Rudolf Steiner and cinema

palladium-cinema-mile-end-1913 courtesy of cinema museum

A rare photo of a cinema interior in 1913.  (Image courtesy of the Cinema Museum)

When I was a member of the College of Teachers at a Steiner school a few years ago, we would occasionally be approached by a parent or group of parents who, fired up with goodwill and enthusiasm for the school, wanted to suggest a new development that they thought would benefit the pupils and the wider school community.

Most of the time these proposals would be welcomed; but in a few unfortunate cases it might happen that these parents, without knowing what was wrong, would find that their proposal had bumped up against a kind of invisible glass ceiling and no further progress could be made.

What had gone wrong in these cases? Those who know Steiner schools will realise that these parents had unwittingly come up against some kind of principle followed by the teachers, but which may not have been widely communicated or understood by parents.

One such case I remember well; a parent, who was in his professional life a film director, approached the College with a proposal to start a film club. The idea was that once a month or so he would set up a big screen in the school theatre, provide all necessary equipment and show films of real artistic worth to an audience of pupils and parents. He would provide an introductory lecture himself or invite his contacts from the industry to come and talk to the audience, either before the showing or in a Q&A session afterwards. The income from ticket sales would go towards school funds. A wonderful offer, one would have thought, and something that surely most schools would have welcomed with open arms.

What happened when the proposal came to a meeting of the College was that several teachers were clearly opposed to it, on the grounds that Rudolf Steiner had made disparaging comments about cinema and its effects on human beings; and that in a world overwhelmed by technology, together with the impact that electronic devices were having on the attention levels of the pupils in their classrooms, the school should do nothing further to encourage more technology in the school. The school’s policy at the time was that ideally pupils should not have access to computers or mobile phones until they were at least 14 years old, but a combination of social media, peer pressure and parental unwillingness to conform to this policy was making it extremely difficult to hold the line.

I was reminded of all this when I came across a book called The Future Art of Cinema – Rudolf Steiner’s Vision* by Reto Andrea Savoldelli, a Swiss filmmaker and scholar of anthroposophy.  What surprised me about this book was the author’s contention that Rudolf Steiner was not opposed to cinema per se and that, if he had lived longer, he would have been involved in seeking to develop a cinematic art of genuine benefit to humanity.

silent cinema via the bioscope

(Image via The Bioscope)

According to Herbert Hahn, when Steiner was living in Berlin, “he went to the cinema from time to time to see especially typical and characteristic new films”.  Probably most anthroposophists, myself included, would have formed their idea of Steiner’s attitude to these early films from a lecture he gave in Berlin on 27th February 1917:

“It is quite natural that the world today should be confronted with impulses leading entirely to materialism. That cannot be prevented, it is connected with the deep needs of the age. But a counterbalance must be established. One very prominent means of driving man into materialism is the cinematograph. It has not been observed from this standpoint; but there is no better school for materialism than the cinema. For what one sees there is not reality as men see it. Only an age which has so little idea of reality as this age of ours, which worships reality as an idol in a material sense, could believe that the cinema represents reality. Any other age would consider whether men really walk along the street as seen at the cinema; people would ask themselves whether what they saw at such a performance really corresponded to reality. Ask yourselves frankly and honourably, what is really most like what you see in the street: a picture painted by an artist, an immobile picture, or the dreadful sparkling pictures of the cinematograph. If you put the question to yourselves quite honourably, you will admit that what the artist reproduces in a state of rest is much more like what you see. Hence, while people are sitting at the cinema, what they see there does not make its way into the ordinary faculty of perception, it enters a deeper, more material stratum than we usually employ for our perception. A man becomes etherically goggle-eyed at the cinema; he develops eyes like those of a seal, only much larger, I mean larger etherically. This works in a materialising way, not only upon what he has in his consciousness, but upon his deepest sub-consciousness. Do not think I am abusing the cinematograph; I should like to say once more that it is quite natural it should exist, and it will attain far greater perfection as time goes on. That will be the road leading to materialism. But a counterbalance must be established, and that can only be created in the following way. With the search for reality which is being developed in the cinema, with this descent below sense-perception, man must at the same time develop an ascent above it, an ascent into Spiritual reality. Then the cinema will do him no harm, and he can see it as often as he likes. But unless the counterbalance is there, people will be led by such things as these, not to have their proper relation to the earth, but to become more and more closely related to it, until at last, they are entirely shut off from the Spiritual world”.

From this, it is clear that Steiner did not have a high opinion of cinema at that time. But Savoldelli has unearthed an interesting letter from J E Zeylmans van Emmichoven, published in the April 1983 issue of Info3 in response to an article by Michael Ende on the artistic potential of the cinema:

“Michael Ende says that Rudolf Steiner was opposed to cinema, and that he even has evidence of comments to that effect by Dr Steiner. I would therefore like to put it on record that, curiously, I can testify to the opposite. For five years I was secretary to the Dutch publisher Pieter de Haan, who joined the Society in 1912, and, until 1924, had many conversations with Rudolf Steiner. Thus he had a very close acquaintance with him.  Mr de Haan often told me that Dr Steiner wanted us to make films. Rudolf Steiner said that it was a suitable medium for presenting the laws of destiny in the course of recurring incarnations. It is my belief that Dr Steiner was a little different from how many nowadays imagine him to have been”.

A very intriguing thought – so what kind of films would Rudolf Steiner have wanted to be made? Here Savoldelli is constrained by the paucity of available evidence but, as an anthroposophist and filmmaker himself, he cites several examples that he believes indicate the kind of direction in which Steiner would have wanted the art of film to develop. These include forerunner experiments with technical stage developments for eurythmy performances that were devised by Jan Stuten and Hans Jenny (there is a very good account of their groundbreaking work with Steiner here), as well as the work of film directors such as Pasolini, Bresson, Tarkovsky, Godard, Kurosawa, Allen, Cassavetes, Wenders, Malick and many others. And of course, George Lucas in his Star Wars Saga, made much (unacknowledged) use of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science: the duality of evil, which Steiner presented as the battle waged for possession of the human being in the world of spirit between Ahriman and Lucifer, appears in Star Wars as the opposition between Jabba and Vader, whose characteristics strongly resemble those described by Steiner.

Jan Stuten: Sketch 13 from ‘The Metamorphoses of Fear”

We know that, for atheists, it is impossible to conceive of life outside of physical biology. Life, whether conscious or not, is supposed by many natural scientists to be an impossibility without the existence of a physical organism. This narrow thinking leads to atheism, while spiritual-scientific thinking leads to anthroposophy. It is this distinction which lies at the core of hostility by atheists towards anthroposophy and it is based upon Fear – a subconscious fear of the spirit. Fear is the opposite of Love and is one of the most primitive and dangerous of emotions. It is therefore very interesting that Steiner should have suggested to Jan Stuten the theme of ‘Fear’ as a suitable subject for his light-play project.

Stuten took up this theme and initially drafted a series of 15 colour sketches, conceived as staging guidelines, which show the metamorphosis of an intensifying fear through death and resurrection until it is overcome in a peacefully illumined world. He also started to draft musical compositions for each picture or scene. Savoldelli states that the film people around Walt Disney studied Stuten’s 15 sketches on ‘The Metamorphoses of Fear’ with great interest and these, together with the movement language of eurythmy, had an influence on Fantasia, which appeared in 1940.

Savoldelli says that, for Rudolf Steiner, the inartistic nature of cinema lay, among other things, in the fact that transitions facilitated by cuts remain empty, since they are created by purely technical means. And he quotes Steiner from lecture 6 of the Tone Eurythmy course (25thFebruary 1924):

“Now, why is there such a strong urge in our modern age to deviate from the purely musical realm? Something quite beautiful may sometimes result from this deviation from what is purely musical, but why is the urge to deviate from it so strong? It is because the contemporary person has gradually acquired an attitude of mind in which he is no longer able to dream, no longer able to meditate. He has nothing within to set him into movement, and wants to be set into movement from outside. But this being-set-into-movement from outside can never produce a musical mood. In order that modern civilisation could furnish proof of its unmusical nature, it has laid hold of a drastic means to do so. It is really as though, in its concealed depths of soul, modern civilisation wanted to provide the clearest proof that it is unmusical. And the proof is given in that it has produced the film. The film is the clearest proof that those who like it are unmusical. For the whole basis of films is that they only permit those things to be active in the soul which do not arise out of the inner life of the soul, but which are stimulated from outside”.

This is a far-reaching verdict if we consider that it is precisely in the intervals, thus the spaces and transitions in sensory data, that spiritual content can find entry into an artwork. It should be mentioned in this connection that, for Steiner:

“Fundamentally speaking, music is the human being, and indeed it is from music that we rightly learn how to free ourselves from matter. For if music were to become materialistic, it would actually be false: it is not ‘there’! Every other form of matter is present in the world and is insistent. But musical sounds are not to be found in the material world in their original form. We have to devise a means of producing them; they must first be made. The soul element that lives in the human being lies between the notes. But today, because the world has become so unmusical, people are scarcely aware of it”.

I can’t find an online source for the following quotation, which comes from a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Stuttgart on 11thJuly 1923. The translation is by Matthew Barton:

“…Please do not take the negative things I say negatively. I don’t want to take anything away from modern culture. The more things are developed, the more enthusiasm I have for them. I don’t want to get rid of either telegraphy or cinema – such a thing would never occur to me. But it is really necessary to consider that two things oppose each other everywhere. The world is entirely taken up with externalisation. And just as one has to dry oneself after taking a bath so the balance must be redressed by immersing oneself in the spirit if, by contrast, a culture of outward tangibility is continually increasing. It is precisely this that will prompt us to become all the more active: being externally caught up in things that no longer work through us but work upon us so that we ourselves are excluded as soul and spirit…”

Buster keaton

So, as always with Rudolf Steiner, he reminds us that as human beings we are not just physical beings and that the other half of our existence is lived within the spiritual, unseen realm. It is this subtle realm with which we need to connect if we are not only to understand what it truly means to be a human being but also to give our body, soul and spirit the chance to develop in the way that evolution intended.

And what happened with the proposal to start a film club at our Steiner school? Well, after a great deal of discussion back and forth, it was eventually agreed that the club could start and that the College of Teachers would be given in advance a list of the films to be screened, with a right of veto over any works it considered to be unacceptable (the College never turned down any of the suggested titles). After a flurry of initial interest and several screenings, audience numbers dwindled to a point where the parent organising the programme decided that it was no longer worthwhile to continue – and that was that.

* Published by Temple Lodge Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978 1 912230 40 2

33 Comments

Filed under Cinema

33 responses to “Rudolf Steiner and cinema

  1. Roth Hensley

    Was there ever a moving picture or audio recording taken of Dr Steiner? I’m reminded by this wonderful article that it could have happened.

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  2. Frank Thomas Smith

    hmm, Rudolf and Marie (especially) didn’t like jazz either and was shocked by “Negroes” infiltrating France. Lesson learned: just because Der Doktor said, “it ain’t necessarily so”.

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    • Steve Hale

      Frank, “Negroes” infiltrating France had to do with the French government recruiting Africans from Mozambique to be border controls according to Treaty of Versailles provisions. Why should Germany have been punished to such an extent when the war can be shown to have been entirely contributory by all parties? The Steiners obviously saw this from their vantage-point in Switzerland, which had occurred as early as 1914, the year WWI began.

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    • It’s easy to forget that the great initiate was also a human being and a man of his times, with some of the mores and social attitudes of that era. He was even more scathing about the gramophone than he was about cinema:

      “Forgive me for ending on this seemingly trivial note, but things are different in the case of the gramophone. Here humanity tries to force art into the mechanical element. And if humanity were to develop a passionate preference for such things, mechanising what descends into the world as the shadow of the spiritual, if humanity therefore developed enthusiasm for things such as the gramophone, then it could no longer defend itself against them. The gods would have to help. Well, the gods are merciful, and as yet we can still hope that, as human civilisation advances, the merciful gods will help us further to overcome aberrations of taste such as those expressed in the gramophone.” (Lecture in Penmaenmawr on 29th August 1923)

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      • Steve Hale

        Oh, and let’s not forget what he had to say about stenography. I remember how this was seen as a sign of the times, as useful as it was. Of course, without stenography, the corpus of Rudolf Steiner’s great work that encompasses some 400 volumes would have been reduced to about thirty. So, he obviously saw the need, while also acknowledging the mechanism.

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      • Steve Hale

        Jeremy wrote:

        “It’s easy to forget that the great initiate was also a human being and a man of his times, with some of the mores and social attitudes of that era.”

        I think Steiner will always be seen as a portent and predictor of his own time, and what was to come. Thus, he knew that the new era would bring into motion a form of maya that would compound the already existent fact of a mechanistic-materialistic world perspective based on inductive reasoning. In other words, a realm of outer-external perspective. He saw the cinema as only glorifying that fact.

        So, he had issues with its presence on the world scene. While Steiner was a human being with a personality that squeaked out from time to time, he was much more of an Individuality, who transcends time, and makes the person into someone really real and true.

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  3. Steve Hale

    My first thought concerns the remarks from J E Zeylmans van Emmichoven, who said he worked for a guy who said that Steiner encouraged the use of film as “the suitable medium for presenting the laws of destiny in the course of recurring incarnations”. This sounds pretty far-fetched because it has never happened on a basis that could be considered a positive furtherance of spiritual science.

    No, what I remember is that Zeylmans is the guy who wrote those books on Ita Wegman, and how Steiner was never poisoned, and how wrong anthro’s were for thinking so. Yet, this is because IW as a doctor had the responsibility to report the possibility of poisoning to the legal authorities for a full investigation, which she never did. And that is why we’ll never know for sure. Zeylmans would have it be a conspiracy of orthodox anthroposophists looking at the event as it occurred, i.e., 1 January 1924. Since Wegman never acknowledged it, than it never happened, no matter what the other eyewitness accounts said.

    So, I can see Steiner being relatively dismayed about the cinema as an artistic expression of the maya/illusory world we live in, and a portent of the times to come. His concern was cultivating reality over maya, and saw cinema as a blatant attempt to deceive the human mindset in post Kali yuga era, which began in 1900.

    Now, of course, today we can express a great deal of truth through cinema and other artistic endeavours, and some of this is being expressed very well, like the matrix movies. This is because we are all advancing, and what Steiner saw as a hindrance to true human perception back then has advanced in order to tell the truth of where we are, have been, and are moving toward. Thus, cinema can be as honest as anything going today.

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  4. ininsoi

    Thinking back to my years as a pupil at Kings Langley I’m remembering going with my class in 1971 to see Roman Polanski’s newly released ‘Macbeth’ at a cinema in Leicester Square in London with one of our class 11 teachers, Norman Davidson, with whom we were studying the play.

    The film was well done but graphically violent reflecting the personal life of the director who had just recently lost his pregnant wife Sharon Tate to the murderous Manson family and reportedly used working on the film as a therapeutic vehicle for catharsis.

    Norman Davidson was a fine teacher and a dedicated anthroposophist and I can imagine him weighing up the pros and cons of taking 16 year olds to see this film. In balance I’m glad he did as it certainly induced lively discussion in the classroom.

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    • Steve Hale

      Cinema will always be another representational model of art, which wants to make an appropriate impression in the era of phenomenal appearances. And so it goes. But, if we take this particular art of literature back to when Macbeth was first written, what do we have? What is the essence of the play, and what was it supposed to mean? Consider the time era, which coincides with an important transition in British history. James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England, and this becomes the boon of both Shakespeare and Bacon in this era.
      They both received an increase when James became king and moved to London in 1603. We should look into this because it was not long after that the colonization into the so-called “new world” began. Shakespeare’s plays were a model for the kind of angst that impels the astral body for something beyond its own constraints. e.g., King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet. As well, it can be shown that Francis Bacon only began to write his kind of science after James became King of England. As such, Bacon was all about a kind of “Novum Organum”, which equates to a materialistic worldview, which he thought could be extended into a place where his project of a kind of “New Atlantis” could be realized. This was America, which began to be colonized in 1607.

      So, it had its incentives. Steiner spoke about Bacon’s roots in Haroun, and Comenius in Yaya, the Counselor, and all the others that make up the present-day arabistic worldview. The beauty of Shakespeare is that it expresses the cause, as if it comes from the Mothers. Thus, he is a mere instrument for others to take control of his outward bearing. A mere pawn. And why not? Because he loved in his simple way as an “all too human human”. In other words, a flawed human being with all the normal afflictions we see even today. Yet, a genius given his place.

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  5. Silver Moon

    I was amused but not surprised that the film club did not last long, for this was, after all, a Waldorf School. Here the children are taught in a way that is thoroughly in keeping with their nature – or as close to it as is possible in times as troubled as ours. This does, however, pose a few problems for the individual who has been trained in such a manner: their demands on the realms of art are much, much higher than the average.

    Take a look at any gallery of modern art and it is – or should be – immediately apparent that for a person to work there, they have to be morally ambiguous. Put the other way, they cannot make a decision one way or another because it would immediately affect their choice of paintings. Or whatever else passes for modern art these days. If they had the quality of soul that allows for discernment, they would discern, decide, and thus do away with entire genres of the oeuvre. Here, the problem would be that they would upset their morally ambiguous visitors to their gallery, who think of art only in terms of prettiness and colour.

    This has relevance for the issue, because the product of the Waldorf schools will have a well honed ability in the department of discernment. Their demands of art (films in this instance) will not only collectively higher, but collectively expressed in unanimously deriding poorly written scripts or movies that lack a plot – and there is no shortage of either.

    The question arises as to why such films are made, and it is part and parcel of the commoditization of such things as modern art that the answer lies: the movie has to please everybody. Hence, it cannot please the individual if – and only if – they wish to express themselves. Those who don’t will, by and large, lack the perceptive ability to discern the good from the bad. Naturally, this includes the higher echelons of the movie-making corporations. It is not possible to ascend in a corporation and have a well developed soul: the very work is of such a nature that it debars such people – unless they are gifted with extraordinary levels of patience. The result is the ‘standard’ plot, which sees a super-hero save the world, the superhero doing for the world that which is the duty of every living human.

    Suffice it to say that those who are aware of these things, or even has just an inkling, will find most movies insufferably boring. Fighter planes go up and only the baddies are shot down, the hero always comes into land. The Doctor Who episode in a lighthouse where the only two left standing at the end are … guess who? Doctor Who and his current girlfriend. It’s all a little too predictable. But that is the narrow world of the corporation: you either fit into that narrowness or break out of it. If you can stand it, it’s because you can live with a life of plodding predictability. What’s worse is that such a person can only promulgate that narrow-mindedness.

    I’ll not go into the nature of ‘six seconds’ or the need for incessant scene changes because that would simply take too long. Suffice it to say that a lack of perception leads to a lack of ability to concentrate for any length of time. Ahriman is nothing if not comprehensive.

    Interesting to note is the use of culture in a reverse manner: a station in suburban Liège was having a problem with teenagers gathering there, of which I was told by a friend who lives there. The railway authorities started playing classical music – which was anathema to the teenagers, who fled the place. I can imagine a Waldorf kid frowning that the speakers weren’t of the best quality for such a broadcast to be enjoyable.

    As to Steiner’s visiting cinemas, he had enough to say about the railways, yet still travelled on them. What he did not do was to indulge in them.

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    • Steve Hale

      Hi Silver Moon,

      It is hard to find anything even remotely possible to say about your post which could be enlightening. Steiner saw cinema like he saw sound recordings and even stenography. He even seems to know about jazz music, and the jumble-jive of the original “beat” generation. And yet, he only saw it as a warning sign. You see, he saw the world becoming outer-external at the very point in which he saw it needing to become more inner-internal. Yet, he had missed the mark by a few generations. But, at least, he gave us spiritual science, no matter how much we want to dance the dance in our present day and age. The corpus is still relevant even though Steiner has drifted into the background. I can even see Marie and Rudolf sitting still in their little coffee clutch, and wondering what the generation would bring forth. As such, they had every idea about bringing a conservative viewpoint forward in support of the science of the spirit. They tried it in a number of ways.

      Yet, progress is progress, and most of us live in terms of the outer-external eventualities. And, so, here we are. But, the light eternal is also working in the world, and we have this with Jeremy’s own prescient idea about the Cinema, which Steiner seems to have seen as a ‘no-no’.

      I think that Rudolf Steiner wanted to stop progress at every point that would possibly be an offense against spirit, and even to these little offenses like radio, stenography, cinema, and even the noise of the railroad. His was a turning-point in time, i.e., 20th century, and he saw it as being much more simple in seeing the spirit behind everything. He found out how compound the simple becomes complex over time.

      And yet, we only know it now today more than ever. Simplify the complex and see the real, This is Spiritual Science. Love the emoluments but see the real in our day and age. This is the challenge.

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      • Silver Moon

        Steve Hale,

        you think that Rudolf Steiner wanted to stop progress. Yet as you should know, he spoke of such technological progress as being a phase in humanity’s evolution that humanity had to live through. He also took pains to make it clear that humanity should not indulge in it. As you know from spiritual science, the height of materialism was in the 1840s. From that point on, the task of humanity in the Fifth Epoch has been to de-materialize their thinking, if I can put it that way. That is to say, re-unite ‘the light eternal is also working in the world.’ Instead, humanity has gone hell-for-leather in becoming yet more material in their thinking!

        But what is material thinking? It is the observance of the world – but without any balance to the experience of it. Everything has to be objective, and in our day and age, this means recorded data or the written word. Technology, if it is anything, is describable. Everything to do with technology has to be comprehensible in intellectual terms to those involved in its creation.

        Yet the sound of a railroad is one of those things that is not easy to describe: the low grinding of the wheels, the eerie screech as the train passes through a tight curve, the thrum of the diesel engine or worse, the strange noises that emanate from the newer high-voltage electric ones. Not that any of this interests those involved in its design; their sole interest is in making a new and more efficient machine. Whilst this is inoffensive to many, it should bring a worried frown to the brows of a spiritual scientist.

        The question is why. What is the problem with the innocence of a train passing through a curve? The things have done it for a century and a half and haven’t caused any real trouble, have they? As ever, it is a matter of where to start – and rabbit holes appear out of nowhere to fox the mind that is focussed on outward issues. For the un-initiated, turning to inward experiences has its own dangers, and it is at this point that most balk at the idea and blandly say ‘it’s subjective,’ and walk away from the problem. Not to mention themselves.

        Spiritual science, if it is anything, is where the abyss between outward and inward experiences can be first bridged and then brought into balance. Steiner himself was able to understand the finer details of electrical engineering, as attested by a surprised Ernst Lehrs, who had expected Steiner to know nothing of his expertise. Instead, Steiner drew out a thick carpenter’s pencil and neatly described several pertinent issues and Lehrs’ eyes grew wide.

        Steiner was at pains to point out how close he was to understanding modern science, and indeed, without that, he could not have explored the Akasha in the way he did. Many Theosophists at the time were following the same path, but without the clarity of mind created through an intellectual mathematical training, were unable to penetrate the finer elements of thought as expressed in the worlds of Old Sun and Old Saturn. So nobody can say that Steiner didn’t know what he was up against; far from it. He had been trained in it and when he mentioned this to his fellow Theosophists, they shook their heads in bewilderment, partly because of their abhorrence for modern scientific thinking.

        The issue here is more that Steiner had to balance his training in outward things and still make sense of his inner world. Not so hard for the reincarnated Aristotle, who is undeniably the founder of modern materialistic science. Naturally, as his task in his incarnation as Rudolf Steiner, he had been given no indications, leave alone any help in finding the worlds of the spirit. But then, that is the challenge levelled by Ahriman! You can imagine that the result in a world as attuned to His needs as any, that few people have the remotest idea that the worlds of the spirit even exist. The other side to this problem is that those people who are seeking will imagine these worlds to be an extension of the material in one way or another. Again, the hand of Ahriman. Humanity is now creating its own challenge, and a challenge that is vastly greater than the one Ahriman set before us.

        Yet we all think! That is a spiritual activity – and as ever, the line between living and dead thinking is a fine one that few recognize, leave alone define within themselves. Thinking, if it is anything, is personal and inward. There are many who say that it is impossible for another person to determine the way the other thinks, but then, they can only say that because they never thought about the matter. If they had, they might realize just how constrained their powers of thinking actually are, and any constraint is the work of … guess who? Ahriman! What is more, their style of thinking is relatively easy to characterize.

        Technology is the spawn of thought, and cannot be otherwise. The issue here is that the form of thinking is characteristic in that cannot refresh itself. The thinking leads a person to be weary at the end of the day, hence the exercise of the Rose Cross where the evening meditation focusses on the charred remains of the cross. The worlds of the spirit cannot be grasped with thinking that is in the clutches of Ahriman the destroyer. (The issue of the still blooming roses I will leave to one side).

        Each individual has experiences that he cannot describe to himself, leave alone share! That is where the training comes in, and a coherent structure of inner experiences can be created. Since these are human experiences, they will have a common character. There are many who say that their thinking is unique, and many say so with precisely the same words – even expression! The matter is more that we all have two hands, two arms and a head; the matter is what we do with them. Thinking is no different, in that it is common to all healthy adults. The issue is whether we can do something individual and creative, or just turn out more railroads.

        In his lectures on Economics given in the August of 1922, Steiner is at pains to show how whilst technology is an essential part of human evolution, it is not part of humanity’s future. Not only that, but any dalliance in technology or the kind of ‘science’ that spawned it, will inhibit the individual from further development of their innate abilities. In this respect, technology is a closed door to the future. That is the danger.

        As you mention, it is a matter of being able to see the spirit behind everything. I wonder how many people actually believe in the spirit at all? More importantly still, it is a matter of being able to see if it is an angelic spirit that is created by the innocent turn of a railroad wheel – or a demonic one. It cannot be both, and Spiritual Science is crystal clear on the matter.

        As ever, there are consequences. In focussing the mind on the intricacies of technology, the individual turns away from any engagement with their guardian angel. There are many who do not believe in angels at all; but then, they are so deceived by Ahriman that they do not believe in him either. Quite as important is what happens to the angel that has been forgotten by the human for whom he is a guardian? To phrase it tangentially, those angels will not be able to play their part in the forthcoming Jupiter phase of evolution. That is the tragic destiny for many angels. And, of course, for the technologists who, with Ahriman’s blessing, knew nothing of them.

        The essential core of Spiritual Science is, in through one activity or another, to establish a healthy link to those closest to us in the worlds beyond the threshold. If any of you have not yet achieved this, it is time to consider Steiner’s indications on the matter and get busy. Because it cannot be reached through technology, for this keeps heads focussed on this side of the threshold with the abnegation of anything else.

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        • Steve Hale

          I never said that Steiner wanted to stop progress. It would be foolish from an anthroposophical standpoint to want it, or even think of it because it would be contrary to spiritual evolution. I was only referring to what Steiner might have called, “trivialities”, which waste time from the larger issues at hand. I like your writing very much. It makes me think of a prior incarnation of it. Steiner as Aristotle is still highly questionable to me. Lately, I have been seeing him more in the mold of Alexander the Great, which would no doubt be controversial.

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          • Silver Moon

            Alexander the Great was reincarnated as his close friend, Ita Wegman. She was also close to him when he incarnated as St Thomas Aquinas. But Steiner has some pennance to do because of his having been Aristotle 😉

            Do please remember that size is irrelevant across the threshold, and that is a very serious danger in our day and age.

            I am aware of several of my incarnations; the latest came as something of a surprise because the day I found out was forty days before my 59th birthday; the person I tracked down died forty days before theirs. That took some getting used to.

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            • Steve Hale

              I think that the closest Rudolf Steiner ever got to revealing his spiritual stream of incarnations is contained in his final address, which was given in very abbreviated terms on September 28, 1924. Herein, for reasons that are obviously profoundly spoken, and knowing that these words would likely be the very last given before his dear friends, he chooses to thinly veil the spiritual stream of his origins. Especially, the words about Novalis as a forerunner before the Michael age, and the expectation of a successor. As well, Steiner quickly solves the lingering mystery of Lazarus-John here.

              https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/InEJRN_index.html

              I will leave the anthro lore, still very much under dispute, for further consideration if interested. You seem convinced, as well as having issues with Aristotle. I have issues with Thomas Aquinas, who seems to have lost or forgotten the evolutionary Aristotle, who had been continuously expanding and evolving for some 1600 years until redeemed (of sorts) by Aquinas. Aristotle is so much more than simply being accepted by the Catholic Church.

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              • Silver Moon

                I wonder that you have trouble accepting the things Rudolf Steiner said about either Aristotle or St Thomas Aquinas. The reasons he gave for both are quite clear.

                Whatever disputes Anthros might have, they are very much in the realm of the intellect, the earthly realm, which Steiner warned them against doing. But that is why the Vorstand kicked out poor Ita Wegman – because the Vorstand needed to maintain their intellectual balance rather than one turned to the worlds of the spirit.

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                • Steve Hale

                  I have no trouble at all accepting what Rudolf Steiner said about Aristotle in various places, or Thomas Aquinas. He gave a course on Aquinas in 1920. There are two versions of it, and it is excellent for describing the Intellectual Soul in terms of Realism, as opposed to Nominalism. Realism is the stream that beckons to Michael because it sees an underlying reality to mere surface appearances, which the logical empiricists see as the only so-called “reality”. Thus, the modern science we have today is one of analyzing phenomena, or surface appearance. Realism would have it be that behind the outer-external world is a realm of spirit wherein all is invisible, but perceptible and knowable. This is where the originating Ideas, or Entelechies, reside. Aristotle certainly still knew it, and Goethe of the 18th century knew it, and finally convinced Schiller of it. The reason is that Goethe had an important life in the Greek epoch, and wherein he was admired by the elderly Plato.

                  https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA074/English/PLH1932/ThoAqu_index.html
                  https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA074/English/HS1956/RedThn_index.html

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                  • Silver Moon

                    May I enquire as to why you have cennsored my comment? I was not aware that you were a member of Offsted, who declare their social inadequacy by forcing silence on those who make them feel a little queer?

                    I recall your utterly represhensible treatment of Gemma; for that you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. I will add that when opportunity allows, we meet in Leipzig. To see her taking Newton apart in the space of thirty seconds is quite a sight, which she did with a science student who wanted to understand Goethe’s colour theory.

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                    • Dear Silver Moon,
                      Which comment are you referring to? If you mean the one about Steve Hale’s frankly ridiculous view of Alexander the Great as a previous incarnation of Steiner, then as I wrote to you privately, I was stopping you and Steve from veering wildly away from the topic of the original post, which is about ‘Rudolf Steiner and Cinema’.

                      And dear Silver Moon, perhaps you will now ‘fess up that you and Gemma are one and the same person.

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                    • Steve Hale

                      It is also possible to show that Einstein’s relativity theory, which was supposedly proven by the analysis of a total solar eclipse in 1921, is wrong. A solar eclipse cannot prove anything if the theory (hypothesis) thinks that gravity bends light. How can a physical earth force rule over a cosmic power, i.e., Light? It can’t. But, science today does not acknowledge, or even recognize an astral world, and only an astral body has the power to bend light. This is why an important assimilation begins when we reach about fourteen years of age, and the astral body enters as a compact kernel in order to expand throughout the nervous system in the next seven years. Subject-object distinctions begin in this time-frame, and the Intellectual Soul becomes a concrete realization by age 21. We become thinking human beings.

                      A similar effort of scientific profundity was conducted back in 1879, when A.A. Michaelson got the notion that light could be captured, and its speed verified through a man-made device. Thus, light is said to have an actual speed rather than merely being ever-present. This caused the etheric world to be abandoned by science. So, today’s science ignores both the etheric world and the astral world. And, if spiritual science is considered negligible by these standards, then we have to carve it out on these discussion boards. That has always been my only intent. Facts point to certain things that might seem odd until we work it out with clarity.

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                    • Steve Hale

                      Dear Jeremy,

                      Why would my assertion that Steiner was actually the reincarnation of Alexander, and not Aristotle, be so ridiculous? Is it because you buy into that bit of anthro-nonsense in which Steiner is said to have given a list of prior incarnations between he and Ita Wegman going back many thousands of years. In a previous posting, which you censored, it was told how this conspiracy was a concoction born out of the young doctors who circled around Ita Wegman, and given a kind of impetus with Steiner’s public lecture-course at the time of the refounding, i.e., GA 233.

                      So, what is ridiculous, Jeremy? Aristotle, the reincarnated Eabani, who was the companion of Gilgamesh, who would reincarnate as Alexander the Great. You see, as far as this goes it is correct. Then, they would both reincarnate briefly together at the time of Christ. This Steiner reveals in GA238. The rest is fabrication. So, how do we draw the lines between fact and fiction? Answer: through discernment.

                      In other words, and for example, could Aristotle really have reincarnated as Thomas Aquinas, who really only knew something about the original Aristotle, and nothing about his evolutionary advancement over 1600 years? As such, Aquinas only proffered Aristotle for the Catholic church, and why would Steiner’s reincarnation appeal to the church? It didn’t, of course. So, this is just one indication. There are more.

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                    • As so often, you are trying to drag us away from the topic of the original post. So not only do I think you are wrong about Steiner’s incarnation (and it would take a whole new post of its own to go into this, which I am not prepared to do), I am not going to post any more messages that deal with such nonsense.

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                    • Silver Moon

                      You asked me to ‘fess up’ as the colloquialism has it. Because if I did so, would I then open myself to the kind of vitriolic abuses you put Gemma to? More to the point is why you even speak of her in the way of an Offsted official levelling a loaded weapon at the heart of what is true on our earth.
                      Instead, I would like to ask you to do something; not to think about what you did, because it is not part of your ability to examine the tawdry, sinful side of yourself. But to offer your sincerest apologies to Gemma for the things you did, and do so publicly rather than furtively seek contact through covert emails. After all, any true gentleman would have apologized voluntarily. And done so a year past.
                      Remember that the awful things you did to her were done to protect the things you love, in the way Offsted officials want to protect the things that are dearest to them: their pride and their ignorance. I cannot expect you to repent of the things you did, because that would mean you would want to change, to develop the qualities of soul that actually lie within you as the potential citizen of Jupiter.
                      An apology for the things you have done will have to suffice for her.
                      You have done enough damage to Anthroposophy through your misguided actions against honest people.
                      In apologizing, you will at least remove these things from the travails that await you on Jupiter’s moon.

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                    • Silver Moon

                      I guess that you are not intending to be part of humanity’s future on Jupiter.

                      It’s up to you; after all, nobody else can deal with the things karma throws at you.

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  6. ininsoi

    Steve, politically I tend to regard Rudolf Steiner as a spiritual anarchist rather than a conservative per se

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    • Steve Hale

      Yes indeed, but he had to be careful about what he said, and how he said it; otherwise he would have been dispatched far earlier than he was. He often encouraged “reading between the lines”, but this requires the knack of insight, which at his time, escaped many listening souls. Now, today, we see much more of what he really had to say concerning the warning signs. Steiner’s main goal was to bring about the recollection of the past spiritual evolution of humanity into the present in order to establish a necessary foundation for the future, which would be the defeat of the dragon through Michael’s sword of meteoric iron.

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  7. ininsoi

    Politically Rudolf Steiner seems to have embraced a fusion of different perspectives. As noted above he could be quite conservative, but then again he lectured to and presumably rubbed shoulders with members of socialist workers groups. But over and above these two opposing ideologies he championed individual freedom and its accompanying need for social resposibility, hence he comes across as primarily a spiritual anarchist.

    Looking back at the final years of my Waldorf education at the Kings Langley school I see my young self coming of age at the tail end of the swinging ’60’s.
    As with Jaromer in a previous post I had to rebel a bit from my rather conservative anthroposophical teachers in order to have some fun and dip my toe in the exciting cultural explosion happening at the time.

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    • Steve Hale

      There is nothing particularly conservative about the science of the spirit. In fact, it put people off because its doctrines and findings were inconvenient, and difficult to understand by the conservatives that form the masses, then and now. Yet, espousing various means for inner and outer freedom, and the social responsibility required, like the threefolding initiative, does not make one an anarchist, but, rather, a level-headed freedom fighter who only wants the best for all.

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  8. Stephen Hale

    Hi Jeremy,

    A friend sent me this very well considered essay, which might have even been inspired by our talks concerning cinema, radio, stenography, and other issues of technology. As such, Rudolf Steiner was not against progress, which technology involves, of course, but always was warning against the possible misuse and abuse of what appears on the surface to be a good thing.

    https://www.themen-der-zeit.de/rudolf-steiner-ein-technikfeind/

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    • Thank you, Steve – that is a very interesting link! (Non-German speakers like me will need to use Google Translate to understand it – but it is worth the effort.)

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      • Steve Hale

        Indeed, very interesting to read. Isn’t it nice how the Google Translate button is right there for easy translation into English? And the translation has gotten really good by now from former times in which it was very poor. There is another essay worth looking at within the same venue. It concerns Rudolf Steiner on vaccination. Apparently, he was vaccinated for smallpox when an outbreak occurred in 1924. He suffered a weakness of the right arm, it appears, but survived.

        https://www.themen-der-zeit.de/rudolf-steiner-ein-impfgegner/

        Personally, I am still suspicious of vaccination caused by an early childhood experience when I was first vaccinated for influenza in the early 1950’s. I have probably written about how it changed my life as a little boy living with spontaneous joy and playful intentions. After the shot, I felt very strange for a few days, as if logy, and then a kind of tendency to hesitate arose in my being. The previous spontaneity was replaced by the desire to stay indoors and start watching television. How weird.

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        • I, too, am suspicious of vaccination – particularly here in the UK at the moment, where the government is planning to introduce Covid-19 vaccines without going through the normal tests and trials and is also aiming to give indemnity to Big Pharma manufacturers against litigation from those damaged by the vaccines. But this is probably the subject for a separate post, rather than adding it on to this one.

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