The Glass Bead Game

both2
“Anyway, in the isolation of Castalia, a new art or science will be perfected. It will arise first in the music academies, where a system of glass beads of different sizes and colors, strung on a frame like an abacus, is used to represent musical themes and the rules of counterpoint, allowing themes to be reversed, transposed, and developed. Problems and challenges in music theory can be set and solved with the game in interesting ways. Soon other disciplines, philology, physics, begin to see ways to employ and expand the symbol sets. “Mathematicians in particular played it with a formal strictness at once athletic and aesthetic.” (“Strict” and “strictness” are ubiquitous words in the book.) From Chinese beliefs that music can model the structure of heaven and earth—and from the expressive possibilities inherent in Chinese ideograms—come further developments, until it will be possible for players of the evolved game to deploy a language of symbols (the glass beads themselves long since given up) to unveil the real relations among far-flung products of intellectual endeavor: perhaps a first theme of a Scarlatti sonata evoking an equation mentioned in an Arab manuscript, answered by an oddity of Latin grammar in one direction, a fragment of Parmenides, or a rule in Vitruvian architecture in another. When players begin to practice meditation techniques, games will become at once more personally expressive and more universal. Top players will introduce new symbol sets—alchemical emblems, the I-Ching; in weeks-long festivals their games induce in observers ineffable experiences of insight.”

WHAT IS THE GLASS BEAD GAME?

Taken from http://www.glassbeadgame.com/

Herman Hesse’s Nobel Prize Winning Novel,

The Glass Bead Game

lays the foundations for an Artistic/Conceptual Game, which integrates all fields of Human and Cosmic Knowledge through forms of Organic Universal Symbolism, expressed by its players with the Dynamic Fluidity of Music. The Glass Bead Game is, in Reality, an Age Old metaphor for what has been called, the “Divine Lila” (Play or Game of Life). This metaphor has been expressed by every great Wisdom Tradition known to man, and its players, the Magister Ludi (Masters of the Game), use as their instruments Ancient and Modern modes of Symbolic Wisdom traditionally presented through Sacred Art, Philosophy, Magick and Cosmology. For a more detailed elaboration of our vision of the GBG, see:

THE GLASS BEAD GAME

http://www.sacredscience.com/store/commerce.cgi?page=GBG2.htm

David Bowie’s “Sunday” from the album Heathen with text from Hermann Hesse’s novel “The Glass Bead Game”

“Nothing remains
We could run when the rain slows
Look for the cars or signs of life
Where the heat goes

Look for the drifters
We should crawl under the bracken
Look for the shafts of light
On the road where the heat goes

Everything has changed

For in truth, it’s the beginning of nothing
And nothing has changed
Everything has changed

For in truth, it’s the beginning of an end
And nothing has changed
Everything has changed

In your fear
Of what we have become
Take to the fire
Now we must burn
All that we are
Rise together
Through these clouds
As on wings

In your fear
Seek only peace
In your fear
Seek only love
In your fear
Seek only peace
In your fear
Seek only love
In your fear
In your fear
As on wings

This is the trip
And this is the business we take
This is our number
All my trials
Lord, will be remembered

Everything has changed” – Bowie

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “The Glass Bead Game”

  1. But in truth far from such utopian elitism as portrayed in Hesse’s Nobel-prize winning novel, it looks as if the only game humanity will play in the foreseeable future will be one of stark survival. Its very much a reactionary novel against the horrors of World War, only those living in neutral Switzerland could indulge in a contemplative life at the time, including C.G.Jung who was writing on alchemy at the same time as Hesse was writing his master-work. The three short stories at the end of the Das Glasperlenspiel stand alone and are well worth reading. Interesting how Hesse’s novels alternate between quite dramatic crises of the psyche and calm tranquillity, with the exception of ‘Narziss and Goldmund’ which portrays both in its narrative. Hesse’s novels were extremely popular in the 60’s and 70’s, not so much nowadays I believe.

    Like

  2. I think you’ve nailed it in saying a contemplative life is an indulgence. People have many more distractions now than they ever did, during time they might otherwise have set aside for contemplation. I think what passes for contemplation nowadays consists of reading one of those nauseating “inspirational” motivational quotes that tells people to think positive thoughts and believe they can do anything and have anything. It’s very rare to come across individuals willing to “make the darkness conscious” and plenty who prefer “imagining figures of light”. Maybe it has always been so, but that wouldn’t explain why his work isn’t as popular. I think the contemplative life has been replaced by a MacDonalds-like style of wisdom, a band-aid for the psyche.

    Like

    1. I agree totally with you, Jaq. Hesse’s novels have been unfairly described as C.G. Jung simplified ( another unfashionable author) it’s to this great thinker one must turn to in order to understand the roots of the psychic malaise of our age, its consequence and possible healing. Jung’s ‘Civilization in transition’ CW10 with essays on the complications of American psychology, women’s place in 1920’s society, mass hysteria, the revival of the war-god Wotan in Nazi Germany and the devaluation of the individual in the totalitarian State seem particularly relevant right now in my grain of sand on the beach opinion.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s