FORWORD TO CYMATICS
by Christiaan Stuten
As a life-long friend of Dr. Jenny, until his death in 1972, including 14 years assisting him with the fascinating experiments portrayed in these pages, it is with great joy that I introduce this combined edition of his two books on Cymatics, the study of wave formations. Hans Jenny was indeed a Renaissance man, his diverse callings woven together by his dynamic personality which was characterized by great intensity and a profound sense of competency in all that he undertook.
As a youngster, his affinity for music and skill at the piano made a career in music seem likely. His father held various positions in the evangelical church, and throughout grammar school Hans would play organ for church services. His tastes, however, were as broad as his talents and he was equally at ease improvising jazz as performing a piano sonata. His musical aptitude overshadowed an indifference for church religion, although he did gain a thorough knowledge of the bible during this time. He also developed a life-long interest, and formidable command of both classical and modern history, as well as becoming proficient in Greek and Latin.
His love of the arts was evidenced by continuous study of the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, music through the works of Mozart and Wagner (as well as jazz), and philosophy via Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus and Nietsche. The scientific approach of Goethe was also a powerful influence upon him. He was a tireless observer of the natural world, especially animals. In later life, as a scientist and lecturer his travels took him all over the world, and he never missed an opportunity to visit zoological gardens, whether in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland, or in some distant city. He loved to travel, and had an insatiable desire to really "know" the places he would visit. Two of his favorites were the Engardin in the town of St. Maurice in the Swiss Alps, and, quite appropriately, the town of Florence, Italy, which, in its day, was the center of the Renaissance.
He was a most entertaining man whose sharp wit was tempered with heartfelt compassion. This was to serve him greatly in what was to become his primary profession as a family physician in the village of Dornach. His practice spanned more than 30 years and ranged from making "house calls" to local farmers (occasionally even treating their animals), to seeing prominent socialites at his clinic in the nearby city of Basel. With his breadth of interest, sense of humor, and his positively magnetic personality, he could quickly develop rapport with just about anyone, and his vibrancy was so infectious that no sooner did he enter the room than his patients would feel better!
One of his most prized possessions was a pair of binoculars which his father had given him as a boy. Though nothing fancy, he always carried them with him on his many sojourns around the world. His keen eyes, schooled in the Goethean mode of observing nature, were his primary tools in his relentless pursuit of the hidden laws of life. His acute perceptivity was already evident as a schoolboy when he would go on ornithological excursions in the Swiss countryside outside of Basel. He quickly learned to recognize and identify every bird in the vicinity by both its appearance and its call! Since early childhood he had liked to draw and to paint, primarily animals and their environs. This "hobby" grew to become an absolute inner necessity for him throughout his later life.
He painted with oils on canvas, and also on composition board, the latter being larger images often 3' x 5' or greater. He never copied nature. Rather he would absorb impressions whose motifs would then gestate within him, sometimes for years, until they emerged in a controlled explosion of creativity, color and form. Even these larger works seldom took more than an hour or two for him to complete.
Executed in a vital, expressive manner unique in the realm of "animal portraiture," his paintings captured the soul of the animal while at the same time reflecting powerful archetypes within the psyche of man. The resulting body of over two thousand paintings firmly established Jenny as a fine artist with numerous exhibits throughout Europe and as far afield as Argentina.*
It was on one of these ornithological excursions bicycling in the hills overlooking the Birs Valley near Dornach, that the 14 year-old's gaze fell upon the first Goetheanum, a unique and impressive wooden structure built under the inspiration and direction of Rudolf Steiner. The lad was fascinated by the twin-lobed structure, and as fate would have it, a short time later he accompanied his parents and a small group of educators and public officials on a guided tour of what was to become the locus of Anthroposophical teaching - a tour led by none other than Rudolf Steiner himself
Thus began his study of Anthroposophy, a spiritual science with which he found particular affinity. As with his earlier experience with religion, he didn't always relate well with "Anthroposophists", but he greatly admired Steiner and read an enormous amount of his extensive writings. It was Steiner, with his emphasis on the super-sensible, spiritual dimension of life, who was to influence Jenny most profoundly, providing direction for his insatiable curiosity and a framework for his own inner strivings.
Not surprisingly, Jenny proved a good student, and was already giving lectures on Anthroposophy before he had even finished medical school. After completing his doctorate he taught science at the Rudolf Steiner School in Zurich for four years before beginning his medical practice. And even with a bustling practice, he still found time to keep up with the latest advances in the natural sciences, to travel and lecture, and of course, to experiment in a whole new field of science, Cymatics!
Dr. Jenny would frequently begin his lectures stating that he hoped that his research into Cymatics would open the eyes of others to the underlying periodic phenomena in nature, which he so clearly perceived. An earlier book, published in 1962 in German, was entitled "Das Gesetz der Wiederholung" or "The Laws of Repetition." Although those experiments were rudimentary in comparison to what is contained in Cymatics, Volumes I and II, his inner eye was already looking far ahead with daring and inspiration.
Jenny liked to quote an aphorism of Heraclitus, "All is flow. All is in flux." More than a favorite maxim, this was a very apt and pointed characterization of the man himself. The outer form of things, their skin or surface appearance, proved no boundary for his insightful mind and penetrating gaze.
Much like the Cymatics experiments brought to light underlying principles of nature, Jenny's indefatigable spirit of inquiry, and unparalleled powers of perception revealed his ardent desire to know, to understand, to feel and be at one with the very essence of life, a force which he felt deeply within.
It was a tremendous privilege to work side by side with Dr. Jenny for those many years, and I only hope that this brief synopsis will convey some semblance of the character of this most remarkable man who was Hans Jenny.
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