Berlin, 26 March 1914
Often I have indicated how spiritual science wants to position itself in the spiritual life of the present. I have also often spoken about what it can be for the human beings and what it can bring to them, and I will do this in detail in the last talk. I have also pointed in the course of these winter talks repeatedly to the fact that one can understand that on one side numerous human beings of the present, maybe more than they already know it, strive instinctively for this spiritual science out of the unconscious soul forces. On the other side, one can understand that from the general attitude of our time opposition arises against spiritual science. The spiritual researcher also understands the objections, although they are based on prejudice. However, the whole attitude of our civilisation to a possible spiritual science depends to no small measure on the fact that one does not want to realise how spiritual science can basically understand all other worldviews and can completely acknowledge the reasons which are brought forward by this or that side against it. I have drawn your attention to the fact that spiritual science wants to be the large circle which extends the human knowledge of all fields of life, and that all other worldviews are small circles within this large circle, which, of course believe to be right from their viewpoints. Spiritual science can mostly affirm the positive aspects of these worldviews. However, one cannot say this of the other worldviews that one asserts today, in the same sense. Since just on the following point of view one will not position oneself: this or that — may it be put forward for materialism, spiritualism or realism — is to be regarded as one-sided in a certain respect, and only by overcoming this one-sidedness one can attain knowledge satisfying the human being. In its fields, that worldview which must appear as one-sided is often fully entitled, so that it can produce truth at its place. Spiritual science cannot stop there recognising these truths as something all-embracing, but it has to go over to putting them at their right place. That is why we deal in particular in spiritual-scientific fields with the opposition of that worldview which believes to stand firmly on the ground of modern science, and which must — I say expressly “must” -- regard spiritual science from its point of view as fantasy and daydreaming.
I choose a form of worldview that believes to stand strictly on the firm ground of scientific methodology. I want to characterise this worldview somewhat radically. It says that one has to consider the physical, chemical and mineral forces and substances of the human being if one wants to understand the human being and gets clear about the fact that, as any other being is composed according to the principles of nature, also the human being, as the crown of creation, is composed.
This worldview thinks, if it has succeeded once in getting to know all natural principles and substances that work in the human nervous system up to the subtlest processes of the brain, then it recognises, as far as it is scientifically possible, how the human thinking, feeling, and willing arise from the physical laws. It is an entitled ideal of this worldview to understand the human being wholly scientifically.
I know that I must cause, indeed, contradiction from some researchers taking action a little more seriously who already say today that one has left that more materialistic worldview which believes there that the human being is understood completely if he is understood completely according to the outer physical processes. However, it does not depend on that that one admits there or there already that one has not understood the human being if one knows the wholly natural processes that go forward in his nervous system up to the brain. However, that is the point that in spite of this consciousness even in the scientific methods also of the philosophically thinking contemporaries nothing else exists than the view, which positions itself on these natural processes. Since most people who believe to be based on science reject a view as it is meant here as spiritual science.
The view of spiritual science has to admit on basis of its research results that with any thinking, with any research which can survey the processes of the sensory world and can pursue them up to the processes in the nervous system one can find nothing else than the wholly natural human being. However, this wholly natural human being is only the cover of that which we got to know as going over from one life on earth to another which experiences an existence in a purely spiritual world between death and new birth after every life on earth. I tried to show this in the last talk. Spiritual science must realise that this everlasting must remain concealed in the human nature to any philosophy that wants to turn only to the forces accessible to this view of nature. One can investigate this everlasting in the human nature only with forces that one attains with an inner development, as I have described it more exactly in my Occult Science. An Outline and in the book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?. However, even the philosophers who stress the necessity of spiritual life, yes, even the philosopher who has become famous in such weird way, Rudolf Eucken (1846-1926, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1908) who speaks in his essayistic philosophy of the “spirit” repeatedly, restricts himself to this natural human being. He nowhere betrays that he has a sensation of the fact that spirit and spiritual world can be investigated only with the mental forces that certain spiritual-scientific methods bring out of the soul.
Spiritual science is not the adversary of such scientific views, also not of such philosophical worldviews, but it has to show their limits, has to show what they are capable of and what they can show. Concerning this standpoint of spiritual science to the other worldviews, I have also emphasised here repeatedly that it feels in harmony with those spirits of the human development who indeed did not yet have spiritual science. Nevertheless, because they had a thorough inkling of truth from their deepest feeling, they spoke in a clear, understandable way where they expressed this inkling.
This applies to two personalities of the nineteenth century, to Goethe and to the less known Robert Hamerling (1830-1889, Austrian poet)) about whom I would like to speak today. Both poets have dealt with a problem like from a deep spiritual-scientific feeling, but poetically, while I want to stress the spiritual-scientific colouring of this problem.
I would like to ask: could not the thought even arise in a head: what originates really if one invents the human being as a being in such a way that one does not count on the everlasting forces slumbering in the human soul? Which picture of the human being originates if one only uses the natural forces and substances and the physical principles?
The spiritual scientist can assess such a picture only from his point of view. If you develop the forces slumbering in your soul to spiritual beholding, you experience yourself in the soul so that you experience and recognise that these abilities are not bound to the senses and not to the forces of the brain. You experience this way that you are really with your soul beyond your senses, beyond the brain, beyond the body, yes, you face everything that is bound to the body as an outer object. Now you face what you consider, otherwise, as belonging to your ego, your body, as you face the table. You face your destiny too, as far as it takes place in the outer world. You have become a new human being to whom that what you were before has become objective and outside you.
If you consider the human being in such a way, you attain the possibility to assess how much is valid what one can think up as a picture of the human being with only natural substances, natural laws and abilities. One realises that this picture is something very real; but for the human being it is not real in the sensory world, but it is a part of the human being, it penetrates and invigorates the human being.
Those listeners who remember the ambitious attempt eight days ago have heard that the human soul, after it has gone through the purely spiritual life between death and a new birth, enters a new earth-life with forces developed in this life, that it is attracted by a parental couple and that it adapts itself to the inherited forces of father and mother. However, the spiritual researcher realises that the human soul descends to a new embodiment on earth, must wrap itself during the penetration into the physical embodiment in forces that are as it were an essence of the whole physical nature. Before the everlasting human being hurries to his embodiment, he has to attract as it were forces and substances from the spiritual substance by which he hardens the picture that he has developed purely spiritually like a prototype for the next embodiment and wants then to embody himself physically within the line of inheritance. We can say that with the human embodiment an intermediate link puts itself between the completely spiritual which prevails between death and a new birth, and that what stands then in the physical world as a human being before us. In this physical human, we just have what has come from father and mother, and that what comes from the former embodiments, the spiritual-mental. However, in between is, one would like to say, a purely etheric human being, a still spiritual human being that is invisible, supersensible, that contains, however, the forces in himself which are like an essence of the whole physical world process. It is strange: if the human being believes to be on the firm ground of natural sciences and develops a corresponding picture of the human being, he gets to a picture that is not real in this physical human being who contains the everlasting soul. It is a mere abstraction that works, however, in this physical human being, it is that in which the human being wraps himself up before he descends to the physical embodiment.
It is a real being what the human being snatches from the everlasting spiritual life and forces into the life between birth and death what prevails in us between birth and death, what is spiritual, but what lifts us from the physical and what hands over us to the spirit. However, it is not physically visible but to a higher beholding.
Hence, the strange fact emerges that those are not completely wrong who believe to think materialistically correctly, while they form a fantastic picture of the human being completely according to the principles of nature. This picture has meaning for the human being between birth and death, and causes during the life on earth that the soul forgets its spiritual life as it were. However, it does not exist as a thing of nature with mere physical substances and principles, but it penetrates the human nature only. This link between the outer and the everlasting human being walks through the physical world.
Goethe considered this thing as something “supersensible-sensory,” one would like to say, and he characterised it as Homunculus in the second part of his Faust. The materialistic worldview develops fantastically that what Goethe meant with his Homunculus as the picture of the human being. However, this picture of the human being does not exist in truth. It impregnates the human being; it divests him of his everlasting meaning between birth and death and works in the physical-sensory nature.
This latter is the third that comes to the other two. While the materialistic thinker believes to put the most real before us with his picture of the human being; he puts an abstraction, he puts something supersensible. This ideal of modern monism, this Homunculus, that what the modern monism would like to describe as a “human being,” Goethe used it in the second part of his Faust for a particular mission. — I can indicate these things only briefly not to drag the talk out too much.
Faust has experienced what is known from the first part of the drama under the guidance — or by the seduction — of Mephistopheles. He has gone through all phases and tortures of the desire of knowledge, has experienced serious human guilt, and now in the second part Goethe shows how Faust is snatched away from the usual imagination. Faust shall not get the possibility to penetrate farther into the world, so that he works up his way with the usual consciousness again from everything that his soul has experienced. A night is presented to us, it means, Faust's consciousness is removed at the beginning of the second part. From the spiritual worlds, forces are put in his sleeping consciousness in which he does not immediately become aware of that; however, they become effective, as Goethe suggests, in Faust's soul where the everlasting forces prevail, so that he can advance. Hence, spirits speak in his sleep, like Ariel, and others. Therefore, he feels “life's pulses beating with fresh vitality” (verse 4679); he is given back to life and can begin the struggle for existence anew.
I want to refrain from all other things and state only that one demands from him to conjure up the pictures of Paris and Helen. Faust himself gets the desire to behold Helen; and one understands it after Goethe's portrayal that he himself gets this desire.
What a figure is Mephistopheles? He places himself beside Faust as the spiritual being that wants to keep the human being in the outer-sensory world, in the natural existence. Mephistopheles is absolutely a spiritual being, but a being that denies the spiritual world towards the human being. Faust has to demand from Mephistopheles that he enables him to penetrate into those fields of existence where the everlasting-mental of Helen exists. Mephistopheles can give him only the key of this world; since it is the world of the mothers, the everlasting forces of spiritual existence. Now a conversation develops in the second part of Faust where the spiritual-scientific attitude of Faust and the refusal of this attitude by Mephistopheles face each other. Mephistopheles regards that world as nothing into which Faust wants to penetrate. However, Faust replies to him: “in your Nothingness I hope to find my All” (verse 6256). As to Mephistopheles the world into which Faust wants to penetrate, is nothing. — Faust meets the primal figure, the everlasting of Helen in the realm of the mothers. He brings up it. He is immature to face it. I do not want to mention everything that still happens, but only this one: Faust is not so purified as in such striving someone who wants to face the spiritual really has to purify the forces. He approaches Helen as if she is a sensory appearance and the result is that Helen paralyzes him. His consciousness is snatched away from him because of his violent passions. In paralysis, his dream emerges which leads him into the realm where Helen has lived.
Now the big question originated for Goethe: how can one continue the life of Faust poetically? Goethe was no symbolic poet; he was a realistic poet, even if spiritually more realistic. The question originated in him: Faust must be able to face Helen as a human being, as she lived as a human being. She has to descend to the realm of the human beings, she has to embody herself, and Faust must be able to face Helen as a human being: how can one do this in the spiritual-realistic sense?
When Goethe wrote this scene in the twenties of the nineteenth century, he remembered former studies. What he had studied in his youth as spiritual science, affected him more and more. Hence, the second part of this drama is riper all the more what caused, however, that some people regarded this second part as a miserable product of the old Goethe because they had no use for it. Goethe asked, how can I use my spiritual-scientific studies to bring Faust where one has to search the spiritual of Helen? There he remembered what he had read in the book De generatione rerum naturalium by Paracelsus (1493-1541), he remembered the “Homunculus.” Paracelsus declares in this book how a picture of a completely natural human being can be produced, so that one can see him really. — It would lead too far to go into that what Paracelsus shows, simply because his explanations are not at all satisfactory for us today. I want to go into the matter more in the style of modern spiritual science, and not into that what Paracelsus showed.
Paracelsus talks of the fact that one can mix different substances and treat them according to the methods of his time. If one goes into it how the human beings thought in this respect at his time, it mattered not so much how the substances were mixed how they decomposed and combined, but it mattered that the human being stood before the chemical processes and let them work on his soul. The effect of these processes caused a clairvoyance to be produced by other means today. Then one beheld that figure which Paracelsus describes which is really a paradigm of the human being, a little human being, but only radiant, without body, not embodied. These are the essentials in the sense of modern spiritual science that those processes produced that condition of consciousness while the Homunculus became visible.
So Goethe said to himself tying on Paracelsus: this Homunculus is a being which stands between the supersensible and the sensory, namely in such a way that it can bring the human beings down from the everlasting into the physical-sensory world which works in the human being as a force but is not embodied. Goethe moulded the Homunculus into a poetic figure. For he presents a spirit of such kind at first about which one can say in the sense of Faust, such spirits look greedily for treasures and are happy if they find earthworms. Goethe presents such a spirit in Wagner, a figure that is really an ideal of people with modern worldview who look for treasures and are happy if they find the laws of the earthworms.
To two sides the picture of Wagner arose to Goethe. Since there is beside a Faust book also a Wagner book first; and then there a strange man lived at Goethe's time: His name was Johann Jacob Wagner (1775-1845, philosopher). This man stated that one gets a little human being really, if one mixes substances and so on in the retort according to certain methods. From these two Wagner figures, Goethe melted down a figure, the Wagner of the poem. Thus, the figure of that Wagner originated who stands before his retort and mixes substances and waits until the “well-behaved little human being,” the Homunculus, originates. He would not originate without further ado. Neither in the retort of Johann Jacob Wagner nor in that of the Goethean Wagner a human being would originate, or what some modern scientists imagine as the human being, unless Mephistopheles slipped in the processes, unless the spiritual power of Mephistopheles worked in the background. A purely spiritual being originates in Wagner's retort that way, it is radiant, it wishes, however, to be embodied and it does not lack mental faculties, but it lacks efficiency — a being that the materialistic worldview considers as the human being:
He's well supplied with mental faculties,
but sorely lacks substantial attribute.
So far he weighs no more than does his vial
but hopes that he may soon obtain a body. (Verses 8249-8-9-8252)
Homunculus wants to embody himself, but he is a being only living in the spiritual. Since those present a bad abstraction who search the “real.” However, Wagner can only believe that he has caused the super-creation in reality. He stands before the retort and believes:
It works! the moving mass grows clearer,
the super-creation (conviction) the more certain; (Verses 6855-6-5-6856)
This passage is so little understood in the Faust literature even today that people believe that it concerns a “conviction” (German: Überzeugung). However, Goethe means it in the sense of Nietzsche's “superman” (Über-mensch) as super-creation (Über-zeugung).
Homunculus turns out to be a being that belongs to the spiritual world. Since he attacks Faust immediately in a weird way. Faust lives in dreams of ancient Greece. Homunculus is clairvoyant; he beholds everything that Faust is dreaming. Why? Because Goethe imagines him in the spiritual world, not emerging from the physical world. The human being has it as forces in himself. There Homunculus loses his abstraction. One will even concede to the monists that this abstraction would be clairvoyant if they beheld it in the spiritual world where it is real. Since Homunculus, the human being, as Ludwig Büchner (1824-1899, philosopher) and others invented him exists as a spiritual being and is a clairvoyant being in the spiritual world. However, a person like Büchner would not suppose this. Hence, Homunculus can really become the leader in the regions where Helen shall reincarnate where she shall appear and face Faust. However, Homunculus must appropriate the forces for that only which are in the physical nature apart from everything else.
Homunculus as a clairvoyant being becomes the leader of Faust in the Classical Walpurgis night. There he gets advice from the ancient philosophers, from Thales and Anaxagoras, from Proteus also, how he could get to a natural existence. He who wants so much to be embodied, who “is well supplied with mental faculties,” but even more, “he sorely lacks substantial attribute.” Nevertheless, if once the materialists realise how that what we imagine fantastically could get to natural existence?! Proteus advises to develop through all realms of nature. Goethe's tip to that is great where it concerns the passage through the plant realm, Homunculus says there:
I like the way the air smells fresh and green!
(German: Es grunelt so, und mir behagt der Duft!) (Verse 8266)
The verb “gruneln” is derived from “becoming green” to show the effective fresh life of the plant realm. However, one thing is said to Homunculus: that he can get on this way only to the time when the human being comes into being. He is the mediator between the bodily and the everlasting. When it concerns the birth he must submerge head first into the natural forces, must be taken up in the merely cosmic elements. Hence, one says to Homunculus, experience all that, and that he has “lots of time before you must be human” (verse 8326). Then one tells him:
just don't aspire to the higher places,
for once you have become a human being
you've reached the end of everything. (Verses 8330-8332)
How wonderfully is that in harmony with the mission of Homunculus with the process of human incarnation; since if he has become a human being, he completely goes into the human nature. Hence, one says to him, stay here, do not aspire to higher places (German: Orten and not Orden = medals (or classes) as in most editions). - Here, one must say “places.” For the copyist made a mistake there. This part of the Faust exists only as a duplicate, and because Goethe spoke with Frankfurt accent, the writer understood Orden (“medals”) instead of Orten (“places”). The modern commentators have believed that already the old Proteus spoke of “medals,” one of the unhappiest ideas that slipped in the Faust literature.
Goethe portrays the merging of Homunculus into the elements splendidly where Helen should originate where she should face Faust, so that her everlasting unites with the forces that come from the elements, so that she can enter the earthly existence. The sirens say:
What miraculous fire transfigures our waves,
that break on each other and shatter and sparkle?
Lights wave and hover, the brightness comes nearer,
what moves in the darkness is pure incandescence,
and all is enveloped in eddies of fire.
Let Eros now rule, the creator of all! (Verses 8473-8479)
That is: if the human being enters the physical existence from the eternally spiritual by love, Eros, then one can clairvoyantly behold this merging in waves. “Waves” are meant spiritually. Hence, one says:
Hail to Ocean and the waves
now embraced by sacred fire!
Hail to Water! Hail to Fire!
Hail this strange and rare event!
Hail to Air and its soft breezes!
Hail to Earth's mysterious depths!
To you four, o Elements,
Here we offer solemn praise! (Verses 8480-8487)
That is: Homunculus is now taken up in the elements, and Helen appears in the third act. The reincarnated Helen appears who does not smash Faust.
Thus, Goethe knew how to use the figure of Homunculus poetically. Thus, Homunculus is also in Goethe's eyes that in the human being that leads a completely mechanical existence in which purely mechanical forces prevail. However, the human being is the highest member of creation because these forces dissolve when they enter into him. However, what the human being is not in reality he can be it in his imagination. Out of human freedom, he can get an idea of his ideal and that he can deny his everlasting spiritual which he does not want to take into consideration, and that he can imagine: I am only a being that consists of completely natural substances and forces. Then he can also live in a corresponding manner.
In a time which produces materialism in theory which thinks in theory in the described way, it is not harmless that it has something in its whole attitude that denies the everlasting spiritual and makes just that the natural human being what we have got to know as Homunculus. A certain desire must be there to develop the Homunculus forces particularly; then one has taste to a worldview that regards this Homunculus as the human being.
In the sixties of the nineteenth century, a weird catchword circulated in psychology. One has always believed of psychology that the human beings would not go so far into Homunculism in relation to the soul that they wanted to know nothing about the soul and accept the purely bodily only. However, there the catchword “psychology without soul” emerged (by Friedrich Albert Lange in his History of Materialism, 1866) — up to Wundt (Wilhelm W., 1832-1920, psychologist). That is: one wants to study the mere phenomena of the soul life to the details. These are just “events,” one says; but one does not turn to the soul itself.-
Of course, it is in the nature of this Homunculism to deny the soul; since one must deny the soul if one considers Homunculus as the true human being, because Homunculism cannot be reconciled with the soul. A time in which the catchword “psychology without soul” could originate must show Homunculism as a hidden desire of human life. A time, which believes that the human being is only that what one can recognise with the usual forces engaged in the nervous system, shows homunculoid characteristics in the majority of its human beings.
There the thought may arise in a poet: how would it be if I hold up a mirror to the time and show: you imagine what would result from you if you believed to originate only from purely physical forces and principles. He is a poet who takes the catchword “psychology without soul” seriously and says to himself, the human beings have not only said this, but they also lived it. I want to put a human being who is invented exactly after the picture as they imagine him. They do not know only that he is in such a way as he works. However, I want to invent strictly what would originate from the picture of the modern materialist.
Such thoughts worked in Robert Hamerling (1830-1889, Austrian poet), and he carried out these thoughts on his sickbed and sent out the picture of the Homunculus in the world. One knows this poem little today, although 5,000 copies were sold during the first five months after its publication. However, this is also something that is in the sense of Homunculism, of our time. — Hamerling created his Homunculus as I try to show him in few words. I can show him in such a way. As I got around to regarding that as correct what I say about Goethe after a more than 30-years study, I can do it concerning Hamerling too. Since shortly after Homunculus by Hamerling had appeared, I wrote a treatise about it, and Hamerling still wrote to me that I had understood his idea completely.
Robert Hamerling had taken the idea to put once before the modern human being what is contained in the views if one imagines the human being consisting of wholly physical forces and substances according to natural laws only. Hence, he let the modern professor be serious to create a human being according to the physical forces and principles. Indeed, the scientist who believes to construct a worldview based on physical laws says that one is not yet able to create a human being that way today. However, the poet can say, let us assume that this time has already arrived that that could be performed what was theory once. Thus, we see the academic monist standing before the retort, we see him treating the substances accordingly — and the little human being, Homunculus, appearing:
“Bravo, little doctor!” he shouted
Still a second time, while he
Slipped shivering in a little jerkin,
Which was ready for him;
With gracious look he knocks
On the shoulder of the producer.
“So on the whole and from the pure
Chemical-physiological point of view
Considered, is that, my dear,
What you created, a respectable,
Praiseworthy piece of work.
In detail, one could say
Many a thing about it.”
And gave some learnt,
He spoke much about albumin,
About fibrin, about globulin, too,
Keratin, mucin, and other things,
And about their correct mixture,
And taught his creator
And producer thoroughly how he
Could have made it better. (Literal translation)
Thus he is there in reality — that is in the reality of the poet, as he is invented in the heads of many materialistically minded people. From this materialistic attitude that is given to the “well-behaved little human being” that originates also which this little human being shows as his first tendency. If one looks at the world for the tendencies of the “youngest” people, one already understands how Homunculus can come to such like that:
Gradually he started quibbling
And grumbling in the book,
Which he had in his hands,
The Homunculus. This was interesting
To the doctor, and he wrote
The remark in his notebook:
The first literary emotion
Of a little human being — Review
However, it will not go at all. Since Homunculus grows out of the thoughts of his creator, we say, of his super-creator, and brings many things with him that lived in his thoughts because of the whole condition of our time. He is nervous; he brings nervousness with him. Nevertheless, there his learnt producer cannot do anything with him. That is why he casts him back into the retort, makes him the human embryo again. Homunculus is correctly conceived and born now by a mother, so that we have a not entirely right Homunculus, but one who is only without a natural father.
Then he goes through his apprenticeship. He also becomes a poet, of course. He experiences what many poets experienced in our time: he looks for publishers. He develops a pleasant relation not only to his publisher, but also to his daughter who is promised to him, if his poems find the necessary distribution. Of course, one has “connections” in the era of Homunculism. One praises the book very much; how can Homunculus assume it different! But behold: when the year was over, the publisher had sold thirteen copies only. He takes away the daughter from him, and Homunculus must search his further journey through life. — He chooses all possible ways. He comes to a spa resort, and there he gets to know the customs and traditions of Homunculism, I would like to say, the customs and traditions of modern spa life. Then he grasped the plan to found a newspaper, News for Everything and for All People.
Councillors, councils of state and other councils or also the leaders of powerful, financially strong parties, the leaders of big bank companies and trading companies urge to it and write their editorials and reports. — I beg you to consider — because Homunculus was published in 1888 — that with it no satire was intended about something that appeared much later. — However, Homunculus is not content with it; he still aims at something higher. He sells his newspaper to a corporation — this is no satire — and he devotes himself to his other enterprises. Then he becomes a millionaire and lives in a very strange way. I would like to stress that he settles very well in the time of Homunculism. What Non-Homunculism attains by lifeless forces if, for example, anything is supported by columns still belongs to the past times. The big tamed snakes in his garden pavilion hold its cupola. One had trained squirrels once and had imprisoned them in cages. Homunculus does not do this; he lets them work as machines. This is the right Homunculism. Such a thing would already come out if some thoughts existing already today were developed further.
However, even if he is a millionaire he does not arrive at a satisfying life. He did not know a “soul life” because he had no soul. Thus, his existence dissatisfies him extremely, and, therefore, he plunges into the Rhine River. There a being saves him that also has no soul, the mermaid Lurley. Now Homunculus and Lurley become a couple. Because all old worlds are not enough for them, they immigrate to a quite new region. — One would still have to describe the interesting Literary Walpurgis night that is celebrated at the wedding feast of this couple. Some things of it apply to our time, too.
One would have to carry back one's mind only to Hamerling's time, but one would also have to say the same here that it should be no satire of modern conditions:
The host of water poets was
To harsh world-weariness,
To bitter weariness of life,
To dark melancholy,
And to Prometheic
The beer and wine poets
Felt much more comfortable in their skin.
To these the world was just
Right, and they suffered only
From one evil: hydrophobia.
The absinthe poets, in the end,
With the wine and beer poets
And with the host of water poets
The vulture bite of the dark,
Therefore, they were twice miserable.
“Art and literature” are studied rather interesting.
They immigrate into a region not yet sicklied by the faith in the soul. The soulless man and the soulless mermaid emigrate into an Eldorado. This is an Eldorado of some party systems; and something that prevails in a party system today is portrayed brilliantly. I only want to suggest that Homunculus also does not manage here with the establishment of his model state, the Eldorado, even his Lurley is taken away from him by a party man who walks around with the slogan: “nobody shall outvote us!” However, Lurley says, he is a character, and Homunculus has to move on. Nevertheless, he is an inventive head and wants to think the things to their ultimate consequences. He says to himself, you can bring about nothing with the human beings if you want to put Homunculism into reality; nevertheless, they are not able to do this. However, why should I not take the ultimate consequences? Could I not develop the monkeys to human beings? Modern science already teaches that the human beings have developed from the monkeys. I gather the best of them and transform them into human beings rather fast. — He founds an enterprise in which he wants to transform the monkeys into human beings, a quite new realm. Now one tells us about the monkey school:
The teachers of the monkey school
Only complained about restlessness,
Since it was hard to tear
These noble offsprings
From certain habits
Of their race
From climbing up, for example,
They forgot themselves now and again
So far, in long lessons
To delouse each other,
Attacked the teacher
In wild hordes to delouse his head. -
When the monkeys were now educated,
They competed the human beings
In any field. They were
Very competent at fine arts
Because of their innate imitation talent.
They were unequalled — of course —
As stage artists,
And undertook tours
With brilliant success.
Farce, comedy, operetta,
Parody — all that was their field.
If they made faces, these were:
Showpieces and masterpieces
Of drastic and finest comic,
As one had never seen before.
They had world-famous recitals -
Howling monkeys were the soloists,
Now and then they beat
Human choirs at prize singing.
Baboons, grinning like fauns,
Developed to fops,
To elegant strollers,
Were also at balls smart
Dancers, and the gallant style,
Which they showed perkily
With the women, was partly
Very much after the taste of the latter.
Concerning the monkey women,
They equalled the human women
And soon before also
In the skill of flirting.
Who would understand better
To dress up always fashionably
Than a monkey? They understood
To festoon themselves with jewellery
With tassels, ribbons, and bows...
And so on. Nevertheless, Hamerling thinks that one cannot transform an educated monkey to a human being. Indeed, the monkeys referred to many a “monkey ancestor,” but they only became similar to the humans with one “virtue,” that of conviction. They soon declared that it is actually inferior to be a human being; because these have not even become “monkeys.” This led to the fact that the elected monkey rector, the monkey “Doctor Krallfratz” replaced Homunculus. Thus, Doctor Krallfratz replaced him. Nevertheless, the monkeys had less luck with it. Indeed, the human beings did not cope with the monkeys that had become human beings; but in wild regions the human beings living still there in the primordial state coped with them, they simply killed the monkeys.
Now a chapter comes which one held against Hamerling very much. — Hamerling did not want to go among the anti-Semites; he strictly protested against it where he made Homunculus the leader of the Jews immigrating to Palestine in the eighth song. They do no longer stand it here under the today's conditions.
One should assume that this is something noticeable in a time that knows the attempts of Zionism. However, it is important what arises now for Homunculus from it, the Jews crucify him because they do not endure being together with him. When he is attached to the cross, only Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, visits him. He frees him from his bonds, and they both have to walk on together.
Indeed, Homunculus has thought up to the ultimate consequence what he believes to have gained from modern science. However — and this should appear with people who deal with ideological questions — he has not really dealt, actually, with science. He begins now to deal with scientific problems. Indeed, there he manages to win a big part of humanity for an idea which appeared first with the philosopher of the unconscious out of pessimism which is also a kind of Homunculism in certain sense: from Eduard von Hartmann's pessimistic philosophy. Not many people still know today what pessimism has to announce to the human beings: oh, the world is bad, as bad as possible, and it would be the best of all to escape this bad world. It is necessary that one realises that the world originated from the will, and if all human beings grasped the volition to finish their existence, world and life would be finished by the united volition of all. Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906, Philosophy of the Unconscious, 1869) describes in detail that it were possible to eliminate humanity from the world by a common volition.
Homunculus founds a society not only of human beings but also of animals under this viewpoint. One holds congresses and speeches, and so on. In the end, a time is determined at which all human beings should decide simultaneously: now we want to exist no longer. Besides, even the earth should perish. All agree; the day, the hour approaches, but it stops the sun only. What had happened? Homunculus and Lurley had wished a child; however, they could not get it in Eldorado. Hence, they accepted two children of the prehistoric humans living there; they called them Eldo and Dora. However, both could not cope with Homunculism. When all human beings gather to carry out their decision, Eldo and Dora meet again after long separation, they fall in love, and therefore they come too late. They were absent when the whole humanity gathered at the agreed time, and all efforts were pointless. Homunculus himself has built up those who ruin his decision. Oh, Homunculism will create the “Eldo” and “Dora” in manifold way from itself who come too late if Homunculism wants to take the ultimate consequences. Then the sun of spiritual life, of spiritual science rises!
Nevertheless, in the end Homunculus must reach something from his science. He builds, after he has investigated all forces of nature, a huge telescope with which he can see into the most distant regions of the universe, all that is increased hugely with which the modern worldview has grown up. Except this huge telescope, he constructs a huge stethoscope and a gigantic smelling pipe; and, one can say, he still builds everything that one can obtain from the mechanical forces! From these mechanical forces in the most modern style, he builds a gigantic airship. I note once again: in 1887, Robert Hamerling in his Homunculus writes the history of the dirigible airship! With this dirigible airship, Homunculus leaves the earth sphere. He can race along with his airship faster than the light does. But he is not content with that what he is able to do: he can travel around with his airship in the cosmic space, can look out with his huge telescope into the world of the stars, he can listen to the earth with his huge stethoscope, and he speaks with a gigantic megaphone down to the human beings. There he comes into a thundercloud, lightning strikes his airship, it cannot destroy the rudder, the engine, but it destroys its controllability! Thus, Homunculus is handed over with his airship to the elementary forces. He can still take one thing along: when he approaches the earth once again, he discovers the corpse of Lurley and carries it with him on his dirigible gigantic airship. — Hamerling closes his epic with the words:
Whom the holy nature,
The mysterious mother,
Gave life by love,
Gave life in love.
She also refuses death to him,
The happiest death, above all, is
Dying down in love.
The vast universe has for him
No grave of blissful rest,
No place of everlasting peace.
Who can say where
And how long with Homunculus
And the mermaid that joins him
The ruling fate does chase
The charred gigantic airship
In the whirl of iron laws,
Of substances and forces
On roads without barriers?
Sometimes in starry nights
Sunday's children still see
That wreck as a dark planet
High above in immeasurable distance,
And shuddering they suspect
The fate of the forever restless.
Hamerling showed in his way that that what Homunculism invents cannot belong to the world in which the human soul lives but only to the completely mechanical forces. Mechanical forces of nature tear him away. Indeed, the poet could have this idea that the modern human being who develops his completely natural human ideal looks, actually, only at that in himself what is abstraction, what is something unreal and belongs to the completely natural elements. Hamerling means that what also Goethe said where his Homunculus disintegrates in the elements:
Hail to Air and its soft breezes!
Hail to Earth's mysterious depths!
To you four, o Elements,
Here we offer solemn praise! (Verses 8484-8487)
Whereas Goethe's Homunculus contributes his forces to the incarnation of Helen, the Homunculus of Hamerling as soulless being, as the representative of that human ideal that denies the soul has to be taken up in the elements of the universe.
One can say, Hamerling had the intention — I leave it to others to assess whether he was successful or not — to hold up a mirror to that modern attitude which wants to know nothing of the spirit and conjures up a human ideal divested of spirit before itself. It is another question whether the reflection is also recognised. However, it is something that is not real in the physical nature that rightly those can deny who just put up it. Strange disaster! Goethe solves the riddle somewhat. He reminds of the other word:
Simple folk never sense the devil's presence
not even when his hands are on their throats. (Verses 2181-2182)
Wagner who produces Homunculus in his retort also does not notice that the devil is that who produces him, actually. Since Mephistopheles brings in the spiritual forces. It is an inspiration of the “father of all obstacles” of that what is a product of modern science what materialism wants to put as the modern human being.
I read about Homunculus a third time. I say it somewhat bashfully; however, I do not want to shrink back from a remark that forced on me already once. I read a book of the learnt economist Werner Sombart (1863-1941) who describes the modern economic human being. Read the final chapter about the bourgeois; it is written very interesting; and at last, the modern economic human being appears whom the forces seize like with tentacles that prevail in the modern economic life and who is driven from enterprise to enterprise. As the last, he has also lost religion, Sombart says. “Religion has become business.” The modern human being is in Sombart's humanity. Someone who knows something of it has to say, does he not exist; do not the economists describe him?
It arises from everything that one has to overcome Homunculism by the living understanding of the spiritual life. As Homunculism cannot see many things, it also does not see to what its own forces lead him. The poets tried to show it, and spiritual science completely feels in harmony with such poets who felt out of their inkling what spiritual science has to found anew. What spiritual science can be as a treasure for life to the human being that it can grasp his soul that it is the only true overcomer of any Homunculism; I show this in the next talk. Today I just wanted to bring into view how spirits who looked with open eyes and sense recognised that what prevails in the conditions of the presence as Homunculism.
I believe that one understands Hamerling on the ground of spiritual science; one understands just the last words:
Who can say where
And how long with Homunculus
And the mermaid that joins him
The ruling fate does chase
The charred gigantic airship
In the whirl of iron laws,
Of substances and forces
On roads without barriers?
Sometimes in starry nights
Sunday's children still see
That wreck as a dark planet
High above in immeasurable distance,
And shuddering they suspect
The fate of the forever restless.
Nevertheless, you permit that I use a well-known and somewhat changed proverb compared with this quotation: why should we look with the eyes of the Sunday's child at the wreck in the vast universe? Homunculus is so close that even Sombart can describe him! Homunculus is very close to the modern human being, and one can only hope that many anticipating and sighted souls become Sunday's children in this respect by spiritual science that recognise the very close Homunculism, the wreck of a worldview. More and more of such Sunday's children will be there. And what also — let me use this expression — Homunculism is able to argue against spiritual science, spiritual science will give humanity what it cannot lack, what it craves for and what it must hope for: the soul, and with the soul the spiritual life. Hence, one has not to be worried about the future of spiritual science.
This will be the topic of the last of these winter talks.