Issue 1 2020-21

Page 11


SEPTEMBER 11, 2020

Demian: a new set of eyes for readers E

mil Sinclair throws away away from the only life he knows the landscapes and flowas a child. ers he originally paints, Hesse’s honesty reflected some and his imagination begins to of my inner thoughts that I have guide his hand. The face he starts only ever shared with myself. to portray gradually changes and When reading “Demian: The Story morphs into new faces as his subof Emil Sinclair’s Youth,” I found conscious takes control of paintmyself lost in the story more than ing. I have ever been lost in any The clock ticks book. I had a feeling that away, and a sense the author was also making of time becomes sense of who he truly was further from Sinthrough writing each indiclair’s reach as vidual word of the book. every second passA lot of people say they es. His mind leads relate to modern writings him to paint a face because they mirror what from his dreams that world is like today, but multiple times after taking in the words without stopping. “Demian: The Story of KAILIE FOLEY of When he finishEmil Sinclair’s Youth,” I es the final paintFeatures Editor realized the understanding ing, an ageless, between a reader and an mask-like face which seems stiff author can be timeless. Although at first glance, but is secretly alive, the book is in German, it was clear looks back directly into his eyes. to me that a different language is Within the face staring back at not a barrier regarding the underhim, he recognizes every person in standing of two people. his life that represents the rhythm In the novel, how strong a bond of his own fate. can truly be between two people Before this moment, Sinclair is shown when during Sinclair’s is unsure of the fate which lives childhood, he meets a friend inside of himself. His childhood named Max Demian who gives home provides reliability and orhim a complete new outlook on der, but he feels distant from the life. Demian is sure of himself and love he receives. Within time, Sinthis helps guide Sinclair through clair soon steps outside and is welthe world around him. Demian incomed to a world of truth. trigues Sinclair for many reasons, “Demian: The Story of Emil but the main reason is that he is Sinclair’s Youth,” was published one of the faces which represents in 1919 after World War I. The Sinclair’s destiny. author, Hermann Hesse, originalAs time passes, Sinclair obly released the novel under the serves life and takes life in for all pseudonym Emil Sinclair, but reit is. He begins to stray away from vealed himself to be the author of morality or what people tend to say the coming of age story after the causes the world to be split into novel received the Fontane Prize two; good and evil. Instead, he lisfor first novels the same year it tens to all that comes from himself was published. Hesse returned the as he goes through life which in reprize due to the book not being his turn leads him to his destiny. first written. When growing up, Sinclair feels Between 1916 and 1917, Hesse not only distant from the part of went through a personal crisis due the world many consider as light to his father’s death, his son’s seor good, but he is ashamed that he rious illness and his wife’s schizofeels distant early on in his life. phrenia. Hesse’s own struggles led The early portion of the book him to seek psychoanalysis with when Sinclair begins to question Psychiatrist Carl Jung. reality really related to how I view The novel reflects Hesse’s path life myself. There are so many exof discovery within himself as he pectations put upon people to be a grows out of being a child and discertain version of the word good covers where he belongs. all of the time. I relate to Sinclair, “Demian: The Story of Emil because he shows that he had no Sinclair’s Youth” takes the reader idea how to be good all of the time with Sinclair on his twisted considering he is path of life until the line just trying to be between the reader’s life who he actually and Sinclair’s begins to is. blur completely. Hesse Anothwas honest to the core er person’s with himself when sense of moralwriting this book, ity can often and this is apmake people feel parent as he ashamed of who talks about they really are deep Sinclair’s feeling down. Hesse’s novof shame toward walking el is about listening

FLOWERS BLOOM IN MINDS LEAST EXPECTED TO BEAR GARDENS: “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth” represents how the outside world can make an individual lose sight of their own ideas and destiny. The flowers blooming from the book symbolize inspiration, dark thoughts, hope, devotion, faithfulness, and delicate beauty. The vines, although sharp, do not harm the flowers or the individual ideas in bloom. An individual’s ideas are more powerful than the people trying to dispose of them. (cartoon by Grace He) to yourself instead of listening to another person’s idea of right and wrong for guidance. I had never felt more inspired by a book to start writing and listening to myself more. It can be easy to doubt yourself in a world filled with so many other people to compare yourself to. Good comments come and go about who we are, but judgements often pile upon insecurities formed about what matters most to us. There are so many times I have questioned if I was made to write at all, even though I feel like I belong to myself in my bones when I write. Reading about Sinclair learning to listen to himself truly made me dig deep into my heart. I began to ask myself why other people’s comments made me question if I should be doing the only thing in my life that made me understand myself to the core. A lot of people compare their life to being what others view as impractical, and because of this their dreams are never lived. The book shows that looking inward does not only tell a person what to pursue, it simply tells a person who they are and where they are headed. “I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me,” Hesse wrote in

the novel. Even if people hear the dream they long to pursue from within themselves, many people are scared that what they want to do with their life would never work out if they actually tried to pursue it or live the life they have always longed to. It is hard to navigate through life sometimes, and “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth” reveals that people often forget their way when they look outside of themselves for guidance. The novel represents living in reality through dreams; something other people may consider to be the least realistic life route. Each dream Sinclair has in the book brings him closer to finding out what he lives for and who he is. “I live in my dreams — that’s what you sense. Other people live in dreams, but not in their own. That’s the difference,” Hesse wrote in the novel. Through dreams, Sinclair begins to see life in a different light and accepting who he is makes a lot of the guilt he initially felt vanish. People often give up on a dream or lose their drive to actually be who they are. This idea is described in the book as the reason some people will never be able to truly live their reality within dreams or simply be who they are.

About the author - German-born Swiss poet, novelist and painter - Received the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature - Received the Peace Prize of the German Booksellers in 1955 - Grew up in a Swabian Pietist household -Showed signs of serious depression as early as his first year at school - Music and poetry were important in his family - Registered himself as a volunteer with the Imperial army - Protested Nazi ideology -Grew up in Calw, a town in Southern Germany

HERMANN HESSE: Author of “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth” 1877-1962. (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The one moment that separates people who solely dream and people who live within dreams is actually believing in them. A point in “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth” describes this idea with a metaphor that tells the reader to believe in what may initially be questioned or seen as impossible. “He gazed at the star, and his love for it flamed up within him. And in a moment of great longing he made a spring, throwing himself into space to meet the star. But at the moment of leaping, the thought flashed through his mind: it is impossible! And so he was dashed to pieces on the rocks below. He did not know how to love. Had he had the strength of soul, at the moment of leaping, to believe in the fulfillment of his wish, he would have flown up and been united with the star,” Hesse wrote in the novel. While reading the book, I dreamt about this quote in the book. My mind painted a scene for me in my dreams showing a moon flashing in the sky which planned to fall down upon me. As the moon met my eyes, I accepted my own fate and paid attention to the flashing lights. Dark and light colors combined in the sky represented morality. As everything slowed down, I soon realized that simply accepting the thought of what was happening within myself saved me even though the sky was falling apart and coming down on me. I sat still and accepted where I was and who I was, and that was all I had to do to save me from everything life had to throw at me. Hesse provides the reader with the choice to take in Sinclair’s true sense of self and possibly find a sense of self of their own from looking inside of their heart after or while reading. “The true vocation for everyone was only to attain to self-realization. He might end as a poet or as Madman, as profit or as criminal— that was not his affair, that was of no consequence in the long run. His business was to work out his own destiny, not any destiny, but his own, to live for that, entirely and uninterruptedly. Everything else was merely an attempt to shun his fate, to fly back to the ideals of the masses, to adapt himself to circumstances. It was fear of his own inner being,” Hesse expressed within “Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth.”

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