An excerpt from Timothy Leary and Eric Gullichsen’s unpublished book The Cybernetic Society, written in 1987.
“Up here in the Electronic ’80s we can appreciate what Hesse did, back down there (1931-1942). At the very pinnacle of the smokestack mechanical age Hermann forecast with astonishing accuracy a certain post-industrial device for converting thoughts to digital elements and processing them. No doubt about it, Hesse’s Bead Game anticipated an electronic mind-appliance which would not appear on the consumer market until 1976.”
“We refer, of course, to that Unauthorized Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge called the Apple. In this Old Testament scenario Eve and her assistant Adam became the first psyber-punks; they committed the Original Sin. To Think for Yourself.
ALDOUS HUXLEY: HERMANN HESSE
I, for one, first heard of Hermann Hesse from Aldous Huxley. In the fall of 1960, Huxley was Carnegie Visiting Professor at MIT. His assignment: to give a series of seven lectures on the subject “What a Piece of Work is Man.” About 2,000 people attended each lecture. Aldous spent most of his off-duty hours hanging around the Harvard Psychedelic Drug Project coaching us innocent novice Americans in the history of mysticism and the ceremonial care-and-handling of what he called “gratuitous grace.”
Huxley was reading Hesse that fall and talked a lot about Hermann’s theory of the three (3) stages of human development.
- The tribal sense of tropical-blissful unity.
- The horrid Newtonian polarities of the feudal-industrial societies, good-evil, male-female, Christian-Moslem.
- The Einsteinian rediscovery of the Oneness of It All.
No question about it, Hegel’s three thumb prints (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) were smudged all over the construct, but Hesse and Huxley didn’t seem to worry about it, so why should we untutored Harvard psychologists?
We all dutifully set to work reading Hesse.”
“Gentle consideration for the touchiness of the times was, we assume, the reason why Hesse, the master of parody, leads his timid readers with such slow, formal tempo to the final confrontation between Alexander, the President of the Order, and the dissident Game Master.
In his most courteous manner Knecht explains to Alexander, The Prince of Cyber-crats, that he will not accept obediently the “decision from above.”
The President gasped in disbelief. And we can imagine most of the thought-processing elite of Europe, the cyber-profs, the intellectuals, the linguists, the literary critics, the editors of magazines joining Alexander when he sputters, “… not prepared to accept obediently … an unalterable decision from above – have I heard you aright, Magister?”!
Later Alexander asks in a low voice, “… and how do you act now?”
“As my heart and reason command,” replies Joseph Knecht.
With this noble espousal of “the unauthorized life,” Hermann Hesse becomes a Patron Saint of Cyberpunk.”
Follow this link for more of this excerpt from the unpublished book: http://downlode.org/Etext/huxley_hesse_cybernetic.html