Like any good college student I read a lot of Herman Hesse. I think that Hesse is an amazing and thought provoking writer and I love how he blends dualities like masculine and femininity, east and west, thinking and feeling, reality and imagined, man and animal, past and future…etc. After reading quite a bit of his work (I am one of those kind of readers, I like to read the authors entire collection) I noticed, all of his books seemed to follow the same skeletal structure. Man longs for something different or is forced to be exposed to something different. The difference confronts who he was and or his inner demons. Usually the dualism comes into play here and he must struggle with his desires/longings/wants/isolation. There is chaos here. Then there is some sort of transcending where the newly enlightened character resolves and accepts his conflicts.
I was reading Nietzsche today and scribbled in the margin, “I wonder what Hermann Hesse thought of this?” there are a lot of similar underlining themes, this spawned a guick-ish internet search. Fact: Hermann Hesse had a crush on Nietzsche too.
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
― Hermann Hesse
Versus Ayn Rand who thought
Philosophically, Nietzsche is a mystic and an irrationalist. His
metaphysics consists of a somewhat “Byronic” and mystically
“malevolent” universe; his epistemology subordinates reason to “will,”
or feeling or instinct or blood or innate virtues of character. But,
as a poet, he projects at times (not consistently) a magnificent
feeling for man’s greatness, expressed in emotional, not intellectual,
terms.’ *Objectivist* March 1968, p. 6
‘Nietzsche’s rebellion against altruism consisted of replacing the
sacrifice of oneself to others by the sacrifice of others to oneself.
He proclaimed that the ideal man is moved, not by reason, but by his
“blood,” by his innate instincts, feelings and will to power–that he
is predestined by birth to rule others and sacrifice them to himself,
while they are predestined by birth to be his victims and slaves–that
reason, logic, principles are futile and debilitating, that morality
is useless, that the “superman” is “beyond good and evil,” that he is
a “beast of prey” whose ultimate standard is nothing but his own whim.
Thus Nietzsche’s rejection of the Witch Doctor consisted of elevating
Attila into a moral ideal–which meant: a double surrender of morality
to the Witch Doctor.’ *For the New Intellectual* p. 36
Ayn Rand can s my d. I am at the irrational place with my love where I have decided that Nietzsche is being ironic and sort of poking fun at us all when he talks about women, and compassion. He strokes my hair and tells me “baby, I really didn’t mean it.”
To be totally honest, I don’t really like Ayn Rand, but this is a really interesting interview with her.