Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sound Quote: Steppenwolf - Herman Hesse

I've become more and more tuned to the representation of sound in the written word. Seems like I can't turn a page in most fiction without coming across a passage that attempts to bring the ephemeral quality into black and white. Most recently in the writings of Herman Hesse and Steppenwolf. One of the few of his that I hadn't already read, it can be a tough slog at first. Pages go by without pause in intense descriptions of the inner workings of a man's grizzled mind, leading towards a myriad of epiphanies and eventual blossoming of understanding of the human condition.

Several section lept off the page:

"For my part, the whole building reverberated everywhere with the sound of dancing, and the whole intoxicated crowd of masks, became by degrees a wild dream of paradise."
"I stood for a moment on the scent, smelling this shrill and blood-raw music, sniffing the atmosphere of the hall angrily, and hankering after it a little too. One half of this music, the melody, was all pomade and sugar and sentimentality. The other half was savage, temperamental and vigorous. Yet the two went artlessly together and made a whole. It was the music of decline."
"The discovery would be made - and perhaps very soon - that there were floating around us not only pictures and events of the transient present in the same way that music from Paris or Berlin was now heard in Frankfurt or Zurich, but that all that had ever happened in the past could be registered and brought back likewise. We might look for a day when, with wires or without, with or without the disturbance of other sounds, we should hear King Solomon speaking, or Walter von der Vogelweide. And all this, I said, just as today was the case with the beginnings of wireless (radio), would be of no more service to man than as an escape from himself and his true aims, and a means of surrounding himself with an ever closer mesh of distractions and useless activities."
"Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life today must not be like you and me. Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours..."

While I would recommend my personal favorite Gertrude (also especially music and sound minded) or even Demian over the tale of the Steppenwolf, it is not without it's own power and grace.

Until next time!

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