You have now, great Master, become invisible to me, as though by some ascension carried up into skies of your own. I shall not see you any more but, as once for the apostles who were left behind saddened and alone, life is beginning for me, the life that will celebrate your high example and that will find in you its consolation, its justification, and its strength. 1 With these words from 1906, Rainer Maria Rilke bade farewell to the sculptor Auguste Rodin. Having worked devotedly as Rodin’s secretary for eight months, Rilke thereby documents a relationship that is complementary , in the sense described by psychotherapist and communication theorist Paul Watzlawick, while being at the same time religiously charged , as the opening of the valediction makes abundantly clear. The rapport corresponds to specifically social configurations (teacher/pupil, father/son), which are marked by a disparity between the persons involved; 2 and also shares in a hierarchical vertical tension in which man regards himself vis-à-vis God. It was Rilke himself who created this vertical axis, which, as Peter Sloterdijk has shown, typically characterizes teaching relationships in cultures of religiously and ethically coded training. 3 With borrowings from an essentially
Journal of Religion in Europe – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2012
Keywords: concept of the master; fin de siècle; charismatic authority; sociology of knowledge; sociology of religion
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