Finding a Path

Here is a summary of the recent Section for Literary Arts & Humanities meeting of the local group in Fair Oaks, CA. This meeting occurred on April 24, 2021 via Zoom.

“At a Glance . . .”

Welcome, Christian Morgenstern!
On Saturday we welcomed once more to our meetings Clifford Venho. Cliff was here at an earlier meeting to read from his translation of Hymns to the Night by Novalis (Mercury Press). On Saturday Cliff gave a presentation on the poet Christian Morgenstern. Cliff spoke about Morgenstern’s biography, the poet’s friendship with Rudolf Steiner, the significance of that friendship, and the spiritual significance of humor — a quality of being often overlooked by those who would place firm emphasis on The Importance of Being Earnest. Morgenstern is of course famous in Germany for his humorous verse. During the Q/A after the presentation, Cliff referenced some very interesting remarks that Rudolf Steiner made about humor and its importance. Perhaps we can return to that topic soon in a future meeting.

Cliff read some of his recent translations of Morgenstern’s poetry and aphorisms. The meeting was recorded. Click this sentence to watch the presentation. More about Cliff:

Poet Christian Morgenstern

A Celebration of Novalis / A New Moon Salon
Next Sunday, May 2 is the birthday of Friedrich von Hardenberg, the poet Novalis (May 2, 1772). We will celebrate Novalis in a Section-inspired New Moon Salon consisting of music, poetry, excerpts from the writings of Novalis, new translations, and artwork. Like all the other salons during this time of Covid, this May 2 salon will occur on Zoom. Stay home, stay safe. The Zoom credentials for the salon are at the bottom of this email.

The Stars in 1790
Brian Gray will join us next Saturday May 1 to discuss the star events around the year 1790. The 1790s have many similarities to our own decade of changes and challenges. The Age of Revolution (political, industrial, scientific, cultural) was at hand. Change and confusion was the “new normal.” Goethe wrote his Fairy Tale smack-dab in the middle of the decade, and he put it at the end of a novella that talks about social anxieties, self-isolation, and retreat. In the midst of darkness, however, Novalis, Blake, and other early romantic poets and writers boldly announced the dawn of a new age of Spirit. And Rudolf Steiner has repeatedly recommended to our attention and study this moment in European history, has he not?

The Year 2023
Quick reminder: our recent work with Novalis, the early romantics, Goethe and The Fairy Tale, the events of the 1790s — all this is done in the context of our preparation for the year 2023. We began this journey in 2018 – 2019 with the British Romantics. In 2020 we welcomed Novalis to our weekly meetings; in 2021, we looped back to include The Fairy Tale, which Rudolf Steiner identified as “the archetypal seed” from which grew anthroposophy. A new translation of Goethe’s Fairy Tale soon will appear under the imprint Sage Cabin Publishers. Our meetings meanwhile have included writers and poets active at the time of the Christmas Conference, 1923 / 1924 — poets such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Hermann Hesse. And of course, Albert Steffen.

“Bad fortune, good fortune,
Good fortune, bad—
Each to its opposite.
The Time is at Hand!”
— Goethe, The Fairy Tale

“Fishes Night Song” by Christian Morgenstern

“Tell me more . . .”

We Have Found a Path
Poet, eurythmist, editor and translator Cliff Venho joined us on Saturday to present Christian Morgenstern. Morgenstern is a welcome member to the ongoing conversation in the Section for Literary Arts & Humanities, and his inclusion is very timely.

Click this sentence to watch a 34-minute video presentation by Clifford Venho on Christian Morgenstern, whose friendship with Rudolf Steiner was of great importance to both individuals.

In future meetings, as we advance toward the years 2023 / 2024, we will explore this friendship between Christian Morgenstern and Rudolf Steiner and its significance in greater detail. We’ll also turn a friendly eye toward Humor. 🙂

“Humpbacked Flute Player,” photo by Bruce Donehower

A Celebration of Novalis / A New Moon Salon
On Sunday May 2 we will honor the birthday of Friedrich von Hardenberg, the poet Novalis, with a Zoom Salon. This will be a one-hour salon of poetry, music, artwork, chit chat, and excerpts from the writings of Novalis — with perhaps a few surprises. No serious lecture attire required. This is art, music, poetry, Novalis.

Topic: Novalis Birthday Salon
Time: May 2, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


“The world must be romanticized.”
— Novalis


“Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty.”
— Doris Lessing

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
— Flannery O’Connor