i cannot tell my story without reaching a long way back. if it were possible i would reach farther still- into the very first years of my childhood, and beyond them into distant ancestral past.
novelists when they write novels tend to take an almost godlike attitude toward their subject, pretending to a total comprehension of the story, a man´s life, which they can therefore recount as God Himself might, nothing standing between them and the naked truth, the entire story meaningful in every detail. i am as little able to do this as the novelist is, even though my story is more important to me than any novelist´s is to him- for this is my story; it is the story of man, not of an invented, or possible, or idealized, or otherwise absent figure, but of a unique being of flesh and blood. yet, what a real human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men- each one of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature- are therefore shot wholesale nowadays. if we were not something more than unique human beings, if each one of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storyteling would lose all purpose. but every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world´s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. that is why every man´s story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of every consideration. in each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemeer is nailed to the cross.
few people nowadays know what man is. many sense this ignorance and die the more easily because of it, the same way that i will die more easily once i have completed this story.
i do not consider myself less ignorant than most people. i have been and still am a seeker, but i have ceased to question stars and books; i have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. my story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams- like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.
each man´s life represents a road toward himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. no man has ever been entirely and completely himself. yet each one strives to become that- one in an awkward, the other in a more intelligent way, each as best as he can. each man carries the vestiges of his birth- the slime and eggshells of his primeval past- with him to the end of his days. some never become human, remaining frog, lizard, ant. some are human above the waist, fish below. each represents a gamble on the part of nature in creation of the human. we all share the same origin, our mothers; all of us come in at the same door. but each of us -experiments of the depths- strives toward his own destiny. we can understand one another; but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.
demian, hermann hesse.