Falling asleep, the astral body and the I leave the physical body behind (Steiner says!). The ether body stays with the physical body. In dying — the brother of sleep, says Steiner — the ether body, too, abandons the physical body. (Diana summarized this particular lesson from Steiner’s Rosicrucian Wisdom last sunday; it’s lecture iii, with astral oceans and comet tails for your pleasure!) What about artificially induced sleep, I’ve been wondering. What happens to the astral body and the I when a person is under anaesthesia? I’m not thinking about the boringly rational answers now; I want the anthroposophical answer. According to which ‘normal’ sleep happens like this:

When the human being sinks into sleep, his astral body and ego, together with what has been worked upon in the astral body by the ego, withdraw from the physical and etheric bodies. When you observe the sleeping human being clairvoyantly, physical body and etheric body lie there in the bed. These two members remain connected whereas the astral body emerges together with the higher members; wit h clairvoyance we can see how, when sleep begins, the astral body, bathed in a kind of light, draws out of the other two bodies. To describe this condition with greater exactitude we must say that the astral body of modern man appears as if it consisted in many streams and sparkles of light and the whole appears like two intertwining spirals, as if there were two 6-figures, one of which vanishes into the physical body, while the other extends far out into the cosmos like the trail of a comet. Both these trails of the astral body very soon become invisible in their further extensions, so that the phenomenon then has an ovoid shape. When the human being wakes, the trail no longer extends into the cosmos and everything draws again into the etheric and physical bodies. [Source.]

So, then, what happens during anaesthesia? It’s supposedly quick — the transition, that is: you fall asleep fast, wake up fast. It’s not like ordinary sleep. You can die, although that’s rare of course. I’m a bit obsessed with the issue of falling asleep right now — in particular with induced sleep. I’m going to go through the eye operation soon, to fix the squinting. It combines three of my big fears: hospitals, falling asleep and nausea.

Sleep (and not sleeping) is a recurring theme in my life; for the first time ever, I’ve been able to sleep (without medication) most nights for the last half year or so. Though not so well during some of the last few nights. Partly, I think, it’s a fear of losing control and of lost control. I used to feel I had control over nothing, but not falling asleep was something I could control — paradoxically, even when I wanted to fall asleep, because I was dead tired, I think I did fear losing control, and thus could not let myself there. (Clearly, that’s a too complicated explanation. Anyway, I spent lots of time sleepless.)

I figure anthroposophy has an answer — anaesthesia is, after all, used in anthroposophical medicine too? Are there any differences, compared to mainstream medical care? I mean, I assume it’s used for practical and humane reasons — similar reasons to elsewhere — but what intrigues me is anaesthesia in connection to the special anthroposophical beliefs about sleep and what happens during sleep.

(A couple of quotes on sleep, posted two years ago, from the first class lessons.)

PS. You’ll wonder why the quoted passage speaks of a ‘trail’ when I spoke of a ‘tail’. In the print version of the book, it does indeed say ‘tail’.

‘the false promise of racial progression’

Ok! I now have your attention! I know I do. Nick wrote (in a comment I’m trying to reply to; well, I actually did, on paper, in the middle of the night, which makes it complicated):

Anthroposophy offers nothing that can not be found elsewhere other than the false promise of racial karmic progression.

I know there are people who agree. I know there are those who disagree. I know there are those who redefine spiritual racism as non-racism, or even anti-racism. Or who fail to see that Steiner speaks of racial progression at all. But is Nick’s estimation correct? Is there indeed nothing but ‘the false promise of racial karmic progression’ and is it necessary to judge everything else he taught in this light? Why? (Oh, yes, I know this is topic old. But why not do it again? Besides, I’m busy with other things and need to keep you entertained.)

Right now, on the critics list, there are (once again) interesting discussions on the topic of racism. Sadly, I’m far behind in list discussions in general. It may make sense to pick a few items that could inspire thought, though. I’m thinking of a few of the Steiner-quotes that have been posted. For example this (posted by Peter Staudenmaier in this thread), from a lecture on education:

This ‘Body of the Ego’ is the vehicle of the higher soul of man. Through it man is the crown of all earthly creation. Now in the human being of the present day the Ego is by no means simple in character. We may recognize its nature if we compare human beings at different stages of development. Look at the uneducated savage beside the average European, or again, compare the latter with a lofty idealist. Each one of them has the faculty of saying ‘ I ’ to himself; the ‘Body of the Ego’ is present in them all. But the uneducated savage, with his Ego, follows his passions, impulses, and cravings almost like an animal. The more highly developed man says to himself, ‘Such and such impulses and desires you may follow,’ while others again he holds in check or suppresses altogether. The idealist has developed new impulses and new desires in addition to those originally present. All this has taken place through the Ego working upon the other members of the human being. Indeed, it is this which constitutes the special task of the Ego. Working outward from itself, it has to ennoble and purify the other members of man’s nature. [Source.]

Or this one, posted by Pete (same thread as above):

In each root race various stages must also be gone through. There are always seven of these. In the beginning of a period identified with a root race, its principal characteristics are in a youthful condition; slowly they attain maturity and finally enter a decline. The population of a root race is thereby divided into seven sub-races. But one must not imagine that one subrace immediately disappears when a new one develops. Each one may maintain itself for a long time while others are developing beside it. Thus there are always populations which show different stages of development living beside each other on earth. [Source.]

For an anthroposophical perspective (or ‘seeing things from a higher plane’), please do read Rafael’s comments in that and other recent threads. For more anthroposophical quotes on race, see Roger Rawlings’ website and for analyses look up Peter Staudenmaier’s work (and his posts on critics are usually excellent in picking apart the arguments of anthroposophists).

english translation of the first class esoteric lessons

Hitherto unavailable to non-class members in English, the lectures of GA270 are now published by Frank Thomas Smith online in his own translation, thus not the exact text used in class lessons in the UK or the US. Still, it might be the best alternative for those who don’t read German or who find Steiner’s talk a bit impenetrable in German. (For the German editions, see this website.) Because they’ve been ‘secret’ (ie, only passed on to class members), one might have easily been led to believe these lessons are more riveting — from the perspective of potential scandal or whatever one might gleefully expect — than they actually are.

The dreadful skeptics, who are always so eager to mock, might want to ponder the following texts about the beasts hindering spiritual knowledge ;-)

The Guardian of the Threshold characterizes the first beast, which lurks as fear in your will, as a beast with a crooked back and a bony face and scrawny body. This beast, with its dull blue skin, is verily what rises from the abyss and stands alongside the Guardian of the Threshold for today’s humanity. And the Guardian of the Threshold makes it quite clear to the humanity of today that this beast is actually in you! It rises from out of the yawning abyss which lies in front of the knowledge fields, and reflects what lurks in your will as an enemy of knowledge.

And the second beast, which is connected to the desire to mock the spiritual world, is characterized by the Guardian of the Threshold in a similar way. It emerges alongside the other monster, but its whole attitude is one of weakness and sleepiness. With this sleepy posture and gray-greenish body, it bares its teeth in a warped face. And this baring of teeth is meant to indicate laughter, but lies, because to mock is to lie. So it grins at us as the reflection of the beast that lives in our own feeling and, as the enemy of knowledge, hinders our search for knowledge.

(There’s a third beast, who I feel, applies better to anthroposophists themselves! So you’ve got to read the text to find out more. Read!)

You will also learn, unsurprisingly, there is but one true gate to knowledge. Well, to a certain kind of knowledge, that is.


This is anthroposophical jewellery. Or so I think. Does anyone have an explanation for these items? One of them looks like a skull with red eyes and another one like the face of a blue-eyed alien (or is it grey? purple?). Anyway, this (below) is parts of the Sloterdijk talk; the screenshot above is from that film. Watch it! In the beginning, they show various anthroposophical items.

steiner och negerromanen

Jag vill ge lite uppmärksamhet åt — och tipsa eventuella bloggläsare om — detta då det ju är viktigt, tror jag, att detta ämne ändå berörs. I all synnerhet från antroposofiskt håll. Det handlar om ett stycke som ströks ur en svensk utgåva av GA 348, publicerad för 20 år sedan. GA 348 hör hemma i en serie böcker innehållande föredrag, som brukar gå under samlingsbeteckningen arbetarföredragen. Dessa föredrag höll Steiner några år innan han avled. Stycket som ströks lyder som följer:

Jag var inne i en bokhandel i Basel nyligen. Där fann jag ett program om senaste nytt: en negerroman. Negrerna kommer på det hela taget in i Europas civilisation just nu. Negerdanser visas på scen överallt, och det skuttas negerdanser i danslokalerna. Och så har vi denna negerroman. Den är urtrist, gräsligt dålig, men folk slukar den. Jag är för min del övertygad om att om vi skulle få flera i samma stil och om vi skulle rekommendera nygravida kvinnor att läsa dem, då behöver det inte ens komma några negrer till Europa för att skapa mulatter; enbart genom att läsa sådana romaner skulle det födas en hel rad barn som skulle vara alldeles gråa och ha mulatthår, de skulle få ett mulattliknande ansikte.

Tidigare på bloggen har jag berört en annan redigering, nämligen det hela kapitel som försvann ur en annan bok i serien, utan att detta nämndes i utgåvan. (Diskussionstråden under det inlägget är värd att läsa, i alla fall i vissa delar.)

GA 348 kan läsas på originalspråk här. Den svenska översättningen av det kontroversiella stycket är lånad av Johannes Ljungquist, se länken ovan. Jag har på hans blogg redan kommenterat några aspekter av inlägget, och har kopierat in de kommentarerna här, se nedan [1] och [2]. Det är inte bara ur svenska utgåvor som detta stycke och kapitlet om raserna försvunnit. Det gäller även vissa engelskspråkiga upplagor.

Det är inte enbart ordet ‘negerroman’ som är märkligt med ovanstående stycke. Egentligen är det det minst märkliga, även om ordvalet låter olämpligt i dag. I stället är det Steiners övertygelse att läsning av negerromaner ger upphov till icke-vita barn. (Kan man förmoda att samma samband gäller för ‘asiatromaner’, ‘indianromaner’, och så vidare…?) Möjligen skämtar han, som några påpekat (inte för att det gör någon nämnvärd skillnad, särskilt inte då textstycket läses i dag). Men märkliga uttalanden förekommer rätt ymnigt i arbetarföredragen, och det handlar då inte alls bara om frågor om ras eller hudfärg. Tydligen har Steiner bemödat sig om att läsa negerromanen i fråga, eftersom han vet att den är ‘urtrist’ och ‘gräsligt dålig’. Continue reading “steiner och negerromanen”


From the prelude to Rudolf Steiner’s Mystery Drama The Portal of Inititation, the words of Estella:

‘[Y]ou always claim that your view is the more profound. I can readily understand that people whose conceptions differ radically may still meet in sympathy of feeling. But the nature of your ideas actually forces upon you an inner assumption of a certain superiority. Others can compare views and realize that they do indeed diverge towards different standpoints, but they nevertheless stand related by an equality of values. You, however, seem unable to do this. You regard all other views as proceeding from a lower degree of human development. […] I cannot close my eyes to the fact, that a world-view which ascribes to itself illimitable depth must needs lead through the mere appearance of such depth to a certain superficiality. I rate our friendship too high to point out to you those among your companions who, whilst they swear allegiance to your ideas, yet display spiritual arrogance of the most unmitigated sort, despite the fact that the barrenness and banality of their soul speaks in their every word and in all their conduct. Nor do I wish to call your attention to the callousness and lack of sympathy shown by so many of your adherents towards their fellow men.’ (Source.)

It’s one of those quotes I’ve saved, long ago, and I can’t claim to remember the context. However, he’s onto something eerily familiar…

a wave

a wave, but not an ocean

‘Imagine we are looking at a wide ocean. The waves rise and fall. There is a wave here, a wave there; there are waves everywhere, due to the heaving water. One particular wave, however, holds our attention, for we see that something is living in it, that it is not merely surging water. Yet water surrounds this living something on all sides. We only know that something is living in this wave, though even here we can only see the enveloping water. This wave looks like the others; but the strength of its surging, the force with which it rises, gives an impression of something special living within. This wave disappears and reappears at another place; again the water conceals what is animating it from within. So it is with the soul life of man. Images, thoughts, feelings and impulses of will surge up; waves everywhere. One of the waves emerges in a thought, in a feeling, in an act of volition. The ego is within, but concealed by the thoughts, or feelings, or impulses of will, as the water conceals what is living in the wave. At the place where man can only say: ‘There my own self surges up,’ he is confronted by mere semblance; he does not know what he himself is. His true being is certainly there and is inwardly felt and experienced, but this ‘semblance’ in the soul conceals it, as the water of the wave the unknown living thing from the depths of the sea. Man feels his own true being hidden by the unreal images of his own soul. Moreover, it is as if he wanted continually to hold fast to his own existence, as if he would lay hold of it at some point, for he knows it is there. Yet, at the very moment when he would grasp it, it eludes him. Man is not able, within the fluctuating life of his soul, to grasp the real being he knows himself to be. And when he discovers that this surging, unreal life of his soul has something to do with that other world presented by nature, he is more than ever perplexed. The riddle of nature is, at least, one that is present in experience; the riddle of man’s own soul is not present in experience because it is itself alive. It is, so to speak, a living riddle, for it answers man’s constant question: ‘What am I?’ by putting a mere semblance before him.’ – Steiner.

steiner’s change of mind

There was a discussion on critics on Steiner’s pre-theosophical phase and his theosophical, later anthroposophical, phase. I’m not sure my reply would add anything to the topic as such and, besides, the dicussion has evolved to other things (surreal and Monty Python-esque things), so I’ll post this comment here.

Diana: Steve asked for examples of the discrepancies (betw/ Steiner’s own account of things and the account proferred by historians): the easiest ones that come to mind are 1) his later tagging of PoF as anthroposophy, when it doesn’t contain esoteric content; and 2) his recasting of his atheist period as merely a step on his course of spiritual development.

The latter especially is not at all surprising, nor is it intended to be some damning judgment on Steiner as a person. I would guess most people who begin as atheists and become believers describe their spiritual development this way. It stands to reason. We do not like to see ourselves as contradictory, it is much more pleasing to see the course of one’s development as a coherent narrative, all meant to be, everything developing as it should.

Peter S:  Annie Besant, Steiner’s predecessor and rival within the theosophical leadership, followed a similar trajectory from an earlier phase of atheism and spiritual searching to a mature esoteric stance. It isn’t uncommon within the esoteric milieu. As Diana and Alicia and others have pointed out, this is a matter of viewing Steiner as a human being like other human beings. It isn’t a sneaky way of ‘denouncing’ Steiner’s esoteric teachings. If anything, the contrary would be the case: for folks like Diana and Alicia and Dan et al, recognizing that Steiner had an earlier non-esoteric and secular period can yield more familiarity and even a bit of respect. Somehow this point seems lost on anthroposophists.

This is, at least for me, absolutely true. I’m not at all appalled by the fact that Steiner changed. I don’t think this decreases whatever value there is to his teachings, neither the ones before his turn to theosophy or after. All it tells us is that he, like everybody else, changed. This is obviously not a problem — except for the person who sees Steiner as an infallible, clairvoyant guru. For me, it’s more the other way around; I suspect that only a monster, or a robot, would never change. And I’m relieved he’s neither. Because, actually, that’s what he was in my mind: a horror figure. So, I have respect, indeed, for the early Steiner (and, believe it or not, some respect for the older Steiner, too), but I feel relief that he was a human being who changed, who was contradictory, who reinterpreted himself to make his life and his teachings fit a coherent whole, and so forth. Anything else would just be too spooky. However, what does scare me is the perfect Steiner; the Steiner that is a figment of anthroposophical imagination, rather than a real person. The one who knew exactly how everything in the entire universe is or is supposed to be because he had super-powers; yes, precisely that clairvoyant and infallible guru whose life-path and teachings show no inconsistencies. The perfect man whose perfection some anthroposophists want to defend, because, somehow they seem to believe that if he isn’t perfect, then what he said or did was useless (instead of letting it live, or die, on its own merit). That stuff scares me more, because that’s the stuff that breeds dogmatism and fanaticism. It’s because of Steiner’s infallibility that waldorf teachers around the world believe they know exactly how everything is to be, without much non-anthroposophical evidence for it. The insights he gave them were indisputable. I’d much rather know the Steiner who was human, who could be wrong, and who changed his mind. A little bit more realism in this regard, and just a tiny bit of insight into Steiner’s humanness, would — I think — serve to make waldorf education more human and more amenable to necessary change. Clearly, if you think Steiner never changed, that he was completely consistent and coherent, that is his insights and knowledge were of perfect quality from the start and his life a perfect manifestation of them, it follows that questioning his ‘indications’ would be pointless. You don’t even admit that he was capable of questioning them himself.


Steiner: ‘We have to compare the auras of various soul-experiences with each other in order to learn to understand the meaning of the color shades. To begin with, take soul-experiences shot through with strongly marked emotions. They may be divided into two kinds — those in which the soul is impelled to these emotions chiefly by the animal nature, and those in which these passions take a more subtle form, in which they are, so to speak, strongly influenced by reflection. In the first kind of experiences brown and reddish-yellow streams of color surge through the aura in definite locations.’

‘In persons with more subtle passions there appear in the same locations brighter reddish-yellow and green shades. One can notice that as intelligence increases the green shades become more frequent. Persons who are very intelligent, but who give themselves over entirely to satisfying their animal impulses, show much green in their aura, but this green will always have an admixture more or less of brown or brownish-red.’

‘Unintelligent people show a great part of their aura permeated by brownish-red or even by dark blood-red currents.’ Continue reading “colours”


‘If we now wished to go still further, we would have to find, if the previous considerations are correct, that through this surrender of the earth to the sun, the plants somehow express how the earth, through what it brings forth, really lives in the great macrocosm. We would have to perceive some thing in the plants, so to speak, which would indicate to us that something works into the plant world that is brought about outside especially by the sun being. Linnaeus pointed out that certain plants open their blossoms at 5 a.m. and at no other time. This means that the earth surrenders itself to the sun, which is expressed in the fact that certain plants are able to open their blossoms only at very specific times of the day; for example, Hemerocallis fulva, the day lily, blossoms only at 5 a.m.; Nymphaea alba, the water lily, only at 7 a.m., and Calendula, the marigold, only at 9 a.m. In this way we see a marvelous expression of the earth’s relationship to the sun, a relationship that Linnaeus termed the ‘sun clock.’ The plant’s falling asleep, the folding together of the petals, is also limited to very specific times of the day. A wonderful lawfulness and regularity is evident in the life of plants.’ (Rudolf Steiner.)

Marigold (calendula) is use as a medicinal herb; here’s a plant promotion video by Weleda on YouTube. There’s talk about vitality and forming forces. Marigolds are also nice to grow, even in pots in the city. Their colour is cheerful.

reincarnation, races and individuals

I don’t want this discussion — on race doctrines and reincarnation as a potential way to ‘justify’ or exhonerate hierarchal beliefs about human races — and these important contributions to be lost in a thread  on an unrelated topic, so I’m moving a couple of comments to this post; please do feel free to continue discussing this topic here!

Tom wrote:

Jefferson may have been a worse racist than Steiner, but Jefferson did not enshrine his racism in his life’s work but Steiner did. That’s the crucial difference. You see, racism is not incidental to anthroposophy; it is fundamental to anthroposophy. But it’s actually good for us, just like bitter medicine.

How so? Two major reasons.
[1] the flip side of racism in anthroposophy is reincarnation.
[2] racism is a necessary — but of course by no means sufficient — condition for us to transcend said racism and gain our individual freedom.

Starting with [1], Steiner’s racial doctrine is especially cruel for those people who do NOT accept reincarnation. So why are you surprised at the hatred and vitriol directed at Steiner and anthroposophy from all the critics here, most of whom reject reincarnation? Don’t you realize that without reincarnation, anthroposophy slips down to the default value of Nazi race doctrine? […]

Having said that, though, the acceptance of reincarnation does not make Steiner any less racist; rather it shifts the racism into the more benign but patronizing realm of anthroposophists carrying their version of the “white man’s burden.” With reincarnation, then, a black person in this life is not doomed to his or her blackness. Rather he or she can pull up by the spiritual bootstraps, as it were, and earn many karma points to cash in with a Caucasian body in the next incarnation. And it might be added that a white person in this life might become so morally bankrupt, that he or she could conversely reincarnate into a “lower race” as a punishment. See, at least that attitude is color-blind, don’t you think?


So, in short, by Steiner’s own logic, Steiner himself — and his anthroposophy — are BOTH racist AND not racist — simultaneously!

Diana replied:

Reincarnation does nothing to mitigate against the racist doctrines in anthroposophy. The idea that reincarnation provides some sort of theoretical loophole is clever but it’s wishful thinking. Neither in theory nor in practice does a belief in reincarnation somehow mean that a doctrine of higher and lower races isn’t racist.

The word for a doctrine that’s “racist AND antiracist” is racist. A person might hold contradictory beliefs, or different beliefs at different times in their life. A theory or doctrine can’t do that. A theory that posits higher and lower races is racist; other parts of the theory don’t nullify the racist parts. Other facets of the doctrine might render it contradictory, or incoherent, but they cannot succeed in also making it “antiracist.”

And later continued:

[The reincarnation loophole] doesn’t work, even theoretically. It’s a complete misunderstanding about what makes a theory racist or not. The statements *about various races* are what make Steiner’s doctrine racist.

I understand the reasoning behind the claim that reincarnation provides a “loophole.” But it’s mistaken reasoning. The idea is that if a person reincarnates, we are not to judge them on the basis of what race they may have been in a particular lifetime, since it may change in later lifetimes. But racism is not about judgements or stereotypes or beliefs about individuals. It’s about beliefs *about races*. What we think about an individual is just what we think about an individual. What we think about their race reflects our racial doctrines (if we hold such a doctrine). Many racists believe that their positive assessments *about individuals* make them not racist. They like a particular black person, for instance, or they have a positive assessment of that black person, so they think they can’t be racist. Believing the person may reincarnate in another race later (or may have incarnated in another race previously) works in an analogous fashion. It’s like the person gets points for the possibility they will reincarnate in a better race. Darker skin counts against you, the possibility of lighter skin later (or previously) counts in your favor. Such a scoring system is racist. Its premise is racist. How high or low a particular person scores in such a system is not what makes it racist.

It doesn’t matter what you believe about an individual’s past or future lives. What you believe about their *race* – in any lifetime – is what makes your belief racist or not.

In my opinion, the belief in reincarnation works exactly the opposite of the way Tom thinks it works. The belief not only doesn’t save the doctrine from being racist, it gives it away as racist. It amounts to saying, to dark-skinned people, “I won’t hold your dark skin against you, ‘cus you might have lighter skin next time” (or, even more radically, or so the adherents to this view apparently think), “I won’t hold your dark skin against you, because I MYSELF may have once had dark skin, or may some day in the future have dark skin!”

This merely gives away the beliefs the person holds about dark skin.


Aftonbladet har publicerat en artikel om See! Colour! i dag. Jag vet inte varför den irriterar mig. Möjligen gör Aftonbladet alltid det. Nog är det bra att någon säger något kritiskt om den antroposofiska rörelsen; det behövs. Sannerligen. Men sammanhanget är så besynnerligt. Jag har helt enkelt svårt att förstå varför det så gott som aldrig kommer fram någon kritik — förrän plötsligt en konstutställning bidrar med något slags incitament. En konstutställning som ändå måste sägas vara något av det minst tvivelaktiga antroposoferna åstadkommit. Skolorna, jordbruket, medicinen, läkepedagogiken, samt hur verksamheterna finansieras — inget av det är precis nytt. Där finns saker att kritisera utan att nyttja en konstutställning som förevändning. Det är troligen jag som är onödigt petig här, möjligen på gränsen till knäpp (och på fel sida om gränsen). Men jag förstår ändå inte riktigt. Frågan i inledningen är dock riktig:

Varför är det så svårt att skriva en stor, avslöjande artikel om antroposoferna?

Svaret är kanske givet när rubrikpotentialen verkar vara följande:


Det sensationella är ju inte precis att Saltå Kvarn är ett antroposofiskt företag. Än mindre att det finns ett antal företag som drivs utifrån antroposofiska idéer. Eller? Visst är det värt att ta upp. Men knappast grunden för något ‘avslöjande’ av stora mått. Då får man nog gräva lite mer… Vidare till texten:

Antroposofin är inbäddad i ett skimmer av snällism, miljömedvetenhet och fingerfärgsfrejdig kreativitet som gör det helt omöjligt att tycka att de ägnar sig åt någon skadlig verksamhet.

Det borde väl vara medias sak att ta hål på det skimret då? I sammanhang där det är befogat. Och sådana finns det ju många av.

Men faktum kvarstår – ett av Sveriges snabbast växande företag de senaste åren är ett antroposofiskt jordbruksföretag som odlar enligt ockulta principer från 20-talets Tyskland – Saltå kvarn. Och deras livsfilosofi formades av en tänkare vars sympatier för nazismens rastänkande och dess besatthet av den tyska kulturen var uppenbar – Rudolf Steiner.

Det är väl inte precis något ‘faktum’ att Steiner skulle haft ‘sympatier för nazismens rastänkande’ [min kursivering]. För rastänkande, ja. Men kanske inte direkt för nazismens rastänkande. Det spelar möjligen inte någon roll, i det stora hela; poängen är kanske inte att säga att Steiner var nazisympatisör, även om man kan få det intrycket, utan att han sympatiserade med och företrädde idéer som hade somliga beklämmande likheter med nazisternas idéer och rastänkande. Och somliga antroposofer var därtill nazisympatisörer (senare). Det vill antroposofer i dag helst inte låtsas om, och för det kan de kritiseras, med rätta. Och de rasdoktriner som ingår i Steiners verk är illa nog, verkligen, liksom det är illa att andra antroposofer senare anslöt sig till nazismen, men jag vet inte om det finns någon ytterligare poäng med att framställa honom personligen som en nazisupporter — snarare än som en företrädare av en andlig rörelse vars läror delvis innehåller rasistiska element –, i varje fall inte om man med det menar supporter av den ideologi som företräddes av nazipartiet, och det förmodar jag att man menar.

Det borde verkligen vara antroposofins tid nu – en lifestylereligion vars största andliga upplevelser uppnås genom heminredning, ekologiskt odlad mat och självutlevelse.

Det är kanske därför antroposofins tid inte är nu. Om det folk söker är en heminrednings- ekomats- och självutlevelsekult, så finner de ju inte riktigt det i antroposofin. Eller, jo, det gör de. På ytan. Men det betyder ju inte att de blir antroposofer, och än mindre att de går med i sällskapet. De vill bara shoppa lite andlig flum på new age-varuhuset. Kristallfjoms och pastellfärger kan man få lite varstans, billigare och enklare. Vad gäller självutlevelse kan jag också föreställa mig att livsstilskonkurrenterna har bättre erbjudanden. Nog för att antroposofi kan tyckas som värsta egotrippen (som alla andliga ‘resor’), och dessutom ofta är det (att tro sig äga högre insikter än andra och omvärlden är en behaglig drog), så vet jag ändå inte om självutlevelse är rätt ord. Självupptagenhet, ja. Men självutlevelse? Jag har svårt att se det så särskilt tydligt; det är möjligt att jag inte förstår vad som avses.

Det ligger väl lite i avslutningen:

Visst kan man tycka det är synd att [Turrells] monumentala verk visas här, miltals från storstan, inramad av antroposofins obegripliga avgrundsflum, men samtidigt har hans största verk alltid genomförts på udda platser – på festivaler, i öknar och i en antroposofisk by.

På så sätt är väl utställningen i Järna ett ganska lyckat möte mellan psykedeliskt flum och avgrundsflum.

Och resultatet kallas ‘ett fint samarbete’. Mitt problem är kanske att artikeln — som jag innan läsning uppfattade som en recension, men det är det inte, tror jag? inte med den inledningen — om utställningen handlar så lite om utställningen och så mycket om en annars i och för sig relevant kritik (av rörelsen och antroposofin) som dock i sammanhanget känns aningen ovidkommande. Eller: en kritik som hade kunnat bli relevant, med lite mer fokus. Den har verkligen en plats, men en annan plats. Det är mer med det sekteristiska i antroposofin än en besynnerlig färgkult. Och det sekteristiska i rörelsen, samt de övriga kritikvärdiga dragen i antroposofin som sådan, är troligen inte några framträdande problem i sammanhanget av en konstutställning. Man kan fundera på varför en person som Turrell ger antroposoferna en sådan PR-push, men jag förmodar att han vann något på det han också. Och att antroposoferna inbjuder icke-antroposofiska konstnärer är väl först och främst något gott, till och med berömvärt — eller åtminstone inte något direkt negativt. Bättre det än att de sitter insyltade i sin egen värld, med dess avgrundsflum, i den lilla antroposofbyn. Så — å ena sidan, PR-värdet, anseendet, arrangemanget skapar (vilket marknadsför ‘sekten’, möjligen på felaktiga premisser); å andra sidan, det faktum att någon sekteristiska vilja till total isolering helt uppenbart inte dominerar, vilket kanske låter självklart, men faktiskt inte är det på långa vägar.

Angående pengarna så spelar det väl inte någon avgörande roll att antroposofiska stiftelser och företag har pengar; och vad gäller artikeln hade kopplingen mellan Vidarstiftelsen, Saltå Kvarn och den aktuella utställningen kunnat göras, men görs inte. Frågan är annars mer allmänt (men detta berörs inte heller på djupet, eller alls, i artikeln) varifrån pengarna kommer och hur de används — frågor vars svar inte per definition angår en utomstående, men som under vissa speciella omständigheter gör det, i och med att skattemedel finansierar vissa verksamheter. Lägg därtill frågan om varför rörelsen tenderar att vilja framställa sig som fattig. Som helhet är den inte det. Ja, och på den här punkten i artikeln ser jag kopplingen till några av mina gamla bloggposter. (De är fortfarande förfärligt vällästa, eller snarare, bör jag säga, frekvent konsulterade.)

Det värsta är kanske insikten att jag är någon annan än jag var. Det kanske inte är artikeln det är fel på, utan mig.

genius or dilettante

Swissinfo asks if Steiner was a genius or a dilettante. They have interviewed Helmut Zander. Here’s a quote: Oft heisst es: Entweder man verehrt Steiner oder man wendet sich gegen ihn. Müsste man die “Hardcore-Steiner-Anhänger” eher als Sekte bezeichnen?

H. Z.: Da tue ich mich schwer, weil Sekte ein negativ besetzter Begriff ist. Für mich ist das erst mal eine Weltanschauungs-Gemeinschaft, eine Religionsgemeinschaft, wie alle anderen auch.

Aber wenn man genau hinschaut, wie sie funktioniert, würde ich sagen, sind die autoritären Strukturen relativ stark ausgeprägt, zumindest in der orthodoxen Anthroposophie.

Das kann auch zu Problemen führen: Ich denke da an die zum Teil ganz schwierigen Debatten über rassistische Äusserungen Steiners in den letzten Jahren. Bei den Anthroposophen ahnt man, dass man mit Steiner selektiv umgehen sollte, dass man sich entscheiden muss, ob man wirklich alles übernehmen soll, was der Doktor gesagt hat.


a bright future (on zajonc’s light)

Let me first say: it is a wonderful book, in spite of — or possibly due to! I can’t say, in this case — a heavy influence of anthroposophic thought. Arthur Zajonc (physicist and former general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in the United States) is a brilliant writer; he’s a poet, even, although he’s writing prose. Occasionally, he’s a bit over the top with the poetic language and the metaphors, but not in an excessively disturbing way. The material compiled is beautifully varied and endlessly fascinating. I’m talking about Catching the light. The entwined history of light and mind, published by Oxford University Press (1995). For example, he manages to conjure up an explanation for the spiritual eye and new organs for perceiving the world. I’m uncertain of how ‘true’ he stays to Steiner (he barely, if at all, mentions Steiner in that section; it’s about Goethe: ‘Every object, well-contemplated, creates an organ of perception in us’), but the way he applies the concept of the supersensible ‘organ’ isn’t at all that wacky (compared to other competing explanations). What I’m saying is that he uses the idea in a manner that makes some sense. On the level of metaphor and poetry, if nothing else. Zajonc’s analogies explain a lot more than Steiner’s talk.

… under the influence of mountains, stones, and streams, the geologist develops organs of cognition, kindles an Empedoclean light that elucidates his beloved kingdom. (On p 205.)

… but, still, I would object, the geologist sees the world of the senses, the material world, not supersensible beings or higher realms. He sees rocks, not gnomes; traces of geological events, not footprints of fairies, et c. Zajonc doesn’t come clean about his connection to anthroposophy, though a perspective that seems deeply anthroposophical permeates most of the book. Possibly, he sees anthroposophy as perfectly compatible with science and cultural history; that’s the impression I have, in any case. (Possibly, too, he’s had to mould both anthroposophy and the world of facts to fit this image.) At times I wonder if what he presents is the most accurate version of actual events, or if it is history seen through the lens of anthroposophy. It may not matter that much, if you know where the starting point is. Mind you, I’m not saying it isn’t clear that he’s positively inclined towards anthroposophy, I’m only saying that the depth of his involvement with the anthroposophical movement isn’t made explicit.

My strongest reaction, however, pertains to specific parts of the chapter about Steiner’s (and Goethe’s) conceptions of light and the evolution of the world and mankind. I don’t know if my reaction is towards Steiner’s ideas or towards Zajonc’s interpretation of them. Or both. Continue reading “a bright future (on zajonc’s light)”

zander on steiner (nzz)

A Steiner portrait by Helmut Zander in NZZ yesterday. This passage is about Steiner’s life in the 1890s, before his turn to theosophy:

Übergangslos wird aus dem Sturm auf die Autoritäten der bürgerlichen Wohlanständigkeit Ende der neunziger Jahre eine Art Midlife-Crisis. In Berlin betreibt Steiner mit Otto Erich Hartleben und anderen Literaten des Naturalismus den «Verbrechertisch». Hier trifft er Else Lasker-Schüler und Peter Hille, Paul Scheerbart und Stefan Zweig. Nie zuvor und nie danach war Steiner so unangepasst, so querköpfig, so frei wie in diesen Berliner Bohème-Jahren, kurz vor 1900: Freunde finden in seiner Wohnung eine Schnapsflasche unter einer Stoffpuppe, offen spricht er über seine Vorliebe für Cognac und Frankfurter Würstchen, beim Schmauchen einer Pfeife verbrennen auch schon einmal Manuskripte für sein «Magazin für Litteratur». Und als ihn die redaktionelle Tätigkeit nicht mehr befriedigt, geht Steiner als Lehrer in die sozialistische Arbeiterbildungsschule – offenbar mit grosser Freude. Aber man täusche sich nicht: Steiner wird in diesen wilden Jahren nicht zum sozialliberalen Diskurstheoretiker. Der von den gesellschaftlichen Zwängen befreite Anarchist und Übermensch besitzt eine neue Autorität: sich selbst.

Read all of it. It’s nice, and interesting. (And, partly, a little bit surprising; perhaps as I’ve only started to read Zander’s Steiner biography. And I’m not referring to the passage above.)

Edit: I missed this quote — how could I miss this quote!?! unbelievable! — and mr Dog is upset. Both with me and Steiner. An earlier incarnation as a cat?? For a dog? No no no.

Aber bei allem heiligen Ernst: Steiner konnte auch lachen. Etwa wenn er den Haushund eines Gastgebers ins Spekulatorium der Seelenwanderung erhob: «Nicht wahr, Tell, du warst einmal eine Katze?»