It’s really nice to be back to literature. I read that some of you have started reading the Steppenwolf, Demian or other books by H. Hesse. It’s also nice that you let me know how it makes you feel, how it changes you and how difficult it is. But also, how you begin to love literature.
I, in particular, like the idea of becoming a reader again. To deal with words that touch me. To build dreams, talk about emotions and touch my inner self with them.
But it is so incredibly difficult, because imagining them is so much more beautiful than reading itself.
The thought of dark autumn days. The thought of me sitting in a lonely room. The thought of fog rising from the valleys, moving through a silenced world. An old chair, a pot of tea in front of me and books everywhere. On the walls, on the shelves, even on the floor they lie in fallen stacks. And I sit back and read.
And although this is so difficult, I notice the impact reading has on me, as it claims my thoughts and tries to touch my soul.
I’m longing to take the next step. To become human again, standing strong and independent. Away from the everyday’s hamster wheel, away from news, applicability and the hunt for success and entertainment.
When thinking about the “Steppenwolf” I remembered an old game. For me it was more than that, to be honest, but in order to explain, I would need to go far afield. Then I would be able to invite you to try it out for yourself.
Do you remember the end of the Steppenwolf? How Harry Haller stood in the magic theater and had to choose between the many doors?
Each door was a symbol for another story. Events from his youth, experiences he wished for, opportunities he had but never took. All those events he could create and relive in his “imagination”.
The thing H. Hesse described here actually used to be practiced by scholars several centuries ago. And it coincides with what brain researchers find during their studies today.
For the human mind, imaginations are just as real as real experiences. When we close our eyes and mentally enter a situation to “live it” with all our senses, our brain and our body can’t tell any difference to reality.
There are plenty of examples of these effects, and they are widely used for sport activities and various forms of therapy.
Why I’m telling you all this? Well, because you can also use this kind of “magic theater” to “play” with the works of our culture. You can use it to immerse yourself in the artworks and relive them intensively.
Herman Hesse even described a second attempt of this kind years later in the “Glass Bead Game”. The members of the “educational province” of Kastalia try to preserve the works of our culture.
The main tool for this is the Glass Bead Game, a spiritual combination of literature, music, and all other kinds of science remembered with the help of signs. Those are resurrected within yourself, brought into relation and “lived” during the course of the game.
Hesse’s thought has been fruitful for people around the world for decades.
Before I will get to the system I invented for myself, I’d like to take a little detour.
A long time ago, a method to remember different things was invented. Not just as simple as certain terms or dates, but in everything in your life you want to preserve.
The technique is called Memory Palace and many probably know it by name. Here, an imaginary palace is built, and you fill this palace with things that mean something to you. On the shelves, on statues or on the tables are either books or just notes you would like to remember.
When you are looking for a memory, you immerse yourself in your imaginary palace, go to the place where you put it, and bring it back.
And now I finally want to get to what I invented for myself. A method to put myself into other states of being, to immerse myself in other thoughts and feelings.
Because I would like to start fresh. And maybe you’re interested, too.
It’s best to take H. Hesse as an example. Imagine a room and furnish it. Hang a few pictures on the walls, maybe one of the rainmaker or Hesse’s burning earth. Place items you associate with him, and especially the books you’ve read about him.
Now take some undisturbed time, close your eyes and enter the room.
Imagine how you go in, look at the pictures, smell the breeze coming in through the window, moving the curtains. Try to feel, to listen in and to absorb everything. The smell, the colors and the emotions they trigger inside you. Then you pick up one of his books. Try to remember the story, relive it and resurrect your feelings about it.
Create an image and join in with all your senses. Try to split your mind. Be in the room, be a reader of the book and, at the same time, a character from the book. Experience the narrative. Try to be inside the room and inside the book and live the moment for a few minutes.
Isn’t it beautiful? It may be strange. It may sound silly or even ridiculous.
But isn’t it beautiful?
And this is something you can do with anything that’s important to you.
A room for Schubert, Monet, or Rodin. Because the more you do it, the easier it will be for you. You will begin to enjoy and benefit from the artwork in a way you can’t imagine yet.
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