To put an end to biodynamics – Nothing is good in pork!

*In which locker should the Frédéric Mugnier file be stored? Engineer, scientist, airline pilot… All of this could be on his resume. But also very rare owner in the Grand Cru Musigny, also Clos de la Maréchale, monopoly in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Château de Chambolle-Musigny, descendant of a famous family of liquorists, winemaker very close to nature, working organic but refusing labels because he hates being told what is good or not.

In his diary, Jules Renard, who liked chiseled more than chatter, noted: “Why free-thinker? Thinker is enough. That’s almost it. Except perhaps that this discreet winemaker, although sought after – especially his wines – would probably prefer a free man quite simply. A category that does not correspond to any locker. Annoyed not long ago by an article which put him in the category of biodynamists, which he is certainly not, he wanted to react. We publish, with his agreement, a forum in three episodes, his response, which can be found on the site of the domain

VSis eye-popping, the Earth is obviously flat. If it were round, the horizon would be curved and people in the distance couldn’t stand. Eratosthenes (- 276 to – 194) found another way to look at this question, an indirect, abstract, technological, mathematical way, by having the shadow of a stick measured on the same day in Aswan and Alexandria to deduce, by trigonometry, the measurement of the Earth’s radius. Was he a horrible materialistic scientist without sensitivity? But wasn’t he closer to the truth than the one who just stared at the horizon, no matter how intensely? Looking is not only with the eyes. It is questioning nature by all means. The idea that the outward appearance of beings reflects the deepest of their inner quality is irresistibly convincing. Is it true though? It is in any case not sufficient. And it is an unstoppable means of manipulation.

Used without restraint, it contributed to the victory of the seducer John Kennedy over the dark Richard Nixon in 1960. One is blond and radiant, the other dark and tormented. Is it relevant for choosing a president? Either way, it’s effective. (Rather than take an example from the United States in 1960, I could have referred to images used in Europe 20 or 30 years earlier. But I prefer to delay the moment of reaching the Godwin point1.)

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Does eating asparagus make you grow taller?

We may not be convinced of the influence of the stars and share the idea that the form of plants or animals is inscribed in each of their parts, in the substance of each of their cells, and that it reflects their characters and their deep qualities. The problem is that Steiner presents as obvious, without attempting to demonstrate it, the fact that, since the matter of the cypress or the horse contains a principle of ancestry and that of the pig or the willow a principle of gravity, these principles can be extracted in manures or herbal teas that will be prepared by the appropriate method, and that these preparations will confer on the earth or on the treated plants the qualities of horse, pig, willow or cypress.

However, this is by no means obvious. To say that cypress contains an elongation factor is a tautology. One can as well say that it contains a principle of cypress. The question is: can this principle of elongation be extracted and dissociated from the principle of cypress? One can with a cypress bud grow another cypress. But can we lengthen a willow with this bud without turning it into a cypress? If that were the case, we would grow taller when we ate asparagus, we would jump higher when we ate horse, we would become pigs when we ate pork. Who saw this?

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The vertical organization of the world

The modern reader, with an ecological tendency, who browses Steiner or his familiars, such as Nicolas Joly or Gary Lachman, regularly comes up against qualifiers which introduce a hierarchy of values ​​between the different forces of nature and the different living beings:

– “The light is exteriorized by the flower whose delicacy, color, expression manifest this third state of matter, more fragile but also more respectable.2. »

– “The autonomy of the animal is the sign of a higher kingdom. »

– “Above these three kingdoms, there is the man who stands upright3. »

Belongs to a lower category everything that is lower, material, disordered, dependent, obscure, cold. What is above, spiritual, organized, autonomous, luminous, warm, is in essence superior and more respectable. This idea strikes us today, because we know that nature is a whole in which the most vulgar of bacteria hides an unfathomable complexity and plays a role in a living system where each being depends on all the others. We discover new gears every day. A watch works when all its cogs are in place; will it be said that some are more respectable than others?

Applied to human groups, the hierarchy of values ​​becomes terribly problematic. However, to put it with the greatest caution, it cannot be denied that Steiner opened the door wide to openly racist interpretations4. Of course, we will say that he only reflects the prejudices of his time, but, precisely, that is precisely the problem! Steiner is only cultivating the prejudices of his environment while he believes he is inspired by superior minds. The place and date of Course for farmers (June 1924 in Silesia) are not indifferent. In 1923-1924, Germany experienced mad hyperinflation that blew up all benchmarks and all values5. On November 8, 1923, the failed beer hall putsch took place in Munich, from which Hitler would draw lessons to implement his strategy for seizing power.

Steiner, the author of The Philosophy of Freedom, the “clairvoyant”, as he likes to define himself, goes through this period without seeing anything, without saying anything. He who trades so easily with supernatural beings does not see the “filthy beast” approaching.6 which nevertheless feeds in part on his lectures and his writings. In some circumstances lack of lucidity is not a weakness, it is a fault, or worse.

Choice time

What to remember from all that ? Most biodynamic winegrowers couldn’t care less about Steiner and stopped reading at paragraph 3. Apart from two or three homeopathic dose preparations, there is often very little biodynamics in their practice. They delegate to their adviser mediation with the forces of the cosmos, practice a sensitive and frequently innovative viticulture, do not pollute and often make marvelous wines. It’s perfect.

But if they don’t care about Steiner, it’s because they could do without him. So why claim biodynamics if they don’t really believe in it? After all, if they do it only out of pragmatism, because “it works”, nothing would prevent them from continuing to put manure in the horns of cows, as one reproduces, out of tenderness or superstition, a grandmother’s trick for prevent milk from souring or champagne from losing its bubbles.

But, if we think that biodynamics has a meaning, then we have to accept all the heritage. So recognize that the organization of the world as Steiner had the vision, as strange as it is, represents a reality of a higher truth than any other. And therefore submit to a revealed system, fixed, inaccessible to criticism, to personal judgment, to the idea of ​​progress, on which reasoning and experimentation have no hold, and whose interpretation, in the practice, is the advisor’s privilege. In my opinion, this is a serious renunciation, an abandonment of freedom. Anthroposophy is religious in nature, even suprareligious. It wants to be a universal explanation of the world. No field, material, spiritual, moral, escapes it. Do we really want to throw ourselves into it? If you are not comfortable in the Anthroposophical Church, you should not claim biodynamics.

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All that for this

I wanted to show that one could be recalcitrant to biodynamics without being indifferent, ignorant or insensitive. I corrected commonly held misconceptions and pointed out that the ideological underpinning of biodynamics is not trivial. For my part, far from systems, I will continue to decide my methods day after day, according to intuitions which are mine rather than those of a master, and which are nourished by my observations, my exchanges and, more generally, of a conception of the world resulting from my experience and my culture. Technical knowledge and science play a small role in it, in their place in my profession.

Science is misunderstood and unloved, in part because of its connection to destructive industrial processes. But it has a great virtue in relation to beliefs, that of being, by nature and by method, exposed to criticism and in permanent (re)construction. She knows the extent of her ignorance and she does not pretend to tell “the truth”.

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1 – “We say of a conversation […] that it has reached the Godwin point when one of the interlocutors refers to Nazism, Hitler, the Shoah to disqualify his adversary’s argument. » Xavier de La Porte, France Culture, January 2, 2014.

2 – Nicolas Joly, Wine from heaven to earth, p. 29.

3 – Same p. 46.

4 – “Humanity has risen by rejecting the lower forms to purify itself and it will rise even higher by separating a kingdom of nature, the kingdom of the evil race. R. Steiner, The Races of Evil1907.

– “We often feel as an injustice of nature the fact that it condemns one to exist in a human race situated at a lower level and raises the other towards a race that appears to be accomplished. R. Steiner, The Fundamental Concepts of Theosophy1905.

– “Let’s start with the black human in Africa. Its particularity is to suck light and heat from cosmic space. He absorbs it (aufnehmen). This heat and this light cannot cross the whole of his body, the human being remaining a human being, even black. R. Steiner, Lecture at Dornach on March 3, 1923.

– “If you could look into the past, you would see that in Lemurian times the body had the appearance of a gigantic, clumsy shape. […] You still find echoes of this in the American Indian population. » Rudolf Steiner, The Fundamental Concepts of Theosophy, 1905, p. 146.

– Etc., etc., etc. I dare not name the most shocking. (FM)

5 – “No people in the world […] has known the delirious and grotesque exaggeration of all these phenomena at the same time as it took place in Germany in 1923. None has known these gigantic and carnivalesque dances of death, these extravagant and endless saturnalia in which all were devalued values, not just money. From the year 1923, Germany was going to emerge ripe not precisely for Nazism, but for any preposterous adventure. The psychological and political roots of Nazism run deeper. […] But he owes this crazy year what makes his current insanity [autour de 1940] : his icy delirium, his blind, overweening and unbridled determination to achieve the impossible by proclaiming “what is right is what is useful”. —Sebastian Haffner, Story of a German: Memories 1914-1933.

6 – “The belly is still fertile from which the filthy beast arose. »Bertolt Brecht, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

To put an end to biodynamics – Nothing is good in pork!