A riddle

By Ute Hallaschka, July 2021

Those who are interested in anthroposophy can seek out two sources. Rudolf Steiner’s texts are one and anthroposophists are the other. This balances out in reality, although they are two fundamentally different ways of accessing information.

So there are good reasons to ask: anthroposophists, what kind of people are they? A book is now available on this subject. Lorenzo Ravagli has written a documentation after many years of work.

What is special about it is that it speaks for itself here. These are internal discussion notes and written testimonies of its members. This makes it possible to take an authentic look inside as we read the book. What is revealed inside the development of this anthroposophical society is both shocking and tragicomic – but in any case one thing: human, all-too-human! That in turn – one could remark without sarcasm – is an indication that this is a free society. They fight like tinkers. They betray, disappoint, cheat on each other – love, lust, suffering, jealousy, hatred, everything that makes up human egoism comes up. But this is what freedom looks like and feels like when no ideological pattern and no moral automatism relieves the individual of the effort to educate themselves. Of their own free will, out of insight into their own miserable character.

Anthroposophy is a path of self-knowledge. There is ample opportunity for that here. Ravagli avoids peeping through the keyhole and has certainly not written a soap opera, but rather a Greek drama.

But do we really need it? Five hundred pages of self-study of anthroposophical life as it develops? And volume 1 is to be followed by two more ...

And how we need it! Nothing could be more topical than to use historical examples to trace the structure of how camps form. How it technically happens that two parties form again and again, which soon face each other in bitter enmity. Often enough with the well-known insane consequence that the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend and vice versa.

Working on this volume could almost be called peace research. Moreover, it is exciting to read and suitable to jump in at any point. A textual fabric that looks around on all sides. A truly recommendable read for all those who are preoccupied with the riddle of what the human being is to the human being.

Lorenzo Ravagli: Selbsterkenntnis in der Geschichte. Anthroposophische Gesellschaft und Bewegung im 20. Jahrhundert, Volume 1, “Von den Anfängen bis zur zweiten großen Sezession 1875-1952”, 517 pages, bound, EUR 58, published by the Ernst Michael Kranich Foundation, Glücksburg, Glomer.com, Sauldorf-Roth 2020.


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