Thursday, November 28, 2013

Demian, Chapter 6--Jacob Wrestling (Herman Hesse Novel)

I can see Emil Sinclair as Harry Haller at ages 10-19. And Siddhartha is the same story set in India.

In Steppenwolf, near the end of when he is in the magic theater, he said that he understood everything now. Much of the episode with Knauer seemed parallel to the magic theatre sequence in Steppenwolf.   He encounters someone in the street and experiences things that are dream like or hallucinogenic. At the end of the episode with Knauer, Emil says, "But suddenly I knew everything."

Knauer mentions suicide (Was that some symbolic Freudian/Jungian thing which was actually about Emil wanting to kill that aspect of himself? Or am I reading too much in?) 

One of the resolutions/epiphany of Emil's relationship with Pistorius was that Emil felt that the Mark of Cain was upon his own forehead now.  But its still not clear to me what Emil means by that (I'm probably trying to read too much into it).   But I think that part of it was that previously Emil had been a sort of disciple or protegee or under the influence of Demian, but now Emil has gone through a full cycle of growth and self knowledge and became his own man. Emil became another Demian.

The wisdom learned:

"An enlightened man had but one duty--to seek the way to himself, to reach inner certainty, to grope his way forward, no matter where it led. The realization shook me profoundly, it was the fruit of this experience. I had often speculated with images of the future, dreamed of roles that I might be assigned, perhaps as poet or prophet or painter, or something similar.

"All that was futile. I did not exist to write poems, to preach or to paint, neither I nor anyone else. All of that was incidental. Each man had only one genuine vocation--to find the way to himself. He might end up as poet or madman, as prophet or criminal--that was not his affair, ultimately it was of no concern. His task was to discover his own destiny--not an arbitrary one--and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one's own inwardness. The new vision rose up before me, glimpsed a hundred times, possibly even expressed before but now experienced for the first time by me. I was an experiment on the part of Nature, a gamble within the unknown, perhaps for a new purpose, perhaps for nothing, and my only task was to allow this game on the part of primeval depths to take its course, to feel its will within me and make it wholly mine. That or nothing!"  (p.111)

The language and concepts are taken from Christianity, but Hesse stops short of mentioning God. He does mention Nature, as if it were God or Grace.  Is this the mystical influence they talk about in German culture?

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