This question arises when comparing the 'impact' of Rudolf Steiner - who founded an international society and movement; and William Arkle, who died known only to a 'handful' of people and remains almost wholly obscure.
In general, the most valuable kind of genius is one who dicovers something 'simple'; that is, something that was difficult to discover (because, in fact, it was Not discovered until the genius did it) but, once discovered, easy to learn.
This can be seen by technologies such as the bow and arrow, wheel or arch, whose origins are unknown, were absent from many (or all) ancient cultures, and were (I believe we can infer) discovered by specific persons (i.e. geniuses) in particular times and places.
More recent examples would include the technologies of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, which were adopted quickly and widely - oince the intellectual heavy lifting had been done by specific geniuses (who often gained nothing personally from the inventions)
Rudolf Steiner was a genius of Romantic Christianity; but he made many serious strategic errors; and in the end embedded his major (and simple) discoveries in a vast structure of mostly-dubious factual-assertion; which formed the (infallible) scriptures of a bureaucractic Anthroposophical Society; housed in a grandiose headquarters of concrete (in both senses) buildings; engaged in all sorts of formal/ procedural/ bureaucratic institutional activities relating to education, medicine, agriculture, the arts etc.
In sum, Steiner attempted to 'impose' his esoteric message on the world via an organisation, by a stepwise process, that is - by a kind of compulsion - and this is an internally-contradictory, hence ineffectual, strategy.
The outcome is that it is very hard to find the core spirit of Steiner anywhere in the world; except among a handful of individuals who are essentially outside of the Society and institutional structures (and even these Steinerites usually remain captivated by the Ahrimanic distortions of their Master, rather than discarding them).
In sum, that of Steiner which we can perceive is merely the distortion.
By contrast, except for a few disciples (who have not, apparently, made public their thoughts) anyone who has come to share Arkle's ideas must re-experience them for himself.
In other words, insofar as he has affected people, Arkle can only have influenced other people via imperceptible esoteric and direct spiritual routes. One who would share Arkle's thinking, needs to do so on the 'plane' of ultimate and universal reality - since their is neither System nor Institutions to 'educate' him.
The question is whether the existence and effect of such esoteric and direct ways of sharing are really-real (or just wishful thinking).
It strikes me that William Arkle, especially in his pictures and his 'simple' prose pieces - such as Letter from a Father, Equations of Being and the Late Prose items - made some very simple spiritual discoveries that therefore could be learned rapidly and applied very widely.
Arkle's core insight is that we can come directly and by experience to know the detailed and personal love of God the Creator for ourselves; which will give us a great confidence and faith in our own lives.
And the fact that we are God's children means that we have a share of his divinity, and this will guide us through - enable us to learn from - all possible experiences that our life brings us.
The point is that all this is knowable for ourselves, once we know about it. It is effective, if we genuinely believe it is true. The insight is very simple, and our life can be very simple.
Of course, in works like A Geography of Consciousness or Hologram and Mind; Arkle also produced works with a great deal of complexity, involving metaphors drawn from physics and engineering.
The underlying message remains simple, and I think these complex works were produced as a form of persuasive rhetoric in response to the typical kinds of questioning of modern intellectuals, who are unable to take-seriously or to believe the truth of anything that is simple and obvious.
These works of Arkles function mostly like the mathematical 'working' done to convince a skeptic, when the actual result may be simple; they provide models or analogies of spiritual truths that strike us as childishly obvious; and by that hope to get past the 'watchful dragons' of the modern skeptical intellect (based upon deep and denied reductionist assumptions and dishonest arguments).
It would seem to me that Arkle 'must have' had a considerable influence on The World; since someone of his spiritual quality could not help but have done so! But not, of course, by the normal, perceptible, means of 'communication'.
Instead, I regard the creative insights of Arkle as having made a permanent addition to the primary thought-world that is the basis of divine creation. Anyone who engages in primary thinking, who has direct intuition, may therefore encounter Arkle's insights for themselves and without ever having heard of Arkle.
As a genius, Arkle was able to think some things for the first time; but now they have been-thought - and these thoughts are available to 'everybody' who would not have had the genius to create them anew from scratch.
Since Love is primary and a part of creation; I would further emphasise that the 'spead' of Arkle's ideas depends upon love. The 'range of effect' is therefore set by the scope of Arkle's love, and the difference made will be initially in realtion to that scope.
For example, when Arkle painted something with love that embodied his genius insights, those things will have been strengthened and sustained by that love - in an objective fashion: they will have been 'Romanticised' in an objective and universal sense. A better known example would be Walter Scott or Wordsworth, who permanently transformed the power of The Scottish Borders and the Lake District (and similar landscapes) to inspire and elevate us - even for those who have never read either.
I am suggesting that - as an example, but much more widely - the Scottish Border and the Lake Distict were objectively changed by Scott and Wordsworth - we who lovingly-experience them now, do so in a way that is qualitatively different from the way such landscapes were experienced 300 years ago - and indeed we cannot recover the way they used to be regarded. And later on Tolkien further modified our experience of landscapes.
The new experience is unlocked by shared love.
This can be explained (to use the terminology of Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom) in terms of the concepts we use to interpret the raw perceptual data and memories of these places - our concepts are, when they are true, drawn from the universal, impersonal store of divine creation - and this store has been modified by the 'final participation' of human geniuses.
This, then, (as a general mechanism) is the main way in which a spiritual genius like Steiner or Arkle affects the world; not by their communications, and certainly not by institutional transmission - but by participating-in, and permanently transforming, the ongoing nature of divine creation - henceforth available to all that are attuned to it.
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