Apr

18

 I think the following passage from Siddhartha by Herman Hesse has a lot of gems in it for speculators and gamblers despite the fact that Siddhartha is attempting to wash his hands of these filthy earthly pursuits in an attempt at spiritual nirvana:

The world had captured Siddhartha: voluptuousness, lust, lethargy, and in the end even greed, the vice he'd always thought the most foolish and despised and scorned above all others. Property, ownership, and riches had captured him in the end. No longer were they just games to him, trifles; they had become chains and burdens. A curious and slippery path had led Siddhartha to his latest and vilest form of dependency: dice playing. Ever since he had ceased to be a Samara in his heart, Siddhartha had begun to pursue these games with their stakes of money and precious goods- games he had once participated in offhandedly- with growing frenzy and passion. He was feared as a player. Few dared to challenge him, for his bets were fierce and reckless. He played this game out of his heart's distress. Losing and squandering the wretched money was an angry pleasure; in no other way could he have shown his contempt for wealth, the idol of the merchants, more clearly and with more pronounced scorn. And so he bet high and mercilessly. Despising himself, mocking himself, he won thousands and threw thousands away, gambled away money, gambled away jewelry, gambled away a country house, won again, lost again. That fear- that terrible and oppressive fear he felt with rolling the dice, while worrying over his own high stakes- he loved it. Again and again he sought to renew it, to increase it, to goad it to a higher level of intensity, for only in the grasp of this fear did he still feel something like happiness, something like intoxication, something like exalted life in the midst of this jaded, dull, insipid existence. And after each major loss he dreamed of new wealth, pursued his trading with increased vigor, and put more pressure on this debtors, for he wanted to go on gambling, he wanted to go on squandering all he could so as to continue to show his contempt for wealth. Siddhartha lost the composure with which he had once greeted losses, he lost his patience when others were tardy with their payments, lost his good-naturedness when beggars came to call, lost all desire to give gifts and loan money to supplicants. The one who laughed as he gambled away ten thousand on a single toss of the dice turned intolerant and petty in his business dealings, and at night he sometimes dreamed of money. Whenever he awoke from this hateful spell, whenever he saw his face grown older and uglier in the mirror on his bedroom wall, whenever he was assailed by shame and nausea, he fled further, seeking to escape in more gambling, seeking to numb himself back into the grind of hoarding and acquisition. In this senseless cycle he ran himself ragged, ran himself old, ran himself sick. Never before had it seemed so strangely clear to Siddhartha how closely sensuality was linked to death. Siddharta had spent the night in his home with dancing girls and wine, had made a show of superiority before others, of his standing, though he was no longer superior, had drunk a great deal of wine, and had gone to bed long after midnight, weary and yet agitated, close to tears and despair. For a long time he sought sleep in vain, his heart full of misery he felt he could no longer endure, full of a nausea that coursed through him like the vile, insipid taste of the wine, like the dreary all-too-sweet music, the all-too-soft smiles of the dancers, the all-too-sweet perfume of their hair and their breasts. But nothing made the nausea well up in him more bitterly than his thought of himself. He felt nausea at his perfumed hair, the smell of wine on this breath, the wary slackness and reluctance of his skin. Just as someone who has eaten or drunk too much vomits it up again in agony and yet is glad for the relief, sleepless Siddhartha yearned for a monstrous wave of nausea that would rid him of these pleasures, these habits, this whole meaningless existence and himself along with it…


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3 Comments so far

  1. F L Light on April 24, 2012 7:57 am

    Lucre the calmest excellence requires,
    Secured from one’s pejorative desires.

    Impassioned with unmuddled pensiveness,
    I may uncommon likelihoods profess.

    Longings of profit seem compulsory,
    Like the venereal force disposing me.

    Full of desirous physicality,
    I’d feel in profit mundane primacy.

  2. F L Light on April 24, 2012 6:03 pm

    As nerveless as inert Nirvana would
    Hesse become, who for inertia stood!

  3. Todd Tracy on April 25, 2012 1:05 pm

    I have been reading some Hesse lately. I stumbled upon The Novels of Hermann Hesse A Study in Theme and Structure by Theodore Ziolkowski. Princeton University Press 1965. Very interesting.

    Hello Victor, been awhile since I commented here. Got an A in stats last year at Fairfield U! As always thanx for the inspiration!!

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