Hermann Hesse Quotes

Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is. Only the ideas that we really live have any value. The truth is lived, not taught. Some of us think hodling on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. All men are prepared to acconplish the icredible if their ideals are threatened. It is possible for one never to transgress a single law and still be a bastard. People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest. When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane. As a body everyone is single, as a soul never. Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke. Those who cannot think or take responsibility for themselves need, and clamor for, a leader. When trying to remember my share in the glow of the eternal present, in the smile of God, I return to my childhood, too, for that is where the most significant discoveries turn up. Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin. Among the letters my readers write me, there is a certain category which is continuously growing, and which I see as a symptom of the increasing intellectualization of the relationship between readers and literature. But your questions, which are unanswerable without exception, all spring from the same erroneous thinking. I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value. It is not Kafka's fault that his wonderful writings have lately turned into a fad, and are read by people who have neither the ability nor the desire to absorb literature. In Germany I have been acknowledged again since the fall of Hitler, but my works, partly suppressed by the Nazis and partly destroyed by the war; have not yet been republished there. Until 1914 I loved to travel; I often went to Italy and once spent a few months in India. Since then I have almost entirely abandoned travelling, and I have not been outside of Switzerland for over ten years. For me, however, that beloved, glowing little word happiness has become associated with everything I have felt since childhood upon hearing the sound of the word itself. Nevertheless, whether in occurrences lasting days, hours or mere minutes at a time, I have experienced happiness often, and have had brief encounters with it in my later years, even in old age. This happiness consisted of nothing else but the harmony of the few things around me with my own existence, a feeling of contentment and well-being that needed no changes and no intensification. It was as if all of the happiness, all of the magic of this blissful hour had flowed together into these stirring, bittersweet tones and flowed away, becoming temporal and transitory once more. Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object. Solitude is independence. Within us there is someone who knows everything, wills everything, does everything better than we ourselves. You are only afraid if you are not in harmony with yourself. People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves. To be able to throw one's self away for the sake of a moment, to be able to sacrifice years for a woman's smile that is happiness. Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it. Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again. There is, so I believe, in the essence of everything, something that we cannot call learning. There is, my friend, only a knowledge - that is everywhere. What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find. The bourgeois prefers comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to the deathly inner consuming fire. If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us. In each individual the spirit is made flesh, in each one the whole of creation suffers, in each one a Savior is crucified. One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time. Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind things, they were in them, in all of them. If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most intelligent thing he can do. Perhaps people like us cannot love. Ordinary people can that is their secret. I was out of my bed in one second, trembling with excitement, and I dashed to the door and into the adjoining room, where I could watch the streets below from the windows. It was still quiet in the house, and not a sound was heard from outside, either. Were it not for this silence, my reverie would probably have been disrupted by reminders of daily duties, of getting up and going to school. It was morning; through the high window I saw the pure, bright blue of the sky as it hovered cheerfully over the long roofs of the neighboring houses. It too seemed full of joy, as if it had special plans, and had put on its finest clothes for the occasion.

Herman Hesse

1877 - 1962