sábado, 6 de dezembro de 2014

Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality by Walter Gropius

When I first saw the manuscript of this book I felt a certain apprehension which, I think, was quite natural for one who is about to see the life and work of his close friend revealed to the public; a friend, moreover, whose activities were so intense! connected with one of the most decisive periods of my own life. But soon I felt reassured as I became acquainted with this splendid and honest account of Moholy-Nagy's development from early experiments to full maturity. Moholy was always in the public eye, yet most people saw only the more obvious milestones of achievement which crystallize into "news stories." The other story, the intimate and often bitter story of one man's struggle for fulfillment, has been up to now the precious possession of his friends and collaborators, and of his wife, who was certainly the most devoted.

Looking back today, the difficult, contradictory and confusing years between the two World Wars, which form the background for the greater part of this book, seem to have provided a pitifully short time for a generation which approached its artistic endeavors with the zeal and enthusiasm released by the political change in Central Europe. But it was a period inspired by constructive ideas not as yet subjected to the blight of frustration which overshadows the world today. Those were the years of Moholy's and my collaboration in the Bauhaus of Weimar and Dessau, the development of which was deeply influenced by Moholy, the fiery stimulator.

After the Nazi nightmare had caused us both to leave Germany, we saw each other again in England, and later in the United States where I was fortunate enough to secure his leadership for The New Bauhaus in Chicago, subsequently renamed the Institute of Design. As the Bauhaus principles had never been based on limited nationalistic concepts, its seeds could be transplanted and further developed in this country. Against heavy odds which might havediscouraged a giant, Moholy managed to pull the Institute through difficult years, never losing his indomitable courage and confidence. And still he did not let himself become absorbed only in his educational work, extensive as it was, but simultaneously produced a wealth of art that embraces the whole range of the visual arts.

His greatest effort as an artist was devoted to the conquest of space. His genius ventured into all realms of science and art to unriddle the phenomena of space and light. In painting, sculpture and architecture, in theater and industrial design, in photography and film, advertising and typography, he incessantly strove to interpret space in its relation to time, that is, motion in space.

Constantly developing new ideas Moholy maintained an unbiased curiosity, from which originated his continually fresh point of view. With a shrewd sense of observation he investigated everything
that came his way, taking nothing for granted, always applying his acute sense of the organic. His was the attitude of an unprejudiced, happy child at play, surprising us by the directness of his intuitive approach. Here I believe was the source ofhis priceless quality as an educator: his never-ceasing power to stimulate and fire others with his enthusiasm. What more can true education achieve than setting the student's mind in motion by that contagious magic?

Moholy has been successful simultaneously as thinker and artist,,as writer and teacher. That would seem to be almost too vast a range for one man, but abundant versatility was uniquely his.With his power of imagination he kept this broad variety of interestsin balance. His vision took brilliant shortcuts, synchronizing: his observations into a consistent whole, for he was aware of the danger of today's overspecialization which so often leads to fallacies.

Moholy seems always to have been acutely conscious of the preciousness of time; he worked with dedicated zeal to realize his^ideas as though driven by the recognition that the destructive tendencies of our time could be changed into constructive forces!; only by a universal, superhuman effort. He had convinced himself of the generative power of all art and he wanted to see that powerj liberated in each individual with whom he came in contact. Ha had molded himself into a world citizen who would not let his ever-broadening outlook he narrowed by national barriers. Thus, Moholy the artist finally became a moral leader, all his activities being controlled by his strong social responsibility.

This book, Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality, is evidence of a new attitude in the contemplation and formation of our physical world.

BY WALTER GROPIUS, chairman, department of architecture, Harvard University

In:  Moholy-Nagy, Experiment in Totality, by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. New York, 1950, pp, 7-9.


domingo, 30 de novembro de 2014

Eleusis by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


The mystic philosopher Hegel dedicated this poem to his friend Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin in August 1796. The two had first met at the Tübingen Seminary in 1788, and had remained in contact. Rich in mystical symbolism, the poem expresses the importance of the ancient mystery schools to these eighteenth century philosophers and literary figures.

Oh! If the doors of your sanctuary should
crumble by themselves
O Ceres, you who reigned in Eleusis!
Drunk with enthusiasm, I would
shiver with your nearness,
I would understand your revelations,
I would interpret the lofty meaning of the
images, I would hear
the hymns at the gods’ banquets,
the lofty maxims of their counsel.
Even your hallways have ceased to echo,
The circle of the gods has fled back to
from the consecrated altars;
fled from the tomb of profaned humanity,
the innocent genius who enchanted them
here! —
The wisdom of your priests is silent, not one
note of the sacred
initiations preserved for us—and in vain
the scholars, their curiosity greater than their
of wisdom (the seekers possess this love and
they disdain you)—to master it they dig
for words,
in which your lofty meaning might be
In vain! Only dust and ashes do they seize,
where your life returns no more for them.
And yet, even rotting and lifeless they
congratulate themselves,
the eternally dead!—easily satisfied—in vain
—no sign
remains of your celebration, no trace of an
For the son of the initiation the lofty
doctrine was too full,
the profundity of the ineffable sentiment was
too sacred,
for him to value the desiccated signs.
Now thought does not raise up the spirit,
sunken beyond time and space to purify
it forgets itself, and now once again its
is aroused. He who should want to speak
about it with others,
would have to speak the language of angels,
would have to experience the poverty of
He is horrified of having thought so little of
the sacred,
of having made so little of it, that speech
seems to him a
sin, and though still alive, he closes his
That which the initiate prohibits himself, a
law also prohibits the poorest souls: to make
what he had seen, heard, felt during the
sacred night:
so that even the best part of his prayers
was not disturbed by the clamor of their
and the empty chattering did not dispose
him toward the sacred,
and this was not dragged in the mud, but
was entrusted to memory—so that it did
not become
a plaything or the ware of some sophist,
who would have sold it like an obolus,
or the mantle of an eloquent hypocrite or
the rod of a joyful youth, or become so
at the end, that only in the echo
of foreign tongues would it find its roots.
Your sons, Oh Goddess, miserly with your
honor, did not
carry it through the streets and markets, but
they cultivated it
in the breast’s inner chambers.
And so you did not live on their lips.
Their life honored you. And you live still in
their acts.
Even tonight, sacred divinity, I heard you.
Often the life of your children reveals you,
and I introduce you as the soul of their acts!
You are the lofty meaning, the true faith,
which, divine when all else crumbles, does
not falter.


Translation from Giorgio Agamben, Language and Death: the Place of Negativity, translated by Karen Pinkus with Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 7-9, © 2006 University of Minnesota Press, http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/A/agamben_language.html.


1 Georg Hegel, Eleusis, in Giorgio Agamben, Language and Death: The Place of Negativity, translated by Karen E. Pinkus with Michael Hardt (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 6-9. Available at http://content2.wuala.com/contents/nappan/Documents/Agamben,%20Giorgio%20-%20Language%.

In:  Rosicrucian Digest No. 2 2009, pp. 26-27.