Duly Quoted

"A library is a hospital for the mind."

” When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.”

Book: Demain, by Herman “straight-up, unadulterated existentialism possesses my literary soul” Hesse

Herman Hesse. What a wise dude. His books tend to have a little bit of that “here’s the secret to life!” air about them, but I don’t really mind. Very empowering/inspiring; had a similar effect on me as Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” (that is a very high compliment to Mr. Hesse, btdubz).


All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?

But each person is not only himself, he is also the unique, very special point, important and noteworthy in every instance, where the phenomena of the world meet, once only and never again in the same way. And so every person’s story is important, eternal, divine; and so every person, to the extent that he lives and fulfills nature’s will, is wondrous and deserving of full attention. In each of us spirit has become form, in each of us the created being suffers, in each of us a redeemer is crucified.

I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.

We all come out of the same abyss; but each of us, a trial throw of the dice from the depths, strives towards his own goal. We can understand one another, but each of us can only interpret himself.

But now all of that was no longer mine, it was all part of the bright world of my father and mother, and I had sunk, guilt-laden, deep into the strange waters, entangled in intrigue and sin, threatened by my enemy and a prey to perils, anxiety, and shame. The hat and parasol, the good old freestone floor…all that was no longer mine, I couldn’t participate in its serenity and tranquility. There was dirt on my shoes that I couldn’t scrape off on the mat, I carried shadows along with me that were unknown to the world of my home.

Fate was hounding me, hands were reaching out at me from which my mother couldn’t protect me, of which she couldn’t even learn.

It was as if the wall clock and the table, the Bible and the mirror, the bookshelf and the pictures on the wall were saying goodbye to me; with a heart growing cold I had to watch my world, my good, happy life, becoming the past and detaching itself from me; I had to perceive that I was anchored and held fast outside in the unfamiliar darkness by thirsty new roots. For the first time I tasted death, and death tastes bitter because it is birth, it is anxiety and terror in the face of a frightening innovation.

I led the double life of a child who really isn’t a child anymore. My conscious dwelt in the familiar, permissible world, my conscious denied the existence of the new world that was dawning.

The insight that my problem was a problem of all mankind, a problem of all life and thought, suddenly passed over me like a sacred shadow; and fear and reverence overpowered me when I saw and suddenly felt how profoundly my very own personal life and opinions shared in the eternal stream of great ideas. This insight was not joyous, even though it somehow made me happy by confirming my opinions. It was tough and tasted raw, because it contained a note of responsibility, of the necessity to cease being a child and stand on my own feet.

Whoever is too comfort-loving to do his own thinking and be his own judge simply adapts to the pre-existing negative commandments
. It’s easy for him. Others feel commandments of their own within themselves; for them things are forbidden which every respectable man does daily, and other things are permissible for them which are normally tabooed. Everyone must stand on his own feet.

“The bird is fighting its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wishes to be born must destroy a world.”

To the few things I had learned so far on the way to my true aim in life, this new thing was now added: The contemplation of such shapes, the surrender to irrational, confused, rare natural forms, engenders in us a feeling that our own mind is in harmony with the will that gave rise to these forms—we soon feel the temptation to look on them as our own caprices, as our own creations—we see the borderline between us and nature tremble and dissolve, and we become acquainted with the mood in which we don’t know whether the images on our retina are coming from external impressions or from within us.

Our soul always participates in the perpetual creation of the world.

The impetus that makes you fly is the great store of humanity that each of us possesses. It’s the feeling of interconnectedness with the roots of all power, but we soon get alarmed by it! It’s damned dangerous! And so most people are glad to give up flying; they prefer walking on the sidewalk, following the rules and regulations. But not you. You keep on flying, as a clever fellow should. And, look, as you do so, you discover the marvelous fact that you gradually become master of it, that in addition to the great general power that bears you aloft, a subtle, small power of your own is added, an internal organ, a rudder!

When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.

The only reality is the one we have in us. That’s why most people’s lives are so unreal, because they consider the external images to be real and don’t allow their own world within themselves to tell them anything. They can be happy that way. But when a person once knows the other way, he is no longer free to choose the path that most people follow.

Even innocuous people are hardly spared from coming into conflict, one time or more in their life, with the lovely virtues of piety and gratitude. Everyone must at some time take the step that separates him from his father, from his teachers; everyone must taste a little of the toughness of solitude, even though most people can’t stand much of it and soon knuckle under again.

But in situations where we have made the gift of our love and veneration, not out of long familiarity but out of our most personal impulses; where we have been disciples and friends from the depth of our heart—in such cases it’s a bitter and frightening moment when we suddenly seem to realize that the principal current within us is determined to carry us away from the person we love.

…That was all meaningless. I didn’t exist to write poetry, to preach sermons, to paint pictures; neither I nor anyone else existed for that purpose. All of that merely happened to a person along the way. Everyone had only one true vocation: to find himself. Let him wind up as a poet or a madman, as a prophet or a criminal—that wasn’t this business; in the long run, it was irrelevant. His business was to discover his own destiny, not just any destiny, and to live it totally and undividedly. Anything else was just a half-measure, an attempt to run away, an escape back to the ideal of the masses, an adaptation, fear of one’s own nature.


Filed under: Herman Hesse,

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