“The Dawn of the Beautiful: A Utopian Future?”

by Christiane Haid, Wochenschrift „Das Goetheanum“ 27/28, 2022

In the first of his Five Meditations on Beauty, Chinese poet and calligrapher François Cheng contrasts Beauty and Evil. Cheng describes how it is controversial and provocative to speak about Beauty in the face of the “pervasive misery, blind violence, natural disasters, and ecological disasters” that confront us today. For François Cheng, Beauty and Evil constitute two poles of the human reality of the universe in which we live. […]

Working from his own ideas of art and aesthetics, Rudolf Steiner discussed the Beautiful and Ugly within the context of his discovery of the dual nature of Evil. Not only the Beautiful but also the Ugly are for him elements that constitute art and artistic creation: “If we wish really to take hold of art, we must never forget that the ultimate in art in the world is the interplay of the Beautiful and the Ugly, the presentation of the battle of the Beautiful with the Ugly. For only by looking upon the dynamic balance between the Beautiful and the Ugly do we stand foursquare within reality, rather than in a one-sided Luciferic or Ahrimanic reality that is not ours—a one-sided Luciferic and Ahrimanic reality, however, into which Lucifer and Ahriman strive to trap us.” […]

Rudolf Steiner’s efforts to turn all areas of life into art show that the creation of Beauty and thus creation according to artistic principles should not remain only a matter forartists and the visual or performing arts. Pedagogy becomes the art of education; medicine becomes the art of healing; agriculture becomes the art of agriculture; social science becomes the social art, and so on. […]

If the art process today is a balancing between the forces of the Beautiful and the Ugly (between the dissolving Luciferic and the hardening Ahrimanic forces), then the Platonic view of the Beautiful widens out. In the age of the consciousness soul, this view is also widened toward the activity of the individual, who in each case struggles for Beauty or realizes Beauty and bal-ance—or, we might say: grace and harmony. At the same time, the essential signature of our age is precisely such activity through which the sense-given is elevated to a realm spirit-ideal. […]

Read the entire essay here (Essay Translation by Bruce Donehower)

Link to the Original Version Wochenschrift Das Goetheanum:

Artwork by Marion Donehower, “The Floating World”