysisk”, “för mineralisk” och det eteriska är för svagt för att gripa in i det fysiska. Förhållandet mellan kropp och själ är stört;

I dag hotar vår civilisation den fysiska kroppen, den gör den “för tät” och så “mineralisk” att de högre väsensleden inte kan “tränga igenom” den;

Hos barn i dag brister ofta viljesinnet, och det är viktigt att stärka det eteriska gentemot det fysiska för att förebygga ohälsa;

“Materien fogar sig efter lagbundenheter som kommer från våra högre väsensled, inte från den yttre naturen”;

Anlag för cancer kommer av att en människa under tiden i moderlivet undergår en för kraftig “förbeningsprocess”, varför hennes väsen senare kännetecknas av att det fysiska är för starkt och det eteriska för svagt;

Cancer kan också påverkas av om en människa blir illa behandlad;

Likaså av ett alltför svagt Jagsinne, ett Jagsinne som är för passivt. Rätt uppfostran kan därför förebygga cancer;

Rudolf Steiner har alltid rätt. Eller i alla fall 99% rätt. En människa som håller sig på den rätta antroposofiska vägen kan inte få cancer och är dessutom en tillgång för sina vänner (möjligen är denna punkt ett utslag av storartad humor — i så fall ursäktar jag mig med att vet sällan vet i dessa sammanhang);

Cancerpatienter uppvisar ofta en svaghet i tankesinnet, när man ser tillbaka på deras biografi;

Cancer är ett slags hörselorgan på fel ställe. Därför är hörselprocessen störd hos den som har cancer. Hon är också känslig för ljud — ljuden är för kraftiga, “pressar ner” hennes själ i det fysiska;

Mikrokosmos står i samband med makrokosmos. I den inkarnerande människan kommer mikrokosmos och makrokosmos samman. Jaget kommer utifrån, från de andliga världarna, och möter de fysiska och de jordiska lagbundenheterna och ska “individualisera” dessa; i de senare finns det som kommer med arvet. Å ena sidan finns alltså nedärvda fysiska anlag, å andra sidan det som människan bär med sig och hur hon inkarnerar och bearbetar dessa anlag, varför ett fysiskt sjukdomsanlag aldrig måste vara avgörande;

Diabetes kommer av en svag “jagorganisation”, vilken i sin tur har karmiska orsaker. Den svaga jagorganisationen medför att “jaget inte kan delta tillräckligt i det kroppsliga livet, i ämnesomsättningslivet”;

Socker är “lättbränt”, går snabbt över i “värme”, är stimulerande och trivsamt. Denna värmeaspekt har alltså med jagorganisationen att göra; jagorganisationen bryter ned “värmeetern” och återskapar den, en nedbrytande och uppbyggande process som egentligen sker med all materia som kommer utifrån och som därigenom “individualiseras”. Jagorganisationen får inte verka för starkt, inte för svagt. Då blir människan sjuk;

När jagorganisationen är för svag vid diabetes tar astralkroppen över, fömår inte göra jobbet, och socker utsöndras i urinen. Njurar och nervsystem förstörs. Diabetikern kan inte ta upp näring ordentligt, då jagorganisationen behövs för den uppgiften. Jagorganisationen går i stället ut i periferin, kroppens utkanter, i stället för att verka som den ska i det inre, och detta ger upphov inflammationer;

Jagorganisationen “går in i kroppen” vid 9-årsåldern, därför uppkommer en kris. Andligt sett är jaget alltid verksamt, men i 9-årsåldern inkarnerar det “i den nedre människan”. Då tar också individen greppet om sin ämnesomsättning. Det är också en existentiell kris — den har med liv och död att göra, med död och (åter)skapande. Följerna av att något går fel under denna period är digra — när utvecklingen går fel, orsakas bl a diabetes;

Lite skolios är inget problem. Det visar att individen (eller det eviga i människan) kämpar med att individualisera arvet (den fysiskt nedärvda kroppen). “Känslomänniskan” är assymetrisk, finns i kroppens assymetri. Assymetrin skänker en frihetskänsla. Det finns en särskild eurytmiövning som hjälper vid skolios.

Så.

Dessa påståenden kommer ur ett häfte jag bläddrade i — “Waldorfpedagogik idag. Arbetsmaterial för Waldorflärare utgivet av Högskolekollegiet” (1996) — och, bortsett från att upplysa er om annars okända fakta, tjänar de bara till att illustrera en halvdan poäng jag vill försöka göra. Det kommer egentligen inte an på de enskilda exemplen eller deras andliga eller vetenskapliga värde; jag kunde ha öppnat någon annan antroposofisk bok och valt helt andra påståenden, men nu råkade det vara denna, och dessa påståenden duger gott. De är hämtade från fyra (relativt korta) föredrag av två olika antroposofiska läkare, Ursula Flatters och Christian Osika, båda välkända, och görs i en kontext där åhörarna är någorlunda insatta i antroposofi men inte är medicinare (de är waldorflärare, därav ett visst fokus på barn). Det handlar alltså om ett litet material, som är ganska obskyrt och om än inte anpassat för en fackpublik så menat för en begränsad och sympatiskt inställd skara. Jag kunde ha valt ut tusentals detaljer och exempel ur ett större antal källor, ändå skulle jag kanske inte säga så mycket mer om vad antroposofisk medicin är. Men man ger glimtar av hur antroposofiska läkare tänker många år efter Steiner.

Det är svårt att gripa tag om den “bästa” förklaringen av vad antroposofisk medicin är. Man kan möjligen bestrida att mängder av enskilda exempel på ett sätt att resonera är det bästa tillvägagångssättet, även om exemplen är bra. Det ger en ganska dålig bild av helheten ändå, och bara aningar om de stora linjerna. Men alternativet är att vara abstrakt, och det har jag varit ganska ofta. Det blir inte greppbart. Det jag vill illustrera — och detta häfte råkade dyka upp i min väg — är att antroposofisk vård är så mycket mer än vanlig medicin kompletterad med några komiska preparat och en viss trivselfaktor; den befinner sig i en annan sfär. Och det är en sak att abstrakt påstå att de har andra sätt att se på sjukdomars uppkomst eller på hur människan är uppbyggd, en annan att visa mer konkret att det är så. Cancer, till exempel, är något fundamentalt annat för den antroposofiske läkaren än för den “materialistiske”. Enbart för cancersjukdomen hade man kunnat anföra tusentals exempel på antroposofiska idéer, som avviker från det gängse och förväntade. Och detta är alldeles bortom den mer välkända frågan om mistelinjektioner som behandlingsform.

Vidarkliniken kunde förstås självmant berika omvärlden genom att dela med sig mer generöst av sina kunskaper och tankar, i stället för att alltid klaga på okunskap och oförståelse, och det finns naturligtvis bättre sätt att göra det på än de jag har försökt med. Jag har inte heller de kunskaper som egentligen krävs, men tillräckligt för att förstå att många som skriver under massmail och protestlistor för Vidarkliniken vet försvinnande lite — och det måste jag betrakta som en svaghet i kampanjerna snarare än en styrka, hur många mail som än sänds.

Göran Garberg, reklammakare och styrelseledamot i Kulturforum Järna AB, driver sedan länge en (nyligen återupplivad) kampanj för Vidarkliniken (“Värna Vidarkliniken”), och klagar i en intervju i Ytterjärna Forum (som bland andra Kulturforum Järna står bakom, behändigt nog) på att kritiken mot Vidarkliniken är osaklig och ytlig. Men återigen — och som vanligt i arbetet för Vidarklinikens existens — är det inte i syfte att fördjupa eller vara saklig. Det sker över huvud taget inte, och är inte på agendan från Vidarklinikens håll heller. Hans synpunkter tycks huvudsakligen plagierade från vad Ursula Flatters och Anders Kumlander uttryck tidigare; inget nytt tillkommer, bortsett från det förmenta patientperspektivet.

(Nu tycker någon säkert att jag är elak som inte låter honom framstå som den initiativtagare till en patientkampanj som han vill framstå som, en “vanlig” drabbad som man bör ha sympati med, och han är kanske det också. Men det är helt enkelt kutym i dessa sammanhang att göra så här — jag har hittills inte sett en enda förment gräsrotsinitierad föräldrakampanj för waldorf som har uppkommit genom vanliga föräldrars initiativ. De presenterar sig bara så i media, men är i själva verket alltid mer involverade än de ger sken av. Det är inte hela världen, men det är falskt, och spelar på medkänslan för en personligen berörd snarare än på argument som kyligt kan ifrågasättas. Den drabbades perspektiv förväntas vara bortom kritik. Och det är väl också poängen. Som sagt: inget nytt tillkommer, förutom en viss sentimentalitet och en unken bismak.)

Om vi utgår från patientperspektivet — eller egentligen vilket perspektiv som helst — borde det rimligen vara bättre att veta mer, än att veta mindre. Naturligtvis inte att ha kunskap i form av detaljramsor av det slag jag presterade ovan, men att förstå något av idéerna teoretiskt och något om hur de konkret kommer till uttryck. Men en del människor har ingen önskan om det, till gagn för Vidarkliniken. Man ser det i varenda kommentarstråd där anhängare och tidigare patienter visar stöd. Man ser det också hos tillskyndare i andra sammanhang, till exempel bland politiker. Det handlar mycket om trivsel, miljö och floskler och en (i och för sig ibland delvis begriplig) motvilja mot den vanliga vården — men saknar argument som utgår från den antroposofiska medicinen, ja, saknar ofta argument över huvud taget utanför den egna upplevelsen (eller positiva personliga vittnesmål). Den antroposofiska medicinen känner man helt enkelt inte till. Det går ju an för den enskilde, som har att leva sitt liv så gott det går och inte har en vilja till kunskap (eller ork att söka den), men är inte mycket att bygga krav på offentlig finansiering på.

Det slår mig att Vidarkliniken, som alltid klagar över bristande insikter hos sina motståndare, inte bekymrar sig det blekaste för de minst lika stora bristerna hos sina anhängare (för att nu generalisera). Då duger det oinformerade ställningstagandet utmärkt. De tomma fraserna, ytligheten och det okunniga duger alldeles utmärkt, liksom de duger för deras egna insatser i debatten.

Att dra nytta av människors ignorans, att presentera individer på försåtliga vis, att undandra det som kan uppfattas som “kontroversiellt” från att belysas, att anpassa det som sägs (och det som inte sägs) för att manipulera fram önskat resultat, och så vidare, är så klart inte antroposofiska särkompetenser. Men det är något bakvänt med det som pågår.

2016.09.15

When anthroposophy fails, it succeeds. This is an odd lesson I learnt a little while ago. It may seem a strange piece of wisdom, but once you stop and think about it, it isn’t so weird at all.

As you have probably guessed already, because you possess quicker minds than I do, this has to do with the fact that in the hidden realms, things are not what they seem to be in the material realm. The occult world operates in disguise and contrary to appearances. It is self-evident, and I can’t quite believe I was so slow to catch on. It’s true I had suspected something along these lines, but hadn’t before seen the intriguing argument for this optimistic position expressed so clearly.

My non-Swedish readers are unaware of the utterly undramatic backstory: the choice some years ago of an anthroposophical food company, locally well-known, to abandon biodynamics — or rather not to pay its associated farmers extra for it — has contributed to a decrease in biodynamically farmed land. Biodynamic practices have been criticized as unscientific, but perhaps even more just laughed at, which recently served as a cause for a newspaper interview with the company’s managing director. An interview in which he distanced himself, and this anthroposophically owned company (it is owned by several anthroposophical foundations), from biodynamics. This is, I’d say, quite remarkable in itself considering this company’s standing within the anthroposophical movement but also outside of it.

Naturally, an anthroposophical company is not obliged to adhere to biodynamic principles (in favour of, for example, financial ones), there are others who don’t, but it can hardly be seen as a success for the biodynamic method when it is abandoned. And that’s the point, I guess. It appears like a failure for the biodynamic method, and for anthroposophy as a whole. And it is a puzzling move, considering the company ownership and its history — seeing its past source of pride, so to speak, going down the drain.

But I was advised that this isn’t actually a problem at all, a conclusion which may serve as comfort for anyone unnerved by the developments or as a cause for concern for those who want anthroposophy to vanish. It all depends on your starting point.

What looks like a failure and sounds like a failure (and I think, if you were a dog, smells like a failure) — isn’t a failure.

Anthroposophically speaking, things are never what they seem to be to us materialists. It is actually quite typical of people like me — who fail to gain a proper perspective on the occult truths — to be clinging to the crude facts of the situation as they appear to one’s physical senses in the year of 2016.

As I perceived it, there were two main arguments why anthroposophy is succeeding while ostensibly it’s failing. The first is the long-term perspective (how anthroposophy loves the long-term perspective!): lack of success right now is merely a small glitch, over the course of many years this small glitch is but a grain of sand on a beach of success. Perhaps it isn’t even a glitch, it only looks like one; it could just be some insignificant sign-of-the-times: people don’t understand now, but they will. After all, no matter how things look, the whole point is that anthroposophy must win in the end, that is how it is supposed to be! And it is winning, it is taking over the world — in secret! And if people keep saying this, in the end it must be true, perhaps because mental images shape reality. In this marvellous way, anthroposophists are thinking a whole universe of success into existence — the agile workings of reality, which appear to send these successes back into oblivion, are successfully ignored. It’s a fascinating trick of magic, but if it works out in the end, we will know only in some future incarnation.

Of course, what they say is: behind the scenes, in the higher worlds, it is working. Keep believing, is what they don’t say, because it’s not supposed to be about belief, but about truth. It is working! It is paving its way into the world, into people’s hearts, changing minds — though nobody notices it. The surface glitches aside, it’s working in the subconscious.

Which leads to the second other argument, which, if I understood it correctly (I think they’re both essentially related to each other), is that biodynamics, despite not succeeding in the real world, still succeeds homeopathically; in the occult, it works its wonders all the time, like the entire anthroposophical movement, in doses so tiny, yet so potent! Not only are occult carrots being farmed, but the world is silently rescued from doom and disaster. Only homeopathically, of course, which is why we still see all those disasters and catastrophes — on the surface of things. Hidden underneath the mayhem lurks a paradise. This brand of success is hard to detect for the materialistically inclined human being of today who cannot “keep up”. The view, interestingly enough, allows the anthroposophist (satisfied at the thought, one presumes) to be the center of a gigantic drama that transforms the world, despite the fact that in the material world nothing whatsoever happens.

Oddly enough, I have yet to come across the viewpoint that when anthroposophy ostensibly has some success in the so-called real world — which happens, from time to time, usually (I suspect) when people apply themselves to a task rather than to dreaming a vision into being — it is in fact failing in the long-run or in the hidden realms. Or does the argument perhaps not work in the opposite direction?

I guess not.

2016.08.29

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Steiner says that modern spirituality is not compatible with seeking the solitary existence of a monastery or life in a cave or the desert; it’s not a question of isolating oneself from the world, but to live in it; not to become a hermit but a somewhat useful citizen, a part of mankind. Of course, that’s one of several reasons why his ideas cannot find resonance with me.

I need that cave, you see; I need to escape from the hordes of anonymous faces. Which is why I reject Steiner — on this particular account — out of dislike alone; no, I don’t believe I need to find a reasonable argument, at least I don’t care. (Because it’s irrelevant. In addition, I’m quite useless, as mr Dog will confirm.)

After being stuck in the city for most of July and August (mr Dog was ill again), I spent last week on the island. Returning to the city, I was (as is usually the case) in shock for several days: all that noise, all that screaming! It causes an almost instant dulling of all the senses; the general racket simultaneously pains and numbs you. A subconscious method of self-preservation I presume.

Arriving on the island, on the other hand, last weekend, was quite the opposite: fog all around me, heightening every experience. The world limited to what the mist allows you to experience, and what you actually can experience becomes so much more alive. Rocks and plants rise from the ground, trying to shoot themselves into the universe.

It’s incredibly peaceful and still. (Despite the foghorns. For some reason, hearing them is almost — unreal, almost as if somewhere deep inside that cotton-like substance, cosmos was singing a lullaby.)

Then there are the sunrises, the sunsets and the stars. I could get used to following the sun’s path and the stars rather than the news of the wars and the atrocities. In any case, I could use more of the former and less of the latter. But what choice does one have? In the screaming and frenzy of ordinary life in the city, one feels compelled to read about the latest beheadings. And the sunrises and sunsets are so far away and even the brightest stars can barely be detected at all.

And you wonder what that does to mankind, to all those anonymous faces; few of whom consciously care that the heavens have disappeared from consciousness.

There’s an odd thing: people don’t like darkness, thus (paradoxically) create more darkness with artificial light. Last year, cheap garden LED-lights (solar or battery-powered) became fashionable — this year, it has spread even more, and those who were pioneers last year, have invested in even brighter ones this year. Every other garden looks like a landing strip for flying saucers. Evidently people who spend three weekends and one or two weeks a year in the countryside suffer from a profound inability to enjoy the starry skies — I sometimes wonder if they have even noticed them? Perhaps they are afraid, you say; afraid of the darkness. Perhaps so. I’ve never found cheap LED-lights to be a better source of comfort than the stars and the moon; they turn everything around them blacker. (A head-torch suffices for me, when I need to see where I put my feet.)

Light pollution — increasing thanks to, among other things, plentiful of cheap trinkets — will make the night sky more invisible and irrelevant, as it is in the city. You can but wonder what that does to mankind, but mankind on a whole doesn’t care. Electric light has blessings, of course, and in many parts of the world even the basics of it are much needed. But we — here, in Europe — are “spoilt” rotten to a point where nature has become a foreigner and an enemy who needs to be combatted. It seems to me, though, that people have generally confused the knight with the dragon.

(Picture: sun rising in the early morning of August 24.)

Sergei Prokofieff: Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries

From the looks of it, Sergej Prokfieff seems to have been a man who experienced no doubts and had no appreciation for ambiguity; one filled with blind conviction and religious devotion, a pedantic and humourless literalist, uncompromising and adverse to the world. That is quite a way to begin, I guess.

The Russian, a former member of the executive council of the Anthroposophical Society in Dornach, was excessively popular among some anthroposophists, and equally disliked by others. While some anthroposophists admired him and were impressed by his supposed gifts in the occult realm, others have been dismissive, considering him a destructive force in the movement. Prokofieff’s equals in religious fervor and self-proclaimed clairvoyants have also found various reasons to dislike him; to some extent, it seems to have been mutual. But many have fallen, spiritually speaking, at his feet; admiring him, even worshipping him, as a high initiate, even the highest since Steiner himself, possibly boosted by the old anthroposophical belief that the Russian folk-soul will be the dominant spiritual force in the coming cultural epoch. Depicting Steiner as a saint and martyr, the impression is that Prokofieff would not be unhappy to see such an image brush off on himself. He passed away, relatively young, a couple of years ago. He was the intellectually gifted version of the die-hard anthroposophical fanatics with their religious zeal.

All of this alone was reason enough for me to read Prokofieff’s first book, Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries,* the work that propelled him to anthroposophical fame in the 1980s and made him rise to the higher echelons of the Society at a rather young age. The origin of the book is a series of lectures held for the first time in the late 1970s. Familiarizing myself with it is, after all, essential to understanding some of the rifts in anthroposophy: perhaps, actually, how diverse anthroposophy is and how much anthroposophists have differed in their outlook.

So I began to read but, alas, the reading took a while: I’ve rarely suffered through such a dreadfully dull tome. Prokofieff drones on endlessly in the most monotonous fashion, and if you could extract the essence of his book and turn it into a pill, I’m sure you would have invented a successful remedy against sleeplessness. I almost invariably fell asleep after about seven to ten pages, until I took to reading it sitting on a hard, wooden chair on the balcony, where it was impossible to nod off. It rather pains me to say this, but I began to think I was inflicting unforgivable cruelty on myself, but then reminded myself of people having their heads chopped off, and despite feelings of unpleasantness, I plugged along bravely, considering myself lucky after all. That said, worse drivel is hard to come by, even by anthroposophical standards.

This work contains a supposedly esoteric interpretation (or vision perhaps being the appropriate word) of the life of Rudolf Steiner and of the development of the Anthroposophical Society, especially concerning the pivotal Christmas meeting (”the major spiritual event taking place in the physical world in the 20th century”). Prokofieff attempts to achieve this through extensive quoting and parroting of Steiner’s texts and lectures – chosen selectively and with an obvious slant, intended to give credence to Prokofieff’s own religious-fundamentalist anthroposophy (as so often: it’s more interesting to ponder the things people leave out, than what they include!) – seasoned with mildly exotic occult speculations, or should I say fantasies, some possibly original for Prokofieff, some of it decidedly old stuff or rehashed mythologies, such as Steiner’s supposed previous incarnations, accepted, naturally and without question, as uncontroversial facts.

Perhaps it’s worth saying that the book is quite impenetrable unless you have some familiarity with anthroposophy. And even if you do, reading Steiner himself is generally more accessible, even the more esoteric lectures intended only for members. This has as much to do with style as it has to do with content. Prokofieff, of course, has not written this book for outsiders, not even interested outsiders; highly committed anthroposophists, to whom tedium is not off-putting but rather part of the allure, are his exclusive target audience. He doesn’t need to be rhetorically convincing or poetically gifted; all he needs to do is to offer a pretense of esoteric depth and an appeal to vanity. Steiner, in that way, is more straightforward to deal with, has retained a sense of humour, and is less awkward in style.

So who is Steiner? To Prokofieff, an emissary of God; a kind of reincarnated Christ; the one and only saviour of all of humanity; the One whose life was planned by the angels with extraordinary care. I mean this quite literally; he does go on quite a bit about Steiner and Christ. A Steiner who is elevated to divinity but deprived of his humanity. I’ve grown quite fond of the guy; he certainly is exceptional and highly intelligent. But – and there is a but – for all that is good about him, and wise and fascinating, as well as for those things that are less appealing (but still often interesting), he is human. Not to question the ”facts” he puts forth nor the process by which he attains them and the logic he follows, is a refusal to take him seriously – in a very real sense. Prokofieff is, it seems to me, poking with a stick at a corpse; revealing moths and worms. The holy man is but a ghost; the real (human) man nowhere to be seen.

By virtue of being Steiner’s disciples, anthroposophists are the rightful leaders of mankind; they – the members of the Anthroposophical Society – are called, by divine cosmic powers, to be the superior humans who shall be the rulers of a flock of sheep. In fact, and Prokofieff assures us that this is not racist – because it is spiritual! – anthroposophists will form their own race; I need not tell you that this race is spiritually elevated above the rest of humankind, which will stay behind, as it were, just like the animals did when present man moved on. The way he describes it, I get the impression that the rest of us are just props in an anthroposophical theatre production – or pawns in a game that anthroposophists imagine they’re playing. We’re here to fulfill their aims, figurantes in their vision of leaders and followers, but (it seems to me) of little value as individuals in our own right, with our own aims and goals. So much for the much-touted love.

Be that as it may (we may certainly doubt that anthroposophists are inherently superior by merit of being anthroposophists, or we may doubt in the blessings of being ruled by this spiritual aristocracy), it is a powerful appeal to vanity. In a dead serious tone, Prokofieff inflates the importance of anthroposophy and anthroposophists to cosmic proportions. He provides plenty of esoteric inspiration for anyone who gets a high out of contempt of his fellow (non-anthroposophist) men – that very special contempt that comes with a lofty smile and a pastel-coloured garb. Natural for a cult, of course, but anthroposophy claims not to be one. Or perhaps it’s just human nature. But let’s put it succinctly: in more ways than one, Prokofieff’s book provides ample ammunition for anyone wanting to prove that, indeed, anthroposophy can be a religious cult. He believes; he does not doubt. He calls on anthroposophists to take on their mission. There is a creed, certainly; a revelation. There’s a millennial perspective, an apocalyptic vision. There is a way to be a real anthroposophist, the one adhering to Prokofieff’s visions and ideals. There’s the one and only right way – and the many wrong ways. If anthroposophists don’t choose the former, the world will be plunged into destruction, darkness and decay and end in annihilation.

He’s a preacher without poetry; a monotonous visionary. What strikes me perhaps most of all is the cold, relentlessly mechanical quality of Prokofieff’s account. He may be learned, in a theoretical way, possessing a huge storage of cold, technical knowledge, resembling the knowledge reservoirs of an autistic savant, but nothing comes alive; there is a selection of trees, not a wide, wild variety, just a decent selection, but there’s no forest, no life. A feeling permeates me that despite the (certainly correct, but selective) details of his tediously elaborate treatise, he gets it all so very wrong. I wouldn’t even say he misunderstands his object of study; I don’t think he does, I’m sure it’s as ”valid” a reading of Steiner as any other, they’re all selective, they’re all interpretations, all about people’s own desires. I simply think he suffocates and kills it. Characteristically, Prokofieff is entirely impersonal. This is not about him, but about cosmic, higher truth. As far as the individual human being is concerned, it is all on the surface. Do I think it is ”spiritual”? No.

The impression of a game, cold and technical, with winners and losers, pawns without heart and blood, remains. It is the kind of anthroposophy that would scare the hell out of me if it had any influence at all in the world. I can understand, I certainly can, the attraction that this kind of anthroposophy has, as it plays to vanity, superiority, exclusiveness, but I can also see, and that even more clearly, how it turns anthroposophy in on itself, becoming alien to the world, perhaps satisfied as such, but isolated and ever more detached.

 

*I read the Swedish translation, because it was available at the library (Sergej Prokofjev: Rudolf Steiner och grundandet av de nya mysterierna). I guess this sloppy review ought to have been preceded by a trigger warning – to protect people who cannot abide seeing their heroes disrespected. But that, you see, is not my cup of tea, so you’ll have to find a way to survive. As for people who don’t want to read a whole book themselves, they can find some of Prokofieff’s articles online; I particularly recommend ‘The being of the internet’ (and the hilarious response written by waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz).

With this post, I’ll take a brief break again. A few days, a week possibly, I don’t know. I’ll ponder the dangers of mysticism – a topic of some contention, internal and external, as of late –, the weaknesses of my soul and my belligerent melancholic-choleric disposition.

2016.08.19

Subsequent to this, someone kindly pointed out to me something along these lines: it is possible that I am separated from my karmic context or group not by time but by space. It’s a suggestion worth some consideration, as it hadn’t occurred to me. There are two options here (and possibly more). Either I meant it to be that way (a soul yearning for solitude, needing it) or, upon entering earthly existence, I made a mistake, not with the time-table but with the map; perhaps I had none or if I did, read it erroneously. Dog knows I have no sense of direction, geographical or otherwise. There is also this one thing I know way too little about: what is the situation with maps and such things in the higher worlds? And in the preparation, before descending, as it were, do we have all the gadgets? Everybody knows, though, how easy it is to forget to put the map, the compass or the gps in the backpack before leaving; it would be much more curious to neglect the thermos bottle with coffee. That is, before leaving your earthly home — but why would it be much different? Of course, karmically speaking, the level of forgetfulness is no coincidence. But because of that it must also play a part.

The current fashion of denying the existence of a specifically Swedish culture notwithstanding, I’d still suggest that it’s alive and kicking — everybody who doesn’t “fit in”, and never did, knows that. But we also know how easy it is for non-Swedes to get Sweden mixed up with Switzerland or even Holland. Maybe the Nordic region is something of a blind spot also to the beings that dwell in higher, supersensible regions? Steiner does accord the North a special significance (it must be said, but I’m not sure it’s relevant here). Besides, what do the spiritual realms really know about the geography of the physical earth? They sometimes seem too preoccupied with the cosmos. There are all sorts of errors that may creep in during the journey. Meant to be, of course, if so, but still.

It’s certainly hard enough to get on the right train in the physical realm.

2016.08.18 ii

Inte utan viss genans medger jag att det faller sig lättare för mig att peka ut det som irriterar mig än det som inte gör det. Att gilla något (om det inte handlar om självklarheter) är en svaghet som kan framkalla andras aversion, ilska och framför allt misstro på avsevärt mer nyckfulla vis. Man vill inte blotta strupen i närheten av oberäkneligheter. Sådant går som regel åt skogen.

Men ibland, i rättvisans namn, känns det som att man borde vända på saken. Jag vet inte hur många gånger jag skrivit om hur repetitivt meningslösa, intetsägande, innehållslösa och ängsliga Vidarklinikens och Ursula Flatters inlägg i debatterna är. Och jag har tänkt det många fler gånger än jag skrivit det, för man kan inte upprepa sig hur många gånger som helst utan att själv bli uttråkad, och andra tråkar man ut fortare än man tråkar ut sig själv.

Så man borde vända på det, för en gångs skull, för det verkar nästan som om ingenting Ursula Flatters gör – förutom att begå debattartiklar – är tråkigt. Jag har för mig att jag har rekommenderat bokkapitel och någon Youtube-video här för länge sedan (och långt innan dess säkert skrivit något svagsint, som förhoppningsvis bara återfinns i akashakrönikan) och hon är en av ett försvinnande fåtal som bidragit med något läsvärt till Vidarstiftelsens plattitydstinna livsstilsmagasin, så nu vill jag framhålla intervjun i senaste numret av Antroposofiska Sällskapets tidning. Den är rätt öppen och personlig och hon relaterar på ett sällsynt vis sitt liv till antroposofin, något som alltid är mycket intressantare att ta del av än det där vanliga intetsägande bluddret och tomma lovordandet från antroposofer, som aldrig ger en enda vink om vad poängen är. Jag ser fram emot del två.

Det är ju en del av min defekta tankeapparat att jag gillar saker jag inte håller med om. En typ av motsättning som inte passar in i den här världen, år 2016, har jag märkt. Hur som helst, den här intervjun är väl bortom den enkla motsättningen mellan ”rätt” och ”fel” och medhåll och avståndstagande (och alla andra markeringar vi ständigt måste göra), och jag har en viss sympati; det är som det är.

Det som suger med Ursula Flatters mer publika insatser i debatten är att man aldrig slipper tjatet om hur oinformerade, fördomsfulla och illasinnade andra är – men aldrig något av substans. Detta skulle inte vara hälften så frustrerande (på det sättet) om jag trodde att substansen inte fanns där, vilket är fallet med andra antroposofiska debattörer. Debatt är ju självklart debatt och det verkar närmast vara en naturlag att debatt är outhärdligt spånig. Men allting är ju inte, borde inte vara, debatt. Jag ska inte vara naiv; jag tror vi är fast i den galopperande idiotin, något som förmodligen tillfredställer såväl Vidarklinikens anhängarskaror som en del av dess motståndare. Det gör saken så enkel.

Hur som helst, intervjun är spännande läsning. Men detta låter också högst spännande:

Han [någon i Dornach, min anm] hade bland annat en torsdagkurs i människokunskap. När jag väl blir av med den här läkemedelsfrågan vill jag göra något sådant här i Järna. Det var så fantastiskt att verkligen få fördjupa sig människokunskapen och inte bara nöja sig med några scheman.

Nu ångrar jag att jag inte köpte den här handboken jag hittade på Myrorna härom veckan:

invisibility

2016.08.18

Steiner has this idea that if you incarnate in the “wrong” time together with people who were not incarnated at the same time as you were the last time around, you’ll experience no genuine connection with other human beings. This can happen for a number of reasons, but chiefly, the time spent between incarnations varies due to karmic factors. You can be, incarnationally speaking, out of sync. If you cannot find a connection with humankind this time around, it may be different the next — but you’ve got to keep your eyes on the time-table. Go on a charter-trip and avoid the solo tours.

Anyway, another one of his major ideas is, of course, the one that says your incarnation into earthly existence is gradual: the various invisible “bodies” are “born” in an orderly fashion at different stages; and different spiritual qualities develop at different times in life. Clearly there must be a variety of possible mishaps and deviations. Perhaps you can incarnate to quickly in one sense, and too slowly (or not at all) in another. Some qualities never develop, other aspects of your soul make-up suffer from imbalances

If you accept the framework, which I am (for obvious reasons?) averse to do, it makes a lot of sense. But let’s go with it as a hypothesis. Clearly, I incarnated to early or too late; I guess, too early would be the right explanation, because bad or evil individuals spend a shorter time (or no time at all) in the most spiritual realm, the sun sphere — you cannot bring badness into the sun sphere, it’s a very select club for the good souls –, thus they incarnate at a quicker than average speed, not being held up in higher realms, as it were. I see no reason to believe I was good, or even decent, in a previous hypothetical incarnation, so one must make this conclusion. Waiting a couple of hundred years would have done the trick, presumably, but for one reason or other, like barred access to certain places, I had to incarnate with contemporaries who are aliens. Or I am.

Then there’s the issue of incarnating into life on earth. I suppose that was always as off as can be, in my case. And you think, well, perhaps you’ll catch up, but then realize (usually in the middle of night) that you never will, that, on the contrary, other people are speeding up, leaving you even further behind. The few people you had any kind of connection with — a superficial connection, of course, which is the compulsory mode of sound contemporary relationships — grow up. Or whatever it is they do. At least, in the shallow sense, they catch up with the time-table of life.

Yet, at the same time as being insufficiently incarnated according to this loony hypothesis, I feel terribly old, positively ancient. And that is the odd thing.