23 April 164 – Birthday of William Shakespeare
23 April 1616 – Deathday of William Shakespeare
~Notes from a Lecture given by Dr. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, May 6, 1902
“…A legend has arisen about Shakespeare and whole libraries have been written about each of his works. Academics have given many interpretations of his plays, and finally a number of writers have decided that an uneducated actor could not have produced all the thoughts which they discovered in Shakespeare’s works, and they became addicted to the hypothesis that not William Shakespeare, the actor of the Globe Theatre, could have written the plays which bear his name, but some other highly learned man, for example Lord Francis Bacon of Verulam, who in view of the low estimation of literary activity at that time, borrowed the actor’s name. These suppositions are based on the fact that no manuscripts written by Shakespeare’s hand have ever been found; they are also based upon a notebook discovered in a London library with single passages in it which are supposed to correspond with certain passages in Shakespeare’s plays.
But Shakespeare’s own works bear witness that he is their author. His plays reveal that they were written by a man who had a thorough knowledge of the theatre and the deepest understanding for theatrical effects.
That Shakespeare himself did not publish his plays was simply in keeping with the general custom at his time. Not one of his plays was printed during his lifetime. They were carefully kept under wraps; people were to come to the theatre and see the plays there, not read them at home. Prints which appeared at that time were pirated editions, based on notes taken during the performances, so that the texts did not completely correspond to the original versions, but were full of errors and mutilations.
These partial omissions and mistakes led certain researchers to claim that Shakespeare’s plays, as they were then available, were not works of art of any special value and that originally they must have existed in quite a different form.
One of these researchers is Eugen Reichel, who thinks that the author of Shakespeare’s plays was a man with a certain definite worldview. But such opinions are contradicted by the fact that the plays, in the form in which they now exist, exercise such an extraordinary influence. We see this great effect in plays that have undoubtedly been mutilated, for example in Macbeth. The hold of Shakespeare’s plays on his audience was proved by a performance of Henry V under the direction of Neuman-Hofer at the inauguration of the Lessing Theatre. It did not fail to produce a powerful impression in spite of an extremely bad translation and poor acting.
Shakespeare’s plays are above all character dramas. The great interest which they arouse does not so much lie in the action, as in the wonderful development of the individual characters. The poet conjures up before us a human character and unfolds his thoughts and feelings in the presentation of an individual personality.
This artistic development, which culminated in Shakespeare, was made possible by the preceding phase of cultural development: the Renaissance. Shakespeare’s character-dramas could only arise as a result of the higher estimation of the individual during the Renaissance. During the early middle ages we find, even in Dante and in spite of his strong personality, the basic expression of the Christian ideas of that time. The Christian type of his time, not the individual human personality, appeared in the foreground. This was the general conception. The Christian principle had no interest in the individual personality. But little by little a new worldview aroused interest in the Individual human being. Only gradually did a new interest in the individual arise by means of the different viewpoint.
The fact that Shakespeare’s fame spread so quickly proves that he found an audience keenly interested in the theatre, that is to say, with a certain understanding for the representation of the personality as offered by Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s chief aim was to describe individual characters, and he was far from presenting to his audience an ethical or moral idea. For example, the idea of tragic guilt, as found in Schiller’s dramas, who thought that he had to encumber his hero with it in order to justify his downfall, does not exist in Shakespeare’s plays. He simply allows the events to take their course consistently, uninfluenced by the idea of guilt and atonement. It would be difficult to find a concept of guilt in this sense in any of his plays.
Shakespeare also did not intend to present a certain idea, not jealousy in Othello or ambition in Macbeth, no, simply the definite characters of Othello, Macbeth, or Hamlet. Just because he did not burden his characters with theories was he able to create such great ones. He was thoroughly acquainted with the stage, and this practical knowledge enabled him to develop his action in such a way as to thrill an audience.
In the whole literature of the world there are no plays which are so completely conceived from the standpoint of the actor. This is a clear proof that Shakespeare, the actor, has the merit of having written these plays.
Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. His father was in fairly good circumstances, so that his son was able to attend the Latin grammar school in his hometown. There are many legends about Shakespeare’s youth. Some say that he was a poacher and led an adventurous life. These things have been adduced against his authorship, yet these very experiences could only enrich his dramatic creation. Even the fact that in spite of his good education he was not encumbered with higher academic study, gave him the possibility to face things more freely and in a far more unprejudiced way. The poet’s adventurous nature explains to some extent some of the greatest qualities in his plays: the bold flight of his fantasy, his sudden transformations in the action, his passion and daring, all bear witness to a life full of movement and color.
In 1585, when Shakespeare’s financial conditions were no longer in a flourishing state, he went to London. There he began his theatrical career in the most menial way, by holding the horses of the visitors while they were enjoying the performance. He then became supervisor of a number of such boys who had to hold the horses’ reins, and was at last admitted to the stage. In 1592 he played his first important role.
His fame soon began to spread — both as an actor and as a dramatist — and his conditions improved, so that in 1597 he was able to buy a house in Stratford. After he became part-owner of the Globe Theatre he was a wealthy man.
The plays written during Shakespeare’s first period: Love’s Labour Lost, As You Like It, etc., do not differ so greatly from the plays of his contemporaries, of Marlowe and others; their expressive power, their purity and naturalness were moreover impaired by a certain artificial note which was the fashion in those days. The great character-plays, which were to establish his fame for all time, followed: Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar.
Some of Shakespeare’s biographers and commentators wish to deduce from certain of his later plays troubled experiences which embittered him. But in Shakespeare’s case this is difficult to establish, because his identity withdraws behind his characters. They do not voice his thoughts, but they all think and act in accordance with their own disposition and character.
It is consequently useless to ask what Shakespeare’s own standpoint may have been on certain difficult questions. For it is not Shakespeare, but Hamlet who broods over the problem of “to be, or not to be”, who recoils from his father’s ghost, just as Macbeth recoils from the witches. Whether Shakespeare believed in ghosts and witches, whether he was a churchgoer or a freethinker, is not the point at all: He simply asked himself: how should a ghost or a witch appear on the stage so as to produce a strong effect upon the audience? The fact that this effect is undiminished today proves that Shakespeare was able to answer this question.
We should not forget that the modern stage is not favourable to the effect which Shakespeare’s plays can produce. The importance which is now attributed to props, costumes, the frequent changes of scenery, etc. diminish the effect which is to be produced by the characters in the plays — for this remains the chief thing. In Shakespeare’s time when a change of scenery was simply indicated by a notice-board, when a table and a chair sufficed for the furniture of a royal palace, the effect produced by the characters must have been much greater than today.
Whereas in the modern theater so much depends on scenery, props, etc., when the playwright usually gives a detailed description of the scenery so that the effect of his plays may be handicapped by bad staging, Shakespeare’s plays leave a strong impression, even when performed badly.
And when a times comes in which we again see the essential more than is the case today, will the effect of Shakespeare’s art be ever greater: through the power of characterization which remains alive and unequaled through the centuries.”
William Shakespeare ~Notes of a Lecture given by Dr. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, May 6, 1902, GA 51, Schmidt Number: S-0338, Lecture eleven of thirty-eight lectures in the lecture series entitled, Philosophy, History, and Literature, published in German as, Über Philosophie, Geschichte und Literatur. Based on an essay, Bn 29.1.28, entitled, Another Secret of Shakespeare’s Works.
Note from Marie Steiner: Friends who heard that notes existed of a lecture on Shakespeare given by Dr. Steiner in 1902 at the Workmen’s School in Berlin expressed the wish to read these notes. They were taken down by Johanna Mücke, who did not know shorthand, so they do not claim to be complete. The 7 pages of typescript may correspond to about 25 pages of the original text of the lecture. But important points emerge even from these incomplete notes.
23 April 2020 – “Speaking with the Stars”: As twilight fades, look way down below Venus near the horizon to pick up the thin, crescent Moon starting a new lunation.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
”History, if thoroughly comprehended, furnishes something of the experience which a man would acquire who should be a contemporary of all ages, and a fellow-citizen of all peoples.” ~Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest
1st Day of the festival of Ramadan, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection &community. A commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation, the annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam & lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
Fasting from sunrise to sunset is obligatory for all adult Muslims who are not acutely or chronically ill, travelling, elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, or menstruating. The predawn meal is referred to as suhur, & the nightly feast that breaks the fast is called iftar. The spiritual rewards of fasting are believed to be multiplied during Ramadan. Muslims devote themselves to prayer, recitation of the Quran, & the performance of charitable deeds as they strive for purity& heightened awareness of God.
303 – Death day & Feast of Saint George, Roman soldier & martyr. One of the ‘14 Holy Helpers’ immortalized in the myth of Saint George & the Dragon. In the legend a dragon or crocodile makes its nest at the spring that provides water for the city of Lydda in the Holy Land. Consequently, the citizens have to dislodge the dragon from its nest to collect water. So, each day they offer the dragon at first a sheep, then a maiden. The victim is chosen by drawing lots. One day, this happens to be the princess. The monarch begs for her life to be spared, but to no avail. She is offered to the dragon, but then Saint George appears on his travels. He faces the dragon, protects himself with the sign of the Cross, slays the dragon, & rescues the princess. The citizens abandon their ancestral paganism & convert to Christianity
1869 – Birthday of Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz – was born in Prague (then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire) to an aristocratic family with royal connections. Polzer-Hoditz was one of Rudolf Steiner’s most valued, independently-minded colleagues. Leaving behind his background traditions, he would become a key player in Steiner’s regenerative threefold social impulses, working tirelessly for a genuinely unified, free Europe. He also fought to protect Rudolf Steiner’s esoteric legacy & the integrity of the Anthroposophical Society.
Following Steiner’s untimely death, Polzer-Hoditz fostered a broad range of friendships & alliances with key figures such as D.N. Dunlop, Walter Johannes Stein, & Ita Wegman. In a bid to avoid further division & conflict, he made significant interventions to alter the tragic course of events that consumed the Anthroposophical Society, although he was unable to stop the major split within the membership that followed. In the final decade of his life, he concentrated his energies on world issues & on influencing events, especially in Europe, while lecturing widely & writing books. In contrast to the destructive special interests of the national & religious groups that craved dominion & power, Polzer-Hoditz sought to build a true understanding between Central & Eastern Europe & to cultivate a spiritual connection with the West.
According to anthroposopher T.H. Meyer, Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz had an experience that brought to the surface one of his past incarnations as Hadrian, 76 AD – 10 July, 138 AD, who was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He is known for building Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern limit of Britannia. He also rebuilt the Pantheon & constructed the Temple of Venus & Roma. He is considered to have been a humanist, & he is regarded as one of the ‘Five Good Emperors’.
Hadrian was born into a Hispano-Roman family. During his reign, he traveled to nearly every province of the Empire. An ardent admirer of Greece, he sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the Empire and ordered the construction of many opulent temples in the city. He used his relationship with his Greek lover Antinous to underline his love of Greek culture leading to the creation of one of the most popular cults of ancient times. He spent extensive amounts of time with the military; he usually wore military attire & even dined & slept amongst the soldiers. Late in his reign he suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judaea, renaming the province Syria Palaestina
1891 – Birthday of Russian composer, & conductor Sergei Prokofiev, egarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant & virtuosic works for his instrument. Prokofiev’s greatest interest, however, was opera.
After the Revolution, Prokofiev left Russia & resided in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, making his living as a composer, pianist & conductor. During that time he married a Spanish singer, Carolina Codina, with whom he had two sons. In the early 1930s, the Great Depression diminished opportunities for Prokofiev’s ballets & operas to be staged in America & western Europe. Prokofiev, who regarded himself as composer foremost, resented the time taken by touring as a pianist, & increasingly turned to Soviet Russia for commissions of new music; in 1936 he finally returned to his homeland with his family. He enjoyed some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter & the Wolf, Romeo & Juliet, & above all with Alexander Nevsky.
The Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred him to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. In 1948 Prokofiev was attacked for producing “anti-democratic formalism”, so with his standing compromised & his income severely curtailed, he was forced to compose Stalinist Soviet music, such as the cantata On Guard for Peace.
Prokofiev died at the age of 61 on 5 March 1953, the same day as Joseph Stalin. He had lived near Red Square, & for 3 days the throngs gathered to mourn Stalin, making it impossible to carry Prokofiev’s body out for the funeral service at the headquarters of the Soviet Composers’ Union. He is buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. He was an atheist
1919 – Opening of the 1st Waldorf School, Stuttgart Germany. Waldorf education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Its pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, & artistic development of pupils.
Steiner’s division of child development into three major stages is reflected in the schools’ approach to early childhood education, which focuses on practical, hands-on activities & creative play; to elementary education, which focuses on developing artistic expression & social capacities; & to secondary education, which focuses on developing critical reasoning & empathic understanding.
The overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, & integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.
Qualitative assessments of student work are integrated into the daily life of the classroom, with quantitative testing playing a minimal role in primary education & standardized testing usually limited to that required for college entry. Individual teachers & schools have a great deal of autonomy in determining curriculum content, teaching methodology, & governance
1945 – Deathday of Albrecht Georg Haushofer (a German geographer, diplomat, author & member of the German Resistance to Nazism. Haushofer was born in Munich, the son of the retired World War I general.
Obtaining an insight in Nazi politics, Haushofer approached to German resistance circles. Following the outbreak of World War II.
High-ranking members of the Nazi Party looked disapprovingly upon his half-Jewish mother. Incarcerated in Berlin Moabit Prison, he wrote his Moabit Sonnets, posthumously published in 1946. In the night of 22/23 April 1945, as Red Army troops already entered Berlin, Albrecht Haushofer & other inmates were shot in the neck by SS troopers. His body was discovered by his brother Heinz on 12 May 1945.
One of the sonnets, titled Schuld or “Guilt”, was on his person at the time of his execution. It reads as follows:
I am guilty,
But not in the way you think.
I should have earlier recognized my duty;
I should have more sharply called evil evil;
I reined in my judgment too long.
I did warn,
But not enough, and not clearly enough;
And today I know what I was guilty of.
~ Albrecht Haushofer
TOD (Thought Of the Day)
Every April 23 the ancient Romans celebrated a festival known as Robigalia. Among the rites they performed were ceremonies to exorcise the god of rust & mildew. Let’s consider reviving that old practice. We could all benefit from spending a few days bringing awareness to what may be insidious rot, especially on a metaphorical level. Let’s scour the muck, glop, & grime out of our collective psyche.
SAVE THE DATE: Ascension Thursday 21 May 2020 ‘Coming in the Clouds’ a CRC Festival Celebration, 7 pm CDT online
Lifting the Veil of The New Isis -Sophia, a Telling of the New Isis Myth, with Leading Thoughts, on the Being of Anthroposophia, w/ Hazel Archer-Ginsberg
Friday, 29 May 2020, 7:30 – 9:30 pm at Groh Farm, 135 Temple Rd, Wilton, NH
(if the lockdown is still in effect, look for an online connection)
$10 suggesteddonation – RSVP email@example.com – Sponsored by the Anthoposophical Society in NH
Our dear Dr. Steiner said: ‘It is not the Christ we lack, but the knowledge of Christ, the Sophia of Christ, the Isis of Christ we are lacking.’ In ‘Ancient Myths and the New Isis Mystery: Their Meaning and Connection with Evolution’ Lecture 3; given in Dornach, 6 January 1918, by Rudolf Steiner; we hear how the power of ‘The Word, the power of The Logos’, must be resurrected through our striving to activate the Wisdom of Anthroposophia within each of us. Join Hazel Archer-Ginsberg for a powerful presentation Lifting the Veil of the New Isis-Sophia, to bring Light to Love.
~Vitae Sophia~A Whitsun Festival of United Soul Endeavor with Hazel Archer-Ginsberg Saturday, 30 May, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm Groh Farm, 135 Temple Rd, Wilton, NH
(if the lockdown is still in effect, look for an online connection)
Eurythmy: AUM = A – I stand for myself, U- I stand for humanity, M – I stand for Life
Social Sculpture: Steiner’s ‘Blue Dot Exercise’– Through Art, the bridge between science & spirit, we warm the ‘I’, to open the heart, in support of healthy community.
What are my gifts-What are my tools? How can I place them in right relationship within the social realm? How can I hone them to strengthen and enhance the world?
Living into the Foundation Stone of Love – How can we take our individual Inner Whitsun & expand it, into what Steiner calls the “World Festival of Knowledge” a path leading from ‘Sprit Recollection’, to ‘Sprit Sensing’, to ‘Sprit Beholding’?
Enter the Labyrinth of ‘Vitae Sophia’ – Human hearts, once warmed, can rise up to meet the source of wisdom, like flowers turning toward the sun.
$30 suggested donation at the door, with potluck lunch to follow
(please bring a dish to share) RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org Sponsored by the Anthroposophical Society in New Hampshire
as part of the tour
3 June 2020 – a Round Table Discussion 7 pm – 9 pm on ‘The Sophia’ with John Bloom, Joan Sleigh, Hazel Archer-Ginsberg & Carrie Schuchardt at The House of Peace in Ipswich, MA.
(if the lockdown is still in effect, look for an online connection)
Hazel Archer-Ginsberg – Founder of Reverse Ritual Understanding Anthroposophy through the Rhythms of the Year.Essayist, Lecturer, Poet, Trans-denominational Minister, ‘Anthroposopher’, working as the Festivals Coordinator of the Chicago Rudolf Steiner Branch, The Traveling Speakers Program, & the Central Regional Council of the Anthroposophical Society.