Islam, rationality and science
Wolfram's `Willehalm': Fifteen Essays
Jamaica Kincaid: Where the Land Meets the Body
Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless
Willehalm: King Of The Jews?
Introduction To The Fourth, British Edition, Including
The Kardeiz Saga To Recall The Anthroposophical Society
May the help of Thy loving Kindness inspire my heart and mind aright and grant me skill enough to praise in Thy Name a knight who never forgot Thee. Even if he merited Thy displeasure by sinful action, Thy Mercy knew how to guide him to work, of such a kind that, with manly courage at his disposal and by means of Thy Grace, he was capable of making amends. Thy Help often saved him from peril. He risked a twofold death, of the soul and of the body too, and frequently suffered anguish through the love of a woman.
This may be sufficient to indicate, if not to prove that, based on the findings of this remarkable book on the personality and work of Wolfram von Eschenbach, the answer to the question that we placed at the head of this introduction must be negative: Willehalm was not a Jewish King, but a Christian Saint.
Towards A Willehalm Society
Now it is obvious that with the above remarks and passages, however, the discussion and debate about the issues at hand and indeed many others that are raised by this book has only at best been opened and needs to be continued in an appropriate form and forum. In his foreword to this present volume the former president of the General Anthroposophical Society Rudolf Grosse calls for a thorough scientific discussion on the merits of this book, and throughout it and especially in the epilogue, Werner Greub invites scholars to enter the many new avenues of research that his book opens up. None of this has to my knowledge really been taken up yet; indeed since its publication in 1974 not one word has been “wasted” on it, apart of course from the devastating review by Lindenberg and the notice of Greub’s death, in any of the official organs of the General Anthroposophical Society or in any of its branches throughout the world. This is thus one of the reasons, indeed justifications for the founding of a Willehalm Society for Grail Research, Royal Art and Social Organics, as suggested in the introduction to the first edition. Such an interested circle of supporting friends centred on a spiritually active Institute with a publication journal and regular newsletter in the form and spirit of the Anthroposophical Society with its core the School of Spiritual Science has existed in a small, but seminal form in the Netherlands since 1990. However, in order to realize any of the objectives and research projects raised by this book, much more needs to be done, hence my present plea. Accordingly, this was part of the subject and indeed motive of my talks, backed up by the various book presentations to members and friends of the Anthroposophical Society this summer at the Rudolf Steiner library Ghent NY and in Montreal, Canada; the last talk being on September 10, 2001 to a closed meeting of the English and French speaking groups of the Anthroposophical Society in Montreal.
The September 11 Disaster en de Kardeiz Saga
This brings me to the disaster of September 11, for it does not seem appropriate to end this introduction to the British edition without enlarging somewhat on the initial reaction I wrote in Montreal to this disaster in the light of this book, its background and the substance of recent talks and presentations held in North America. This initial reaction, placed in a footnote to the Postscript of the third (North American) introduction and dated September 19 went as follows:
Now the first thing that needs to be said, indeed admitted, is that the very occurrence of this man-made disaster, this horrific example of man’s inhumanity to man, is a tragic indication of the failure of politics and ultimately of the spiritual-cultural sphere of the social organism on the planet. For as Rudolf Steiner has pointed out in his essay Anthroposophy and The Social Question where he developed his fundamental social law, practical ideas are the very life-sustaining sustenance for this social organism, without them the inevitable result will be disaster, hunger, chaos and in the end war. The individual, the human body, can indeed be helped by giving him or her bread, a community, i.e. a social body, can only be aided by helping it to attain a viable worldview. Since this outbreak of war and the ensuing bloodshed and suffering of many innocent people on both sides is indicative of the moral bankruptcy and failure of the spiritual life, then this also applies to the General Anthroposophical Society and its present leadership at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, as well as to the various national Anthroposophical Societies and related groups, indeed the Willehalm Institute included, in as far as these organisations are part of the present impotent spiritual life of mankind on earth.
A corollary to the above fundamental law is that the individual human being or any number of them can be destroyed, but that the human being as such, humanity itself can only be destroyed by eradicating the true, good and beautiful image of that humanity and a human society constructed in its image. This anti-anthroposophy, this dehumanisation is indeed the “highest” form of slouching terrorism that is the least noticed for where and what it is. Now, this structural and principled destruction of humanity and a humane society in its image has been exactly what modern, materialistic science, in spite of its undeniable technical advances, has been doing; and radically complementing and revising this basically inhuman, or at least incomplete science of man and mankind is exactly what Rudolf Steiner has brought to bear with his anthroposophy or science of the Grail.
The mission of spreading and deepening this true image of man and his society he entrusted to the Anthroposophical Society, which was founded anew in 1923 and to its centre of research and development, the Goetheanum, Free University of Spiritual Science, which, as we have seen, in 1974 published, but then dropped this present volume and its sequels. Yet in spite of the individual efforts of many well-meaning and indeed brilliant anthroposophists, often working in complete isolation and abject poverty, the leadership of the newly refounded Anthroposophical Society already before the early death of Rudolf Steiner in 1925 has in general failed to observe and fulfil its one and only task: to realise the original statutes of this Society statutes (later called principles) as an all-embracing new principle of civilisation called social organics that is destined to supersede the more than 2000 year old democratic principle. Not only has it failed to do this, but it has for the last twenty odd years resisted and suppressed all attempts by individuals, including the author, and small groups to uncover and correct this. Only recently, in the face of increasing pressure and dissent, has the leadership begun to face this constitutional dead-lock, although it is far from acknowledging that this is the main structural cause for the state of world-wide paralysis, analogous to the sick Fischer king Anfortas, in which the Anthroposophical Society finds itself. What we have here is thus a general human society which has been entrusted with the true image of man and mankind on earth, but which has not managed to remain true to itself and therefore cannot attain its mission to become a vanguard of the new principle of civilization! Before anything else can be put in order and healed in this world, it must be the Anthroposophical Society.
In effect, what we have been doing here is nothing else than asking the Parzival question: “Uncle”, – in this case the Anthroposophical Society and its leadership, and in a general sense the spiritual life of humanity – “What ails you?” Yet, since this is not an individual matter, but an issue facing a community at large, this Parzival-question needs to be asked by at least one fifth of its members, i.e. some 10.000 anthroposophists all over the world, for this is the quorum according to Swiss Civil law (on associations) needed to support the idea of holding an extra-ordinary General Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society – the first such meeting since 1923, when the Anthroposophical Society was refounded in Dornach, Switzerland. For since 1925 annual meetings have been held of the administrative and economic pendant of the Anthroposophical Society, namely the General Anthroposophical Society, Inc. These two similar sounding social bodies were long considered to be one and the same. In reality they were conceived as different in quality from each other, albeit related, as for example Grail knights-of-the word such as Parzival on the one hand and Arthurian knights-of-the sword such as Gawain on the other, the former more heavenly, the latter more earthly orientated. Epistemologically speaking they are as different from each other as mental pictures are from pure concepts. The former being individualised concepts applied to a percept in an act of knowledge and forming the basis of administration; the latter being universal ideas that have not been applied to percepts and constituting the realm in which social design, royal art can be practiced..
Now, as Part II entitled Parzival of this book demonstrates, Parzifal asked his question with which he redeemed Anfortas and became Grail King on Whitsuntide, May 12, 848 in the Grail castle Munsalvaesche in the Arlesheim Hermitage. On April 8, 2001 a Parzifal question in the above communal sense was put by the author in the form of a motion to the General Assembly of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum in nearby Dornach as the first act of a real-life communal mystery play entitled the Kardeiz Saga to Review, Recall and Restore the Anthroposophical Society. The historical basis for this play is inspired by this very book by Werner Greub, for in it Kardeiz is shown to be the second son of Parzival who as a youth was already crowned King on Whitsuntide May 13, 848 in Dornach and given the task of regaining the lands and towns (Waleis, Norgals, Kanvoleiz, Kingrivals, Anschouwe and Bealzenan, all situated in present-day Alsace, France) that were taken away from his father by the usurper Lahelin, a task which he, after having been educated by his uncle Willehalm-Kyot, fulfilled admirably. The historic parallels implied by the Kardeiz Saga – a realm of royal art has been usurped and must be liberated and restored to its original state in order to fulfil its mission to advance humanity to a true image or concept of itself – may have by now become apparent; for the details I refer to my foreword to the social-aesthetic study The Principles of The Anthroposophical Society, which forms the more spiritual basis for the Kardeiz Saga. What remains here is to attempt to further substantiate in what sense this Saga can be seen as a modern Grail task and what relevance it has for a post September 11 world situation
For that we call to aid a perspective from Walter Johannes Stein mentioned in the book by the Dutch writer Willem Frederik Veltman Tempel en Graal (Temple and Grail, published by Hesperia in Rotterdam, 1989; not translated). In a chapter The Mystery of Gold on the three historic grades of chivalry, it is developed that the Grail impulse of the 20th century – and no doubt also for the 21st – lies in transforming the driving force of the world economy from egoism to altruism. The first one is the grade of Faith (Peter), the second one of Hope (James), both lying in the past, while the current and future one is the grade of Charity or Love (John). Veltman writes: “This Grade of John can only be realized today and has to do with a world economy based on a truly Christian love. But for the time being, the world economy as a world power is still developing in an opposite direction.”
How this can be considered a Grail task – the harmonisation of two polarities through a middle force – has been shown by Rudolf Steiner in his lectures and seminars on World Economy in Dornach 1924. In the first of these 14 lectures he states that what he is about deliver is the new language, based on a new way of thinking, with which to present social organics, the idea of the threefold nature of the social organism, in the near future and that it is above all necessary to come to an understanding of the concept social organism as consisting of humanity and the earth as a whole, as one. This social organism or environment is – this follows from other works by Rudolf Steiner in concordance with the New Testament – in essence the body of Christ, but He can only properly incarnate into this whole earth, if we as humanity practice and implement Rudolf Steiner’s World Economy by creating the right balance between the production factors of the social organism: nature, labour and capital (spirit). The interaction between these three production factors constitutes the two ways that economic values arise: labour applied to nature bringing about the more earthly value of transubstantiation; spirit (intelligence) applied to labour the more heavenly value of incarnation. The cardinal question here is to bring these two ways of creating economic values into harmony by producers, traders and consumers, united in economic associations spanned across the globe, so that just, fair prices can come about. This radical alternative form of globalisation is the Christian justification for the threefold social order or social organics, and can be seen as a modern Grail task because, again, it is question of creating a just balance between two opposing forces or factors, in this case nature and capital (spirit).
This collective balancing act in the physical, outer world has its individual pendant in the individual realm of human knowledge and action as portrayed in Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. For knowledge is the synthesis of a given percept mediated to us by our senses with the proper, corresponding concept supplied by our own act of thinking, while action, a human deed is the synthesis of motive and driving force.
This Grail task, as symbolized by Wolfram’s coat-of-arms (see plate A) is portrayed in another way by Rudolf Steiner in his wooden sculpture, made with the assistance of among others the English sculptress Edith Maryon, entitled Representative of Humanity. It shows a trinity: a solid and balanced human figure in the middle separating and harmonizing two opposing forces or beings: Ahriman or Satan, the cynical oppressor being held and chained down to the earth and Lucifer or the Devil, the enticer in the heights misleading to a brilliance without soul warmth (see plate B). This 9 metre high structure was meant by Rudolf Steiner to stand in and form the background of all the proceedings in the first Goetheanum, which like the Grail castle Munsalvaesche was a theatre for the staging of Christian mystery plays. It escaped being burned down to the ground when this first Goetheanum, an all wooden structure with two interlocking domes went up in flames during New Year’s eve 1922, but instead of being given this prominence is now stored in the attic of the second Goetheanum, where, far away from the activities on stage in the big hall down below, it can be seen at certain hours – a deviation from the intention of its maker which, it must be said, speaks, even cries out for itself.
By now it may be clear that this Grail motive of a trinity of active neutrality is the major composition principle of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, justifying its alternative name: science of the Grail. We encounter this principle again in the architectural design of the second Goetheanum, in which two symmetrical sidewalls running north and south connect a polarity of a steep vertical wall to the east with a gently outward sloping wall to the west.
And we see it also in the composition of the statutes (principles) of the newly founded Anthroposophical Society and the corresponding Foundation Stone Mediation, which Rudolf Steiner offered to lay down in the hearts and minds of the nucleus of some 7 to 800 anthroposophists from all over the world who had gathered in Dornach in 1923 during the so-called Christmas Foundation Conference to call this first general (universal) human knowledge-based society on earth further into being. This Anthroposophical Society was, according to its first of 15 statutes (principles), meant to be “a union of people who wish to cultivate the life of soul in the individual as well as in human society on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world.”In the process of realizing this universal charter of a society of free spirits – according to Rudolf Steiner the one and only task of the leadership – its members can unite and elevate themselves to a level of awareness of their higher selves where they can receive the representative of humanity in their own ranks and accordingly constitute the new Grail community. Like the statute of the representative of humanity that was to overlook this process, this new Grail community will consist of a strong and solid middle holding Lucifer (extreme ingrowths, sectarianism, dogmatism) as well as Ahriman (power plays, con tricks, party politics) at bay.
These are the living conditions, as laid down in an archetypal fashion in the original statutes of the Anthroposophical Society, under which the Parzival question, asked in concert by a community, can have the healing effect on it that it did on Anfortas that Whitsuntide on May 12, 848 in Arlesheim when, as Wolfram towards the end of his Parzival reports: “He Who for St Sylvester’s sake bade a bull return from death to life and go, and Lazarus stand up, now helped Anfortas to become whole and well again.”To re-enact this real-life communal mystery play, ideally and to begin with on the location of the original Grail sites in Dornach/Arlesheim in , that is the aim of the Kardeiz Saga.
Grail Sites of Royal Art in the Future?
The newly discovered Grails sites will then not only enter the history books as having been found, but founded anew and harbouring a healing impulse for the future. For the resulting world-wide “Union of People” can then become that strong middle force of active neutrality that was mentioned in my initial reaction to the September 11 disaster in order to help make the world “whole and well again.” The history books will then also thankfully note that a violent clash of civilisations has been diverted in the sense that bearers of conflicting worldviews and religions can iron out their divisive differences, problems and obstacles in newly constituted Olympic Games of The Spirit with the participants competing for the best ideas toward the solutions of the problems facing mankind and the earth.Finally, the writing of history books will remain necessary, for history – contrary to what has been claimed – will not have come to an end, for want of any alternative to the present liberal, capitalist based democracies, since the demise of communism. For an all-embracing worldview, a reunion of art, science and religion is waiting in the wings to make its long over-due appearance; it is called anthroposophy, science of the Grail, its social component is social organics. A new Royal art can lead the way.
Robert J. Kelder,
My thanks go to Richard Roe from and Ghent (NY) for his help in scrutinizing this text for spelling and other writing errors. This final version has been revised somewhat and typed up in solitude in the Willehalm Institute Library in . It was not possible to have this final version proofread by a third party. Even though great care has been taken to avoid textual errors, it may thus be possible that such errors have been overlooked. We apologise beforehand for this eventuality and welcome any suggestions for improvement. See appendix 7 for address and E-mail.
Next to this present volume, two new editions of translations of works by Herbert Witzenmann, already referred to in the first introduction, were presented: The Just Price – World Economy as Social Organics and The Principles of the Anthroposophical Society with a Foreword Introducing the Kardeiz Saga to Recall the Anthroposophical Society. Both of them included extensive introductions on which the following remarks in connection with the September 11 disaster are partly based and which need to be consulted by those who want to pursue the matter further. Here only a broad outline can be given.