Friday, September 08, 2006

Favorite quotes from one of my favorite books

I just re-read one of my all-time favorite books, a rarity because I had actually only read this particular book one time before (as opposed to the 1200 page "Shogun" which I must have read at least six or seven times). In any case, I took the opportunity to make notes and annotate my copy of it. The book is, of course, Herman Hesse's "Demian". Here are some of my favorite passages:

"Perhaps I stood at the parting of the ways, perhaps I would now belong among the wicked forever."

"I realize today that nothing is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself."

(in reference to the story of Christ on the cross between the two thieves)

"If you had to pick a friend from between the two thieves or decide which of the two you had rather trust, you most certainly wouldn't select that sniveling convert. No, the other fellow, he's a man of character. He doesn't give a hoot for "conversion", which to a man in his position can't be anything but a pretty speech. He follows his destiny to its appointed end and does not turn coward and forswear the devil, who has aided and abetted him until then. He has character, and people with character tend to get the short end of the stick in biblical stories."

"You must create for yourself a God that contains the devil, too, and in front of which you needn't close your eyes when the most natural things in the world take place."

"Only the ideas we actually live are of any value. You knew all along that your sanctioned world was only half the world and you tried to suppress the second half the same way the priests and teachers do. You won't succeed. No one succeeds in this once he has begun to think."

"That is the way the leaves fall around a tree in autumn, a tree unaware of the rain running down its sides, of the sun or the frost, and of life gradually retreating inwards. The tree does not die. It waits."

"One never reaches home, but where paths that have affinity for one another intersect, the whole world looks like home, for a time."

"You know the chick does not find it easy to break its way out of the shell. Think back and ask yourself: was the way all that difficult? Was it only difficult? Wasn't it beautiful, too?"

"How strange that the stream of the world was not to bypass us anymore, that it now went straight through our hearts, and that now or very soon the moment would come when the world would need us, when it would seek to transform itself."

1 comment:

Mark said...

Hi. I was just looking through some of my own favorite quotes, and on my list was "nothing is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." I googled it on a whim, to see if anyone else had taken note, and other than some scholarly literary article on JSTOR, it was just you and me. Thanks for writing down the quotes.
-Mark Eichenlaub (