Slovenia's mystic president

The London Times profiles Janez Drnovsek, president of Slovenia. After getting cancer Drnovsek began living like a hermit in the woods, and does not speak to members of the government. He's very popular with the citizens of Slovenia.
Picture 1-124 Bald, monkish and skeletally thin, Drnovsek has abandoned his capital for a mountain retreat. He no longer speaks to his Government. He boycotts state occasions, and disappears for weeks at a time. He has turned vegan, talks like a New Age mystic of his quest for “higher consciousness” and “inner balance”, and communicates with the Slovenian people through books on spirituality. He set out to tackle the problems of the world from a country smaller than Wales, and has become a champion of progressive causes.

...Drnovsek says that his conversion from conventional politician into “Slovenia’s Gandhi” – as one commentator has dubbed him – was gradual, and he adopted a low profile as he fought his illness. He abandoned conventional medicine because his doctors told him that they could not cure him. He dabbled with Indian and Chinese healers. He gave up meat, dairy products and alcohol in favour of organic vegetables and home-baked bread. He fasted for days at a time. He also sought to nourish his soul, leaving Ljubljana for a remote home set in beautiful beech forests south of the Slovenian capital. He lives there alone, reading and writing, without so much as a television for company since his dog died. He says modern man has lost contact with nature, but it is “very beneficial for health, for body but also for soul . . . Somehow we can purify ourselves of all negativities that are concentrated in towns and urban centres where there is all this activity and stress.”



  1. Sounds like the ruler of the Universe at the end of “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.”

  2. It’s very refreshing to hear of someone who is a true independent thinker and who posesses the courage to act on his convictions in a milieu where the social pressure to conform must be enormous and quite harsh. I get the sense from the article that no one in politics has really engaged him. It seems he is stuck at that phase where they all just look at him and say “How odd!”. It’s a very convenient method to avoid answering the important questions he is raising about our reserves of untapped power to act for good in unison with other humans.

  3. “The frog in its well was convinced that this well was the whole world. And then came a turtle from the sea. The turtle told this frog that there was a big ocean and the well was nothing. The frog said: ‘OK. This turtle is crazy’.”

    Living a solitary life in the woods, cutting himself off from the rest of humanity… he’s the frog in this story.

  4. Remember the Prime Minister of India that use to drink his own urine? Or maybe we should say what they say in New England — fluoride in water is a communist conspiracy to pollute our bodily fluids.

  5. I read a nice article detailing how Thoreau could not have occurred in this modern life. His ascetism, solitude, and introspection would be seen as medical disorder rather than philosophical insight. They’d have pumped him full of antidepressants before admitting society or modernity was at fault.

    It’s good to hear that some brave individuals can still pull it off.

  6. neven, there’s more to the world than political responsibility. To beat cancer you have to really get away from all that stuff anyway. He’s in a position that is (rightfully so) focusing on healing himself.

  7. Much preferrable to what whe have here in the US where mysticism in the form of un-reasoning adherence to some crazy made-up quasi-religous cult (fundametalist xians)is left disguised as the inheritor of western culture’s cumulative culture of reason, which it plainly is not.

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