Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The ultimate in art: the presentation of the battle between the beautiful and the ugly

Rudolf Steiner:

I said before: One thing is connected with the other. Human beings are today under the influence of the same delusion which attributed to the divine powers certain Luciferic qualities. The same delusion creates today the inclination in human beings to see an ideal in the one-sided representation of the beautiful, for instance. To be sure, it is possible to represent the beautiful as such. But we must be conscious of the fact that were we as human beings merely to surrender ourselves to the beautiful, we would cultivate those forces in us which lead into Luciferic channels. Just as there is no one-sided progressive evolution in the real world, but evolution is followed by devolution, so likewise there exists no one-sided beauty in the real world. The merely beautiful used by Lucifer in order to fascinate and blind human beings would set human beings free of Earth evolution; it would sever their connection with it. Just as there is an interplay of evolution and devolution, so we have in reality to do with an interplay of beauty and ugliness; in truth, there is a hard battle between beauty and ugliness. And if we wish really to take hold of art we must never forget that the ultimate in art in the world is the interplay of the beautiful and the ugly, the presentation of the battle of the beautiful with the ugly. For only by looking upon the state of equilibrium between the beautiful and the ugly do we stand within reality; then we do not exist within a one-sided Luciferic or Ahrimanic reality not belonging to us, into which, however, Lucifer and Ahriman strive to place us. It is very necessary that such ideas as I have just put forward enter human cultural evolution. You know that I have often spoken to you with great enthusiasm about Greek culture, yet in ancient Greece it was still possible to devote oneself one-sidedly to the cultivation of beauty, for mankind at that time had not yet been taken hold of by the decline of Earth evolution, at least not the Greeks. Since that time, however, man must not any longer indulge in the cultivation of the merely beautiful. This would be a flight from reality. He must, boldly and courageously, confront the real battle between beauty and ugliness. He must be able to feel and experience the dissonances in their battle with the consonances of the world. This will bring strength into mankind's evolution, and from this strength will spring the possibility of attaining that inner condition of consciousness which lifts us above the delusion that the human being consists in his true essence of heaped-up matter, of mineral particles of substance which he has drawn together into himself. 

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