Goethe and the Power of Rhythm

by John Barnes

Adonis Press, 1999
ISBN 0-932776-24-8
95 pages; paperback; $10.00

Book Description

In fresh and spirited prose, John Barnes offers a captivating introduction to the life of Goethe as an inspiration for our times. He traces a powerful 18.6 year rhythm in Goethe’s biography, showing how his creative genius unfolded through repeated periods of crises and renewal. The fact that this rhythm corresponds exactly with cyclical movements of the earth and moon suggests a strong connection between the life of Goethe and the pulsing life of nature.
Goethe considered his participatory approach to nature to be his finest achievement in life, a contribution only now beginning to be appreciated as scientifically significant. Barnes focuses on Goethe’s development as a scientist, in the end applying Goethe’s own scientific method to his unfolding biography. In doing so, a remarkable archetypal lawfulness is revealed.

Goethe’s life and work inspire us to deepen our own connection to nature and to the rhythms of our lives. In light of the crises we face today, Goethe appears more than ever as a forerunner of a possible healing culture of the 21st century.

"I also know that I appear to the world as one who has built a ship atop a high mountain, thousands of miles distant from the ocean; but the waters will rise, and my ship will float and sail." ~ Goethe


 John Barnes’ evocative book invites the reader to celebrate the inimitable life and spirit of Goethe, a luminary in the age of Enlightenment. The author carefully guides us through Goethe’s awakenings and discoveries evolving from his synthesis of science and aesthetics, to breach the bleak barriers of scientific determinism…

This refreshingly lively survey highlights Goethe’s spiritual stature by following his search for new avenues of cognition through the powers of imagination and observation. The author’s delight in Goethe’s personality and innermost strivings underscores the mutually productive friendship between Goethe and Schiller.  Reading between the lines, one can sense that Goethe’s spirit has fed the author’s own spring of inspiration.

But John Barnes goes further by tracing Goethe’s phases of development as a time-form, demonstrating in particular the dynamic rhythm of the moon nodes – the 18.6 year cycle – a cardinal pulse within Goethe’s unfolding destiny...


Rhythm 9

Childhood 11

Adolescence in Leipzig 15

Youth in Strassbourg 19

The Fire of Genius 23

Weimar 26

Italy 41

Weimar Again 48

Friendship with Schiller 51

A New Science of Color 57

Old Age - New Beginnings 68

The Underlying Rhythm in Goethe's Life 79

Notes 92

Bibliography 95