The “Glass Bead” was a novel by Hermann Hesse. The book talks about the human quest to find knowledge and a mixture of the rational and a non-dormant life. To tell his story, he uses a young man by the name Josef Knecht. He had been consumed by the need to understand the glass bead game. The game required a masterly of a fusion of aesthetics and scientific arts and the use of logic. His society has provided an environment for the intellectual people to take advantage of the opportunity and harness it (Hesse, et al, 45). The game is interesting and the players who are good in it have learnt to allow the flow of music to find its way into their systems. Ultimately, the game required high level thinking to combine the music and mathematics to find the solution to the game.
Joseph creates friendship with people in the course of discovering himself. One such friendship is that of him and Father Jacobus who has found a place in his heart as his advisor and mentor. The Father also imparts the young man to control his desires so that he can be able to achieve other courses in his life and understand life from another perceptive. Martin Buber viewed such a relationship as concrete and a foundation of molding a person’s character. According to him, such a relationship is important to build an individual’s personality and his sense of thinking.
This relationship with its religious ethics formed the basis of learning. He considers the language they share and considers the miles they cover in as far as achieving the best effect of his character. It makes a man be man and defines his purpose on the planet. In reality, the Father encourages him to believe in himself and run after what his heart desires. However, he advised him to be careful not to let his heart be consumed by the love of the game or the flattery of the music, rest he forgets who he is expected to be in his life (Buber 78). He challenges him to look aside for while and understand that life is more than a mathematical formula that requires logic to let life flow as it is.
He is very close to the Father, which shows that he listens to what he tells him, and does what he urges him to do. This could be because he brings order to his life and reason in which he can base his chosen kind of life and what life holds in reality. He urges the young man to reconsider the perception of life other than what he has been narrowed down to, that is formulas and mathematical summations. He does not urge him to practice avoidance to mathematics but rather to minimize his love for it and balance it with religion, which he considers as having the knowledge of evil and good. He urges him to look at history. Martin talks in his book as being part of man and his decisions this relation.
The essence of man is realized through the relation of man to another man, the gap between individualism and collectivism is addressed in respect as bridging the gap because of the influence they have on each other. The real impact of the decision they make to each other or the influence the Father has on him is based on the conversation they have on each other, this is what he uses to achieve the best results in the game (Hesse, et al, 98). His constant conversation with the Father builds his confidence to try each time he fails. Joseph and the Father have overcome the sphere of between and that is why the words they speak make good conversations that have positive impact on both participants.
The relationship of Tito –the son of Plinio is one of a teacher-student relationship. However, at the climax of the relationship and their learning experience, Joseph dies while swimming with Tito. The experience is traumatizing for Tito who must try to understand what has just happened and find a logical explanation to what has happened. He is caught between the thought of life and the meaning it holds (Hesse 74). This is what Martin would call the thought of life and death, which he considers as being problematic in the sense that life has to choose what is fit in terms of individualism and collectivism. This is coupled with anthropology and collective sociology that addresses the human mind. This explains the process of thought and what really affects its manifestation.
He further argues that man cannot escape from himself simply for the simple fact that he is with us. He says, “Man is not freed from isolation simply because he is with man”. His inner person is constantly neutralizing and reducing the bond he has with other people so that he can have a chance to spend life with himself. Therefore, it is true to say that the sadness that Tito experiences is because he is not able to overcome his grieves and defeat. This is in fact true because if man is alone, he feels outnumbered and obviously defeated. Man is able to control his environment but unable to defeat the self. This experience troubles his mind and the need to associate with reason.
If Tito gets a grip of his self and accepts the facts before that his teacher and friend is no more, he will have gained respect with self and therefore managed to arrest it enabling him to salvage loneliness (Buber 111). This means getting a grip of oneself and the thoughts by constantly making judgments reminding oneself where one has been. If one manages to overcome successfully solitude, he is indeed a winner of self and can achieve the best he can be. He can achieve the standards of his teacher Joseph and the standards of his work. He felt he was to blame for his teacher’s death and because of this; he took the challenge of achieving the life-long dream of his master.
The relationship of Joseph and magistrate Alexander is one of the master and his servant. That is why he has to write to him to express his position on matters. This means the relationship is maintained as formal and spontaneous. He writes to the magistrate informing him of his reluctance to be part of the game because of the evaluatiom he has done to the game. He obviously doubts if he wants to be part of the life of the “game”. This is one of the conversations they hold with the magistrate and it is one of the places in the book we can deduce the relationship they had with the magistrate (Hesse 89). The letter states,
“Some naive feeling for simplicity, for wholeness and soundness, warned me against the spirit of the Waldzell Vicus Lusorum. I sensed in it a spirit of specialism and virtuosity, certainly highly cultivated, certainly richly elaborated, but nevertheless isolated from humanity and the whole of life — a spirit that had soared too high into haughty solitariness…”
In his letter, he seems to have become aware of his individual self, which brings about the realization of self.
Joseph now realizes he does not want to be part of this game as a life long commitment. His letter to magistrate Alexander appears as if he was looking for consolation of some sort of reason that would get him back to the game. However, he is looking for consolation from people although he will certainly not get it. He claims that “mine fight” to get the pure form of something. When they achieve it, they are not sure if that is what they want to have. They can never rise in rebellion again and that is why Joseph is writing to the magistrate. This is so as to not to give him an impression that he is rebelling but it shows some level of reason as to why he wishes to quit (Buber 47).
This is because as Martin put it in writing, they do not fight against the domineering force. The reason is that they have realized they have a bigger responsibility to the community in the name of “genuine realization”. He must therefore find the perfect language to articulate his issue because of the distance between them. The friendship between though is cold and he is attempting to fight the urge to be rebellious because of the way he treats Joseph while in the game. The hostility between them is so clear and the relationship is very strained. Alexander assumes he owns the business and feels that he should intimidate the younger people in the game. This is reflected as unacceptable in the conversation of man-to-man.
In conclusion, Martin Buber’s depiction of the human self and his interaction with other human beings affects their view of life. Joseph relationship to his father Jacobus has the effect of forming the basis of an individualist and collective approach of life. Tito was affected by his master’s death and he blamed himself for challenging his master to go swimming with him. For a long time, he remained in solitude as he tried to find meaning to what had happened. He was engrossed in deep thought, a situation that Buber considers as dangerous because one cannot escape from himself. Joseph relationship with Alexander is affected by his constant bullying such that Joseph considers quitting his love for the game. In interaction, Martin considers language to be of great importance because it breaks the distance between man to man and covers the normal “between” space to allow thoughts to flow freely and relationships to grow.
Buber, Martin. Between Man and Man. Westward, UK: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Hesse, Hermann, Winston, Clara and Winston, Richard. The Glass Bead Game: (Magister Ludi) New York, NY: Picador USA, 2002. Print.
Hesse, Hermann. The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi). New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969. Print.