I had a few things written up for this week, but decided to focus on this one thing.
Demian by Hermann Hesse. This quote keeps coming back to me. It was written decades ago and in a completely different time, but feels really relevant right now:
“Genuine communion, ” said Demian, “is a beautiful thing. But what we see nourishing everywhere is nothing of the kind. The real spirit will come from the knowledge that separate individuals have of one another and for a time it will transform the world. The community spirit at present is only a manifestation of the herd instinct. Men fly into each other’s arms because they are afraid of each other–the owners are for themselves, the workers for themselves, the scholars for themselves! And why are they afraid? You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves. A whole society composed of men afraid of the unknown within them! They all sense that the rules they live by are no longer valid, that they live according to archaic laws–neither their religion nor their morality is in any way suited to the needs of the present. For a hundred years or more Europe has done nothing but study and build factories! They know exactly how many ounces of powder it takes to kill a man but they don’t know how to pray to God, they don’t even know how to be happy for a single contented hour. Just take a look at a student dive! Or a resort where the rich congregate. It’s hopeless. Dear Sinclair, nothing good can come of all of this. These people who huddle together in fear are filled with dread and malice, no one trusts the other. They hanker after ideals that are ideals no longer but they will hound the man to death who sets up a new one. I can feel the approaching conflict. It’s coming, believe me, and soon. Of course it will not ‘improve’ the world. Whether the workers kill the manufacturers or whether Germany makes war on Russia will merely mean a change of ownership. But it won’t have been entirely in vain. It will reveal the bankruptcy of present-day ideals, there will be a sweeping away of Stone Age gods. The world, as it is now, wants to die, wants to perish–and it will. “
I try to read Demian once every year or two, and this feels like the time to start it again.
Go read Demian.
I am surprised and grateful every time I get to the end of the week and see how many people have read this blog, thank you for that. As always, suggestions for topics or improvement are accepted and appreciated.
Have a great week.