Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quotes from Narcissus & Goldmund

“I call a man awake who knows in his conscious reason his innermost unreasonable force, drives, and weaknesses and knows how to deal with them.” (44)

“And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all. . . .” (73)

“When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it is in order to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something that lasts longer than we do.” (157)

“Any work of art that was truly sublime, not just a good juggler’s trick; that was filled with the eternal secret, like the master’s Madonna; every obviously genuine work of art had this dangerous, smiling double face, was male-female, a merging of instinct and pure spirituality. . . . In art, in being an artist, Goldmund saw the possibility of reconciling his deepest contradictions, or at least of expressing newly and magnificently the split in his nature.” (171)

“One thing, however, did become clear to him—why so many perfect works of art did not please him at all, why they were almost hateful and boring to him, in spite of a certain undeniable beauty. Workshops, churches, and palaces were full of these fatal works of art. . . .They were deeply disappointing because they aroused the desire for the highest and did not fulfill it. They lacked the most essential thing—mystery. That was what dreams and truly great art had in common: mystery.” (184-185)

“All existence seemed to be based on duality, on contrast. Either one was a man or one was a woman, either a wanderer or a sedentary burgher, either a thinking person or a feeling person—no one could breathe in at the same time as he breathed out, be a man as well as a woman, experience freedom as well as order, combine instinct and mind. One always had to pay for the one with the loss of the other, and one thing was always just as desirable as the other.” (249)

“God is perfect being. Everything else that exists is only half, only a part, is becoming, is mixed. He is one, he has no potentialities but is the total, the complete reality. Whereas we are transitory, we are becoming, we are potentials; there is no perfection for us, no complete being. But wherever we go, from potential to deed, from possibility to realization, we participate in true being, become by a degree more similar to the perfect and divine.” (280)

“Goldmund had showed [Narcissus] that a man destined for high things can dip into the lowest depths of the bloody, drunken chaos of life, and soil himself with much dust and blood, without becoming small and common, without killing the divine spark within himself, that he can err through the thickest darkness without extinguishing the divine light and the creative force inside the shrine of his soul.” (301)

Hesse, Herman. Narcissus And Goldmund. Trans. Ursule Molinaro. New York: Picador, 1968. Print.