Martin Misses the Point of The Glass Bead Game Again

I am a devotee of Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game, and am currently re-reading it after an eight-year hiatus. The book is a strange, 23rd century memoir within a novel of the sort Germans call a bidungsroman.

It concerns a mysterious order of quasi-Catholic monks who play the unifying game of a post-modern yet suspiciously contemporary world that integrates all knowledge. Herman Hesse also tried to use the book to depict the development of a sensitive soul into a tough and masterful administrator of the pointless world order, and the things that happened to him along the way. Knecht, the central character, eventually experiences a spiritual crisis that drives him out of the position he has sought and into an attempt to serve a harsh and unforgiving world that ends predictably badly. Hesse seems to have wanted to dwell on the theme of reincarnation and spiritual growth too, but thankfully kept that sort of thing to a minimum.

If you like the book too, you may like this site. It attempts to depict the game and speculates upon who could have been Magister Ludi. Have a look, it's clearly a work of love. My only worry about it is that the authors of the site seem to take the game seriously and to be using it as the basis from some theosophical-style esotericism that is best kept on the Dan Brown shelves where it belongs. It is amazing what people will dream up if left to themselves.

Night night. The picture is, of course, of St. Bernard.

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