The Eternal Present and the Forty-Eight Laws of Cosmic Objectivity


Kurt’s prodigious memory was not simply an accident of nature, but also the result of his concerted efforts at memory training. As he notes in this essay circa 1979, the use of mnemonic devices to enhance memory were promoted by Giordano Bruno during the Renaissance, and the use of complex mandalas by Tibetan Buddhists serve a similar function. Kurt employed a comparable technique, which combined with his natural powers as a polymath allowed him to teach and speak extemporaneously on a variety of topics for hours at a time, without resorting to any notes.
When it comes to the exercise of memory, he states, “Any person capable of reading, understanding and following injunctions can now practice the exercise of constructing this psychic space with the disciplined imagination. Although this is a very ancient exercise, traditionally it has been a part of the esoteric teaching, distinguished from the exoteric tradition that concerns itself with outward manifestations rather than with the interior imagination. Therefore, published indications for performing the exercise, if any, have appeared in symbolic guise, as in the literature of Western alchemy.”

UCLA Lecture 1967 - Renaissance to the Present


A 1967 lecture that begins as a very straightforward art history lecture about the Renaissance turns to Kurt’s concerns about teaching art history itself, and reflects upon the crisis in his own teaching career. His UCLA teaching contract terminated due to his controversial and unconventional teaching style and views about education, he reflects upon his aspirations as a teacher and intellectual. Remarking on the absurdity of it all for his students, he says, “But you do become absurd. You lose your sense of joy and discovery, humanity, you act and respond like machines. I know you do. I know because I know these forces on my life too, essentially the same forces.” And, facing the career crisis in his own life, he remarks, “Every time we reach that ultimate point in states of consciousness, we're in a critical situation; we can choose. Crisis, crossroads; take your choice which way you gonna go? Forward, backwards, left or right. Crisis mean crux, cross, crosswalks, crucial; every time you can choose you're free. Every time you do choose, you affirm your freedom. Every time you affirm your freedom, you affirm life.” Both informative and revealing, this lecture is available as both audio file and transcript.

Gestalt Mathematics


“The contribution of the Gestalt approach is the recognition that figure and ground are formally the same and may be exchanged without violence to the whole, and in fact must be changed for a complete experience of the whole. When we understand something, we stand under it, experience it from without as well as within.” So states Kurt von Meier and Clifford Barney at the beginning of this 1975 exploration into the relationships between the Gestalt therapy and psychology of Fritz Perls, mathematics, and knowledge of the divine as seen by Dante Alighieri.

Kurt Gets Interviewed in 1967


This recording of Kurt von Meier being interviewed by a woman named Kris Koch sometime around 1967 was made while Kurt was still teaching at UCLA and had become a wildly-popular professor. Ninety-nine percent of the interview is Kurt rapidly talking a blue-streak, delivering a wide-ranging discourse about his interests in the wisdom of “primitive” people and cultures, and the ways “western civilization doesn’t work for people well at all.” His comments range among art history and world ecology; presciently for 1967, he raises the prospect of the greenhouse effect, climate change, rising oceans and the possible death of planet Earth. His comments convey why Kurt was so popular and controversial. A poor microphone produces some clicks and sustained “hum” as the interview progresses, but his comments remain easily heard. At some point, a phone rings, he checks the mike, and sadly, the interview comes to an abrupt end after 38 minutes.