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It took me an eternity to find this particular book, and it took me a mere day to read it.

Some books, it is said, become available exactly at that moment in which you need them the most. And I am now skeptically raising an eyebrow at what Ive just said; its more than clear that the older I grow, the cheesier I get. Anyhow, as you probably already know, Demian is a Bildungsroman. It deals with the coming of age of the Emil Sinclair, a confused youngster raised in a bourgeois home, who is on his way to one big epiphany. When writing Demian, Hesse was heavily influenced by Jungs psychoanalytical theories and Gnostic myths, especially the beliefs of the Cainites. Since I am highly interested in both Jung and Gnosticism (especially Cainites and Ophites), it is only natural that Demian instantly became my number one object of fascination. Well, this and the fact that I was absolutely intrigued by Steppenwolf. There are few books in which one finds oneself to such an extent as I found myself in Demian. Sure, as most rebellious young people from around the world, I also found some bits of my insights on life in Steppenwolf, but not to this extent. As Hesses alter ego states in the short prologue: 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 dreamslike the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves. Anyone whos been reading this blog can recognize the sweet talk about nonsense, chaos, madness and dreams from the posts about Thomas Ligotti. But whats really interesting concerning the thoughts of Emil Sinclair is the assumption that these are the ingredients of the life of a man who does not deceive himself, who shatters and transcends the illusion. Seems that the road to revelations is quite bumpy. Basically, you have two options: abide by the rules of society, abide by the rules of the world, never question and doubt your surroundings and destiny OR take a deep look inside yourself, and smash your chains and shackles. Seems pretty easy to decide, right? The novel itself begins with Emil Sinclair talking about contrast day and night, metaphorically speaking, of course. The light realm, equating with safety and order, represents the familiarity of Sinclairs own home, with a familiarity conferred by mother and father, love and strictness, model behavior, and school. As opposed to the realm of brilliance, clarity, and cleanliness, gentle conversations, washed hands, clean clothes, and good manners and the world in which straight lines and paths led into the future: there were duty and guilt, bad conscience and confession, forgiveness and good resolutions, love, reverence, wisdom and the words of the Bible , there was darkness, the obscure which contained servant girls and workmen, ghost stories, rumors of scandal. It was dominated by a loud mixture of horrendous, intriguing, frightful, mysterious things, including slaughterhouses and prisons, drunkards and screeching fishwives, calving cows, horses sinking to their death, tales of robberies, murders, and suicides. Despite my official studies, I dont know if this form of clivage is typical for any child of Sinclairs age. Sure, this is the age in which boundaries and rules are more or less settled and sure, that family acts like some sort of safety net, but listen to this : All these wild and cruel, attractive and hideous things surrounded us, could be found in the next alley, the next house. Policemen and tramps, drunkards who beat their wives, droves of young girls pouring out of factories at night, old women who put the hex on you so that you fell ill, thieves hiding in the forest, arsonists nabbed by country policeeverywhere this second vigorous world erupted and gave off its scent, everywhere, that is, except in our parents rooms. And that was good. I know I am quoting a little bit too much, but bear with me. I remember that, in my childhood, I had the exact same fascination with this sort of modern underworld ( isnt this world of thieves, whores and drunkards an equivalent of the mythological underworld?), fascination which would later on give birth to my no.1 obsession. Anyhow, back to Demian.

Later on, Sinclair is forced to confront the world of the obscure, through the presence of a boy named Franz Kromer, who is given the opportunity to blackmail Sinclair, on the grounds of a white lie told by the latter in order to impress his peers. Thus, Sinclair starts feeling tainted with the underworld he was so fascinated with, he feels rejected by God and light. It is Max Demian himself that saves the narrator from Kromers torments. Demian is introduced as an odd boy, looking more mature than he actually he is, seeming more like a gentleman than a young boy. It is him that offers Sinclair a crucial revelation: the story of Cain and Abel reinterpreted. Demian claims that Cain and his children were a seed of fearless and sinister people, shunned because people always want what is agreeable to them and people with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest. The bird symbol above Sinclairs house, which would become one of the novels keys, also comes into discussion at this point. The way that Hesse writes about the Biblical archetypes of Cain and Abel is at least thought provoking. Are there really people that embody this archetype of Cain, who bear the mark? Sure, one may believe that each and every one of us reflects some mythological archetype, but how does being a Cain relate to ones conscious and unconscious mechanisms? Are there certain type of synchronicities that warn you about bearing the mark, like those imagined by Hesse? Upon thinking about Demians perspective more and more, Sinclair realizes that he does not fit into the community anymore, he starts his journey to full realization of his marked self. Later, Sinclair remembers about his first encounters with sexuality, naming them desires of a chthonic nature. He is again between worlds, as he clings to his innocent childhood. According to the narrator, puberty is the period of death and rebirth, however, some people still dream of the paradisaical childhood throughout their lives. After several years in which he avoided Max, Emil meets him again in confession classes and realizes that they are somehow bonded in a mysterious way. They chat on the topic of free will and Demians speech reminds of the Thelema notion of true will. His influence stats to grow again on Sinclair and the latter starts doubting his religious education. His unclear feelings for Demian and his teachings and the fact that he is not well liked among his new colleagues take Sinclair on a self destructive path in his boarding school years: he starts binge drinking. When he returns home for Christmas, he finds the world of light, the intimacy of his family, most disagreeable. Emil falls in love for the first time in his life with an androgynous girl he calls Beatrice. He does not say a word to her, but he describes feeling something which psychologists today would call limerence. Thus, he finds a new goal which makes him achieve a temporary inner balance. Moreover, he finds a new form of catharsis: painting. An attempt to draw a portrait of Beatrice turns into something very intriguing which finds meaning later in the book. At this point, Sinclair starts having very Jungian dreams about the symbol above his parents door, whose meaning is later revealed in a quote that the narrator finds tucked in one of his books: The bird rights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That Gods name is Abraxas. The influence of Carl Jung is clearly visible as the mystery on what or who is Abraxas is elucidated for Sinclair through a formidable synchronicity. Drawn by the organ music, Emil enters a dark church where he would meet another man who would change his perception and enlighten him on the mysteries of the a fore mentioned divinity, as the reader is further enlightened on the perception of archetypes: Every god and devil that ever existed, be it among the Greeks, Chinese or Zulus, are within us, exist as latent possibilities, as wishes, as alternatives. Later on, Sinclair finds a photo of Demians mother and recognizes a recurrent dream figure. He naturally becomes obsessed and sees her countenance in several women he encounters. He meets Max again, by accident or, more likely, fate and the latter reveals to him that the narrator had born the mark of Cain all along.

He finally meets Demians mother, called Eva, for whom he develops a feeling of true love. She is revealed to be the complete archetype of the primordial feminine energy: Eve, Sophia, Kali, Tiamat, whomever you may want to name. Demian reveals his presentiments about the end of the world and his feelings about the necessity for it to burn and rise again. It is the dawn of war The micro-macro cosmos relationship is rendered in a very intriguing way, as Sinclair seems to mirror the world itself. Sure, Hesse makes his belief that the world reflects in every human being clear enough at the beginning of the novel through the voice of Sinclair, but nonetheless the relationship between the the evolution of Emil and the historical events at the time is remarkable. Demian is in itself remarkable as an essay on the purpose of existence and man-cosmos relationship, more than a novel. Its a book that I will forever be intrigued with and I truly recommended to anyone that desires to enlighten himself on topics such as gnosticism or psychoanalysis. On another hand, I truly recommended it to anyone who wishes to enlighten himself on his own true nature and purpose.