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Kickstart with Steppenwolf

Time to kick-start this baby again after having shifted over to my dedicated Politics (with a middle eastern focus) blog at Zeitgeist Politics (check it out if you haven’t already).

To be fair, I’ve been doing considerable amounts of interesting stuff lately including the Don’t Ban The Can Festival on Saturday, street art spotting, interesting book reading, gigs, movies, new cafes, shopping, etc. There’s also been lots of cool stuff on the net lately that I’ve discovered. Bah I need an outlet for these things, especially since my license was suspended starting from Sunday last (thank you Victoria Police) so I’ll be… having more free time on my hands to blog I suppose.

So yeah:

Upon reading Steppenwolf (note the delectable popular penguins copy I have… sigh), a multitude of thoughts came to mind. Am I the Steppenwolf? I certainly share Harry Haller’s disdain for bourgeios society (though not to the same degree, i still enjoy many of the things he loathes and mix with the bourgeois on a regular basis) and have a tendency to get depressed at the pointlessness of it all (though no suicidal tendencies, thank God)… I have that lone wolf thing in me and I also have the intellectual superiority complex going on a lot of the time. So what of it?

It appears the book was met initially with disdain for its liberal attitude to random sex and recreational drug use, and then later embraced as part of the ‘free love and drugs’ movement of the 60s. It is also seen as a damning indictment of the bourgeois, though I don’t really personally see how. In fact, it does little condemning of the bourgeois and seems to be a broader condemnation of intellectuals and the Western ego-centric point of view, far more steeped in Eastern philosophy and far more lamenting the Steppenwolf’s (and there are many among us) inability to derive pleasure from life, always concerned with inevitable things like war, death and self:

Of course, there will be another war. One doesn’t need to read the papers to know that. And of course one can be sad about it, but it isn’t any use. It’s just the same as when a man is sad to think that one day, in spite of his utmost efforts to prevent it, he will inevitably die. The war against death, dear Harry, is always a beautiful, noble and wonderful and glorious thing, and so, it follows, is the war against war. But it is always hopeless and quixotic too.

Hesse’s use of duality and multiple aspects of personality and consciousness were fascinating, as well as what could be called an early dose of magic realism, surrealism and dream sequences. It’s a book concerned with the psyche, the human condition and the myriad possibilities that yet remain unexplored to most of us. Certainly worth reading.

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