Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Stupid, It Burns


Rudolf Steiner:

As a rule people do not examine and see whether behind what is apparently a product of mental and spiritual ability there exists any well-ordered and correct method of thought. People do not enquire into this today, simply because they have not at hand any means of detection. Yet it does not take much to be able to appraise thought; many people have the capacity as a kind of instinct, and a little acquaintance with occult research and occult forces will strengthen it.

Allow me in conclusion to relate an incident intended to serve as an illustration of the strange experiences that can happen to one if one is a little sensitive to such things. It is all insignificant experience, but it illustrates my point.

I was walking yesterday along a certain street. My gaze fell, quite involuntarily, on a particular spot in a bookshop window. All at once I felt as though I had been stung — really just as though a gadfly or a bee had stung me! Spiritually, that was how I felt. I was curious to know the cause. To begin with, I could find nothing in the shop window that could have stung me like that. But when I looked carefully, I saw a book lying there on which was a legend, intended, so it appeared, to vindicate the trend of thought in the book, the author meaning to describe with this saying his own attitude of mind. But why should it sting me? You will see presently. These were the words:
“Your speculative churl
  Is like a beast which some ill spirit leads,
On barren wilderness, in ceaseless whirl,
  While all around lie fair and verdant meads.”
and underneath was written “Goethe: Faust.”
But who says this in Faust? Mephistopheles says it! These are not the words to choose when you want to quote Goethe! They are words he puts into the mouth of Mephistopheles. And if they are quoted seemingly in honest approbation of their meaning, it argues a disorderly thinking, The author wants to cite Goethe; but inner reasons compel him to quote Mephistopheles — that is, the devil. That shows me that something is amiss with his thinking. The sting I experienced came from the displaced and disordered thinking.

Source: June 5, 1912

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