Love–The Reconciler Of Opposites

More On Narcissus And Goldmund
Rainfire Sitting Mountain Camp

Actually, Hesse’s story went something like this. A teenage Goldmund
went off to live in a monastery because his father wanted him to. The
boy became absorbed in his studies and deeply attracted to his
teacher, Narcissus, who was also young at the time. Eventually,
Goldmund felt the conflict between his passionate, emotional nature,
and the more scholarly pursuits of the monks. Narcissus, his confidant
and friend, knew that Goldmund would suffocate and die if he remained
obedient to the rules of the cloistered life. He persuaded Goldmund to
follow his own nature, even if that meant leaving the monastery.

Hesse described Goldmund’s relationships with women, artistic growth,
and his involvement with physical adversities, all of which were
carried on outside of the monastery. Toward the end of the book,
Goldmund went back to the monastery to visit Narcissus. It was there,
at that later time, where Hesse tried to reconcile the split between
the uncertain but passionate wanderer, who never ceased searching and
questioning as he went, and the monk’s self-affirming life of mind and
spirit. If Hesse succeeded, he did so by adding love to the mix.

Goldmund knew that he loved Narcissus almost right from the start, but
it took the entire novel for Narcissus to admit he loved his student
and friend. Throughout the novel, Goldmund grew in maturity, and that
growth set him free. In the end, he was able to accept death without
fear. Narcissus was not so lucky. He had found love, but he still had
a ways to go before he could face death without fear or regret, at
least that was the way I read it. At any rate, for Hesse, love became
the reconciler of opposites; it became the universal healer and teacher.

I saw myself in Goldmund and Narcissus. I was the wanderer (yep, here
I am) and the monk (yep, if only I could get my university custodian
job). Hesse gave voice, in his novel, to the two poles of human
nature—reason and sensuality. That was probably what the bookseller
was referring to when he told me that the book reminded him of Plato’s
soul. In Plato’s analogy the two voices became the dynamic voice of
the “one moving chariot.” For me, coming to terms with those two
independent but conjoined voices, had not been easy. Not only did I
have to come to terms with the voices of sensuality/reason, I also had
to confront my own demon, the voice of MV.

By the end of the novel, Hesse had, so to speak, cut up his pie into
complimentary pieces. I, on the other hand, am not that lucky. How am
I to understand MV in terms of a complimentary whole? (If you’re
listening MV stay away. I don’t want you here.) I am not talking about
the bond that may or may not exist between sensuality and reason; I am
talking about the completely disjunctive experience of two separate
voices in one head. MV’s voice is hardly a threat anymore. I wish it
would go away, but it hasn’t. When he speaks, I listen. I’ve put up
with this for three years, and if I have to I will continue to do so.
He is my affliction, my amputated leg, so to speak. I do not like it,
but I am still here. I don’t even worry about him anymore. And now,
thanks to “Dr. Hesse,” I feel extremely confident. After reading his
exploration and manipulation of “conflicted voices” (reason and
passion’s universal voice of conflict), I feel better. Wouldn’t it be
something if MV turned out to be a complimentary voice in my own
situation? Not a chance! Maybe I have learned to tolerate MV, but I
will never learn to love him.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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5 Responses to Love–The Reconciler Of Opposites

  1. frizztext says:

    yes, we read that some decades ago, I think it still makes fun to read and get lost in the story 🙂

  2. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    At any rate, for Hesse, love became
    the reconciler of opposites; it became the universal healer and teacher.

    Maybe I have learned to tolerate MV, but I
    will never learn to love him.

    😉

  3. bwinwnbwi says:

    These posts (my road journals) are an attempt at layering meanings. The top layer of meaning has to do with MV. Eventually, MV will disappear from my journal postings, but he will return in my last journal as a journal long conversation in which my academic, family, and spiritual life will be put into the context of what I call the dialectic of freedom. I suspect my postings will become dull at that point, but I’m perfectly okay with that. Thanks for the comment.

    • Mèo Lười Việt says:

      … an attempt at layering meanings!

      Yeah! I see that in your blog.

      …he will return in my last journal as a journal long conversation in which my academic, family, and spiritual life will be put into the context of what I call the dialectic of freedom.

      Love to read that. 🙂

  4. bwinwnbwi says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. God willing that day shall come to pass!

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