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Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Cliché or Insight?

All through this book I oscillate (or is it vacillate? Not my mother tongue!) between thinking of it as delivering the highest insights and filling me with the basest of clichés. In writing as well as reading I am always aware of clichés and when I came to the end of page 68 a little while ago I thought “How convenient! First he has a dream of the dead bird, then he leaves his own death and she frees the bird. Ah, freedom to chose. Freedom to be. Siddhartha gets to survive his own death.

What happens then? Kamala closes her house of pleasures and … cliché of all clichés – she is on her way to the next step; the cycle of life begins anew. Thank you, Herr Hesse. You didn’t tell us much about Kamala, but at least you left me with a better impression of her than I had in the beginning. I thought she was just an ordinary woman of the night. But now I understand. She’ll be a MOTHER. A GODDESS. I wonder how Siddhartha would feel about this, were he present. But of course he is the absent father. Except he doesn’t just go out into a cold winter morning to get a newspaper and a pack of cigarettes and never returns; he goes out to find himself, to find truth and spiritual insight…and I know from past reading that he will be back. Or at least their paths will cross again.

And I still don’t know if I am reading a book full of clichés or insights. I guess the two are one and the same. Don’t clichés become clichés because, as insights, they have been repeated one too many times?

Where are our young readers? I would like to know what you think of Siddhartha.
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ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Cliché or Insight?

I can answer that question, at least! Their teacher is working out the details of getting them registered for the club and having them formulate questions in small groups. Like you, I am looking forward to their participation!

~ConnieK



Sunltcloud wrote, in part:
Where are our young readers? I would like to know what you think of Siddhartha.


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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johnsbowers
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-29-2007
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Re: Cliché or Insight?

Hi Sunltcloud,

In this beautiful book that I admire so much, the sequence of events you're discussing is the part that is most disappointing and upsetting to me. In many ways Siddhartha is a cruel and self-centered person. In this chapter he leaves his entire life and everybody who was depending on him without any word or thought. Presumably he had servants who expected to be paid by him, Kamaswami whose business must have been damaged when he left, and Kamala who was pregnant with his child -- neither knew this, but still he abandoned her without a word of goodbye. There are echoes here of the obnoxious way Siddhartha left the shramanas with an arrogant display of his forceful will, or the way he left his father and mother without a trace of remorse, or the way he manipulated his departure from Govinda.

As Thurman points out in the notes to the new edition, the timing of Siddhartha's departure from Kamala's life, and Kamala's return, are extremely "convenient" from a plot point of view and they strain the believability of the story. Kamala is cheated of the chance to say anything meaningful to Siddhartha on her return.

I think it's interesting that in the Samsara chapter, Hesse chooses a gambling addiction as the means for Siddhartha to become disgusted with his worldly life. He could have bestowed on Siddhartha an alcohol problem, or obesity, or sexual promiscuity, but instead he chose a pathology based on domination. The thrill Siddhartha got from gambling was from beating his competitors. It's an interesting insight about this gifted seeker who was so obsessed with the journey inward. For the most part, he saw others in his life in only one of two ways: individuals who had something to teach him, or "child people" who were inferior to him.

John
Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Cliché or Insight?

You are right, people who can teach or child people. Oversimplification. Right or wrong. It seems that the seeker knows no gray tones only black and white. And that the writer has only one goal, enlightenment. It is a rather selfish and narrow process that does not look at others as individuals but as messengers of progress or hindrance.

I too admire the book but somtimes I resent the narrow viewpoint. How can Hesse have such a clear picture of the goal but so little patience with the path? In order to appreciate the book I have to look at it as a fairy tale.





johnsbowers wrote:
Hi Sunltcloud,

In this beautiful book that I admire so much, the sequence of events you're discussing is the part that is most disappointing and upsetting to me. In many ways Siddhartha is a cruel and self-centered person. In this chapter he leaves his entire life and everybody who was depending on him without any word or thought. Presumably he had servants who expected to be paid by him, Kamaswami whose business must have been damaged when he left, and Kamala who was pregnant with his child -- neither knew this, but still he abandoned her without a word of goodbye. There are echoes here of the obnoxious way Siddhartha left the shramanas with an arrogant display of his forceful will, or the way he left his father and mother without a trace of remorse, or the way he manipulated his departure from Govinda.

As Thurman points out in the notes to the new edition, the timing of Siddhartha's departure from Kamala's life, and Kamala's return, are extremely "convenient" from a plot point of view and they strain the believability of the story. Kamala is cheated of the chance to say anything meaningful to Siddhartha on her return.

I think it's interesting that in the Samsara chapter, Hesse chooses a gambling addiction as the means for Siddhartha to become disgusted with his worldly life. He could have bestowed on Siddhartha an alcohol problem, or obesity, or sexual promiscuity, but instead he chose a pathology based on domination. The thrill Siddhartha got from gambling was from beating his competitors. It's an interesting insight about this gifted seeker who was so obsessed with the journey inward. For the most part, he saw others in his life in only one of two ways: individuals who had something to teach him, or "child people" who were inferior to him.

John

Frequent Contributor
tgem
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎08-06-2007
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Re: Cliché or Insight?



johnsbowers wrote:
Hi Sunltcloud,

In this beautiful book that I admire so much, the sequence of events you're discussing is the part that is most disappointing and upsetting to me. In many ways Siddhartha is a cruel and self-centered person. In this chapter he leaves his entire life and everybody who was depending on him without any word or thought. Presumably he had servants who expected to be paid by him, Kamaswami whose business must have been damaged when he left, and Kamala who was pregnant with his child -- neither knew this, but still he abandoned her without a word of goodbye. There are echoes here of the obnoxious way Siddhartha left the shramanas with an arrogant display of his forceful will, or the way he left his father and mother without a trace of remorse, or the way he manipulated his departure from Govinda.

As Thurman points out in the notes to the new edition, the timing of Siddhartha's departure from Kamala's life, and Kamala's return, are extremely "convenient" from a plot point of view and they strain the believability of the story. Kamala is cheated of the chance to say anything meaningful to Siddhartha on her return.

I think it's interesting that in the Samsara chapter, Hesse chooses a gambling addiction as the means for Siddhartha to become disgusted with his worldly life. He could have bestowed on Siddhartha an alcohol problem, or obesity, or sexual promiscuity, but instead he chose a pathology based on domination. The thrill Siddhartha got from gambling was from beating his competitors. It's an interesting insight about this gifted seeker who was so obsessed with the journey inward. For the most part, he saw others in his life in only one of two ways: individuals who had something to teach him, or "child people" who were inferior to him.

John




hello johnsbowers: I'm interested in knowing which new edition, with notes, you are now reading. I've mentioned before that this book was a huge influence on me from the time I read it as a teen. Now that I'm reading it almost 40 years later, I see much of what you are pointing out. It is more a story of an individual's quest, and definitely has its moments of wisdom, but it's not (like I may have previously thought) perfect wisdom. I agree that Siddhartha was, in his quest for enlightenment, selfish and self-centered. I've come into contact with Buddhist teachers at this point in my life and "my" teacher stated in the first years of his teaching in this country that he would not teach even meditation until motivation was correct and that motivation would be the quest for enlightenment "for the sake of other beings."


A random thought concerning "child people." In another belief system, more prevalent in this country, there is the saying "We are all God's children." and the Bible quotes Jesus as saying "forgive them for they know not what they do." Although Hesse didn't seem to convey this message - we tend to forgive children, because they often don't know what they're doing, and adults may be this way too (including myself). Sometimes it has helped me be more forgiving when I think - that person really didn't know what he/she was doing. tgem
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