Does that mean that all one has to do is wait for the right moment? It was not just a question of that, as Hesse explained: the vita active and the vita contemplativa stand in a very sensitive relation to one another, which must constantly be rebalanced. He would come to summarize this in 1956: 'The flaw in our questioning and complaining is presumably this: namely, that we desire to have something given to us from outside that we can only attain within ourselves, through our own dedication. We demand that life must have a meaning - yet it has precisely as much meaning as we are able to impart to it.' This led him on to formulate the idea of a elite, a secret society, the invisible realm of the league of those taking part in The Journey to the East and finally to The Glass Bead Game - the 'monastery for free spirits' that Nietzsche had in mind and that Hesse affirmed and rejected in equal measure: 'In short, wanting to improve humanity is always a hopeless task. That is why I have always built my faith on the individual, for the individual can be educated and is capable of improvement, and according to my faith it has always been and still remains the small elite of well-intentioned, dedicated, and courageous people who are the guardians of all that is good and beautiful in the world.
But I never just quite liked that ryhme.'
'Why not, child?'
'Because it seems to say one's as good as another, or two new ones are better than one that's lost. . . . Somehow, when once you've looked into anybody's eyes, right deep down into them, I mean, nobody will do for that one any more. Nobody, ever so beautiful or so good, will make up for that one going out of sight.
Gently Agatha touched her face in the mirror, glowing from inside.
A face no one recognized because it was so happy.
There could be no turning back now. The bread crumbs on the dark trail were gone. Instead, she had the truth to guide her. A truth greater than any magic.
I've been beautiful all along.
Then as for those who gaze upon many beautiful things but don't see the beautiful itself, and aren't even capable of following someone else who leads them to it, and upon many just things but not the just itself, and all the things like that, we'll claim that they accept the seeming of everything but discern nothing of what they have opinions about.
...In books there's always somebody standing by ready to say hey, the world's in danger, evil's on the rise, but if you're really quick and take this ring and put it in that volcano over there everything will be fine.
"But in real life that guy never turns up. He's never there. He's busy handing out advice in the next universe over. In our world no one ever knows what to do, and everyone's just as clueless and full of crap as everyone else, and you have to figure it all out by yourself. And even after you've figured it out and done it, you'll never know whether you were right or wrong. You'll never know if you put the ring in the right volcano, or if things might have gone better if you hadn't. There's no answers in the back of the book.