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Curative Eurythmy
GA 315

Lecture III

14 April 1921, Dornach

In order to proceed in an appropriate manner, we will prepare the grounds today for certain matters to be deepened physiologically and psychologically tomorrow, considering the forms which consonants take in eurythmic movement. In what has been developed as the form involved in consonantal movement consideration has been truly given to everything which must be taken into account when man attempts to penetrate into the outer world through speech. The person who sets himself the task of observing speech will see that man's confrontation with the outer world must consist on the one hand of living into the world vigorously; of making himself selfless and living out into the world. In the vowels he comes to himself; in the vowels he goes within and unfolds his activity there. In the consonants he becomes in a way one with the outer world although to varying degrees. These varying degrees of unification with the world are manifest in certain practices within language as well. In the development of the consonantal element in eurythmy, particularly in reference to the sensible-super-sensible observation of which I so often speak in introducing eurythmy performances,—it is necessary to take into consideration whether the human being objectifies himself. To discover whether man extroverts himself completely in order to grasp the spiritual element in the things outside him in a spoken sound, or if, despite this objectification of himself, he remains more within and does not go completely out of himself but instead reproduces the external within himself. That is a major distinction, by reason of which I must ask Mrs. Baumann to be so good and show us first of all the movement for “H”. Now please disregard this H-movement altogether and Mrs. Baumann will demonstrate the F-movement. And now keep an eye on what you can observe here in these two different movements. You can observe what is present by virtue of the human instinct in the attempt to enunciate the sound in question. Consider the pronunciation of H: actually you say H-a, you follow up with a vowel. It is impossible to sound a consonant without it being tinged by a vowel, you follow it up with an “A”. The pure consonant is vocalized, combined with a vowel. If you consider the “F” you will find that man's linguistic instinct places an “E” in front of it: e-F. Here the opposite occurs: an E is set before it.

Through the foregoing you will perceive that when man utters an “H” he makes a greater effort to uncover through speech the spiritual in the external object; when he utters an “F” his effort is directed more towards reexperiencing the spiritual within himself. Therefore the manner in which the consonant arises is entirely different, according to whether the vowel tinges the consonant from the front or from the back, if I may use this manner of expression in respect to the nature of consonantal articulation. This you will find conveyed in the form you have observed.

Perhaps Miss Wolfram will do the “H” once again. H: here you have an energetic unfolding in the outer world, one doesn't wish to remain in oneself, one wants to go out and live in the external. F: you see the decided effort to avoid entering into the outer world too sharply, to remain in the inner.

Now when one takes this into consideration, one can carry on from here to form a mental picture of various matters which, although they must become part of eurythmy, were, to begin with, unnecessary as far as we have been concerned with eurythmy as art, but which will become necessary the more this art is extended to other languages. The moment one says not “ef” but “fi”, in that moment it is a different matter; in that moment one attempts to embrace the external with the sound as well. This is indicative of an important historical fact: In ancient Greece people attempted to grasp the external even in those things in respect to which modern man has become inward. You see how one can follow into the outermost fringes of man's experience what I have expressed for example, in The Riddles of Philosophy:1Published by the Anthroposophic Press, Inc., New York, 1973. this going out and taking hold in the external world of what man today already experiences entirely inwardly in his ego. The reason why spiritual science is not accepted on the grounds of such things is solely that the people of our civilization are in general too lazy. They have to take too many things into account in order to come to the truth, and they want to make it easier for themselves. But that just won't do. They want to make everything easier for themselves; and that won't do.

That, for the present, in respect to one element which flowed into the formation of the consonants. If we want to understand the formation of consonants in the field of eurythmy, then we should consider a second element which I believe people pay less attention to nowadays in teaching, even in physiology, speech physiology, than the third element which we will come to in a moment. In order to form an impression, I will ask you to compare once again. Here it is important that one form a contemplative picture. Naturally, one cannot penetrate to the very end of that which one has in such a picture, to the concept.

Perhaps Mrs. Baumann will be so good and make the H again, and once the tone has faded away, Mrs. Baumann will make a D for us. One must pay attention in this case to the following: When you contemplate the H, you will find the movement for it deviates greatly to begin with from what takes place in speaking it; since—in respect to the characteristic of which I am thinking at the moment—the eurythmic element must be polar to the actual process in speech. You know that the speech process as I presented it the day before yesterday is a reflecting back from the larynx. The eurythmic process must express this outwardly. It expresses it in movement. In certain instances one must go over to the exactly opposite pole. This is particularly characteristic of H and D; in the case of other consonants this element must be toned down. Now, what sort of a sound is H? H is esentially a breath sound. The H is actually brought into being through blowing. In the case of H you have a decided shoving thrust2stossige wirkung in eurythmy where you have to blow. When you utter “D” you have this thrusting effect in the pronunciation. We must polarize this by transforming it into the characteristic movement that was present in D. Thus the thrusting quality of speech is lamed when one conveys the sound through movement.

So you see that precisely this characteristic must be taken into particular account, when one has either a breath sound or a plosive sound. Now sounds are not only either breath or plosive sounds. But by what reason are they one or the other? You see, when one has a decided breath sound, one expresses by means of the blowing the fact that one really wants to go out of oneself; in the thrusting, that this going out of oneself is difficult, that one would like to remain within. For this reason the eurythmic transposition of the sound must take place in the manner you have seen.

Now one also has sounds that carefully connect the inward with the outward; sounds that are actually physiologically so constituted that with them one states that one is bringing to a standstill, arresting, that in which one would like to be active in such a manner that the inward would immediately become outward, where one would enter into the movement immediately with the whole human being. This is decidedly evident in only one sound in our language: the R, which is, however, for this reason the most inclusive sound; one would like to run after the speech organism with every limb, as I would like to express it, when one says R. Actually with R one strives to bring this pursuit to rest. The lips want to follow when they pronounce the labial R, and bring this running-after to a halt, the tongue wants to follow when it speaks the lingual R, and finally the palate wants to follow when the palatal R sounds. These three R's are distinctly different from one another, but are nevertheless one; in eurythmy they are expressed thus (Mrs. Baumann: R). The bringing-in-swing of what one usually brings to a standstill is expressed. Thus it is precisely the running after the movement of the sound that comes to expression in the R. And when one wants to bring the other element to expression, one can express the labial R by carrying the movement further downwards; the lingual R can be made more in the horizontal and the palatal R rather more upwards. By this means one can modify the R-sound in the eurythmic movement. But you see that the form is determined by leaving the vibrations of the R in the background and bringing the “running-after” to expression.

A similar sound where one has, not a vibrating, but a sort of wave in the movement is the L (Miss Wolfram: L). You sec that there is something of the same movement in it as in the R; but the running-after is mild and comes to rest. It is a wave rather than a vibration that comes to expression.

That is what is connected innerly, physiologically, with the shading through the vowel element of the consonantal sound, and with the shading through feeling, which already leads to a greater extent into the physical. One arrives at the outermost division of the sounds by considering the organs; if we compare once again the respective movements we will arrive at the most extreme, the most external principles of division through our contemplative picture. (Mrs. Baumann: B) That is a B, and now we will continue directly perhaps with a T. (Mrs. Baumann: I). Now you can see from the position—which as the third element must be taken into account and which makes itself quite apparent to the sensible-super-sensible contemplation—that in the case of B we have to do with a labial sound and in the case of T with a dental sound. (Miss Wolfram: K) K: here one starts with the position and the essential lies in the movement. Isere we have to do with a palatal sound which in its pronounciation, in the tone in which it is spoken is the quietest, but which is transformed in movement into its polar opposite when performed outwardly in eurythmy. The consonants overlap in respect to their characteristics; one division extends into another. The following may serve as an aid.

Take the labial sounds—I'll write out only the most distinctive of them: V, B, P, F, M. You can determine to what extent the vowel colouring is involved by pronouncing the sounds; I don't need to indicate that. Let us take the dental sounds D, T, S, Sh, L, the English Th, and N. And now the palatal sounds: G, K, Ch, and the French Ng, more or less. We will have to write the R in everywhere, since it has its nuances everywhere:

        Labial sounds:    V, B, P, F, M             R
        Dental sounds:    D, T, S, Sh, L, (Th), N   R
        Palatal sounds:   G, K, Ch, Ng              R

Considering the process of division from the other point of view now, I will underline with white where we have to do with a definite breath sound: V, F, S, Sh and Ch as well, more or less. These would be the decided breath sounds. I will underline in red where we have to do with what are clearly plosive sounds: B, P, M, D, T, N, and then perhaps G and K. The vibratory sound is R. We have to do with a distinct undulent sound—which, because of the soft transformation in the movement, must be in a sense of an inward character—fundamentally only in the case of L.

These three organizational principles—the vowel colouring, the blowing, thrusting, vibrating and undulating, and all that which has to do with the external division (into dental labial and palatal sounds; the ed.)—all this comes to expression in the forms given for eurythmy. It must be clear to you, of course, to what degree these principles of division affect each other, however. When we have to do with L, for example, we have to do with a distinct dental sound which must have all the characteristics of a dental sound, and then we have to do with a gliding sound, with an undulant sound, which must have the characteristics of a wave. Apart from that, it has a strong connection to the inward. We have to do with a colouring from within outwards, at least in our language. We don't say “le”, but “el”; here we have the transition from older forms in which people reached yearningly into the exterior world and where as a result a word was used in order to express such an event, in order to bring this going over into the external to proper expression. Thus in each of the letters we have to do with a likeness of that which is taking place inwardly.

Before we consider the consonants individually, let us contemplate the following. Yesterday we were able to show that A—which we also studied in its metamorphosis—has to do with all those forces in man that make him greedy, which organize him according to animal nature: the A in fact lies nearest to the animal nature in man, and in a certain sense one can say that when the A is pronounced it sounds out of the animality of man. And certainly as spiritual investigation confirms A is the sound which was the very earliest to appear in the course of both the phylogenetic evolution as well as the ontogenetic evolution of man. In ontogenetic evolution it is somewhat hidden of course; there is a false evolution as well, as you know. The A was the first sound to appear in the evolution of mankind, however, resounding to begin with entirely out of the animal nature. And when we tend towards A with the consonants, we are still calling on what are animal forces in man. As you could see yesterday, the whole sound is actually formed accordingly. If we use the sound therapeutically in the manner in which it presented itself to our souls yesterday we can combat that which makes children, and grown-ups too, into smaller and larger animals. With such exercises we can have very respectable results in the de-animalization of man.

And now let us go on to the sound U, for example. We said yesterday that this is the sound we use therapeutically when a person cannot stand. You saw hat yesterday. It is the sound which in a certain respect expresses its physiologic-pathologic connection already in the manner in which it is formed in speech. The U is spoken with the mouth and the openings between the teeth constricted to the greatest degree and with the lips somewhat extended, in such a way, however, that the mouth opening is narrowed and the lips can vibrate. You can see that in speaking one seeks an essentially outward movement with the U. In the pronounciation of U the attempt to characterize something moving predominates. Thus with the eurythmic U the physiologic opposite occurs: the ability to hold one's stand is called forth. This is present in the U in artistic eurythmy as well, at least as a suggestion.

If you now take a look at the other vowels you will find a progressive internalization. In the case of the O you have the lips pushed together towards the front and the opening of the mouth reduced in size—there is at least an attempt to reduce the size. This is transformed into the polar opposite in the encompassing gesture of the 0-movement in eurythmy. Precisely in such things the natural connections are to be perceived. In the manner in which O is employed in speech certain forces are present. And in languages in which O predominates one will find that the people have the greatest propensity to become obese. That may really be taken as a guideline for the study of the physiologic processes connected with speech. If one were to develop a language consisting principally of modifications of O, where people had to carry out the characteristic mouth and lip formation of the O continuously, they would all become pot-bellied. If with the O, on the one hand, one has this propensity to become big-bellied, as I would like to call it, it is easy to understand why when reversed the O represents on the other hand that which combats this obesity when it is carried out eurythmically and in the metamorphosis demonstrated yesterday.

The state of affairs is different with E, for example. A language that is rich in E will engender skinny people, weaklings. And that is related to what I said yesterday about the treatment of thin people, and thus of weaklings, in relation to the significance of E. You will remember that I said that in the case of weaklings particularly the E-movement with its given modification is to be applied.

Now in respect to all these matters it is necessary to take one thing into account, however: if one considers the forms outwardly one does not come to the truth of the matter; one must grasp them inwardly in the process of their becoming. One must concentrate less on what comes to outward expression and more on the tendency involved. The tendency to become fat can be combated by means of the O and the tendency to remain thin by the E. Attention must be drawn to these matters because when eurythmy is used for therapeutic purposes, it is necessary to take the forces that are present in the upper man and tend to a widening, and the forces present in the lower man tending to the linear, more into consideration. Thus I must say that when man utters the O he actually broadens the living element.

Figure 1

You see, when I draw it roughly, the head of man is in a way a sphere and spiritual-scientifically it is a proper reproduction of the earth sphere. It is a copy of all those forces that are centralized in the sphere of the earth and it is developed by that which lies in the forces of the moon. This latter builds it up in such a manner that it becomes a sort of earth-sphere. Of course, this is all actually connected with cosmology, cosmogeny. As the earth-phase proceeded out of the moon-phase, so out of the forces that are so powerfully at work in building up the human head—which of itself, of course, intends to become a sphere and is modified only by the breast and the other part of the body being attached to it and altering the spherical form—so out of the moon-building forces the head is formed. If it were left to itself the head would become a proper sphere. That is not the case because the other two parts of the human organism are connected with the head and influence its shape.

Figure 2

When one pronounces the O one tries to bring that which finds its expression in the spherical form of the head to expression in the entire etheric head. One makes the effort to form a second head for oneself (see the violet in the drawing) and one can really say that in uttering the O man puffs himself up like his head—he puffs himself up, he blows himself out and awakens thereby the forces that give him at the other pole the tendency to become fat. These things can really be taken pictorially as well. His inflating of his own head gives him the tendency to become fat. When one wants to counteract this tendency to become, etherically speaking, a fat-head—not really a fat-head, but etherically a fat head—to become a big head, then one must attempt to round it off from the other side, to take it back into oneself. And that is the protest of the fathead. Therefore an O is fanned at the opposite pole. All the individual sounds have a nuance of feeling, namely, which is deeply established in the organism, because it lies in the unconscious; hence the import of the inner being of the sound. For the person who looks at the matter in a super-sensible manner the frog who would like to blow himself up into an ox, you see, is the one from whom a cannon-like O tone would continuously proceed if he were able to fulfill his intention. That is the peculiarity of it—one must explain by means of such things if one wishes to understand these matters inwardly.

With the E it is distinctly the reverse. In E one wants to take hold of oneself inwardly, wants to contract together inwardly. For that reason there is the touching of oneself in the eurythmy, this becoming aware of oneself: you become aware of yourself, simply, when you place the right arm upon the left, just as when you feel an object outside yourself, when you take a hold of it, you become aware of yourself. It would be even more clearly expressed if you simply grasped the right arm with the left hand—in art only an indication of all these things can be given—when you grasp the right arm with the left hand you are feeling yourself. This contacting oneself has come to expression especially in the eurythmic E. And this touching oneself is carried out throughout the whole human organism. You can study this touching of oneself simply by studying the relationship of the nerve Process in the human back, those that ordinary physiology mistakenly call the motory nerves and those that are called sensory.

Here where the motor nerve, which is basically a sensory nerve too, comes together with the sensory nerve, a similar sort of clasping occurs. The fact is that the nerve-strands on the human back continually form an E. In this forming of the E lies the way in which man's inward perception of himself which is factually differentiated, in the brain, comes into being. Yesterday we attempted to reproduce this E-building which actually takes place in a plane; you will find that what we attempted to reproduce shows through the outward movement and the position of the movement how this inward E-making in man sums itself up into the vertical. As the head puffs itself out and wants to become a horn-blowing cherub, this E-process, this pulling-oneselftogether-in-points, sums itself up in the vertical, in the upright line. It is a continuous and successive fastening together of E's which stand one above another; that expresses clearly what one observes taking place in weaklings. They have the tendency to continuously stretch their etheric bodies. They want to extend the etheric body rather than to pull it together into a point, which would be the real antithesis to the activity of the head. That is not the case however: they try to stretch the etheric body thereby making a repetition of the point. And this extension which makes its appearance in people who are becoming weak—not the extension in the physical, but in the etheric body—will be counteracted by shaping that E of which we spoke yesterday.

So I believe you will see now how there is an inward connection between the eurythmic element involved and the human formative tendencies, how what is present in him as formative tendencies has been drawn out of the human being. The fact is that these formative tendencies which express themselves first in growth, in the forming of man, in his configuration, become specialized and localized once again in the development of the speech organism, this special organism. There these formative tendencies—which are otherwise spread out over the entire person—are to an ex-tent accumulated. In developing eurythmy we turn and go back again. We proceed from the localized tendency to the whole man, thus placing in opposition to the specialization of the human organization in the speech organism another specialization, the specialization in the will-organism. The whole human being is indeed an expression of his volitional nature insofar as he is metabolic and limb organism throughout. One can move this or that part of the head too, and therefore the head is also in a certain sense limb-organism. That can be demonstrated by those people who are capable in this respect of a hit more than others. People who can wiggle their ears and so on, they can show very clearly how the principle of movement of the limbs, how the limb-nature extends into the organization of the head. The whole human being is in this respect an expression of the volitional. When we go on to eurythmy we express that once again. Before we proceed to working out the sounds particularly, to the special manner of forming them and further to the combinations of sounds tomorrow, I would like to speak in closing of something historical.

The movement of the will and the movement of the intellect, you see, constitute two sorts of evolution of power which proceed in man at different velocities. Man's intellect develops quickly in our age, volition slowly, so that as part of the whole evolution of mankind we have already surpassed our will with our intellect. In our civilization it is generally manifest that the evolution of the intellect has overtaken the evolution of the will. The people of today are intensely intellectual, which precisely does not imply that they can do much with their intellect; they are strongly intellectual, but they hardly know what to do with their intellect; for that reason they know so little intellectually. But what they do know intellectually they treat in such a manner as though within it they could function with a certain certainty. Will develops slowly. And to practise eurythmy is, apart from everything else, an attempt to bring the will back into the whole evolution of mankind again. If eurythmy is to appear as a therapy the following must be pointed out: It must be said that the over-development of the intellect expresses itself particularly in the organic side effects of the evolution of speech as well. Our speech development today in our modern civilization is actually already something which is becoming inhuman through its superhuman qualities insofar as we learn languages today in such a manner that we have so little living feeling left for what lies in the words. The words are actually only signs. What sort of feeling do people still have for that which lies in words? I would like to know how many people go through the world and become aware in the course of learning the German language for example, that the rounded form which I have just drawn is expressed in the word “Kopf” (Head), which has a connection with “Kohl” (cabbage), and for which reason one also says “Kohlkopf” (cabbagehead), which is actually only a repetition; the rounding is metamorphosed according to the situation. That is what is expressed here. In the Romance languages, “testa, testieren”, is expressed more what comes from within, the working of the soul through the head. People have no more feeling for the distinctions within language; language has become abstract. When you walk, you walk with you feet. Why do we say “Füsse” (feet)? You see, that is a metamorphosis of the word “Furche” (furrow) which came about because it was seen that one traces something like a furrow when one walks. The pictorial element in language has been completely lost; if one wishes to bring this pictorial element back into language, then one must turn to eurythmy.

Every word that is experienced unpictorially is actually an inward cause of illness; I am speaking in coarse words now—but then we have only coarse words—of something which expresses itself in the finer human organism. Civilized mankind suffers chronically today from the effects which learning to speak abstractly, which the failure to experience words pictorially, has upon it. The results are so far-reaching that the accompanying organic side effects express themselves as a very strong tendency towards irregularities in the rhythmic system and a refusal to function of the metabolic system in those people who have made their language abstract. However, we can actually do something about what is being spoilt in man today through language, which he acquires of course in early childhood, and which, if it is acquired in an unpictorial way, really produces conditions leading later on to all kinds of illnesses. We can actually do something about overcoming this with the help of therapeutic eurythmy. Thus curative eurythmy may be introduced in a thoroughly organic manner into the course of therapy as a whole.

It is truly so: the person who understands that developing oneself spiritually has always something to do with becoming ill—we must take becoming ill in the course of spiritual development into the bargain—must also taken into consideration that one can fight, not alone through outward physical studies, but also by outward means, this process of becoming ill which is due to our civilization. We put soul and spirit into the movements of eurythmy and combat thereby what, on the other side, soul and spirit do themselves, though often in earliest childhood, in such a manner that the effect of their activity when it develops in later life must be felt to be the cause of illness.