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A Sound Outlook for To-day and a Genuine Hope for the Future

Sound Outlook: Lecture II: The Building at Dornach

Lecture 2

The Building at Dornach

Berlin, 3rd July, 1918

Before proceeding to draw conclusions from our recent considerations, I am going to bring forward something which links them up — there is really a close connection, though it may not seen so — with the character of our building at Dornach.

Through its special character this building has a part to play in what we have come to recognise as the Spiritual evolution of humanity, leading on from the present into the future. This period in human development has a characteristic feature, until now existing only in germ, which we have tried to illuminate from many different points of view. To-day let us consider how particular aims of Spiritual Science can come to expression through the building devoted to it.

The developments of the present day can be surveyed, to some extent from outside, as is done by those who base all their knowledge, all their view of the world, on purely outward considerations; yet there are cogent reasons to-day for regarding current events from an inner, Spiritual point of view. We can get a correct picture of these events which have been maturing through long ages, and in another form will have a sequel in the future, if we observe them Spiritually. I will start from something apparently quite material, and try to make it a living example of how such impulses as are always with us, working in the present, can also be viewed spiritually.

Among those who in the last few decades have occasionally — not very often — taken a comprehensive view of events, some technicians can be found. One such was Reuleaux who from his own materialistic point of view threw out in 1884 some thoughts regarding certain characteristic features of contemporary culture. He divided present-day mankind into two groups. In one group he placed those who are entirely restricted to a “natural” way of life; in the other, those who pursued, as he said, a “manganistic” way. Manganistic he derived from “magic”, — that which endeavours to bring the forces of the universe into connection with human living. I will briefly go into the basis of this grouping of mankind, is a present-day standpoint.

In earlier tines all mankind was “natural”; in a certain sense, and the greater part still is so. The rest, in Europe — especially in the Middle and West — and in America, are “manganistic” mankind. Keep in mind that this “naturalistic” civilisation is still predominant in the world. It is significant that the so-called “manganistic” civilisation has fully developed only during the last century. The most paradoxical result of this new civilisation one might say, is that it has hurried on to the earth many more “hands” than there are men on the globe. This is due to the prodigious expansion during the last few decades of mechanism, machines among the minority of mankind. It is obvious that a large portion of the work of to-day is-done by machinery; but it is rather astonishing to calculate, as can be done, how great this machine-work, replacing human toil, really is. One can reckon how many million tons of coal are turned annually into machine power. Then, translating this coal- output into terms of man-power, one can calculate how many men would be necessary to carry out the work. We find that to accomplish what the machines do would take no less than 540 million men working twelve hours a day. It is therefore not quite correct to say that there are only 1500 million inhabitants on the earth, for machines have added 540 millions to the population. Thus there are present many more “hands” than those of flesh and blood, because for a minority of mankind all this “manganistic” ,work is done by machines. Indeed, during the last century, the human race has not merely increased to the extent shown by statistics, for the working-power of 540 million more men must be taken into account. Truly we European and American peoples — leaving out Eastern Europe are surrounded by a form of labour which continually extends its influence over our daily life more than we think, and takes the place of human strength.

The people of the West are extremely proud of this accomplishment, especially the following aspect of it. By simply comparing the output of machinery with that of the numerous peoples who live more on a natural level and make little use of machines, we find that Europe and America produce significantly more than all the rest of mankind. Here we can say that to do the work accomplished by the machines, 540 million men would have to work twelve hours a day. That means a great deal. There we have the proud achievement of the new world-civilisation, and it has a variety of consequences.

To get an insight into the underlying meaning of this, we need only look at a case where “natural” civilisation projects deeply into the “magical” — for instance, with matches.

The oldest among us may still remember the time when matches were scarce, and flint and steel were used to produce a spark and so to ignite tinder, when fire was wanted. That leads us back to a much older way of producing: fire — where a great deal of human energy was used in twisting a burning stick in another piece of wood, to produce the equivalent of the fire now engendered by a box of matches. If we compare this “natural” method with that of to-day, another aspect of it comes into view, and we can say: The entire “magical” civilisation has another special peculiarity: it puts out of sight, banishes to a distance, the laws with which man was formerly in touch. To take the example of the primitive way of producing fire — see how this labour was inwardly connected with the man himself and his personal achievement. The fire which resulted directly from his work was intimately bound up with the personal deed. All this is pushed into the background. Because to-day a physical, mechanical or chemical process takes its place, nature's own process, in which the Spiritual plays its part, has become remote from the direct human action.

We constantly hear the statement: “Through this new application of science, man has compelled the forces of Nature to serve him” — a statement which is quite justified from one point of view, but is extremely one-sided and incomplete. For in everything done by machine-power (taking this in a wider sense, to include its use in the form of chemical energy) not only is natural energy pressed into the service of man, but the natural event in its deep connections with the essential impulses of the world is thrust out. In machinery it is gradually withdrawn from man's ken — and this means a robbery from man himself. Through technology, something deathly spreads over nature's living face; the living thrill which formerly passed directly from nature into man's labour is banished. When we consider how man extracts death out of nature, to incorporate is into his “magical” civilisation, it will not seem very surprising if I now bring Spiritual Science into connection with what the purely natural scientist says.

Reuleaux from his point of view rightly asserts that man's latest advance consists in harnessing nature's forces to his service; but we must, above all, keep in view the fact that machines literally replace human strength. It is not simply a question of a process provoking visible results; that is very important from a spiritual point of view in the creation of 540,000,000 imaginary people. Human energy is crystallised in all this; human intellect has been poured into it and works in it, but only the intellect. We are surrounded by intellect detached from man. Directly we set free what should be bound up with man, the forces known to us in Spiritual Science as Ahrimanic take possession of it. The 540,000,000 imaginary people on the earth are just so many receptacles for Ahrimanic forces; and this must not be overlooked. Linked up with the purely external advance of our civilisation are the Ahrimanic forces — the sane which are found in the Mephistopheles-nature, for this is closely allied to the Ahrimanic. Moreover, nothing exists in the universe without its opposite; never one pole without the other. The Ahrimanic in the mechanical forms of industry, etc., on the earth, is exactly balanced in the spiritual realm by a Luciferic element. The purely Ahrimanic is never found alone; but to the same degree as it takes visible form on earth, as just described, appears the Luciferic element, woven through this entire civilisation, already saturated with the Ahrimanic. To the same extent as the imaginary “hands” are brought into existence, and the Ahrimanic civilisation hardens on earth, spiritual correlations work into the human will, human intentions, impulses, passions and dispositions. Here on earth the Ahrimanic machines — in the spiritual stream enfolding us, for each machine a Luciferic spiritual being! As we produce our machines, we descend into the realm of death, which in this Ahrimanic civilisation has for the first tine become outwardly visible. Invisible to this Ahriman-civilisation arises a Luciferic one, like a reflection. This means that to the same degree as machines are made, man on earth is saturated in his morality, his ethics, his social impulses, with Lucifer's mode of thought. One cannot arise without the other. That is the pattern of the world.

We can see from this that the point is not to “flee from Ahriman” or to “avoid Lucifer”. A condition of which they are the opposite poles is necessarily bound up with the development of modern civilisation. Regarded spiritually, that is what is active in our culture, and this is the point of view from which things will need to be looked at increasingly from now onwards.

Now it is very remarkable that Reuleaux, the engineer, waxing enthusiastic over the “magical advance” of mankind, (from his standpoint a fully justified enthusiasm — for as always emphasise afresh; Spiritual Science has no reason for being reactionary — when he has brought it into bold relief, at the same time he refers to various other things. Especially he remarks on the fact that the man of to-day, especially in the European and American civilisations, placed as he is in a new world, urgently needs stronger forces for the cultivation of spiritual life than did the man of old, who with his “natural” culture, stood so much nearer in his personal workmanship to the intimacies of nature. (Of course Reuleaux does not say “Luciferic” and “Ahrimanic”; he describes only what I mentioned at the beginning-of this lecture. It is quite easy to discriminate between what I have added and what the scientist of the present-day materialistic world has to say.) For instance, Reuleaux points out how Art, for further Growth, needs stronger aesthetic impulses than were required in times of more instinctive development. A remarkable belief lies at the back of his mind — the naive belief, as he puts it, that in face of the assault of machinery, which destroys art (he readily admits that), the soul will need to attain to a more intensive experience of aesthetic laws. The naivety consists in his having no inkling that before this can happen, stronger artistic forces than those of the past will have to inspire the human soul. The misconception lies in supposing that although mechanical science battles against everything hitherto wrested by man out of the spiritual, this can be compensated for purely through an ‘intensive’ experience of the spiritual forces of the past. That is impossible, quite impossible. What is really necessary is that with the emergence of human civilisation on to the physical plane, other, stronger, and more spiritual forces should play into spiritual life; failing that, men will inevitably fall victim to materialism in practice, even though in theory they may strive against it.

Thus you can see that if one starts from the impulses of contemporary culture and reflects on the inner nature of present developments, one can reach this conclusion: Art must receive a new impetus; a new impulse must flow into it. If we are firmly convinced that our anthroposophical Spiritual Science, rightly directed, will bring a new impulse into the old spiritual culture of humanity, we are bound to conclude that art, too, will share in this stimulus.

This was the aim of the project, obviously very imperfect, for our Building at Dornach. As a matter of course its imperfections must be admitted; it is just a first effort. But perhaps we are justified in believing that it is a first step along a path which must continue. Others who follow us in the work, when we ourselves are no longer in the physical body, will perhaps do it better; but the impulse for the Dornach Bau had to be given at the present time. The Bau will be rightly understood only by someone who, instead of applying an absolute standard to it, familiarises himself a little with its history, and this I will relate to-day, because we are always being confronted with antiquated misconceptions.

You are aware that in Munich, since 1909, our work has included the presentation of certain Mystery Plays, the aim of which is to reveal through dramatic art the forces operative in our view of the world. Courses and Lectures, always strongly attended, were grouped about these artistic presentations in Munich, and so among our friends the idea arose of providing an appropriate home for our spiritual endeavours. This suggestion came from them — not from me, please remember. The Bau really started from the shortage of space observed by a number of our friends, and obviously, once such a building had been thought of, it was bound to be fashioned according to our view of the world. In Munich they had in view, properly speaking, only an interior structure, for it was to be surrounded by a number of houses, inhabited by friends able to, settle there. These houses would have so shut in the building that it would have been as plain as possible, for it would have been hidden from sight among the houses. The whole building was conceived of as a piece of inner architecture. “Inner architecture”, in such a case, has only a meaning when it provides an enclosure, a frame, for what goes on inside. But it was to be artistic, genuinely so — not a copying, but an artistic expression of the activities within. I have always compared, perhaps trivially but not inappropriately, the architectural idea of our building with that of a cake-mould. This is made for the sake of the cake inside, and the outer shape is correct only if it encloses and moulds the cake rightly. The “cake-mould” is in this case the free for the whole activity of our Spiritual Science, for the art which belongs to it, and for all that is spoken, heard, experienced within it. All that is the cake — everything else is the mould; and this must be expressed in the interior architecture. That was the first idea. — After much trouble to arrange the building on the site already acquired in Munich we discovered that we were opposed, not by the police or local authorities, but by the Munich Society of Arts, and indeed in such a way that we felt these worthies objected to our establishing ourselves in Munich, but would not tell us what they wanted. We were thus continually obliged to make changes in our plan, and this really night have gone on for a decade. At last the day came when we were driven to give up the idea of realising our hopes in Munich and to make use of a building-site in Solothurn, available through the kind offices of one of our friends. So it came to pass that in the Canton of Solothurn, on a hill in Dornach, near Basle, we set about building. The idea of the encircling houses was given up; the building had to be visible from all sides. The impulse arose; and the zeal was there to carry the matter through quickly. And without fundamentally re-casting the scheme already sketched out for the interior, all I could do was to try to combine the exterior with the already existing plans for the inside. From this arose many defects, of which no one is so conscious as I, but that is not the chief point. The great thing is that, as I have said, a beginning was made with such an enterprise.

I would like now to dray attention to a few thoughts which will make clear what constitutes the peculiar characteristic of this Building, so that you may see the connection between it and our entire movement — scientific as well as spiritual.

The first thing that will strike an unprejudiced observer is that the partition walls are quite evidently, conceived differently from those of ordinary public buildings. Walls enclosing a building, generally speaking, have hitherto always been considered, from an artistic point of view, as a “shutting off” of space. Walls, boundary walls, are always so considered and all architectural and ornamental work on walls has been in connection with this idea, that the function of the outer wall is to enclose. This canon is transgressed in the case of the Dornach building! — not physically, of course, but artistically. The conception of the outer wall, as it appears there, is not that it shuts off space, but that it opens the space to the universe, the macrocosm. Whoever stands within this space, should have the feeling, through the very walls themselves, that the building expands into the universe, the macrocosm. Everything should represent connections with the universe. What is the conception in the fashioning of the wall itself; the same with the pillars, accessory in their several ways to the walls — so also with the entire carved work, the bases of the pillars, the architraves, capitols. The conception is of a wall which is transparent for the soul — the very opposite of a space-enclosing wall. Anyone standing inside should feel that he has the freedom of the infinite universe. Naturally, if anything has to be done within this space, physically the enclosing is there; but the forms of the physical enclosure can be so taken that, abrogating themselves, they are annulled through their artistic fashioning.

Everything else is related to this. The laws of symmetrical proportion, usually followed in buildings, have to be disregarded under the influence of this main conception. The Dornach Building has, properly speaking, only one axis of symmetry, which goes straight from West to East; and everything is ordered upon this single axis. The pillars, at a certain distance from the walls, are not all furnished with the same capitols; only by twos, right and left, the capitols and mouldings are alike. Starting at the principal entrance, the first two pillars are the same, in capitol, base, and architrave. In the second pair, pillar, capitol, architrave design, are different, and so through the whole length of the building. Thus in the subjects of the capitols and bases it becomes possible to depict Evolution. The capitol of each pillar always evolves from the one before it, just as the organically complete form develops from the incomplete. The ordinary symmetrical equality is dissolved into a progressive development.

The whole Building consists of two principal parts; they have an essentially circular ground-plan, and are closed above with domes; but the domes are so cut as to link into one another, so that the bases form incomplete circles. One circle is short of a small segment in the front, and the other, the larger circle, is joined on just there.

The whole is so erected as to form two circular spaces, a larger and a smaller. The larger space is the auditorium, the lesser is for the presentation of the Mystery Plays, and kindred things. Where the two circles unite, are the rostrum and curtain. It was a very interesting piece of work, technically, to make the two domes intersect and cut into one another.

The Building, wholly of wood, rests on a concrete sub-structure which contains only the cloakrooms, with concrete steps leading up to the Building itself.

Along each wall of the greater space, under the large dome, there are seven pillars; in the smaller, six; so that in the latter, which forms a kind of platform, there are twelve, as against fourteen in the former. The sculptured designs of the pillars develop progressively, in a fashion which amazed me myself, as I worked at them. While I was making the model, shaping the pillars and their capitols, I was astonished at one thing in particular. There is no question here of something “symbolical”. People who have spoken and written about the Building, saying that all sorts of symbols are introduced, and that Anthroposophists work by means of symbols, are wrong. No symbol, such as they have in mind, is to be found in the whole Building; each part of the whole springs out of the conception in its entirety. Neither does the smallest part signify (I an using “signify” in its worst sense) anything unconnected with the artistic conception. This unbroken development of the designs on the capitols and architraves has been the outcome of artistic perception, one form out of its predecessor; and while, I developed one from the other, there arose, as of itself, a reflection of evolution, of the true evolution of nature, not as understood by Darwinism. That was not intended, but it arose spontaneously, in such a way that I could recognise, with amazement, how, for instance, certain human organs are simpler than those of certain species of lower animals. I have often pointed out that evolution does not consist in complication; the human eye is more perfect because it is simpler than the eye of an animal, reverting to simplicity. — I noticed that after the fourth of these designs a simplification was necessary. The more perfect one emerged precisely as the simpler.

his was not the only thing which struck me. Comparing the first pillar with the seventh, the second with the sixth, the third with the fifth, I was surprised to see that a remarkable correspondence came to light. In the carvings there are, of course, some raised surfaces and others hollowed out; these were elaborated purely from intuitive feeling and visual sense. Yet, taking the capitol and base of the seventh, and thinking of the whole and its separate parts, one could superimpose the high surfaces of the seventh on the hollow surfaces of the first, and vice versa. The raised surfaces of the first exactly fitted the hollow surfaces of the seventh. I mean this as a matter of convex and concave, of course. Symmetry, not merely external, but from within, was the result. Really, in this interchange and the working of it out in sculpture, something arose that was like bringing architecture into movement and sculpture into repose. It was all at the same time wood-carving and architecture.

The whole Building has a concrete foundation, with inner motives which will surprise visitors when they first come there. Of course they come with preconceived notions, compare it with what they have seen elsewhere, and are astonished. Many, not knowing what to make of it, have called it a “futurist Building”. The lines of the concrete part are designed in accordance with the capacities of concrete, the new material, to express artistic form; but within the concrete frame an attempt is made to construct pillar-like supports. These came of themselves to look like elementary beings, gnome-like, growing up out of the fissured earth, while at the same time they support the weight above — so that it can be seen that they are for support but bear the heavier part, push it, throw it back, and do this in a different way f or the lighter parts. Such is the substructure of the wooden part.

In Munich it would have been a case of inner architecture only; windows were necessary for the Dornach Building. To understand these, I would ask you first to make the effort to grasp the whole idea of the wooden building. As it stands, it has really no claim to be artistic; it is not a work of art. As regards pillars, walls, and windows, it is so. The entire Building, which is to have no decorative character, to be constructed with no decorative purpose, is meant to arouse, through every line and every surface-shape, certain experiences and thoughts in those who behold it. The eye, the sensitive eye, must trace the direction of the lines and the surface-shape. What is experienced in the soul, when one's gaze takes in works of art, this is first aroused by a “work of art” in the wood-carving. It arises first in human feeling. The concrete foundation and the wooden part are the preparation for it. Man himself must bring into being a work of art through his appreciation of the forms. What has been worked into the wood is so to speak, the more “Spiritual” part of the Building. A work of art really comes into existence only when the soul of the listener or speaker is inwardly receptive.

Then it was necessary to provide windows for the space between each pair of pillars. If the windows were to carry out the idea of the Building, a distinctive workmanship in glass was needed. Sheets of glass in plain colour were taken and the appropriate designs etched into them, so that here we have etchings in glass. With an enlarged form of dentist's drill, enough was ground out of the thick sheet of glass to give varying thicknesses to it — and this produced the design. Each sheet of glass is of one colour only; the colours are so placed as to yield a harmony in their sequence. Viewed from the entrance, the Building shows a window of the same colour on each side of the axis of symmetry, so that there is colour harmony in evolution. Still the window, as a “work of art”, is not complete. It becomes complete only when the sun shines through it so that in the scheme of the windows something is created which forms a work of art with the co-operation of living nature from outside. Etched on these sheets of glass you will find much of the content of our Spiritual Sciences imaginatively perceived — the dreaming man, the waking man in his real being, various mysteries of creation, and so on. All this in terms of perception, not in symbols; all artistically intended, but complete only with the sunlight. Hence, through yet another means, we have tried here also to surmount the feeling of an enclosed space. In the wood-carving, architecture and sculptures the pure forms are used to give the soul an impression of overcoming the enclosed space and going out beyond it. This effect is first conveyed directly to the senses through the windows. The union with the sunlight which shines through, streaming from the universe through the visible world, is something belonging to these windows. Between these two parts of the whole there is a certain correspondence. Through the conjunction of light and glass-etching there arises for the soul an external work of art; while the wood-carving provides a spiritual element which is experienced as a work of art within the human soul itself.

The third part consists of the paintings in the domes. The subjects of these too, are taken from our Spiritual Science. The paintings express the content of our conception of the world, with regard at least to a great macrocosmic stretch of tine. Here we have, so to say, the physical “part” of the thing, because in painting, for certain inner reasons, (to go into them would take us too far) whatever one wants to present must be presented directly. Colour must itself express what it has to express, and so with the lines. Only through the content can the endeavour be made to go out beyond the borders of the dome into the macrocosm; that is how one arrives at it All that is painted there really belongs to the macrocosm, its meaning presented directly to the eye — We tried, by using colours derived from pure vegetable substances which have their own light-force, to produce the light-force necessary for the painting, of these designs. Of course, we might have succeeded better, but for the war. However, it is only a beginning. Naturally the whole style of painting had to conform to our conception. To paint the spiritual content of the world means that we have to do, not with forms thought of as illuminated from an outside source, but with forms that are self-luminous. Quite a different approach to painting is necessary. For instance, the human aura cannot be painted in the same way as a physical shape, which is drawn with light and shade, according to the source of light. In the aura we have to do with a self-illumined object, and the character of the painting must therefore be quite different.

So now I have given you, with a few rough strokes, as far as it can be done without a model, some idea of what the Bau is meant to be. As a whole it is oriented from West to East, the axis of symmetry lying in that direction, between the and it cuts into the small circular space, containing the stage, at its eastern end. At this eastern end, between the sixth pillar on either hand, stands a group of figures carved in wood. Its intention is to present in ,artistic form something — I might say — which lies at the heart of the world-conception which we hold through Spiritual Science; something which must, by necessity enter into man's spiritual outlook now and in the future. Man must learn to grasp the fact that everything of importance for the shaping of world-destiny and for human life runs its course in these three streams: the normal spiritual stream in which his life is set, the Luciferic, and the Ahrimanic. In everything, as much in the foundation of the physical world as in the manifestations of spiritual events, divine evolution is interwoven with the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic evolution. This is expressed in our carved group, again not symbolically, but artistically. A group carved in wood! The idea of it came to me, for I believe I have grasped as thought what is not yet clear to me so far as its occult basis is concerned: it may well be that future occult investigation will reveal this. Still, it seems to me certainly right that the ancient themes are better portrayed in stone or metal, and all Christian ones — ours being in the most eminent sense Christian — better in wood. I cannot help confessing that I have always been obliged to think of the group in St. Peter's at Rome, the “Pieta” of Michael Angelo, as being made of wood: only so, I believe can it represent what it ought to express, and the same applies to other Christian sculpture I have seen. There is doubtless something behind this feeling; but I have not yet arrived at the reason of it. Therefore our group has been conceived and carried out in wood.

The leading figure is a kind of representative of humanity, a Being expressing Man in his divine manifestation. I am glad when anyone, looking at this figure, has the feeling that it is a representation of Christ Jesus. It seemed to me inartistic to take as the underlying impulse: “I will carve a figure of Christ Jesus”. I wanted to produce just what I did. The result may be a feeling in the beholder that it is Christ Jesus. I should be most glad if that were so; but the artistic idea was not to produce a representation of Him. The idea rests purely in the artistic form, in its manner of expression; to set out to carve a figure of Christ Jesus — that would have been merely a descriptive, programmatic idea. The artistic thought must rest in the form, at any rate in sculpture.

The whole group is about eight and a half metres high, and the chief figure is raised, with rocks behind and below it. From the rocks below, which are a little hollowed, grows an Ahriman-figure. It half lies within a hole of the rock, its head above it. On the slightly hollowed rock stands the chief figure. Above the Ahriman-figure and to the left of the beholder, a second Ahriman-figure rears itself from the rocks, so that the Ahriman-figure is repeated. Above the one to the left is a Lucifer-figure. A sort of artistic connection exists between the Lucifer above and the Ahriman below. A short distance away, over the chief figure, and on the right of the onlooker, is another Lucifer-figure, so that Lucifer is also twice represented. This other Lucifer is marred, and falls headlong owing to his injury. The right hand of the central figure points downwards, the left upwards, and this upward pointing left hand indicates exactly the point of the fracture suffered by Lucifer, through which he is shattered and falls headlong. The right hand and arm point to the Ahriman below and bring him to despair. The whole group is so designed — I hope it will convey this experience — ,that this central figure is in no way aggressive, but intended by its gesture t0 express only love. However, neither Lucifer nor Ahriman can endure this love. The Christ does not “fight against” Ahriman, but radiates love. Lucifer and Ahriman cannot endure this love near them. It comes near them; Ahriman feels despair, the destruction of his very being, and Lucifer falls headlong. Their inner nature is revealed in their gestures.

The figures were naturally not easy to create, for the reason that, in the case of the chief figure partly, and in that of Lucifer and Ahriman wholly, the Spiritual had to be depicted, and of all things it is most difficult to express the Spirit in carving. The endeavour was made, however, to achieve what is especially necessary for our purpose — to bring out the significance of the form (although it must remain an artistically conceived form), in gesture and in mien. Human beings are really able to make use of gesture and mien only in a very restricted sense. Lucifer and Ahriman are entirely gesture and mien. Spiritual figures have not got a limited form; there is no such thins as a complete spiritual figure. To try to model the Spirit is just like trying to model lightning. The form of a spiritual being chances from moment to moment. That must be taken into account. Try to hold a Spiritual shape fast even for a moment, as might be done in representing a form at rest, and you will not succeed; the result will be only a frozen figure. Hence, in such a case, gesture alone must be reproduced. This is so with Lucifer and Ahriman entirely, and it had to be partially attempted also in the central figure, which is of course a physical form — Christ-Jesus.

Now I want to show you a few pictures, to give you an idea of the principal group. [Here some lantern slides were shown. The description follows.]

The first is of Ahriman's head, exactly as the figure first came to me; as a man (remember the threefold division of man into head, breast, and limb-being) who is all head, and therefore an instrument for the most consummate cleverness, intellectuality and craft. The Ahriman figure is meant to express this: his head, as you see it here, is true “spirit”, to use a paradox; but you know how often a paradox results from a spiritual description. He is actually like the model, faithful in spirit, artistically true to nature: he had to sit for his portrait!

The next is Lucifer, as seen on the left. To understand him, we must picture what appears as his form in a very peculiar way. The most Ahrimanic characteristic in man must be eliminated: the head vanishes; but the ears and ear-muscles, the outer ear, substantially enlarged and of course spiritualised are depicted as wings and formed into an organ entwined round the body with wings at the some time spreading from the larynx, so that the head, wings and ears form one organ. These wings, this head-organ, present themselves as the figure of Lucifer. Lucifer is an extended larynx — the larynx becomes a whole figure out of which develops, through a sort of wine, a connection with the ear; so that we must imagine Lucifer as a being who receives the music of the spheres, takes it in through this organ of ear combined with wine. Without any help from the individuality, the cosmos, the music of the spheres itself, speaks through this same organ, of which the extension in front is the larynx; another metamorphosis of the human form, an organ composed of larynx-ear-wing. Therefore the head is only indicated. As to Ahriman, you will find, when you see the figure at Dornach, that it is developed out of what one imagines as form; but what appears as Lucifer's head (although you can hardly picture your own as being like his) is something in the highest decree “beautiful”. The Ahrimanic nature is intellectual, clever — but appears as ugly in the world; the Luciferic appears as beautiful in the world. Between them they comprise everything in the world. Youth and childhood are more Luciferic, old age is more Ahrimanic; the impulses of the past lean to the Luciferic, those of the future to the Ahrimanic; women are more inclined to Lucifer, men to Ahriman; the two streams embrace everything.

Above Lucifer an elemental being arises as it were out of the rock. The group was complete, but when it was released from its framework, the curious fact was noticed that the centre of gravity (naturally as viewed) seemed too far to the right, and something had to be added to redress the balance — evidently so brought about by karma. It was not a case of merely introducing a mass of rocks, but of following out the idea of the carving; therefore this elemental being sprang into existence, in a sense crowing out of the rocks. There is a noticeable thing about this being, although expressed only in slight indications; in it one can see how an asymmetry comes into play, directly spiritual forms are in question. It finds only limited expression in the physical, the left eye is not very different from the right; the same with the ear and the nostril; but directly we enter the spiritual realm, the etheric body is seen to work absolutely differently on the two sides. The left side of the etheric body is quite different from the right: a fact which immediately becomes evident in trying to portray spiritual forms. If you walk round this being, you will get a different view from every point. But in the asymmetry you will see a kind of necessity; it expresses the demeanour with which the being peeps over the rocks and looks down with a certain humour at the group below. This looking down over the rocks with a humorous air has a good reason. The right attitude for raising oneself into the higher world is never a sentimental one. Mere sentimentality is of no use for the man who wants to toil up the spiritual heights, in the right way, for it always smacks of egoism. You know how often, when the highest spiritual subjects are being discussed, I mix with our considerations something not designed to take you out of the mood, but simply to banish any egoistic sentimentality from it. A genuine ascent to the spiritual must be undertaken in purity of soul (which is never destitute of humour), not from a motive of egoistic sentimentality.

Then, as to the head of the central figure in profile, as of necessity it revealed itself. The head also had to be asymmetrical, because in this figure the intention was to show how not only the right hand, the left hand, the right arm and so on reflect the inner being of the soul, but how in a being living entirely in the soul, as Christ-Jesus did, this reflection is seen also in the very shape of the brow and in the whole figure, far more than can be the case in the mien of the ordinary man. We made a trial by reversing the lantern-slide, (although this was contrary to reality) to see whether the view thus obtained was quite different. It proved to be so. The impression made Was different. The artistic intention of the asymmetry will be apparent only when the head of the central figure is complete.

It may well be said that in working out such a subject all artistic questions have to be considered; the smallest has its connection with the far-reaching., whole. For instance, the handling of surface. Life has to be engendered specially through this. The surface curved once and the curve curved again — this particular handling of it, the doubling of the curve, thus drawing life out of the surface itself, is perceived only in fashioning these things. What we were aiming at, therefore, consisted not only in what was represented but in a certain artistic treatment of the subject. To achieve a representation of the Ahrimanic, the Luciferic, or of human nature by means of a copy, in a kind of narrative style, was not the intention; rather must it be seized through the fingertips, in the chiselling of the surface, in the entire artistic moulding. The expansion which man feels when he extends his view into the Spiritual, widens out again on the other side into the artistic.

This group is placed at the eastern end of the building, in the space provided for the stage. Above it is spread the vault of the smaller dome, decorated as I have described, in such a way as to continue in painting; the theme of the croup. The Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman are all there, and we have tried to make the colours artistically expressive in themselves. The variety of treatment shows how all these things can be brought out purely by artistic means.

All this could be achieved only because a number of our friends worked on the Building with the greatest devotion. Most curious things have been said about the Building, but some day, perhaps, due credit will be given to tag way in which the friends in our Movement, especially the artists, cave themselves with selfless devotion to it, and found their way wonderfully into this clothing of a cosmic conception in artistic form.

The Building is of course not complete; it might very probably have been so — except for the group — if these catastrophic world-events had not hindered it.

I wanted to bring before you, in these brief, disjointed sentences, an idea of what is intended, and I hope that you have at least acquired some small notion of the Building which, we may expect, will one day stand complete in Dornach. The aim of it all is this: to insert an artistic rendering of our cosmic conception into the spiritual life of the present and the future. People will see that this conception is no mere theory, but is made up of real, living forces. If we had produced something symbolical, people could have said: “That is a theory.” But as the conception is capable of giving birth to art, it is something different, something vital. It will give birth to yet other things; it must fructify other domains of life. There is widespread longing for a spiritual life suitable to the present day, but in this realm we encounter a good deal of visionary, irrational and barren stuff. My hope is that people will learn to distinguish between what is born out of the demands of the present spiritual age, and what arises from confusion and the like. We see spiritual movements, so-called, sprinting up everywhere like mushrooms. But one must learn to distinguish between what springs truly from the real forces of human spiritual development, and mistaken talk about spiritual things. There are many forms of this to-day. Naturally we notice it, for it shows that men are striving towards the spirit. If we keep our eyes open, we shall everywhere see this desire for Spiritual things. A metaphysical novel by a certain Herr Korf has just appeared — dreadful stuff; it is really more a mischievous piece of propagands for the “Star in the East”. I hope that such things, which express in their own way a perversion of man's metaphysical aspirations, will be distinguished from those created out of she fundamental strivings of his being, adapted precisely for our time.

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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