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Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game" 
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Post Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
One of the reoccurring themes that I have found to be prominent in GBG is the theme of individualism. Is there any individualism during the time period when this narrative was written? There are clues that the individual disappears and a collective intelligence emerges.

This theme can effectively be seen during the introduction and how it is written. The unknown writer of this introduction clearly makes the point that the narrative is a collective effort. Throughout the introduction, this writer uses the word “we” and “our” as far as defining who is writing. The word, “ourself” at one point is used, it’s not a real word, but it says to me that mankind may become a group of individuals acting collectively, “our”, plural, “self”, singular. “ Ourself,” wow, got to love it!

There are many other examples on the theme of individuality and the disappearance of the individual, and I do believe it is one of the major statements in the novel.

Would society live in harmony if we acted as a collective group? Who would contribute the most to a collective society? How would the driving forces of a collective society be chosen?



Mon May 23, 2011 7:56 am
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Post Re: Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
It's an interesting point Suzanne. By the time he was writing this novel, Hesse had witnessed some significant examples of dysfunctional collectivism - Nazism on the one hand, and Stalinism on the other - which can't have been far from his mind. There's also the Church and its monastic orders, which are often in the background of Hesse's narratives, including the Glass Bead Game (think also of Narziss and Goldmund for example). Often his characters are at odds with the collectivism, and are striving for individualism. So I agree it is an important and recurring theme.

The glass bead game itself is an interesting mixture of a collective archive of canonical moves, signs and games which has built up over many generations, and the contemporary players who can research new areas and add to the canon through an established process of approval. Again, further into the book, there are players who play more daring games than others, and extend the analogies which form the basis of the game into areas which have a less firm foundation.

In the Glass Bead Game novel, this is all situated within a culture which has all but given up creating new art, except perhaps for the game itself which continues to seek out new connections between cultural artefacts of the past. It's interesting that 1,000 years ago, most of the European artisans were anonymous (limners who copied and illustrated illuminated manuscripts, the architects and builders of the great cathedrals, the composers of plainsong chants). Individual artisans only started to be recognised in medieval times. The sense you get about the playing the glass bead game itself is that it is also a semi-anonymous activity. There are key people that govern the game establishment, such as Knecht at one stage in his career, but ultimately it is the development of the game that is important, rather than the individuals themselves.



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Suzanne
Tue May 24, 2011 5:03 am
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Post Re: Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
Suzanne wrote:
One of the reoccurring themes that I have found to be prominent in GBG is the theme of individualism. Is there any individualism during the time period when this narrative was written? There are clues that the individual disappears and a collective intelligence emerges.

This theme can effectively be seen during the introduction and how it is written. The unknown writer of this introduction clearly makes the point that the narrative is a collective effort. Throughout the introduction, this writer uses the word “we” and “our” as far as defining who is writing. The word, “ourself” at one point is used, it’s not a real word, but it says to me that mankind may become a group of individuals acting collectively, “our”, plural, “self”, singular. “ Ourself,” wow, got to love it!

There are many other examples on the theme of individuality and the disappearance of the individual, and I do believe it is one of the major statements in the novel.

Would society live in harmony if we acted as a collective group? Who would contribute the most to a collective society? How would the driving forces of a collective society be chosen?


Does the author, treats the loss of individualism in a different light than "We the Living", or is it another dystopia book, common during that period ?



Wed May 25, 2011 5:24 pm
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Post Re: Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
I'll start in this section so as not to be a 'spoiler'.....

Hermann Hesse has been my mentor for 40 years. Every one of his books ultimately revolves around a theme of self realization. The Glass Bead Game is shown to be yet another of man's follies and distractions, as Hesse knows explicitly that the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao...

Might as well ponder "What came first, the chicken or the egg"....


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Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:42 am
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Post Re: Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
The antinomy here is that power comes from collective consensus, but change comes from individual vision. Castalia operates by hierarchical order, and this gives everybody a known place within the whole, but the danger is that this social consensus is self-reinforcing, producing a fossilised and isolated culture that gradual drifts away from its real moorings in the broader world that pays its bills. Only by individual genius and dissent can the community be forced to see the need for change.



Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:25 pm
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Post Re: Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
hesse wrote:
The Glass Bead Game is shown to be yet another of man's follies and distractions, as Hesse knows explicitly that the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao...

Might as well ponder "What came first, the chicken or the egg"....

I like the 11th verse of the Tao:

Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;
it is on the hole in the center that
the use of the cart hinges.

Shape clay into a vessel;
it is the space within that makes it useful.
Carve fine doors and windows,
but the room is useful in its emptiness.

The usefulness of what is
depends on what is not.



Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:08 pm
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Post Re: Individualism and "The Glass Bead Game"
Quote:
The usefulness of what is
depends on what is not.


:toast:


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Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:21 pm
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