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Monte Verità Ascona

Certain places, often set in mountains, are, like certain people, so remarkable in their beauty that they transcend ordinary categories, and suggest to us that our ordinary expectations of life have been too tame. For Indian culture, the Himalayas have been the traditional locus of all efforts at sanctity and spiritual struggle. In Europe men built a more secular and rationalist civilization than ever existed in India, but the Alps have served something of the same purpose. The Romantic poets, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Rousseau, found in the Alps what Hindu poets found in the Himalayas. And around the year A.D. 1000 Christian monks, like the Benedictines of Talloires, retreated from the world into those mountains in expectation of the millenium. Ascona, nine hundred years later, was the locus of a different "religion"; in some ways quite opposite, since it was erotic and sun worshiping, not ascetic and cross worshiping. The idea of God the Father was replaced by God the Mother, the divinity of Nature and Woman. But seen in its activity of rebellion, this was a world-renouncing religion too.i

In the late 19th-century Ascona ... became the semi-official meeting place for all Europe's spiritual rebels - for anarchists, poets, painters, dancers, pacifists, prophets. Especially between 1900 and 1920 it was a sacred mountain, a retreat from the "world", where men devised ideas, and lives, in revolt against civilization. Amongst those ideas, the most prominent were pacifism, feminism, and psychoanalysis and art of new and radical kinds.ii
Martin Green

Monte Verità was the site of an extraordinary utopian community, founded in the beginning of the 20th century on a hill above Ascona, Switzerland. The name was an allusion to historical and fictional traditions in which ‘truth’ is revealed on mountaintops. This was the hill where a number of advocates of utopia lived, loved, thought and built. They sought refuge from the industrialised culture dominating Northern Europe in the form of a counter-movement. The aim of the community was the establishment of a society promoting a ‘reform of life’, based on freedom, simplicity, new religious and spiritual values, they practised heliotherapy, naturism and advocated a symbiosis with nature. Their dwellings were to be liberated houses of light and air and their diet natural foods. They rejected authoritarianism, capitalism and sexual taboos. The settlement became a magnet for the convergence of many ideas, movements and experiments.
Maureen Paley

Monte Verita (the Mountain of Truth) attracted those concerned with 'life', with what it is to be human; they congregated to experience nature, the spiritual, and in some cases the feminine. Key figures included Gusto Gräser, Naturmensch, poet, Taoist and rebel; Otto Gross, intent on fighting 'the Goliath of German patriarchy', applying psychoanalysis to obtain liberation from the ego and seeking the sacredness of love; Rudolf Laban, the 'magician' of 'salvation-through-dance'; and Mary Wigman, who expressed herself through nature, the great god Pan and the demonic. Hermann Hesse, D.H. Lawrence, Isadora Duncan, C.G.Jung, Franz Kafka, Paul Tillich and Max Weber were among those who visited - or were familiar with - the 'life-experiments', die Neue Zeit, of Ascona.iii
Paul Heelas

The most important anarchist community for [Otto] Gross and therefore for [Max] Weber and [D. H.] Lawrence - its members so loosely bound together as scarcely to deserve the name community - was Ascona, a fishing village on the Swiss shore of Lago Maggiore, where cultural radicals of various kinds, many of them Tolstoyans, gathered in the period 1900 to 1920.iv ...

Some anarchists invested their main energies in peace, others in love - in erotic freedom. Clearly the second of the two was responsible for the fame, or scandal, that surrounded Gross and Ascona. But the first is not to be forgotten, despite its divergence from and conflict with the erotic. Pacifism was to be associated with Tolstoy, and he was one of those who most powerfully inspired the founders of Ascona.v
Martin Green

Tolstoy stood for a radical ethical fundamentalism and pacifism, for vegetarianism, pedagogical reform and agrarian communities. This last played a special role in Ascona. The founders of 'Monte Verità' sought advice in 1900 from Albert Skarvan, a Hungarian military doctor and Tolstoyan. Influenced by Tolstoy's teaching, Skarvan had refused military service and hence suffered prison, exile and forfeit of his doctor title. Before settling in Switzerland he was received by Tolstoy in Jasnaja Poljana. Skarvan's support for agrarian communism made a strong impression on Karl Gräser, one of the seven founding members of the community.vi
Edith Hanke

Gräser and Hesse

Ascona was a place of refuge for men who avoided military service in their native countries, and boasted of doing so. The most picturesque example was the Naturmensch, Gusto Gräser, who had gone to jail for his beliefs.vii
Martin Green

At the beginning of the century, Hesse had become acquainted with and impressed by Gustav Gäser, a long-haired, shaggy-bearded poet, sculptor, painter, nature lover, pacifist, and vagabond-outsider, a self-styled social critic and prophet in tunic and sandals.viii
Joseph Mileck

Baptized Arthur Gustav, he called himself Gusto ... because he felt gusto: He took pleasure in life. ... He made himself naive, simple, and alive; and he thereby compelled Hesse's imagination.ix Martin Green

Restless ennui induced him [Hesse] in 1907 to join Gräser... x
Joseph Mileck

In 1906 [right: 1907!] Hesse was undoubtedly ready for his first encounter with that strange underground figure Gusto or Gustav Gräser who played a part in various natural health endeavors centered around Ascona in Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton of Ticino where Hesse was to spend the greater part of his life. Gräser had wandered all over Germany and Switzerland and at one point also touched Gaienhofen where he made an impression on Hesse. He had all the appearance of a "guru" wearing Indian garb who acted out the opposition to established society that Hesse mostly implied. His appearance in Hesse's life during that summer of 1906, just as he felt compelled to fall back into his family routine, must have been electrifying. As his friend Finckh tells it, Hesse caught fire when he saw four strange-looking creatures with "long hair, sandals, and bare legs" walk through the village, and followed them at once to their settlement in Ascona. ...

The sanatorium for which Hesse headed had been founded, among others, by Gustav Gräser's older brother Karl and he himself had once been part of its inner circle. That there might have been some affinity between Hesse and Gustav Gräser seems possible. Gräser was two years younger than Hesse, middle class, from a German minority in Hungary as Hesse's father had been from the Baltics. Like Hesse, he had left school early and for a while had been quite successful as a sculptor and painter. But in 1900, when Hesse poised for success, Gräser had destroyed his work, disposed of his possessions, and had actually become the footloose pilgrim Hesse always wanted to be. ... He was a more radical apostle of peace and the natural life, and it is in this function as a subterranean "guru" that he seems to have crossed Hesse's path on several crucial occasions.xi
Ralph Freedman

In the Rocks and Caves of Arcegno

In the spring of that year [1907] he seriously undertook a "cure" in the sanatorium for the natural treatment of nervous disorders in Monte Verità near Ascona. A photograph taken in April 1907 shows him with a group of unconventionally dressed and coiffured men and women on the steps of the building against the backdrop of majestic mountains. Hesse was to report to his father about the benefits to the body of direct exposure to sun and air after his return, but in a reminiscence published in März during the following year, his own "cure" of exposure and meditation was considerably more drastic. Entitled "In the Rocks: Notes of a 'Natural Man'," it drew a detailed picture of agony as he allowed himself to be burned by the sun, drenched by rain, his skin torn by thorns as he moved about the mountains and woods with his naked body exposed to the elements. Freezing on the bare ground of his hut, his body covered only by a thin blanket, this "natural man" underwent a draconic cure.xii
Ralph Freedman

Finding his Demian

Hesse saw Gräser again in 1917 and 1918, and assented to his ideas quite passionately. In those years Hesse, like other German intellectuals, was overcome with horror of the Great War, and ready to take up radical positions.

Thus when in 1917 an appeal was launched to raise money for Gräser, Hesse was the receiver of the contributions. He associated himself with Gräser's ideas, proudly acknowledging the danger he was inviting - the risk to his position as artist, intellectual, citizen, family man. And when the War ended, and revolution broke out in Munich, and Gräser felt he must leave Switzerland to preach non-violence to the revolutionaries, it was to Hesse he turned. The latter would not go with him, so Gräser sent him the manuscript of his long-labored Tao poem (Das heilende Geheimnis, a free rendering of Lao Tse) asking him to get it into print, as his major work, should he not return.

This was in the first days of 1919. We don't know what Hesse did with Gräser's manuscript, but we know that in the ten days after receiving it, he wrote a story called "Zarathustra's Return," about Nietzsche's hero going down from the Swiss mountains into revolutionary Germany.xiii

Gräser and Hesse had met on September 9 [1916] at the house of a common friend, Albine Neugeboren, after what seems to have been a nine-year break in their friendship. Hermann Müller thinks that the theme of Hesse's novel Demian was born in that reunion, at which Hesse also got to know Elisabeth Dörr, who had something of the wisdom of Demian's mother.xiv
Martin Green

Demian was yet another spiritual autobiography. ... Demian was also written at a time when Hesse evidently renewed some of his contacts with the "guru" Gustav Gräser. This man and his commune had by then drawn the fire of the authorities not only in Germany but in neutral Switzerland for their active involvement in antiwar activities. Perhaps at this point, when his decisions had ripened and his stand had become clear to him, Hesse no longer minded that the connection between him and the group might be known to some; most letters that have been preserved are dated from 1917 onward. Clearly, Hesse, looking everywhere for assistance, would have found in Gräser and his group welcome support. ... Something of the strangely tense bond between Sinclair and his guiding daemon probably relates to that episode. ...

Starting with the Abraxas motif of Demian, a direct reflection of Jung, he came to focus more and more on a non-Western response to personal as well as cultural crises. Soon he came to feel, with Romain Rolland, that the East would provide a true counter-culture as an alternative to the decline of the West. Like many of his readers and some of his models, he sought a mystical aura, and his occasional contacts with Gusto Gräser suggest how much he had been attracted by this subterranean spirit. xv
Ralph Freedman

In a sense Demian is hagiographical, and the axis upon which the relationship of Sinclair to Demian turns is that of spiritual emulation (imitatio); however, Sinclair's emulation of the imitabile (Demian) is not really in the Christian manner, since he has finally to learn not to be another Demian, but to be himself. ... Emil Sinclair is "a temple servant with the goal of becoming a saint".xvi
Mark Boulby

Betrayal and Remorse

Meanwhile Gräser, in Munich, had tried to deliver his message of nonviolence, but was publicly mocked, even by those who had revered him before; the scene is vividly described by Oscar Maria Graf in his autobiography. And Hesse's image of Christ thereafter was of him in the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayed by his disciples.xvii

Soon after Gräser's departure, he [Hesse] left his wife and family, moved south, and changed his style toward "aesthetic" or sensational effects; the novellas Klein und Wagner and Klingsor's Last Summer were written within the next twelve months. With war's end, and the distancing of the moral problem of violence, he turned his mind away from all Gräser represented to him. But one feels in that later work the pressure that comes from an intense hope and call betrayed.xviii

Hesse's later work is haunted by images of world-renouncers, like the Buddha or the Yogi in Magister Ludi, religious heroes whom his heroes must renounce. ... In Journey to the East (1947) the pilgrimage Hesse describes sounds like the Zug der Neuen Schar or other of Gräser's pilgrimages. It had been called by outsiders a Children's Crusade; but it had had successes, including the "surrender of the Tessin mountain village [Ascona] ..." Moreover, the narrator had wanted to write about it, and he is brought to judgement for his presumptuous wish. He writes a twenty page letter of grievances, remorse, and entreaty - the self-accusation of a League deserter, we are told. Sentence is passed upon him by a man who had seemed to be only a porter, a man who walks in sandals and open-shirted and bare-headed, who turns out to be the secret president of the League, and to whom the narrator submits. This man must in some sense represent Gräser.xix
Martin Green

Witness of the Dancer

Gräser's vocation of vagabondage, of cutting himself free from social guarantees, was attractive to Hesse. Indeed, at the level of rhetoric, the two men shared precisely the same ethic and the same faith. But Gräser chose a life style that nerved him for heroic action (quietist but heroic), whereas Hesse chose a style that relaxed his moral nerve in the interests of sensibility - of art. This difference was to lead to a profound split between them. ...

He wanted a shapely and youthful life, free from guilt and shame and severity, which it was what Gräser exemplified. But Hesse also wanted to be a great artist, like the artists of the Renaissance ... He could not follow Gräser. ...

Being an artist, Hesse could keep faith with his old idealism fairly easily, by thus condemning his autobiographical heroes., and be applauded for it. Whether he kept track of Gräser we don't know; but even if he did not, it may have occurred to him occasionally that it was Gräser who had most effectively renounced fat prosperity. ...

The bond beween them was their unlikeness, Hesse's wish to have done what Gräser had done. ... In 1951, writing about his character Peter Camenzind (the novel of that name was published in 1904), Hesse said, "instead of community, camaraderie, classification, he seeks the opposite; he does not want the path of the many but - obstinately - only his own path. ... In this, it seems to me, there lies the continuous thread that runs through all my work." Gusto Gräser was the real life-embodiment of that theme. ...

Hesse certainly was deeply impressed by those who chose the heroic path over the aesthetic one; he seems to have associated them with Ascona, and more with Gräser than with any other individual. There are Gräser or Ascona elements in Siddharta, for instance, in Narzissus und Goldmund, and in Das Glasperlenspiel.xx

At the end of Magister Ludi, Hesse's hero leaves the Castalian Order in which he has passed his life, and goes out into the world, to be tutor to a beautiful but rebellious boy, in whom we can recognize something of the Asconian enthusiasts. In the very last scene, the tutor meets the boy by a mountain lake at dawn. Excited by the beauty of the sun, and by the consciousness of his own beauty, the boy dances in exultation before the older man: ...

That scene, that dance, that celebration of the sun, whether intentionally or not, is also an evocation of Gräser, and the cult of Ascona, re-acknowledged by Hesse at the end of his long career of apostasy.xxi
Martin Green

Gräser and Gandhi

Of the Asconans we have discussed, Gusto Gräser most resembles Gandhi. This is so primarily because both dedicated their major energies to peace, to nonviolent action. Gandhi persuaded other people to take such action; Gräser did not. But Gandhi always said that a true satyagrahi acts alone, and that his action takes effect whether or not it is acclaimed or reported. Satyagraha could be an individual action. Nonviolence makes it possible "for a single individual to defy the whole weight of an unjust empire, to save his honor, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration." I think Gandhi would say that Gräser saved his honor and laid the foundation for the German Empire's fall. ...

The two men's mode of action was, from an ordinary point of view, passive; they suffered other's violence; notably they allowed themselves to be put into prison, over and over again. And they refused to hate, or to let others hate, their jailers. Gräser's poem asking for a pass, during the war, has many parallels in Gandhi's friendly and humorous letters to his British jailers or judges. ...

In 1914, the outbreak of war made the conditions of Gräser's life difficult ... his message was now a crime, for Gräser had to say that men should refuse to serve in the army. ... He was arrested in Stuttgart, probably by Austrian police, for he was taken to Vienna and then to Budapest. His wife (again pregnant, with their eighth child) and their eldest daughter (then five) came there to be near him. He was observed and interrogated by psychiatrists. When they asked, "What do you think about the state?" he replied, "Be sincere and true," which they could nothing make of. ...

He refused to wear a uniform and was allowed for some time to bunk among other recruits in his usual toga. When they asked him, "Is it not right to go to war?" he answered, "Do what your inner voice tells you! Only be true!" Then the commanding general gave him an ultimatum: Put on uniform or be shot in the morning. He refused, and his wife approved his decision. But next morning she found he'd been taken to Klausenburg and put in an asylum. After six months there, he was released, with the decision that he was "afflicted with perverse ideas."xxii

In 1912, he was exiled from Saxony - a punishment which aroused a protest from various intellectuals, who saw this sort of action as nailing bars on the iron cage. In 1913 - exiled from Baden - he took part in the famous Freideutschen Jugendtag on the Hohen Meissner, along with the leaders of the Jugendbewegung. In 1915 he was arrested in Budapest, as a spy, and was forcibly shaven and shorn, and dressed in conventional clothes. ...

He is said to have been an inspiration to the Zug der Neuen Schar - a pilgrimage of young men and women across Germany in 1920, singing and dancing a message of Nature - which was broken up by the police. ... In 1926 he was exiled from all the provinces of Germany for his preaching, though the sentence was rescinded, after protests by Thomas Mann, Hermann Bahr, and others.xxiii

On none of these occasions do we hear of him offering any resistance, any protest, any complaint, or of his inciting others to do so on his behalf. Whatever they did to him he suffered patiently and passively, in effect, meekly; he moved on. Gräser was in practice meeker than Gandhi or Jesus Christ.xxiv

Gräser was perhaps Europe's counterpart to Gandhi, mutatis mutandis. But his ideology - erotic and nature-worshipping - was significantly different. He can be better associated with Whitman. ... He represented himself as a "schlechter" or a "frecher Kerl" - in Whitman's terms, a "rough fellow". ... He asked for gaiety and love and action; "peace" was too passive a slogan for him in his resistance to war - he called for struggle.xxv
Martin Green

A sacred Mountain

The idea of a sacred mountain is strange to modern Western civilization. But we keep the memory of it in Judeo-Christian teaching; Moses went up a mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, on which the rest of Judaism was built; and Jesus went up a mountain to deliver his famous sermon. The Hindus have Mount Meru as the locus of sanctity - the place of retreat for saints and sages. It is a natural symbol: Mountains are so different from the plains, so far from the cities, so high, so white, so visible, so pure. Where else should we fix our dream of Truth? Where else should we realize it, singly or communally, by prayer or by work? ...

Some of the people of Ascona became famous in one field or another: Hermann Hesse and D. H. Lawrence in literature, Mary Wigman in dance, C. G. Jung in psychoanalysis. But others, more central to this story, are not as well known because their rebellion against contemporary culture was more thoroughgoing. They rebelled against the arts and sciences themselves, and refused to engage their talents and energies in culturally rewarded enterprises; they refused to "produce." ...

Their works were their - usually tragic - lives, and it was others who profited by their sufferings, who rationalized and organized their idea or turned it into art. But they - those who became famous for doing that - were true heroes of culture, true rebels against the grimmer forces of civilization. The others belong to that further frontier, moving toward madness and toward pure spirit, to which culture can only point. ...

Thus Ascona makes an important contribution to our thinking about "culture", especially in its relation to art. But it does so variously, affirming both the value of freedom and the opposite value of being rooted, each one valuable for art and for culture. And it demands to be remembered above all as a type, perhaps as the type, of the settlement, the protest colony, set up on the frontier of civilization; where the forces of law and convention are weak and the sensitive and conscientious can live out a conscious defiance of bourgeois-majority rule; where some people, like Gross and Gräser, go to the very limits of culture and even beyond, while other people, like Hesse and Werfel, watch them disappear and turn their absence into a powerful presence in art.xxvi
Martin Green

A Prophet in Berlin

She found a café near the Schauspielhaus and sat down at a terrace table which looked on to the handsome square. A small crowd had gathered near the statue of Friedrich von Schiller at its centre. In its midst, standing on some steps and declaiming, was a tall bearded man. He was oddly dressed in a ragged vest and tattered shorts, like some wild creature out of a romantic play. But with his shepherd's staff and rugged features, he had the aura of a biblical prophet.

'It seems that Graser's back,' the man at the table next to her said to his companion.

'I thought they'd locked him up for refusing conscription.'

'Guess they've let him out again. Or maybe he's been up in is mountain all this time.'

'His mountain of truth,' the second man chuckled.

'Maybe he's got a point. Anything's gotta be better than this dump. And they grow their own food.'

'Can't grow coffee in Switzerland.'

'You call this coffee,' the man spat.

'No theatres, no cabarets. The pure simple life.'

'Pure? With all those artists and dancers and vegetarian kooks up there?'

The second man grinned. 'I guess there are different kinds of purity. Graser's all right, you know. Our very own wild man. Better than a lot of the lunatics we get these days. Last week there was a messianic crank in the square, foretelling doom, unless we all gave everything up and flagellated ourselves daily with birches. As if we hadn't had doom already.'

'There must be money to be made in this business of saving the world. Everyone's doing it.'

'Shall we go and listen to Graser? I quite like some of what he calls his poems.'

The two men got up.

Anna, who had been eavesdropping with interest, hurriedly finished her sandwich and followed them.

The man they called Graser was declaiming in a low but resonant voice, something about mountains and clear skies and tall straight trees. But it was his presence which captivated Anna. He was completely at ease in his strange garb as if he carried his own place with him. And he was beautiful. There was a strength and a peace in his face that she had never encountered before.

'Where does he usually live?' she found herself asking the man who had been sitting at the table next to hers.

'Ascona. Unless it's your neighbour's spare room.' The man laughed again. 'These anarchists have little sense of private property.

'Ascona,' Anna murmured. Suddenly she felt Graser's eyes on her and looked up to meet them. A clear blue gaze, like being washed by a lake.

'Come and join us, young woman.' Graser waved his staff at her.

Anna smiled and turned away.xxvii
Lisa Appignanesi

Prophets of a New Age

What we have in our New Age is only a cleft in a mass of storm-clouds, through which a shaft of light gleams. ... Only by trusting to our naïveté, believing in the possibility of a New Age, can we recharge our energies.

To interpret the metaphor, this shaft of light is a shared sense of the holy, of spiritual value, a sense demonstrably living in us today, which has grown up around certain topics: the earth, the blue-green planet, the life on the earth, animal life, tribal life. Very strong feelings, charged with righteousness, have grown up around these concepts and their associated images, and pass from person to person, charging those personal relationships with the same righteousness.xxviii

In the year 1900 a group of seven young people, from several different European countries, met in Munich and decided to turn their backs on the city civilization about them. ... They walked into and across Switzerland, looking for a place to settle, and found the lake village of Ascona.xxix

That movement [New Age] was often imagined in terms of literal movement, of people leaving their homes, which is of course a traditional gesture of or a metaphor for conversion - being called to come out. Thus accounts of Ascona, given us by Hermann Hesse, Mary Wigman, and Emil Szittya, often begin with the sight of bare-legged, long-haired hikers passing through a village, on their way to the center of the New Life, attracting the attention of the settled people, and being followed.xxx

Tolstoy was ... one of the masters and teachers of the Ascona New Agers. Two others - very unlike Tolstoy - were Wagner and Nietzsche. The latter was the great philosophic rebel against conformism and the status quo. Wagner they sang and read aloud, and his 1880 essay, "Religion and Art", had almost scriptural authority for them. ... Wagner there called for a league of noble spirits to lead the rest of Europe out of its enthrallmet to materialism ... That revolt against contemporary materialism was what linked the three prophets in the Asconan's eyes. ...

The seven soon disagreed over ideological issues like the owning of the property ... Only two of them, Henri Oedenkoven and Ida Hofmann, continued with the project of the sanatorium, but nearly all the others settled in Ascona, setting up their shelters (of a primitive and temporary nature) on the same hill or nearby.

The most extreme in his life-style was "Gusto" Graeser. ... He made himself an embodiment of health, as Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter had. One of his early friends, who wrote articles about him, was Johannes Schlaf, a translator of Whitman. Another friend was Hermann Hesse, who was strongly drawn to vagabondage, and much influenced by Graeser's example.xxxi

There were Theosophists at Ascona even before the enthusiasts of Monte Verità arrived there. In 1889, Alfred Pioda, a liberal local politician with New Age ideas, proposed to found a colony of Theosophists there. He formed a joint stock company for the purpose, and one of his allies in the scheme was Countess Wachtmeister, a close friend of Madame Blavatsky. Another ally was Franz Hartmann, also a friend of Blavatsky, who translated, among other things, the Bhagavad Gita in 1898. Hermann Hesse, who was reading the Theosophists at the time he first came to Ascona, around 1907, was an enthusiastic admirer of Hartmann's Gita, as were many other Asconans.xxxii

Graeser was picturesque in a different style from [Otto] Gross, but like him he was often depicted in fiction; for instance in Gustav Naumann's "Of a Noise on Dark Streets." ... It is one of the functions of New Ages to provide the larger population with colorful and emblematic figures who arouse various emotions, of envy, attraction, resentment. Above all, in 1906 [1907!] Graeser met Hermann Hesse in Ascona, and he clearly had a strong influence on the writer, through much of the latter's career.xxxiii
Martin Green

Dance and song as a purgative, regenerative mixture was, again, an Asconan cult. Rudolph Laban's mistress invented eurythmics at Ascona.xxxiv

[D. H.] Lawrence, through his wife, Frieda Weekley, (formerly von Richthofen) hadcome into contact with the 'counterculture' of the artist's colony of Ascona, where Hesse and other German intellectuals created a world of Eurythmics, pacifist Wandervögel, anarchy and green ... nature-worship and sun-worship.xxxv
Anna Bramwell

"On the high tops once more gathering he [Man] will celebrate with naked dances the glory of the human form and the great procession of the stars." ... This is the kind of rhetoric we also associate with Hermann Hesse, and the erotic writers of Ascona.xxxvixxxvii - Ascona was one of the great centers of erotic and gender liberation in the New Age, and the doctrine as it reached, for instance, England, bore the Ascona imprint.

The supreme New Age art is dance - of the Isadora Duncan and Laban variety. All those interested in rituals, myths, and the Jungian archetypes are also interested in dance.xxxviii

Hoewever, not all New Agers aim at sincerity in art. Some, for instance, are interested primarily in myth, and a psychology and philosophy based on myth that eludes the moral constraints of "Is this right or wrong?" For such people art as a whole is an alternative to moralism. The value attributed to art is a function of the value attributed to myth, and this tends to be very high.xxxix

The Prophetic Books [by Blake] are perhaps most striking for their interest in revolutionary energy as a force to be found in various forms and social places, outside politics as well as inside, and most notably in the erotic life and in art. ... He hated eighteenth-century rationalism, writing: "Mock on! mock on! Voltaire! Rousseau!"xl - He used myth to startle the reader into seeing freshly, free from the myopia of the conditioned response.xli

Nikolai Tolstoy's Preface to The Quest for Merlin ends with a quotation from the Russian mystical theologian Nikolai Berdyaev. " ... Only a prophetic vision can re-animate the dead body of history and inform the lifeless static with the inner fire of spiritual movement." ... A prophetic vision, to be as grand a thing as Berdyaew claims, will surely have to combine some moral existentialism with the romantic splendor of the archetypes. ...

This will remind us of earlier New Ages; some of us may think of Blake, others of Gusto Graeser.xlii Martin Green


i Martin Green, Mountain of Truth. The Counterculture begins. Ascona , 190-1920. Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1986; p. 4.
ii Martin Green, Ascona: "The Mountain of Truth". In: This World. Nr. 5, New York: Institute for Educational Affairs, Spring/Summer 1983, p. 108.
iii Paul Heelas, The New Age Movement. The Celebration of the Self and the Sacralization of Modernity. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1996; p. IX.
iv Martin Green, Weber and Lawrence and Anarchism. In: Sam Whimster (ed.), Max Weber and the Culture of Anarchy. New York: St. Martin's, 1999; p. 73.
v Ibid., p. 75.
vi Edith Hanke, Max Weber, Leo Tolstoy and the Mountain of Truth. In: Sam Whimster, op. cit., p. 144f.
vii Martin Green in: Sam Whimster, op. cit., p. 76.
viii Joseph Mileck, Hermann Hesse. Biography and Bibliography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977, vol. I, p. 27.
ix Martin Green 1986, pp. 53 and 56.
x Joseph Mileck 1977, p. 27.
xi Ralph Freedman, Hermann Hesse. Pilgrim of Crisis.
A Biography. London: Jonathan Cape, 1979, p. 134f.
xii Ralph Freedman, op. cit., p. 136f.
xiii Martin Green 1983, p. 114.
xiv Martin Green, ibid., p. 146.
xv Ralph Freedman, op. cit., pp. 190, 192 and 216.
xvi Mark Boulby, Hermann Hesse. His Mind and Art. Ithaca and London:
Cornell University Press, 1967, pp. 101 and 103.
xvii Martin Green 1983, p. 115.
xviii Martin Green 1986, p. 152.
xix Martin Green 1983, p. 115.
xx Martin Green 1986, pp. 63, 72, 209 and 210.
xxi Martin Green 1983, p. 121.
xxii Martin Green 1986, pp. 249f., 66f.
xxiii Martin Green 1983, p. 113.
xxiv Martin Green 1986, p. 67.
xxv Martin Green 1983, p. 114.
xxvi Martin Green 1986, pp. 8, 9 and 237.
xxvii Lisa Appignanesi, Dreams of Innocence, London 1994.
xxviii Martin Green, Prophets of a New Age.
New York/Toronto/Oxford/Singapore/Sidney, 1992, p. 265f.
xxix Martin Green 1992, p. 27f.
xxx Martin Green 1992, p. 42.
xxxi Martin Green 1992, p. 28f.
xxxii Martin Green 1992, p. 64f.
xxxiii Martin Green, Otto Gross, Freudian Psychoanalyst.
Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter, 1999, p. 186f.
xxxiv Anna Bramwell, Ecology in the 20th Century. A History.
New Haven and London, 1989, p. 115.
xxxv Anna Bramwell 1989, p. 107.
xxxvi Martin Green 1992, p. 53.
xxxvii Martin Green 1992, p. 33.
xxxviii Martin Green 1992, p. 114.
xxxix Martin Green 1992, p. 201f.
xl Martin Green 1992, p. 133.
xli Martin Green 1992, p. 272.
xlii Martin Green 1992, p. 275.