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Book Chats on Hermann Hesse.


Perceptive readers will have noticed a certain predeliction for the thoughts and works of Hermann Hesse.

It's true...a twenty-five year old love affair with prose the like of which this writer had never seen before.

Just bear with me for a few moments, and consider the following...

“...books give life meaning, interpret the past and prepare one to meet the future without fear. It is an endless journey, to familiarize oneself gradually with the massive treasury of thoughts, experiences, symbols, fantasies and dreams that the past has bequeathed to us in the works of writers and thinkers of many nations. It is an endless journey......the true reader will approach this study with love.
Reading without love, knowledge without respect, formation without deep personal involvement, are some of the most deadly sins against the spirit, or soul”.

"... It seems obvious, that, while the spirit has apparently been made democratic, and the intellectual treasures of our culture apparently belong to everyone who can read, in reality, everything important now occurs through money men and goes unrecognised. There would seem to be somewhere underground a secret priesthood, which from its anonymous hiding places directs, puppet-like, intellectual destinies throughout the book world. And this, equipped with disruptive power and disruptive forces, in order that public opinion, happy in its enlightenment, shall notice nothing in this hall of mirrors that is carried on right before their eyes".


"Each reader is merely one human being, a way station. But each of us should be on the way towards perfection, should be striving to reach the centre, not the periphery".

and finally...
"For although in a certain sense and for like-minded persons non-existant things can be more easily and irresponsibly represented in words than existing things, for the serious and conscientious historian it is just the reverse. Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more necessary, than to speak of certain things whose existence is neither demonstrable nor probable. The very fact that serious and conscientious men treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to existence and to the possibility of being born".

This last rather dense epigraph is well worth study. It was first drafted by Hesse in 1933 and he later confirmed it held the key to an understanding of  The Glass Bead Game. This, his last great work, was started in 1931 but did not appear in Germany until 1946, where it had a powerful and enduring effect. It still has.

I had never encountered prose like this before, because it encapsulated something I had been hitherto unable to articulate..namely...how does one reconcile the inner life of the soul with the external daily horrors of the real world such as Trump and Putin, as they assail the spirit? The concept that the inner life of the soul was indestructible, that this was the very centre of  one's existence, was new to me, and for that I am ever in his debt.

Should this resonate with anyone out there...then, I will be well satisfied. To discuss would be an even greater pleasure.

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