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The Riddle

from The Einstein Affair, Orgone Institute Press, Rangeley, ME, 1953
(HMP transl., 2005)

Einstein's behavior remains, to this day, a riddle. Why had he not answered? Why did he break the promise he had given? There were many opinions about this in our circle. Some believed it possible that he considered the whole Orgone matter to be a hoax. This was contradicted by the understanding he had shown during our encounters. Others thought that he was influenced by certain industrial interests that did not wish the discovery of the Orgone to be confirmed by Einstein. This was contradicted by the fact that an Einstein does not have any need to bow to such interests.

To me, two other possibilities seemed more probable. Einstein, as he himself indicated in his letter, did not understand the Orgone. It contradicted firmly established fundamental notions of physics. He did not want to risk exposure, and considered it better to wait. The other explanation seemed more brutal, but closer to the truth. It was that Einstein had understood perfectly well that the Aether had finally been discovered in a practically tangible manner. However, Einstein had built his whole theory of Relativity on the assumption that no Aether whatsoever exists [*], and that its existence is not even necessary for the solution of cosmic problems. For they could be solved purely by mathematics - a notion supported by the confirmation of his theories through [scientific] observation. It was humanly and scientifically understandable that Einstein would not want to take part in the overthrow of his own life's work, even though strict scientific objectivity would have demanded it. The existence of an actual Aether did not, by itself, have to disturb Einstein's model of nature. Only if a new cosmogony was successfully derived from the properties of the newly discovered Aether would Einstein's theory be unseated, since it would have become superfluous.

[Margin note in German, in WR's handwriting:

"Consequently, I had to take back the assertion I had made in the letter to Neill, according to which my discovery supported Einstein's Field Theory."]

I do not know whether these ideas are correct or erroneous. Einstein himself is to blame for the confusion, in that he withdrew from the affair in such an ugly way. And yet this "affair" was compelling and clear. It is possible that Einstein underestimated the scope of my discovery and its consequences. In brief, I can only advance conjectures, but not assert anything with certainty. In subsequent years I increasingly leaned towards the view that this [first] encounter on January 8, 1941 was a meeting between two strictly inimical worlds: Mechanistic and Functional Astrophysics - the former a giant beast, with unlimited means for combat and control, the latter an immature baby which had barely crawled out of the mother's womb. The newborn baby clutched in one fist the facts of "Cosmic Energy" and in the other the facts of "Sentient matter". This would be enough to frighten even the most courageous of men.

Wilhelm Reich, MD


* Editor's note:  Notice the subtlety of Reich's meaning ("Nun hatte aber Einstein seine gesamte Theorie der Relativität auf der Annahme aufgebaut , dass der Äether überhaupt nicht existiere"): he does not say that Einstein had built his theory "on the assumption that the Aether does not exist", which would still allow for the possibility that the word "Aether" referred only to the luminiferous Aether; instead, he writes : "Einstein had built his whole theory of Relativity on the assumption that no Aether whatsoever exists", which means that "Aether" includes not just yesteryear's models of a stationary Aether (luminiferous, etc) but also any notion of a gravitational Aether, including Einstein's own.