The Outer Game

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(FS - full submission) THE GLASS BEAD GAME
Posted by Robert Carrillo Cohen on January 23, 1997 at 02:00:00:

TITLE: The Glass Bead Game


CREATOR: Hermann Hesse


ALTERNATIVE CATEGORIES: (All Recommendation Categories - this is excessive by the standards for full submissions but I feel an exception is warranted in this case.)
activity, art, belief, business, change, communications, community, consciousness, environment, games, health, humor, literature, listening, learning, love, media, money vote, moving pictures, music, myth, politics, ritual, science, sensuality, tools, time vote.

RELATIONSHIP TO THE CORE WAVE: "How does the goal of perfection affect our inner lives or our environment? When do connections imply separations or unity?"

MAIN QUOTE: "Instead, he built up a Game modern and personal enough in its structure and themes. . ." -- Herman Hesse

HIGHLIGHT QUOTES: “Please, just before going to sleep look up for a while at these bays and straits again, with all their stars, and don't reject the ideas or dreams that come to you from them."
"The poet who praises the splendors and terrors of life in the dance-measure of his verse, the musician who sounds them in a pure, eternal present--these are bringers of light, increasers of joy and brightness on earth, even if they lead us first through tears and stress."
"Instead, he built up a Game modern and personal enough in its structure and themes. . ."
-- Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

HIGHLIGHT RECOMMENDATION: What can I say about a book that took twelve years to write? Wow. I spent over ten years of my own life searching for a way to make media work better. Reading The Glass Bead Game was the high point of that search. From the first words on the first page I was underlining, circling, and scribbling notes in the columns like "!!!!!!", "?", "KEY", "music", "Right!", "character mistake", "Ha-Ha!", "Yes!" and so on.

I started recommending it to everyone as relevant to the issues of (my field) mass media, and relevant to every issue from better business management to spiritual development and you name it. I discovered that half of the people I talked to held the book in equal esteem, as a touchstone and tool for inner and outer development. Unfortunately, I also discovered that half the people I talked to had tried to read the book and found it very inaccessible. How could I help them see that the book was a template for the beauty and risks in making a symphony of ideas? For me the book was a magic box of wisdom and warnings. It shows life as an infinite game to play.

DEEPER: I believe that Hesse wrote the Glass Bead Game partially as a warning to prevent the de-evolving of the one infinite, never-ending game of life (exploring within and without ourselves) into a private abstraction that is completely disassociated and irrelevant to the general public. From my point of view, the complete lack of feminine, or female concepts in the elitist society of the book is a major part of that warning. I think that is reflected in the protagonist's journey as he searches without even the proper conceptual tools for a way to balance his world and comes ultimately to the challenge of caring for a child.

CONNECTIONS: None currently but The Whole Earth Catalog if and when it becomes a Game move.

IMAGES AND CLIPS: Scans of the book cover and underlined text will suffice.

ACCESS AND DISTRIBUTION: The book is in print and readily accessible. The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse is in print and published in the US by Henry Holt and Company, Inc. 115 West 18th Street, NY, NY. 10011. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-80343. ISBN 0-8050-1246-X. Note: Only the original German and the English translation by Richard and Clara Winston are recommended. There are two excellent web sites that I have seen about the ongoing quest to create real-world versions of the Game described in the book. Charles Cameron's Hipbone Games ( is the most comprehensive analysis of the issues involved with creating Glass Bead Games and spiritual games in general. He also has a wonderfully playable partial Glass Bead Game called Hipbone. Gail Sullivan's The Glass Bead Game ( site has the best introductory description of the criterion involved in Glass Bead Game Design that I have seen. Both sites have good links to other sites about the Game and Herman Hesse.


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