Tag Archives: hermann hesse

They longed for philosophy, for synthesis. The erstwhile happiness of pure withdrawal each into his own discipline was now felt to be inadequate. Here and there a scholar broke through the barriers of his specialty and tried to advance into the terrain of universality. Some dreamed of a new alphabet, a new language of symbols through which they could formulate and exchange their new intellectual experiences.

Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game: (Magister Ludi) A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Hesse The Glass Bead Game philosophy synthesis happiness pure withdrawl discipline inadequate scholar barriers speciality universality dreamed alphabet language symbols experience

The “music of decline” had sounded, as in that wonderful Chinese fable; like a thrumming bass on the organ its reverberations faded slowly out over decades; its throbbing could be heard in the corruption of the schools, periodicals, and universities, in melancholia and insanity among those artists and critics who could still be taken seriously; it raged as untrammeled and amateurish overproduction in all the arts.

Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game: (Magister Ludi) A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Hesse Glass  Bead Game music decline sounded over decades corruption schools periodicals universities melancholia insanity artists critics raged all arts

A great many things await you; I hope you will meet the challenges. Our Castalia is not supposed to be merely an elite; it ought above all to be a hierarchy, a structure in which every brick derives its meaning only from its place in the whole. There is no path leading out of this whole, and one who climbs higher and is assigned to greater and greater tasks does not acquire more freedom, only more and more responsibilities.

Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Hesse Glass Bead Game greater tasks not more freedom only more responsibilities


Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth [Bookshop, Amazon] by Hermann Hesse.

Hesse Demian

This year I have read several works of fiction set in the years approaching the Great War more than a century ago. There was Pynchon’s Against the Day and Buchan’s The 49 Steps. More than either of those, Hesse’s Demian is known as a defining work of that time–and yet my appreciation for it is set well outside of its historical framing.

There’s no question that Demian has esoteric dimensions. The mental powers and Cainite heresy of Max and the deviant Gnostic hieraticism of Pistorius–even the pathetic asceticism of Knauer–are redolent of occult initiation. But more particularly Max Demian and Eva Demian are the embodiments of the protagonist Emil’s two critical tasks in coming to himself: embracing his genius and overcoming his personality.

I first read the opening chapter of Demian in German when I was doing language study in high school. I have an initiate’s guidance to thank for my return to it some forty-four years later, after I have subsequently read Hesse’s later major novels. It is as compelling and significant as they are, and on many counts, more accessible.

Charles Cameron’s Hipbone Games

I’ve mentioned Hipbone Games’ Glass Bead Game implementation previously, and have been in communication with Charles Cameron for a couple years now off and on. Today I am happy to announce the newest authorized and official mirror at the library is Hipbone Games. Charles and I have been talking about adding new material as well, so the site could soon see some additional updates, becoming more than just a mirror.

This new addition to the site is home to a number of resources on game design and theory by Charles including his implementation of the Glass Bead Game, from Hermann Hesse’s Magister Ludi.

So, head on over and explore the entire HipBone Games site, but especially check out “Here’s your invitation to play the HipBone Games” and “HipBone: dreams and other reasons you might want to play …

If you’re inspired to play a round of the Glass Bead Game around themes of classical, esoteric or philosophical interest, using one of the board designs provided or using a new one of your own devising, consider sending a record of your session to me so I can share it with others.