Wednesday, April 30, 2008
“Truly, nothing in the world has occupied my thoughts as much as the Self, this riddle, that I live, that I am one and am separated and different from everybody else, that I am Siddhartha; and about nothing in the world do I know less than about myself, about Siddhartha.”
~Siddharttha, from the book of the same name, Page 38.
And this is where, collectively, your eyes roll because Moss is about to embark upon yet another journey through the philosophical soul searching jungle. Oh joy.
Not so fast, jack.
Siddhartha. A "terrific little book" by Hermann Hesse that could probably be referred to in some more esoteric fancy-pants circles as a "Standard" or "archetypal" text that sets a classic and recycled character into literary life. As Heir Gerking put it, at one time or other we are all Siddhartha. In this story Siddhartha plays many parts, indeed.
Right now, I resemble Siddhartha up until and including page 38; he is locked in a battle against his own wits (what a conundrum). What is the point of learning about nirvana when no one has crossed the great barrier between it and mortal life (the pond is deep, but the darkness is shallow)? Siddhartha decides to attempt to lose the Self to attain a new state of enlightenment. And finally, who cares when I don't even know myself? The thinker is confronted with the fact that he can not think his way out of something. At this point in the story, Siddhartha comes to grips with the fact that how on earth can he know how to lose the Self when he doesn't even know what his-self is?
And who am us, anyway?
We're one of you... and you're one of us...I think. Maybe. Possibly.
The interesting part of reading this story is that I just finished reading "A Wrinkle in Time" before it. You know, the elementary school book we all have to read in 2nd grade... or maybe most people read it in 4th grade but I read it WITH the 4th graders when I was in 2nd grade. Precocious little snot that I was. Well, what comes around goes around, because here I am in grad school at 30 with all of the 23 and 24 year olds with giant brains flopping around all the time. Its ridiculous how smart these kids are. And I believe I have a right, now, to call them "kids." The difference between us is...well, several meters wide. Anyway "A Wrinkle in Time" is as deep of a read as you want to make it. I find these days that I can not help but make the Sunday morning comics deep. I manage to eek out existentialism out of the list of ingredients on a soup can for fuck's sake. But "A Wrinkle in Time" was great for me because it is such a childish book on the surface but really has a lot to say. It did not, however, prepare me well for 1922 Hermann Hesse. No sir.
But I digress. You know, I think I am always in a digression, and when I think I am stopping the digression, that is really when the digression begins...
Maybe I have turned the corner, like Siddhartha, and I am now onto a different set of problems. Maybe I have figured out who I am, but being who I am in graduate school took a little figuring of its own. Or maybe I just haven't gotten to the drunken, business, party stage yet.