Often our greatest epiphanies occur at the most mundane moments. Like Archimedes and his tub, we tend to stumble into truth with our vision blurred and arms outstretched. However, there are men who dedicate their lives to the discovery and unveiling of holy and sacred truths.
Hermann Hesse was one of those men. His writing reveals an interest not only in fiction, but also in the deeper philosophical questions that have haunted us since Plato summarized our shadowy limitations.
This month, author Steven Hermans takes a walk through Hesse’s past, following his trail to the city of Maulbronn, Germany. He journeys to the ruins of the monastery where Hesse spent several years studying before he fell into a deep depression. It was a special place for Hesse, and through his wanderings, it becomes a significant place for Hermans as well. Particularly once he comes upon the fountain.
It is here Hermans learns something crucial about his own multifaceted nature; he not simply a poet, a monk, or a musician, but like Hesse, he is a man on a quest for truth. Although it may seem strange to read so much into an object of stone and water, I, too, can remember a time when the very bricks of a church seemed to speak out in kinship. While the little, unobtrusive chapel on the Hudson did not have the same advantage of age as the Maulbronn fountain, the quiet air seemed imbued with a purity, a sense of balance and peace. It was as though it had been built just for that one moment of perfect clarity.
But before we get lost in reflection, take a moment to follow Hermans to the edge of the Black Forest by checking out our newest feature article – Hermann Hesse’s Glass Bead Game: The Fountain of Inspiration – in its entirety.