Review of fiction, education, science, current events,
essays, book reviews, poetry and Anthroposophy

Number 113, July - August 2017

"Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine"

By Leonardo da Vinci, from around 1489-1490. The subject of the portrait is identified as Cecilia Gallerani, and was probably painted at a time when she was the mistress of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and Leonardo was in the service of the Duke. The painting is one of only four female portraits painted by Leonardo, the others being the Mona Lisa, the portrait of Ginevra de' Benci and La belle ferronniere. It is displayed by the Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland and is cited in the museum's guide as the first truly modern portrait. In September of 2010 it was exhibited in a museam in Berlin, when I happened to be there. The crowds were so great, however, that it was impossible to gain entrance if one was not willing to arrive at 6 a.m. to get on line. It then moved to London, where it retained its rock star staus. [FTS]

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Editor's Page

Captain Olshevski's Aura by Frank Thomas Smith

The room is a cube with no windows and no pictures on its stark white walls. A triple-tubed neon light on the ceiling makes the white even whiter. We are seated on three sides of a square table. Leroy Little and I have two stripes on our sleeves, we are corporals; the third, George Abrahamian, a private-first-class, has one stripe. George and I are studying pieces of paper held in our rubber-gloved hands through magnifying glasses. Leroy is dozing with a another piece of odorous paper in his hand. We are, or are supposed to be, Intelligence Analysts.
"Listen to this shit, Frank," George says.
"Don't have to," I say. "I can smell it."
That was the scene from Mondays to Fridays during the year 1954. Our three heroes are members of the 7982nd European Liaison Group during the Korean War, but far from Korea, because it was also during the Cold War, fought (sort of) in Germany – East and West. The 7982nd was an Army Intelligence Unit, thus its exotically meaningless name, based in Frankfurt on the Main, in the West, as opposed to Frankfurt on the Oder, in the East... Continue reading

Current Events
The Summer of Love and the Winter of National Insecurity by Ira Chernus

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. What better place to celebrate than that fabled era’s epicenter, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where the DeYoung Museum has mounted a dazzling exhibition, chock full of rock music, light shows, posters, and fashions from the mind-bending summer of 1967? If you tour the exhibit, you might come away thinking that the political concerns of the time were no more than parenthetical bookends to that summer’s real action, its psychedelic counterculture. Only the first and last rooms of the large show are explicitly devoted to political memorabilia. The main body of the exhibit seems devoid of them, which fits well with the story told in so many history books. The hippies of that era, so it’s often claimed, paid scant attention to political matters... Continue reading

Lifestyle Changes, not a Magic Pill, Can Reverse Alzheimer's by Clayton Dalton

Last summer, a research group from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) quietly published the results of a new approach in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. What they found was striking. Although the size of the study was small, every participant demonstrated such marked improvement that almost all were found to be in the normal range on testing for memory and cognition by the study’s end. Functionally, this amounts to a cure. These are important findings, not only because Alzheimer’s disease is projected to become ever more common as the population ages, but because current treatment options offer minimal improvement at best...
Continue reading

Dementia - Anthroposophical perspectives by Judith von Halle

Judith von Halle is mostly known for her books and lectures about the life and meaning of Jesus Christ. In this book she concentrates on a medical phenomenon which today has taken on the characteristics of a plague. Senility, involving short term memory loss and the general weakening of mental faculties associated with old age, has been known for centuries, but the illness we now call dementia or, in its more extreme stages, Alzheimer’s disease, has become more and more prevalent in modern society. Not only the aged are affected, but symptoms have been detected increasingly in the middle-aged, even in children. Before going further, it should be noted that there is a difference between “normal” old age forgetfulness and the illness which can lead to the affected persons becoming little more than living vegetables. The former is benign, the latter devastating... Continue reading

Faith, Artificial Intelligence and Singularity by Beth Singler

My stomach sank the moment the young man stood up. I’d observed him from afar during the coffee breaks, and I knew the word ‘Theologian’ was scrawled on the delegate badge pinned to his lapel, as if he’d been a last-minute addition the conference. He cleared his throat and asked the panel on stage how they’d solve the problem of selecting which moral codes we ought to program into artificially intelligent machines (AI). ‘For example, masturbation is against my religious beliefs,’ he said. ‘So I wonder how we’d go about choosing which of our morals are important?’ The audience of philosophers, technologists, ‘transhumanists’ and AI fans erupted into laughter. Many of them were well-acquainted with the so-called ‘alignment problem’, the knotty philosophical question of how we should bring the goals and objectives of our AI creations into harmony with human values... Continue reading


The Jesus Singularity by Zoltan Istvan

Paul Shuman's phone rang. He struggled to open his eyes. 'Who the hell is calling me in the middle of the night?' he thought. He rolled out of bed and walked naked to his desk to see. His phone showed it was his secretary. "What is it?" he sharply asked on speaker phone."Dr. Shuman, there's been an accident. The President has been killed—in a helicopter crash. Somehow the weapons on his helicopter self-exploded. Experts are saying it was an assassination. But maybe it was just the computers going haywire. " There was a pause, a dozen things trying to compute in Shuman's mind. It forced his brain fully awake. He took a step back away from his desk. After a long silence, only one question mattered—a dangerous question that involved the fate of human civilization... Continue reading

Tango by Luisa Valenzuela

I was told:
in this dance hall you have to sit close to the bar, on the left near the cash register; order a glass of wine, nothing stronger because it's not becoming for women, don't drink beer because beer makes you want to piss and pissing isn't for ladies either. They talk about a kid from this neighborhood who ditched his girlfriend when he caught her leaving the ladies room: I thought she was pure spirit, a fairy, it seems the kid said. The girlfriend was left flat, which in this neighborhood still has connotations of loneliness and spinsterhood, something frowned upon. For women, that is. So I was told... Continue reading

Me dijeron:
En este salón te tenés que sentar cerca del mostrador, a la izquierda, no lejos de la caja registradora; tomate un vinito, no pidás algo más fuerte porque no se estila en las mujeres, no tomés cerveza porque la cerveza da ganas de hacer pis y el pis no es una cosa de damas, se sabe del muchacho de este barrio que abandonó a su novia al verla salir del baño: yo creí que ella era puro espíritu, un hada, parece que alegó el muchacho. La novia quedó para vestir santos, frase que en este barrio todavía tiene connotaciones de soledad y soltería, algo muy mal visto. En la mujer, se entiende. Me dijeron. Continuar

Miryam - Part Three by Luise Rinser

Why then couldn’t I be so unreservedly happy like the others? The mustard seed grew too quickly in me. Trees that shoot up too quickly have soft wood. And what a short time ago it was that the people had shouted: Crucify him, the criminal! And what a short time before that they had called out: Hoshiana! However, my worries seemed unjustified. Everything continued to go well, for a long while. That was when that Councilor Gamaliel, who had spoken in favor of both accused, came to me as leader of one of the groups we called communities. I seemed to him competent to answer his question and he came right to the point: You were Rabbi Yeshua’s companion and are initiated in his teaching, and knew him from close up. Tell me: Who was he? Continue reading

Children's Corner

Nature Spirits by Frank Thomas Smith

Nicolás and Carolina were lost in the woods and didn't know which way to turn. Whichever way they went they seemed to get more lost. They sat down on the roots of a tree and Carolina began to cry. Her brother told her not to cry, that they would find their way out eventually, but the truth was that he felt like crying too. Suddenly, they heard a faint sound of someone moaning: "Oh, oh! help me! oh, oh!" They held their breath and waited. It happened again: "Oh, oh!" Maybe it's only the wind," Nicolás said."No, it's someone crying for help," Carolina objected. "What should we do?" Nicolás thought for a moment. He was older so he had to make the decisions. "Let's go to where the sound is coming from. If it's only the wind we won't find anything. If someone needs help we'll help them if we can..." Continue reading


La Historia de una Escuela Waldorf by Frank Thomas Smith

En el año 1996 llegó a mi oficina de Buenos Aires una señora de Traslasierra (Provincia de Córdoba) en representación de un grupo de familias de ese lugar interesadas en fundar una escuela “alternativa”. Una amiga le había dado mi nombre ya que, en ese entonces, yo era uno de los fundadores, coordinadores y profesores del Seminario Pedagógico Waldorf de Buenos Aires. La señora quería saber cómo podrían hacer para aprender la pedagogía Waldorf. Le expliqué que tendrían que enviar a uno o dos maestros para cursar los dos años del Seminario en Buenos Aires. Ella me dijo que eso les resultaría imposible. Yo conocía un poco la zona de Traslasierra ya que había ido allí de vacaciones con mi familia, pero nunca me había encontrado con ninguna de personas interesadas en la pedagogía Waldorf. Continuar


Marxism and the Threefold Society by Rudolf Steiner

It is impossible to be free of the social chaos in which Europe is mired if certain long-standing social demands are made with a distorting lack of clarity. Such a demand, one that prevails in many circles, is contained in Friedrich Engel's book The Evolution of Socialism from Utopia to Science, in which he writes: “Instead of controlling people, controlling products and production processes must prevail.” Many proletarian leaders, as well as the proletarian masses, adhere to this viewpoint. In a certain sense it is correct. The human relations which have developed in modern states have formed administrative bodies that not only control products and production processes, but also the people engaged in these processes. Economics consists of the management of products and the various production processes. In modern times, this has taken on forms which makes it necessary that this management no longer includes controlling people as well. Continue reading

The Gospel of John - 2 - The Doctrine of the Logos by Rudolf Steiner

Our lectures upon the Gospel of St. John will have a double purpose. One will be the deepening of the concepts of Spiritual Science themselves and their expansion in many directions, and the other will be to make this great document itself comprehensible by means of the thoughts that will arise in our souls in consequence of these deepened and expanded concepts. I beg you to hold clearly in mind that it is the intention of these lectures to proceed in these two directions. It should not be simply a question of explanations of this Gospel, but rather that by means of the latter we shall penetrate into the deep mysteries of existence and we should hold very clearly in mind how the perceptive method of Spiritual Science must be developed when we are dealing with any of the great historical records handed down to us by the different religions of the world... Continue reading

The Ring - A Summer Fairy Tale by Rudolf Steiner (translated and with an Afterword by David W. Wood

S. turned with his confidant Z. into the animated Schottengasse in the city of V. Both walked silently for a while, side-by-side. You could see from their faces that the two of them were preoccupied with something extremely close to their hearts. Z.’s face, however, serenely radiated joy, whereas S.’s traits became progressively sombre and serious. Z. then spoke the following words: “You can scarcely imagine how happy you’ve made me today, on account of your good mood and the cheerfulness that you have displayed the whole day; I never thought that I could occasion this kind of mood in you. You have also never been so unreservedly in agreement with one of my actions.” S. appeared not to have heard a single word, for he did not reply. In order to coax an answer out of him, Z. directly posed a question: “Do you think I should tell my close friend in my distant homeland about my current experiences?” S. still seemed as though he were absent. “Why are you so quiet all of a sudden, especially after having been so sincerely happy the entire day?”  Continue reading

"Apologia" concerning the publication of the the First Class Lessons: English / Español


Kubla Kahn by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery... Continue

Words and Music

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
High above the chimney tops,
That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can't I?... Continue.

You can find us under the Southern Cross in the Traslasierra Valley, Province of Córdoba, Argentina. Visitors always welcome. Just follow the sign that reads: La Cruz del Sur.

Frank Thomas Smith, Editor

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