Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rudolf Steiner's Estrangement from His Body

Rudolf Steiner's failing health must be viewed in the context of the increasing alienation of his physical body to the spiritual parts of his being. This led to various health problems and pain.

There was the apparent poisoning (or was it really just allergic reaction to the food or drink he was ingesting at the time, going by his comments given in a lecture soon after- "all food can become poisonous") on January 1st 1924.

From a couple of letters to Marie Steiner:

"And I have to avoid everything 'destructive'. I can see how easily I can be set back when something disruptive occurs, particularly with regard to the gastric system. "

"As you know, I have become very estranged from my physical body since January 1923. That is why an increasing amount of nursing is necessary."
- 26th October 1924

"Wegman and Noll are kept pretty busy with my 'treatment'. I have to suffer a lot with the pain of the treatment and feel how much I am unsuited to spending time on my own care in this way."

"M.d.M., I told you some time ago how, since January 1923, the link between the higher parts of my being and my physical body was no longer complete; living in the spirit I lost, as it were, the immediate connection with my physical organization. Not with the physical world. On the contrary: my ability to make a healthy assessment of the latter grew stronger and also more comprehensive. But precisely because everything in the spiritual realm continued unhindered, also as regards the physical world, the hostile forces are making an assault on my physical body."
- 15th October 1924

1 comment:

888 said...

This is Tom's translation of the episode (I put the link on the blog).
[1] The Eyewitness Account of Marie Steiner

Lidia Gentilli published this factual account in her book : "A Recollection of Marie Steiner":

MARIE STEINER: "Yes, Rudolf Steiner was poisoned on the last day of the Christmas Conference. At the reception which took place in the carpenter's workshop. I had been sitting there in that room for a long time, while the others who were gathered around Herr Doktor came and went. I couldn't pay attention to any one person, and I greeted the impending events with the greatest distress; because something incomprehensible, something hideous stood before my soul, and it made me think I needed to ward off something, yet I didn't know how and what it was. I just couldn't stand sitting there so quietly any longer, so I went back to my own room which was located in the back

There I was deep in conversation with Dr. Wachsmuth, when Herr Doktor suddenly came in, as green as this leaf. He leaned against the door post, looked at us frantically and said: `We've been poisoned!'

I was paralyzed with shock. He asked us immediately whether we had drunk anything, and as I said no, he also noticed that Dr. Wachsmuth didn't [drink anything either], and so he [Steiner] gave a deep sigh of relief.

`So it's only me! That's good!' he whispered and then staggered into the room. Dr. Wachsmuth immediately wanted to rush out and call a physician, but Dr. Steiner vehemently forbade him to do so. Dr. Wachsmuth finally left with the promise that absolutely no one was to learn of this event and that no physician was ever to be summoned. Herr Doktor then demanded he be given all the milk that was present and nearby and with it he administered to himself a "stomach douche." ***

***[TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Honest to God, for once, I'm not trying to be gross and juvenile here. The literal meaning of the German word Magensp├╝lungis "stomach douche." It does sound much better in French as "gastro-lavage." Now the ladies can obviously describe the douching experience first hand, so I, being a guy this incarnation, will not even try. But for the sake of this saga, be clear on the concept that Rudolf Steiner is here gulping down milk so he can puke it up immediately and thus purge or "douche" his stomach of whatever he ingested at the eurythmy reception.]

In the meantime more milk was fetched from the Villa Hansi.

All the existing milk was brought in, and for the rest of the evening and through the entire night he continued the purging/douching/flushing. . . .

Indeed, even after his death I would have had the obligation to tell the [Anthroposophical] Society, yet even the insinuation, which I made in the epilogue to [Steiner's biography] "The Course of my Life" met with resistance on the part of the Vorstand.

No one ever wanted to learn the truth about it. This event [i.e. Steiner's decree of silence] was treated fearfully as if it were [Steiner's last will and] testament. So I had to keep quiet about it."