Jan 12, 2010

the glass bead game

by hermann hesse, is seemingly endlessly quotable. he also seems to enjoy the use of parenthetical dashes as much as i do. hesse, some book history, a means of purchase, and some select extracts:

on edges, boundaries, and polarities, the music master to joseph knecht:

"... our mission is to recognize contraries for what they are: first of all as contraries, but then as opposite poles of a unity. Such is the nature of the Glass Bead Game. The artistically inclined delight in the Game because it provides opportunities for improvisation and fantasy. The strict scholars and scientists despite it—and so do some musicians also—because, they say, it lacks that degree of strictness which their specialties can achieve. Well and good, you will encounter these antinomies, and in time you will discover that they are subjective, not objective—that, for example, a fancy-free artist avoids pure mathematics of logic not because he understands them and could say something about them if he wished, but because he instinctively inclines toward other things. Such instinctive and violent inclinations and disinclinations are signs by which you can recognize the pettier souls. In great souls and superior minds, these passions are not found. Each of us is merely one human being, merely an experiment, a way station. But each of us should be striving to reach the center, not the periphery ..."
on amorphous boundaries and their effects on internal composition, in reference to the waldzell circle of glass bead game players:
For there he was part of an officially nonexistent but very sharply defined circle, or class, the finest elite among the candidates and tutors of the Glass Bead Game. ... They knew one another thoroughly; they had no almost no illusions about talents, characters, and achievements. And precisely because among these initiates and aspirants for the highest dignities each one was preeminent, each of the very first rank in performance, knowledge, and academic record—precisely for that reasons those traits and nuances of character which predestined a candidate for leadership and success inevitably counted for a great deal and were closely observed.
on intersubjectivity and language, joseph knecht to carlo designori:
"Of course two peoples and two languages will never be able to communicate with each other so intimately as two individuals who belong to the same nation and speak the same language. But that is no reason to forgo the effort at communication. Within nations there are also barriers which stand in the way of complete communication and complete mutual understanding, barriers of culture, education, talent, individuality. It might be asserted that every human being on earth can fundamentally hold a dialogue with every other human being, and it might also be asserted there are no two persons in the world between whom genuine, whole, intimate understanding is possible—the one statement is as true as the other. It is Yin and Yang, day and night; both are right and at times we have to be reminded of both."

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