Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Glass Bead Game

Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game must rank as one of the greatest hermetic novels of the past century. In 1936, Thomas Mann lightly tripped his view of Hermes across the Confessions of Felix Krull. Hesse’s Hermes seems to move on from the world of Mann, though the Hermes of The Glass Bead Game is far more sombre. The novel is offered as a biography of Joseph Knecht, a legendary figure in the mysterious world of The Game. But what emerges, paradoxically, as the novel focuses on the life of Knecht, is an abstract history of intellect. The novel commences properly with an academic exercise in which Knecht has to write an “imaginary” biography…a recapitulation of a past life. And this quest for life and truth—what a life is true to and how a life is true—are major themes within the novel.

The essence of the novel is caught in one beautiful paragraph:

He [Knecht] had forgotten the dream by the time he awoke. But later, during a morning walk, the Master asked him whether he had dreamt, and it seemed to him that he must have had an unpleasant experience in his dreams. He thought, recovered the dream, and told it, and was astonished at how innocuous it sounded. The Master listened closely.
“Should we be mindful of dreams?” Joseph asked. “Can we interpret them?”
The Master looked into his eyes and said tersely: “We should be mindful of everything, for we can interpret everything.”

In those words, The Master of Music conjures a whole lost way of thought… the musical dance of words, poetry, total interpretation and interpolation! Phew! Just as Hermes led the Graces of Music, Dance and Poetry, Chastity, Beauty and Passion in the direction of significance and transformation...


Jude Dibia said...

“We should be mindful of everything, for we can interpret everything.”

That's an interesting thought! Everything?!

Mariana Soffer said...

I loved this texts, what you say how you write, it is a great discovery for me this blog! I am happy to have found it.

Regarding dreams:
Most people dream enthusiastically at night, their dreams seemingly occupying hours, even though most last only a few minutes. Most people also read great meaning into their nocturnal visions. In fact, according to a new study, the vast majority of people in three very different countries — India, South Korea and the United States — believe that their dreams reveal meaningful hidden truths.According to the study, 74% of Indians, 65% of South Koreans and 56% of Americans hold an old-fashioned Freudian view of dreams: that they are portals into the unconscious.

Human beings are irrational about dreams the same way they are irrational about a lot of things. We make dumb choices all the time on the basis of silly information like racial bias or a misunderstanding of statistics — or dreams.

And regarding music:

Music is part of the complex organism that is the human being and emotional expression is a very great part of that. I would prefer to say that music is a unique way of knowing the world, which goes along with other ways of knowing the world: visual, linguistic, phonetic, psychological, and mathematical.

music and dance are so interconnected for me as well.... one theorist I work with
( rudolf laban) has done marvelous work on embodied rhythm and has translated it into group experiences he called movement choirs... where word functioned as music as much as actual music did.

For more read:
Hope you like me cause I certainly do like you a lot.

Eshuneutics said...

I know JD. Everything. That is a bit mind-blowing...Marechera might say: mindblasting. I did post this with a certain dig at myself. When I was younger friends used to joke that I could find hermetical significance even in car number plates! Hesse's book could have been dry as dust, yet it is such a rich view of human relationships and how they can be interpreted.

Hello, Mariana, thank you for all your view-points. They are music to my ears :-) I am familiar with the work of Laban and dance notation...but I did not know about "movement choirs", what a marvellously evocative phrase. Thank you for such a detailed and rich response.

Anon Andon said...

We all need a bit of mindblasting digs now and then. I enjoyed reading this piece of your interpretive/interpolative dance, EsH. Shall we get in line for the movement choir?

Eshuneutics said...

Hello, Anon Andon, thank you for reading this piece. A Laban line dance? Thanks for your witty comment.

Anon Andon said...

A Laban line dance could be one form of movement choir. I'll leave it to Mariana or others to fill in the details. First I think I need to track down your blog handle to make sure I'm in the right line. I wouldn't want to have to interpret everything in the first dance. :p

Harlequin said...

liked seeing these posts upon my first visit here... marvelous give and take.
I like your treatment of hermeneutic... a body in the world..always already a hermeneutic.
...and as for Laban, I am not so sure he would classify a line dance as a movement choir, but it would be a form that he could get behind, as it were...

Eshuneutics said...

I doub that Laban would do as you say! Thanks for visiting.