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Re: [anthroposophy] "Language Rules"-Thoughtlessness

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  • John Massengale
    I haven t read Arendt s essay, but I did read your summary of what she said. I question several of Arendt s ideas as they are presented, and therefore the
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 28, 2000
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      I haven't read Arendt's essay, but I did read your summary of what she said.
      I question several of Arendt's ideas as they are presented, and therefore
      the conclusions which follow from her assumptions. The Final Solution, for
      example, was not thoughtlessness, it was brilliant propaganda. Propaganda
      created by truly evil men successfully deceiving people for an astoundingly
      long time.

      Following the Final Solution is not comparable to, for example, following
      orders in Vietnam, as terrible as that might have been at some times. I'm
      sure others on this list know much more about the occult powers of Hitler
      AND his circle, but wasn't Eichmann considered to be a part of that circle?

      Whether he was or was not, I don't think he was an ordinary man. His
      photograph DOES make him out to be a monster. There are photographs in which
      we see, for example, Hitler, Himmler, Goering and Eichmann, and it is hard
      to look at those photographs without wondering how people -- including
      English and American leaders -- didn't see them as lunatics. Part of the
      answer was the power of their evil.

      From what I know about Arendt, I am surprised, because her presentation
      seems to take part so fully in the twentieth century "rationalism" of
      materialism. It seems to say that human qualities are all within us, rather
      than transcendent. Perhaps if I read the full essay I will change my mind,
      but this is how it comes across in the condensed version.

      I don't think we need to understand evil to understand love, because love is
      not a construct of our mind: it is an actual energy. It existed before us
      and it will exist after us. It is real.

      Finally, this on George W.: there is a Sikh spiritual leader in New Mexico
      whom many people think is quite an extraordinary teacher. To make a long
      story short, there is a man in his circle who used to be a Jungian
      psychiatrist specializing in body language and the appearance of the body.
      He went on to work in places like Esalen before becoming a Sikh, at which
      point he took his work to another level. He will look at you and tell you
      what happened to you in the womb -- and you will have the idea that he is
      right. And he will tell you quite extraordinary things about your life,
      without ever having met you before.

      About George W., he said, "He is a very old soul, much older, and wiser,
      than his parents. He has been held back a bit by his parents, but he could
      be a great president if he's elected."

      I think he would have a lot to say about Eichmann, and I don't think it
      would agree with Arendt's "rational" assessment. Obviously, as people
      interested in anthroposophy, we don't need to share her apparent view that
      there is nothing higher than reason.

      John Massengale
    • elaine upton
      Dear John, Thank you for your reply. But, if you will, read my post again. Arendt did ... Indeed, it may have been brilliant propoganda. Arendt, as far as I
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 29, 2000
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        Dear John,

        Thank you for your reply. But, if you will, read my post again. Arendt did
        not say that the Final Solution was thoughtless. Not at all. You write:


        >I haven't read Arendt's essay, but I did read your summary of what she
        >said.
        >I question several of Arendt's ideas as they are presented, and therefore
        >the conclusions which follow from her assumptions. The Final Solution, for
        >example, was not thoughtlessness, it was brilliant propaganda.

        Indeed, it may have been brilliant propoganda. Arendt, as far as I know,
        never said it was thoughtless. What she did say is that Adolf Eichmann was a
        petty bureaucract who committed monstrous acts through his own
        thoughtlessness, his own thoughtless way of following the program known as
        the Final Solution. There's a distinction here between your reading and what
        Arendt is saying.


        >I'm
        >sure others on this list know much more about the occult powers of Hitler
        >AND his circle, but wasn't Eichmann considered to be a part of that circle?

        Arendt says that Eichmann was a petty bureaucrat, and one commentary says
        that he was simply a "joiner", a follower. He did not think. He did not
        claim any occult powers. He was, as far as is known, not even remotely
        interested in such things. Hitler and his circle did not include Eichmann.
        Eichmann was four levels removed from Hitler's circle. Arendt is discussing
        something quite different than your post.

        If you want to write about Hitler and his circle (not Eichmann) and occult
        powers that's another post. If you want to write about Arendt and what she
        calls the "banality of evil" or the "thoughtlessness" of a petty bureaucrat
        (who could be any number of ordinary people) then that would be a post
        responding to Arendt and to my post on her.--I think your post goes off in
        another direction entirely and does not at all address the issues i raised
        based on a reading of Arendt.

        >
        >Whether he was or was not, I don't think he was an ordinary man.

        What you think, John, about whether he was an ordinary man is rather
        dubious. Arendt sat in the courtroom, watching him, listening to him for
        days and days and more days.


        >His
        >photograph DOES make him out to be a monster.

        I'm sure a photograph can look any number of ways. There are photographs of
        Princess Diana that make her look sweet and charming, and others that make
        her look like a lunatic. You are missing the point.



        >From what I know about Arendt, I am surprised, because her presentation
        >seems to take part so fully in the twentieth century "rationalism" of
        >materialism. It seems to say that human qualities are all within us, rather
        >than transcendent.

        Perhaps Arendt is, as you say, "rationalist" rather than "transcendent".
        That still does not invalidate what she has to offer. Rationalism is for me
        not the final way of seeing, but that does not mean that that mode is
        without value.--

        Likewise, the so-called transcendent can be dubious if not grounded. Balance
        is called for, and synthesis, in my way of seeing at least. So, Arendt has
        something to offer me. Not that she has the final answer, but she is a help
        along the way in understanding the problem of evil.

        If she does not appeal to you "as an anthroposophist", so be it. Follow your
        ideal and may you be well in that.

        You write of a Sikh and how he says that George Bush has been held back by
        his parents and that he may become a great president. Yeah, and so may
        Michael Jackson and so may Jay Leno and so may my aunt and so may you or me
        or anybody,if you want to go there. Which is to say, I find the Sikh rather
        amusing.....and if he is taken seriously, I find him dangerous.--I believe
        or follow no one who contradicts what my own light shows me as best as i can
        see it. I could fill this letter with examples of the evil practiced by
        George W. Bush (presiding over more than a hundred executions would be one,
        only one, example of obvious malicous practices), and John, if you believe a
        Sikh or me or anyone else who contradicts the obvious, then I think you need
        serious help!

        Best wishes,
        elaine





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      • John Massengale
        ... Elaine, I do not need serious help. Nor do I think you do. But you do sometimes take the discussion of your IDEAS as a discussion of your personality and
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 29, 2000
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          > John, if you believe a Sikh or me or anyone else who contradicts the obvious,
          > then I think you need serious help!

          Elaine,

          I do not need serious help. Nor do I think you do. But you do sometimes take
          the discussion of your IDEAS as a discussion of your personality and
          character, while I have explicitly said more than once that I am debating
          your ideas, not you.

          You talk about people following their own light. Well mine tells me that
          what Arendt said about Eichmann does not jibe with the photographs (plural,
          not just one or two distorting ones). If this is something you hold so
          personally that it can't be discussed, you shouldn't bring it up for
          discussion.

          There is an art and a science to reading people's looks. I am neither an
          artist or a scientist in the field, but we all have some intuitions in this
          area. It is very close-minded to simply dismiss "a Sikh" out of hand because
          you dislike Bush so much. Perhaps it would be worthwhile considering what he
          said. I did consider your presentation of Arendt's ideas, and as I said, I
          was surprised, because I respect her work. But I think she was wrong about
          Eichmann.

          John Massengale
        • Jo Ann Schwartz
          Hi Elaine, This is a partial response to your first post, which held a number of good questions... I m going to skip all the stuff about could we or couldn t
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 1, 2000
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            Hi Elaine,

            This is a partial response to your first post, which held a number of good
            questions...

            I'm going to skip all the stuff about could we or couldn't we see the evil
            in Eichmann's physiology-- whether via photography or personal
            observation. (Although, for those who are interested in the Holocaust,
            there is an interesting review by Eva Hoffman, "The Uses of Hell," in the
            NY Review of Books (and a tip of the hat to Hilmar, who brought it to my
            attention):

            http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWarchdisplay.cgi?20000309019R#top )

            I'm more interested in the questions you ask at the end of your post.

            > . . . what is occuring around/within me about which i am thoughtless,
            > about which i am trapped in mind/heart numbing rules of language,
            > cliches and old ways that entrap me and deaden my heart, my thought?

            In other words: in what ways might I be falling into the Luciferic trap of
            becoming a 'moral automaton'**, unable to freely think from the heart and
            thus find the correct action for THIS situation in which I find myself?
            How often do we fail to "think the unthinkable and bear the unbearable"
            because to do so would violate some group norm, some 'language rule' that
            we have come to accept without questioning??

            After all, is this not the seductive trap of group-think--- that we need
            not *think* at all, but merely accept and obey the wisdom of the group...
            give up individual responsibility (and individual freedom) for the warm,
            comforting embrace of some higher authority... of some vision of the way
            things should be...

            Think of the courage it took for the Japanese Emperor to go against all
            His advisors and centuries of tradition and perhaps even His own
            beliefs.... to listen to His heart and say, "No more." And so to make that
            historic broadcast and tell His people, "The time has come to think the
            unthinkable and bear the unbearable...." To surrender not only His
            country, but His divine nature... to become not a symbol, but an
            individual human being, standing upright in and of himself.

            And so, as you note:
            > ... even what appears as monstrous is a face of God and shall be
            > transformed, redeemed by the whole, by the Love that is, that is in
            > enlivened, heartfelt thinking embrace?

            Only through thinking with our hearts can we escape being "stuck in
            cliches, in old ways, in pre-scribed forms, in obedience to some outer or
            inner seductive monster..." Only through thinking with our hearts can we
            "think the unthinkable and bear the unbearable." Only through thinking
            with our hearts can we hope to become fully human...

            Love & light,
            JoAnn

            ** see: http://www.antronet.se/mellett/chiasma.htm and
            http://www.steiner98.org/Archives/moral.html for more on the phenomenon of
            moral behaviorism.






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          • elaine upton
            Thanks, dear Jo Ann, Your reply comes to me as heartfelt thinking! I appreciate what you write. Each day with my students, i see this propensity for unthinking
            Message 5 of 5 , Apr 2, 2000
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              Thanks, dear Jo Ann,

              Your reply comes to me as heartfelt thinking!

              I appreciate what you write. Each day with my students, i see this
              propensity for unthinking obedience to prescribed forms. They want me to
              tell them what to do, how to think (even while giving lip service to being
              democratic, free thinking, to the notion that "everybody's entitled to his
              or her own opinion"). But America often has the face, the appearance of
              democracy, liberty, free thinking, five second sound bite where everyone is
              expressing his or her opinion on everything under the sun. But that is only
              an appearance. Underneath there is this fear, and this submission to Wall
              Street, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Disney, and so on (in which move dark forces).
              Now, all is necessary, dark and light in the LIGHT. Yet, to linger in this
              submission to dark (evil) is the way of suffering. And so, may we wake up to
              what is going on, move through it consciously, with heart, and onward, or
              that is my prayer.

              I think the implication of Arendt's piece, EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, is that
              Eichmann can crop up anywhere, and does. I am not saying that she is
              directly saying this, but the implication is there.

              If I, for example, allow my students to use me as the dictator (give them
              rules, tell them how many pages a paper should be, etc.) and absolve them of
              responsibility to think, choose (on whatever level of choice we are
              capable), then I inherit what I do. What goes round comes round, in the way
              of karma.--Of course, I am here to guide my students, but to guide them to
              follow their own inner light, not some pre-scribed rules. And there is lots
              of work in mining, discovering that inner light (so its no glib matter, no
              easy thing, not "forget the rules and so anything goes", but a discovery out
              of chaos to harmony...).

              Likewise, if I go to the supermarket and shop thoughtlessly (following old
              ways about what's good to have on the dinner table, cliches, slogans, ads
              that appeal to fear, greed, selfish comfort), I am supporting the dark
              forces that work in factory farming and in animal testing and so on. At all
              levels, we are called to be awake, to think with heart.

              Love,
              elaine
              >From: Jo Ann Schwartz <sr_joanna@...>
              >Reply-To: anthroposophy@onelist.com
              >To: anthroposophy@onelist.com
              >CC: Steiner98 List <steiner98@...>
              >Subject: Re: [anthroposophy] "Language Rules"-Thoughtlessness
              >Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000 06:30:09 -0800 (PST)
              >
              >Hi Elaine,
              >
              >This is a partial response to your first post, which held a number of good
              >questions...
              >
              >I'm going to skip all the stuff about could we or couldn't we see the evil
              >in Eichmann's physiology-- whether via photography or personal
              >observation. (Although, for those who are interested in the Holocaust,
              >there is an interesting review by Eva Hoffman, "The Uses of Hell," in the
              >NY Review of Books (and a tip of the hat to Hilmar, who brought it to my
              >attention):
              >
              > http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWarchdisplay.cgi?20000309019R#top )
              >
              >I'm more interested in the questions you ask at the end of your post.
              >
              > > . . . what is occuring around/within me about which i am thoughtless,
              > > about which i am trapped in mind/heart numbing rules of language,
              > > cliches and old ways that entrap me and deaden my heart, my thought?
              >
              >In other words: in what ways might I be falling into the Luciferic trap of
              >becoming a 'moral automaton'**, unable to freely think from the heart and
              >thus find the correct action for THIS situation in which I find myself?
              >How often do we fail to "think the unthinkable and bear the unbearable"
              >because to do so would violate some group norm, some 'language rule' that
              >we have come to accept without questioning??
              >
              >After all, is this not the seductive trap of group-think--- that we need
              >not *think* at all, but merely accept and obey the wisdom of the group...
              >give up individual responsibility (and individual freedom) for the warm,
              >comforting embrace of some higher authority... of some vision of the way
              >things should be...
              >
              >Think of the courage it took for the Japanese Emperor to go against all
              >His advisors and centuries of tradition and perhaps even His own
              >beliefs.... to listen to His heart and say, "No more." And so to make that
              >historic broadcast and tell His people, "The time has come to think the
              >unthinkable and bear the unbearable...." To surrender not only His
              >country, but His divine nature... to become not a symbol, but an
              >individual human being, standing upright in and of himself.
              >
              >And so, as you note:
              > > ... even what appears as monstrous is a face of God and shall be
              > > transformed, redeemed by the whole, by the Love that is, that is in
              > > enlivened, heartfelt thinking embrace?
              >
              >Only through thinking with our hearts can we escape being "stuck in
              >cliches, in old ways, in pre-scribed forms, in obedience to some outer or
              >inner seductive monster..." Only through thinking with our hearts can we
              >"think the unthinkable and bear the unbearable." Only through thinking
              >with our hearts can we hope to become fully human...
              >
              >Love & light,
              >JoAnn
              >
              >** see: http://www.antronet.se/mellett/chiasma.htm and
              >http://www.steiner98.org/Archives/moral.html for more on the phenomenon of
              >moral behaviorism.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >__________________________________________________
              >Do You Yahoo!?
              >Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger.
              >http://im.yahoo.com

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