Dreaming with Goethe

I’m game. (I’d be dealing with the German text of course, which might be of relevance when translation’s a topic.)


And I understand your skepticism, so many bad movies made from good or great books! BUT the original Lathe of Heaven for me showed that a film of a complex and deep story CAN be made into a really good film, and thus get out to many many more people. Which is not a trivial consideration given our world situation, yes? I am confident Richard would never give rights to any group not able to do make his book into a film at least as good as Lathe of Heaven (the newer version was a failure), I am talking about the one from the mid-70s I believe, originally a PBS production) Anyway, I love the medium, myself, though am often disappointed in specific efforts, I do feel it can be (now) much more influential on culture than a big fat book that feels unapproachable to most people.


I liked the PBS movie and Le Guin worked as a consultant on that project. She had some insights into how fiction turned into film. These are two very different but related mediums. Since reading fiction has lost prestige over the last century it is still the major source of inspiration for the film industry. I call it an industry as it is still run on the same factory model as our medical, agricultural and educational systems do. That may change as tech evolves and more persons have access to networks that were once monopolized by aesthetic tastes of the wealthy few. The corruption in that industry has been on display for the last couple of years. Netflix I understand is doing the Powers story. I discontinued Netflix to protect my fragile psyche from the depressing, nihilistic productions that they pump out. Unfortunately, those nihilist trends have not stayed in the warped imaginations of the Netflix world but has become the norm that most people, with their masks and malcontents are bombarded by. Maybe something else can be created by Netflix. But I still have no interest in renewing my contact with them. I have found my quality of life, even during this pandemic, has risen as I have stopped searching through their archive for something interesting. I do hope the next generation of artists can integrate a Goethean way of doing film. I try to read a book first before I see the movie. A bad novel can make a good film but a bad film can ruin a good book. Read the novel first. Powers novel is on my shelf.


I think a zoom call that covers Goethe in a comprehensive way might be more Goethean than to look at single works. I am interested in Elective Affinities and the essay written by Walter Benjamin. He relates that novel to the suppression of the erotic in that society and the subsequent collapse the Weimar Republic in his own time. I read Werther years ago and can get up to speed but I am most interested in" going meta" with Goethe and exploring his poetry, fiction and the history of his impact upon future generations. In other words, I want to zoom out into multiple works and beyond. Also, Goethe had a huge influence upon Beethoven, Berlioz and Mahler. How he shaped the arts of his future ( including ourselves) interests me the most. Practically, we might want to do a show and tell zoom call. Bring your favorite Goethe and riff upon your inspiration in a supportive group. Not everyone has to have read everything. That would be way too demanding. My question-what are the meta- patterns that continue to connect us to Goethe? And what difference does knowing that make? I would like to do something really artsy fartsy rather than just scholarly and cerebral. And we can do both at the same time.


Unless there was Ur-work we could look at—the instance worth them all. I suppose that would be Faust. But I would not mind reading Elective Affinities myself, and even that Benjamin essay, before getting into Faust. I want to hang out with Goethe this summer, shoot the aristocratic breeze which still lingers fragrant (and fetid) over the stormy centuries, while there is still some relative calm in my life and as respite from grittier tasks.

Dreams are in the air. I/we will be re-reading @Ariadne’s book, too, this summer—and all you (participating here, or wishing to be) are invited. It is called See Your In Our Dreams and I am working on a page for this event. I would love to read Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, too. I have not before… and I recall seeing somewhere that Jeremy Johnson is hosting a reading of that book in the near future, or previously offered one. The very, very first reading group we hosted on this platform was for The Dispossessed, a reading which deeply affected me and continues to inform my thinking about the temporality and politics of Cosmos.

I am going to step back, take a breath, allow for space and a swirl possibilities, like cream in coffee… an artsy-fartsy show-and-tell / talk-and-listen egghead-friendly lit-fest might be just what Dr. Faustus ordered.


I have looked at the Randall translation of Faust and might be fun to read out loud the first big scene between Faust and Mephistoles and then ask Marco Massi and Ed read through the same scene in the German original. As we are looking for the patterns that connect it might be a good way to start up the next Cafe. This would be simple to do and may put us in touch with the resonant whole of Goethe’s magnum opus.


I am actually most interested in Goethe’s scientific work/philosophy around patterns in the cosmos and especially plant intelligence.

The following is an excerpt from a longer excerpt from Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm. And this book is one I personally would love to discuss eventually. As I’ve said, I cannot afford to buy the books I would love to read, but I happen to already have this one and it’s one of my favorites.

"The deep intelligence possessed by plants has been explored, and discussed, by many people of note over the past several centuries, including Goethe, Luther Burbank, George Washington Carver, Masanobu Fukuoka, Jagadis Bose, and the Nobel Prize-winner Barbara McClintock. Nevertheless, their research and findings have usually been dismissed, irrespective of its competence. As Brenner et al. comment about Bose (and the concept of plant intelligence in general) . . .

Boses overall conclusion that plants have an electromechanical pulse, a nervous system, a form of intelligence, and are capable of remembering and learning was not well received in its time. A hundred years later, concepts of plant intelligence, learning, and long-distance electrical signaling in plants have entered the mainstream literature. . . . Nevertheless, the concept of plant intelligence [still] generates a considerable amount of controversy. [1]

The discomfort among reductionists has been so extreme that, as Baluska et al. (2005) note, for a very long time, the reports of a sophisticated plant nervous system was labeled as pseudoscience and doomed for oblivion. [2] Research indicating intelligence in plants, whenever it appeared, irrespective of the source, was consistently attacked by mainstream researchers as mystical, a romanticization of the natural world, or as anthropocentrism.

But really, when you think of it,

we have a lot more in common with a plant than a car.

Mechanomorphismthe projection onto Nature of a mechanical natureis a lot more ridiculous than the idea of plant intelligence ever could be

As Anthony Trewavas once put it, The use of the term vegetable to describe unthinking or brain-dead human beings perhaps indicates the general attitude [toward plants]. [3] In consequence, most of the work by Goethe and the others has been ignored, and in many cases forgotten. Even Barbara McClintock, whose work on corn transposons eventually earned her the Nobel Prize, was ostracized for over a decade, because of the discomfort her work caused. And while her work was eventually recognized, her methodology, like that of Goethe et al., has been dismissed. As one of her colleagues once put it . . .

I respect McClintocks work; I just dont like her mysticism

Despite this, plants, it turns out, really are highly intelligent and yes, they do have a brain. Its just that no one ever looked in the right place. Oh, wait! There was someone, a long time ago, who did look in the right place.

His name was Charles Darwin.


Darwin commented in one of his last works, The Power of Movement in Plants, that

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle thus endowed [with sensitivity] and having the power of directing the movements of the adjoining parts, acts like the brain of one of the lower animals; the brain being seated within the anterior end of the body, receiving impressions from the sense-organs and directing the several movements. [4]

This book of Darwins, his second to last, has been long ignored. It contains some of the most powerful insights about plants since Goethe’s work nearly a century before. (Jagadis Bose, during the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would take it considerably further.) Darwin had two genuinely deep insights that are paradigm altering: 1) that the root of the plant is in fact its brain; and 2) that the plant is using sensitive, and intelligent, analysis of its surroundings to navigate through the soil.

But Darwins insight was just the beginning; depth analysis of plants since the turn of the (new) millennium is finding that their brain capacity is much larger than Darwin supposed, that their neural systems are highly developed in many instances as much as that of humans, and that they make and utilize neurotransmitters identical to our own. It is beginning to seem that they are highly intelligent perhaps as much or even more so than humans in some instances. (They can even perform sophisticated mathematical computations and make future plans based on extrapolations of current conditions. The mayapple, for instance, plans its growth two years in advance based on weather patterns.)

But, that cant be true. They just sit there when we kill them

(yeah? and no matter how fast a human runs, the lion still finds him tasty.)

Increasing numbers of researchers, in a multiplicity of fields, are beginning to acknowledge that intelligence is an inevitable aspect of all self-organized systems that sophisticated neural networks are a hallmark of life. Some researchers are becoming quite vocal in attacking what they call the brain chauvinism of the old-school (male) scientists who are still clasping firmly to their bosom (26A) the shreds of twentieth-century scientific certitudes. Kevin Warwick, a cyberneticist, observes succinctly that, Comparisons (in intelligence) are usually made between characteristics that humans consider important; such a stance is of course biased and subjective in terms of the groups for whom it is being used. [5] In other words, rationalists, who have long attacked the concept of intelligence and awareness in Nature as antirational Romantic projection, have been themselves been merely looking at and for their own reflection in the world around them and, of course, finding the world wanting."


What we are slowly discovering is that intelligence, reason, mind is not in the brain. Cognition is prior and inherent in the physical manifestation. There is now lots of evidence that suggests this. We now know also that there is a ‘basal cognition’ in single-celled organisms as a scientific fact. But the modern physicalist neurocentric paradigm is so deeply rooted in our … well… our brains… that all this continues to be ignored. Maybe we will need neurosurgery to eradicated it. :laughing:


Obviously, I agree with you. BUT I don’t think our generally mistaken take on reality is rooted in the brain, it is rooted in body and senses, culture/language, our entire physio-entological being, and to some unknown extent, in the actual “memory-like” processes that give rise to new human and non- human, individuals and “tendencies” that in turn feed back into Evolution itself.


During the time of which I posted about in a lengthy aside, I had been listening to this great offering of prose on the meandering roads to the campsite. (quick aside: I too have a limited funds for books and opt for a less expensive e-copy, then utilize an app, Evie, for reading the text; hence audio is available for most books . . . it can lead to profound listening experiences . . . I suspect though that Buhner’s style is best read on page though and will be purchasing the book soon) His opening autobiography is a refreshing journey into that which depicts the over(arching)story of what occurs when we encounter nature and that meandering path that may lead us back to ki, to use Potawatomi à la Robin Kimmerer.

Akin to Psychedelic Mike (and an underarching theme of the book, this seeking access to the Divine), I had utilized a catalyst during this meandering drive and found myself increasingly attuned to his words; his personal distaste for the edugenic harm schooling caused; his rebellion; and the education waiting to be received. What really transported me into the imaginal realm was his depiction at the beginning of Chapter 1 of just that: the experience of entering “a world that lies underneath and behind the one that most of us see every day.” “Everything seemed to have become more itself. Everything seemed charged with meaning, some deep meaning that i could feel but not understand, at the time, with my mind.”

Plant intelligence merges with animal intelligence merges with sky intelligence (the clouds had turkey feather patterns on that drive) merges with the tilt of the steering wheel around a bending branching in the road merges with memories of times meandering in forests. What roots any emerging experience of the full canopy of the ever-present is the child’s gaze; the child’s listening to world music with a still-eyed stare (eyes are offline). Buhner makes use of a Goethe quote "To know how cherries and strawberries taste, ask children and birds.

I finished Werther last night. A prose written by a child’s meandering heart. And a budding adult with a keen eye for the primacy of a child’s world-vision, the world at their fingertips, tipsy drunken. I suspect wine was a catalyst for Goethe and his genius. I noticed the ebbing and flowing of Werther’s emotional decanter was uncorked in time with the seasonal changes. Spring brought a fever dream. Winter brought a bullet to a head with a headstrong Lebensekel (life-disgust). In Mann’s Lotte in Weimar, a depiction of a much later encounter between Charlotte and Goethe, long after the resentment that followed after Werther’s publication, Goethe plays the role of a complex soul, child still in residence but a world-weariness directed towards the petty puppet show that was strung around him. Goethe was quite the dreamer. I think in this thread we are doing more than just dreaming with Goethe. Perhaps we can enter ever further into that Becoming of his era, not only finding the parallels between his spheres and ours but by entering into that imaginal realm and find him lying in the grasses with important people like you and me, sharing stories and tastes and visions.


Yes. I live with similar situation. Because the illusion of “safety” works better in the mental when it leaves out the other realms, especially body/feeling where the most vulnerable experiences and experiences of vulnerability are aroused. Can be almost unbearable/terrifying, CB says, to be a single-point in a perspective with a vanishing point. And yet to be flesh and blood and feeling is every more terrifying, some of us even preferring to be machines or brains in boxes than to fully accept our flesh-feeling interconnected experience. But as we speak and hear and see and feel and know from WITHIN the aperspectival wholeness of Being, fear lessens, no matter the “objective facts”, is only one among an amazing array of “energies” to explore relationship with.


I’ve read Buhner’s book more than once, and will likely read it again. For me the sensual aspects of physical reading complete the fullness of experiencing him/his visionary structuring/restructuring. But I LOVE audio books too, which somehow evoke a very different experience via exactly the same words! That’s kind of amazing. The audio “experience channel” saved my sanity for many years when I could not physically read. Then it became a mode of relationship as I taught/guided people in meditation-related experiences, which then evolved into co-experiences, dropped roles of teacher and student. Now I use the word “listening” to mean a much wider sensory-spiritual receptiveness, which is quite active/creative, too, though that action is not front and center. It’s how I do everything: listening, waiting, changing course, circling back around…
I am not remembering many dreams, but I do know that Dreaming does not require being asleep. It requires opening to the deep regions, though, the delta territories, which psychoactive plants are so adept at helping us do!
I hope you can come to the See You In Our Dreams discussion group (Michael, too, are you here??, whether you’ve read the book or not. If you’d like a copy of the paperback book, I can send you one for free, just email me your physical address and it shall appear in your mailbox. (I do have a dream of turning SYIOD into an audio version someday somehow…)
But now I have to float back down into zoomland for an Eco Vista meeting!


Yet another proof of how bad I am in exercising irony!! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


To find the
Balance between
Tension & Relaxation


Nope! Proff that I am not the best irony dectector! :slight_smile:


" The archaic structure might be thought of as the silent pulse before breath." Jean Gebser

As a writing, dreaming, English speaking, gay, New Yorker humanoid, what happens next?

I wander with Wordsworth lonely as a cloud…

While I wander, along the Hudson River, on a summer day, where Walt cruised handsome sailors, and Herman felt the urge to escape land and join an ill fated voyage on a whaling ship…

I re-concieve so many dreaming, observing systems, that are confronted by undecidable phenomena, triangles, cubes, spheres, zooming in the sky…

And then what happens when you re-conceive? A meta-prose poem wants to happen.

And can that happen?


And where does that no come from?

I feel lost in a field of all possibility. I want to watch the clouds, fall asleep in the grass, float in 360 degree surrounding…with no need to protect inside/outside…relaxing boundaries…allowing shapes and tongues to happen…kundalini tongues licking the nape of my neck…and like the sky minded, disembodied poet tricksters who loved to brawl and drink too much and wake up in a strange bedroom…

And from the different differences of the language-games offered here, language games emerging from persons with a resonant voice box in the throat,

words/sounds coming through head, heart, gut, into hands that enter the network by typing upon a key board, and each speaker/writer trying to find a way home,

I would say,

Fear no evil….


Here is a poem reflecting on a visit to Goethe’s home, preserved in Weimar, delicately constructed from the point of view of both a tourist and keen observer of landscapes in memory. I came across this serendipitously in a volume titled Trace Elements, by Barbara Jordan, a poet recommended to me by Brian George. They know each other and are friends.

I believe the poem explores how memory works in nature and the mind, inquiring into what it means to move between different strata of time—where the fossilized shapes of things are preserved—as an observer in motion.

As the poet was attracted enough by Goethe’s relics to spend time visiting, even collecting mementos which she later regards curiously, I wonder how her way of seeing—her poetic organ of perception—corresponds to his own. Aren’t some forms of reading a means of reanimating fossil-shapes of the mind?


This is such an excellent poem! Thank you for posting it. I am crazy about ammonites and all the fantastical creatures hinted at in the fossil forms above. Especially the spirals, which have always and in whatever form, fascinated me. More to say, enough for now!


The Above Quote brought a flashback to this Book & another too:



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Synchronously, I’ve been listening to this wonderful talk about reading/symbolism the psyche and nature, and so much more.

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