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#1 | Back to Top10-27-2006 07:13:38 PM

Yasha
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From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
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Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Demian plays a rather large role as a reference in SKU. For those of you who didn't know, it's the source/inspiration for Touga's egg speech as the elevator ascends to the Seitokai meetings. I've been told, although I haven't confirmed it yet, that Demian has many thematic similarities with SKU, and that reading it can give us a bit of a deeper glimpse into the series. Also, it's a Nobel Prize winner, which means it's a damn good read on its own.

So that's exactly what this thread is for; reading, analysis, and discussion of the novel Demian. The focus doesn't have to be on SKU; if you feel it's applicable to another series, movie, book, or anything else, do bring it up! We won't need chapter summaries, as I've got the sparknotes link here, so we can get straight to the juicy bits.

Please mark your posts with whichever chapter you are talking about at the time. For example:

Chapter 1

I haven't read this book yet, so I don't know what to put in here. I'm hoping there's a person or thing named Demian in it, because it would be awfully confusing if there wasn't.

If you aren't talking about a single chapter, or you're talking about an overarching theme of the book, substitute whatever you think will identify your post in there. Like so:

Spider Jerusalem

"Cheap, but not as cheap as your girlfriend." This is the best quote about Spider Jerusalem ever, and I want it on a t-shirt.

We'll keep it to three chapters per week-- that should give us plenty of time to discuss. No set schedule from week to week. We should finish up in about three weeks' time.

One thing I would like to see, although this is my personal preference, is that we try to hash meanings etc. out amongst ourselves before using the sparknotes. Literature is meant to be personal. If you have an insight, but you're not sure whether it's worth discussing, I'm telling you now that it is.

I think that's it; if I forgot anything, I'll edit this post to add it. On with the show! emot-biggrin


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#2 | Back to Top10-28-2006 04:36:47 AM

Maarika
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Alright!

I guess there's not much to be said about the prolouge, except that it gives you an idea what the book will be about. It's about growing up and finding oneself. And as we know, this is a major theme in SKU, too.


Ok, the first chapter! Here are my thoughts.

The title of the chapter was "Two Realms". As a child, Emil could see two realms which were opposites to each other, Emil belonged to the realm where everything was decent and good, the realm of light. And as you saw, he doesn't remain there, he ends up in the realm of darkness.
I think it's quite typical for children to divide things to good and bad, they can't really perceive other sides or aspects of things.

Now, let's bring in SKU again. We can't really see the two realms there. However, there is clearly said in the play in episode 34 that the world fell in darkness after the witch imprisoned the Prince. This would mean that before that there was the world of light. Moving on, we know that this has quite a lot to do with Anthy and Dios. After she took Dios away from the world, she had to suffer eternally for doing so. I think we can draw a parallel here with Emil's fall to his dark realm. This is when Anthy began to live in her dark world.
What is interesting is the way how this change affected other people. In "Demian" we only see Emil being affected by it, but in SKU there's a whole bunch of people being involved. Would the duelling game have ever taken place if Dios hadn't disappeared? Mostly likely not. This makes me think that the world we see in Ohtori during the series is the world of darkness.

Anyway, I have more to say about Anthy and the the two realms, but I'll save it for the next chapter.


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#3 | Back to Top10-28-2006 02:46:30 PM

Clarice
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

...all right, here's hoping I can get something useful contributed here. emot-tongue

First of all, let's take a brief look at the opening quote (because these always fascinate me...well, except in Stephen King novels, when it feels like he's just c&ping his iPod playlist, to me...):

I wanted only to try to live in accord with
           the promptings which came from my true self.
           Why was that so very difficult?   


...I love this quote. It made me squee, because I was already feeling the SKU-vibe. A key theme in SKU is the "true self" and how you present this to the world -- and many other books and movies and whatnot deal with the importance of masks and why they exist. Already this has me wondering about what is going to be revealed in the course of the story ahead (and I may as well admit I am about a quarter into the book; I was rolling along helter-skelter and then decided to stop because raring ahead ruins the fun of mutual exploration...and if you're worried about the paper-thin double entendre there, why in the blue hell did you ever start watching Shoujo Kakumei Utena? school-devil). Has anyone here read Heart of Darkness or seen Apocalypse Now? Or dealt in any poetry by T.S. Eliot? They're some of my favourite examples of what I hear in this -- the cry to heaven of "why can I not live by my very nature?" And it's a good question; if we are made a certain way, why is it that we put on our masks and step in tune with the waltz of polite society? Will the world really crumble if one revealed their true self?

Yeah, I am reading far too deep into this. But like I said, it instantly brought up my memories of SKU, and then of other bits of literature I have read. Alex Garland's The Beach is also a good example, but I have the sneaky suspicion we'll get more into the duplicitious nature of the human mind and the dichotomy of the existence of both mask and the wearer soon enough. emot-biggrin

The prologue I find is telling -- in some ways it reminds me of the opening of SKU, but in the sense that the Shadow Play Girls are making up a pretty picture that they will tear to shreds soon enough. The narrator here, however, begins at the darker end and points out the fact that although all creatures under God are unique and created to be purposely that, the nature of our minds holds us back from understanding that. I particularly enjoyed the quote: 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. It follows a statement the narrator makes about the fact men die more easily in our time because of their ignorance...and that he, too, will die with that ease when his tale is complete. This implies to us that even with the understanding of what I interpret as a "heart of darkness" man can not turn around and walk into the light. Depressing? Hell, yeah. Fascinating idea? Even more so. The prologue essentially states that the narrator is going to take us under the masks worn by all, but even those who look at their own reflections wearing only their naked face find nothing more there than they would if they were still masked. What does this imply? That the masks don't actually matter in the first place? Or that we have worn them so long our faces are moulded to the false shape and will never turn back?

Excuse me if I sound like I am rambling; like I said, I haven't read the entire story and I will continue to throw out random thoughts and ideas as they pop up, even if they are proved to be frivolous and nonsensical by the end. emot-tongue

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.

Another interesting quote from the prologue I have to filch, for the SKU reference if nothing else. We have the egg imagery popping up for the first time, bringing up images of a difficult birth and the fact said birth doesn't necessarily lead to any great understanding of one's self (which is a roundabout way reminds me of the Catholic cornerstone of Original Sin). I just like the images of what man remains if he doesn't become man -- a reptile caught between water and land, a cold-blooded land-reptile, a mindless drone carrying many times its own weight. And then the last is a mermaid, a siren, one who calls others to the rocks? I'd like to see these images played out in this story, but you can see them in SKU already. Maybe. I'm just skimming here and picking out the bits that catch my attention!

And on to the first chapter. The idea of two realms is a familiar one in the world of SKU, but this is a little different in that we actually see inside the world of the Adult before we fall headlong into the world of the Child and Adolescent. (And I think I mentioned this in another thread, but if any of you have ever read a lot of Stephen King, or any Roald Dahl, I am getting vibes of both authors here. Why is this? Because both write the worlds of children through the eyes of children, which is unusual for adults. We tend to forget the limits of a child's world and how easily the walls of our little child-bubbles press against realities we push behind sensibilities and logic as we grow older. I have the urge to re-read both King's IT and Dahl's Boy now, because both easily bring up the two pillars of childhood -- the simple joys, and the brutal darknesses that grow so hazy when time puts distance between us and the memory). I particularly like how the narrator mentions how closely the two realms intersect, how blurred the lines are. Which reminds me of ANOTHER analogy (forgive me; I am big on simile and metaphor and reference!). When I was in Edinburgh a few months back I was walking through a very old cemetery in the middle of the night and our guide mentioned the "thin places," where the worlds of the living and the dead brush up against each other, create interstitial spaces, bleed into one another. It's often said children perceive this weakness in the fabric of reality far more easily than do adults; you can apply that metaphor to the narrator's two realms of light and dark. By adulthood the choice is made; an adult resides in the light, or lurks in the dark...and the fact that there was a choice, another way, is often forgotten. The child stands on the cusp of both and sees into both corners, and knows the ability to see outside the square of one's own existence...if not the value.

In this first chapter we have the narrator realising that one can become trapped in either the light or the dark, and can not co-exist in both...which is the choice of the adult he will become. He understands the allure of both the light and the dark, but his human nature seems to draw him to the darkness...and even when he discovers the injustice of his fall (he lied to be accepted by the dark, and they turned the lie upon him to make him truly into one of his own...the narrator got what he wanted, but not without paying the price he tried to renege on...if I can quote one of my favourite songs here:

You wanted life without the regret
You wanted trust without betrayal
You wanted hope without the disappointment
Belief without the reason for it
You wanted love, love, love and not the lesson.


Not entirely the mood, but the sentiment is there: you cannot enter a world without paying some sort of price. Think of Greek mythology, for instance; hardly anyone who went down into the Underworld without paying the toll (i.e. death) got out again without something fucking up their lives. Orpheus is a good example of that; he went down to rescue his wife, and then ended up losing her forever. The narrator (...this is feeling like an analysis of Fight Club here now...er, is his name Emil or something?) tries to sneak into the dark realm without paying the price, seeking its approval and knowledge, and ends up just like they are...bound by circumstance. It's not the same as Kromer, given the older boy is only within the dark and not the light, but through Emil's eyes do we really believe that being in limbo/purgatory between the two realms would be much better? They say you have to have one to appreciate the other, but if you look into the void, doesn't the void look into you?

We see this in Emil's darkening thoughts towards his father: His upbraiding me for muddy boots seemed pitiful. "If you only knew" crossed my mind as I stood there like a criminal being cross-examined for a stolen loaf of bread when the actual crime was murder. It was an odious, hostile feeling, but it was strong and deeply attractive, and shackled me more than anything else to my secret and my guilt. He realises the uneveness of the adult world, and begins to comprehend the slip into darkness while understanding that you don't have to be BORN evil to be that way...which actually kind of contradicts the prologue's mention of cold-blooded creatures born from the primal egg. Do we have an actual contradiction here, or will this turn into a study on how some men are born one way, some the other, but when the masks are off we are all exactly the same after all?

At any rate, Emil's earlier thoughts about how it might be "interesting" for the Prodigal Son not to come home have been echoed in his own actions...he comes home, certainly, but only in mind and not in spirit. Emil mentions the first "rent" in the "holy image" of his father, and we feel the illusions of childhood begin to crumble. I am distantly reminded of Nanami's trials, because while Emil's actions and problems are darker than, say, finding out you laid an egg in the night (!), both Emil and Nanami are finding that those they hold on a pedestal have clay feet...have boots as muddy as their own. Where can such knowledge lead, but to the dark realm itself?

My condition at that time was a kind of madness. Amid the ordered peace of our house I lived shyly, in agony, like a ghost; I took no part in the life of the others, rarely forgot myself for an hour at a time. To my father, who was often irritated and asked me what was the matter, I was completely cold.

This closing line of the first chapter gives me shivers. Emil regrets his exclusion from the Bright Realm, sees himself for what he is...a shadow in their play. But he no longer wishes to be what his father is. A total contradiction, perhaps? Let us see what rabbit holes this leads us down. school-devil


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#4 | Back to Top10-28-2006 03:23:14 PM

Dulcinea
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From: New England
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 14

Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Chapter 1 - Two Realms

I'm going to disagree and say that this is a huge theme even early on in SKU. Sinclair's world of light is his home, which he associates with family, safety, and religion, and which seems entirely incompatible with the world of darkness outside. It's that world which (at least before his encounter with Kromer) seems more interesting and (yes) seductive to him.

The "two worlds" has the most obvious parallel in SKU with the dueling game (the world of darkness) and what goes on outside it (classes, activities, etc). Especially in the first arc, Utena takes the attitude that what goes on in the arena is "too weird" to talk about outside of it (look at her behavior with Wakaba, who is essentially purely of the "world of light"). Unlike Sinclair (or the Seitokai), she doesn't originally long for the world of darkness.

Emil Sinclair's somewhat of a universal self-preocuppied, self-professedly intellectual adolescent narrator -- if we're doing character mapping, he works well for just about any of the Seitokai (although Touga seems the closest.) He's definitely not Utena, though. Just in case that wasn't clear. :p

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#5 | Back to Top10-28-2006 03:55:00 PM

Clarice
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Dulcinea wrote:

Chapter 1 - Two Realms

I'm going to disagree and say that this is a huge theme even early on in SKU. Sinclair's world of light is his home, which he associates with family, safety, and religion, and which seems entirely incompatible with the world of darkness outside. It's that world which (at least before his encounter with Kromer) seems more interesting and (yes) seductive to him.

Ah, but what really gets my interest is that Emil is disgusted and repulsed by what he becomes to be a part of that world...and yet, through his changing views of his father, he doesn't want to go back to the light because of a new-found contempt for it. I love this falling-between-the-cracks thing that has already started here. etc-love


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#6 | Back to Top10-29-2006 06:05:41 PM

Yasha
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From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Chapter One - Two Realms

The first thing I was struck by on reading this chapter was the division between the two realms. The realm of light, goodness, orderliness, and the realm of darkness, chaos, and if not evil, then at least lack of good. Emil seems to straddle these two realms from the very beginning; he's a member of the 'light' realm, almost by virtue of birth, but when he speaks of the 'dark' realm you can see from the very beginning that he finds it attractive. It's mysterious, secretive, and he seems to want to be privy to its secrets. I'm not sure if I'm manufacturing this myself, but it seems like he's alone in perceiving this division, and a point is made to portray him as the only one who can be the same person and inhabit both worlds. The maid cannot; she is good in the realm of light, and changes immediately to a creature of the dark realm once she is in it. Because Emil cannot be an inhabitant of one or the other, he's caught between them from the very beginning, as shown by the ability to both play nicely and quarrel with his sisters.

One of the stronger themes here is order vs. chaos. The realm of light is orderly, with washed hands and peaceful quiet, and the realm of dark is shabby, loud, and disorganized. Emil himself is portrayed as something of an agent of chaos in the realm of order, by his interest in the Prodigal Son failing to return, and the quarrels with his sisters. However, once he enters the realm of chaos, he cannot keep up; his own internal disorder is only great enough to allow him to be tricked into becoming a more permanent part of the realm of disorder.

One thing I kept becoming drawn to in particular was the description of Kromer as being like a man. It is, of course, connected to the maturity that suriving in the dark realm would lend you; it seems that in Emil's eyes, surviving completely away from the realm of light is something that only people stronger than he is are able to do. It is also connected, however, to the disorder of the dark realm. In that realm, there are boys who look like men, tricking your senses, leading you to believe that they are people who should be listened to when they are not. Emil knows, of course, that he should not be attempting to gain favor from the denizens of the dark, but attempts it anyway, and finds himself caught.

The parallels with SKU? Well... I find myself drawn to the division more in terms of Akio or Anthy seeing their world as divided between the past and the future, the time of Dios and the time of Akio. It certainly reflects a certain prejudice that I think Akio would have; the 'light' period is orderly, boring, safe, and contemptible. The 'dark' period is exciting, seductive, confusing, tricky, and it can bite if you're not careful. Anthy has this division as well, although it's reckoned in terms of one pain vs another; the pain of being partially in and partially out of the world of light, the only girl who couldn't be a princess, but also the only girl whose brother was Dios, and the pain of living in the dark, the light of Dios gone and the pain of the Swords of Hate.

Whew! Now I can start thinking about some of the things the rest of you have said!


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#7 | Back to Top10-30-2006 12:50:01 PM

Sanguine_Rose
Juri Jeerer
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Registered: 10-24-2006
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Emil's thought that he is more connected to 'evil'and the 'dark world' than his family reminds me of Anthy's mentality. Anthy does bad things and convinces herself that she's bad but in Jungian psychology, people who do this are actually good and kind people. Perhaps its his guilt at fighting with his family and wanting to experience the outside world that makes him feel this way.


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#8 | Back to Top10-31-2006 06:55:52 PM

Giovanna
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Chapters 1-3 Messy McMessMess

Right, so here we go. The first thing that really resonated with me based on my own surrounding knowledge is the Freudian presence. school-freud There are smatterings of the Oedipus complex in the way he treats his parents. He rebels squarely against his father, the authoritarian element of the world of light. His mother, however, he longs still to embrace, but finds himself guilty in any attempt to do so; he rejects her efforts to console him out of guilt he doesn't feel for his behavior where it concerns his father. His father is the force in the world of light that can and will reject him to preserve the purity he mars, where his mother is, as women are, more nurturing. One gets the impression she could even be a way back to the light, or to use the Freudian sledgehammer, that she would accept him back into the safe and warm womb the world of darkness exists outside of, where his father would absolutely reject him once he's marked. It's the father he decides he's above; he remains still fond of the mother. The Oedipus complex is built on the observation of this division in how a boy regards his parents, so I felt it was standing out here. (That said, Emil is ten, squarely in the latency period; he should be out of the stage where the Oedipus complex plays, but he's been exceptionally sheltered, even in his own psychological development, if he's ten before he really locks horns with a bully.) I don't know where the story is going, but this perks my ears up concerning how Emil's sex life is going to turn out, or specifically how he'll deal with women. Are we going to see the seeking out of a mother figure to reconcile with the world of light he's distancing from?

For that matter, I also (may be paranoia) picked up a sexual vibe from pretty early on, especially a homosexual one. I know it's not odd or in and of itself suspicious that he would dote on the way the males look, but Demian, who he idolizes in an extreme as the height of perfection and enlightenment, becomes gradually more feminine in his eyes the more he's drawn to him. In a book where contrasts are stressed, good and bad, light and dark, etc., I found it interesting that Emil's interest in someone leads him to blur their sexuality. I almost doubt Demian's femininity; I think Emil in some way, to imagine a person living in the light and the dark, also manages to blur their gender, as if to fully center the ideal.

As we can see, Giovanna goes with the psychology. emot-redface I smell a few hints of SKU, but I want to get a little further into the book before I bring them up, where I'll have more to say. I must say though, a few moments made me connect Demian and Akio, in a few ways but especially in Emil's view of Demian as all-knowing, contrasted to Akio's presenting himself as all-knowing. Demian is a mentor, which is how Akio introduces himself to Utena, and I see here a fleshing out of the mentor relationship with the ignorant pupil, and where it may be good for Emil, SKU is going to warn against such faithful following of even the most enlightened-looking person. We'll see how Emil's view of Demian stands over time, but I'm getting the impression that this book is going to show in a good light a mentor relationship SKU creates a dark shadow of. SKU warns us against being anyone's student but your own, and perhaps there's going to be a harsh rift in the philosophies here? I dunno what I'm talking about yet. emot-gonk


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#9 | Back to Top11-02-2006 10:06:26 PM

Giovanna
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Ding ding ding! Next three chapters -> GO. This time, more discussion! I sense we feel like we need to write dissertations and sweeping posts on large chunks of material, but this is in fact not the case. emot-wink Feel free to post one thought at a time!


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#10 | Back to Top11-02-2006 10:15:00 PM

Yasha
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From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Hey! I haven't even had a chance to read chapters two and three, you big meanie! Stupid midterms emot-frown


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#11 | Back to Top11-03-2006 12:50:29 AM

Maarika
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

I have homework. A lot of homework. In fact, I have 2 days to read a 3 books. And one of those days is already planned for something else. emot-gonk I'm doomed


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#12 | Back to Top11-03-2006 01:08:46 AM

Giovanna
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

School, it does suck quite a bunch. Gets in the way of your proper education! school-eng101

Fine then, perhaps we shall slow down? Gives me a chance to roll some things around in my head. emot-smile I was thinking about going back and poking around the Cain and Abel story and saying more about it, since it's factoring so highly in things thus far.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
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#13 | Back to Top11-03-2006 06:33:30 AM

Sanguine_Rose
Juri Jeerer
From: UK
Registered: 10-24-2006
Posts: 47

Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Giovanna wrote:

For that matter, I also (may be paranoia) picked up a sexual vibe from pretty early on, especially a homosexual one. I know it's not odd or in and of itself suspicious that he would dote on the way the males look, but Demian, who he idolizes in an extreme as the height of perfection and enlightenment, becomes gradually more feminine in his eyes the more he's drawn to him. In a book where contrasts are stressed, good and bad, light and dark, etc., I found it interesting that Emil's interest in someone leads him to blur their sexuality. I almost doubt Demian's femininity; I think Emil in some way, to imagine a person living in the light and the dark, also manages to blur their gender, as if to fully center the ideal.

I'm really getting the 'worshipper and idol' relationship feeling in these chapters. Emil totally admires Demian, so much so in fact that he constantly swings between loving him and hating him, which often happens in these kinds of relationships. I had a little peek at chapter 4...and things get much worse, in my opinion.
Sometimes I think Emil sees Demian in a 'Dios' sort of way. He sees him as transcendant as Utena describes meeting with Dios as a child when she was young, he's old and young, male and female. (somehow the 'Angel Anrodgynous' battle theme spring to mind).

I'm still wondering whether Demian is this force of truth that will help Emil find his way to becoming his own man, or if he's manipulating Emil into is own way of thinking which I suppose supports with his seemingly androgynous image. I think that if Emil continues to obsess (just look at how many times he mentions Demian saving him from Franz Kromer all those years ago), he's going to be stuck in a rut in which he desperately tries to emulate his hero. 'No matter where you go, you will always end up at the end of the world' as Akio in the Movie-Manga says. No matter where Emil goes and no matter what he does now, he'll always end up at Demian.

Last edited by Sanguine_Rose (11-03-2006 12:58:40 PM)


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#14 | Back to Top11-04-2006 04:50:02 PM

Giovanna
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Sanguine_Rose wrote:

Sometimes I think Emil sees Demian in a 'Dios' sort of way. He sees him as transcendant as Utena describes meeting with Dios as a child when she was young, he's old and young, male and female. (somehow the 'Angel Anrodgynous' battle theme spring to mind).

That's definitely the impression I'm getting. Even that to the degree to which he idolizes Demian is stunting his own growth, or forcing him to align his own development with this overblown ideal. The Demian we're reading about seems without flaws, an angelic creature. Emil writes absolutely nothing about him that suggests he's human and eats and craps like the rest of us, and it's the same image Utena has of Dios. It's yet to be seen whether breaking that image is going to be important to the story, but I'm kinda doubtful, given that the book is written in retrospect, and you would expect someone looking back on a dreamy state of ignorance to be a little more vocal about that. Kinda like you wonder what Utena's going to say about her prince once she leaves the school.

By the same token, is he really idolizing Demian or just placing the full weight of what Demian represents, as far as a worldview, on his person, because Emil's still too immature to realize it is a worldview? He places Demian, and everything Demian represents to him, on a pedastal, as if he's not ready for its proper use. He's not ready to project those thoughts and ideas and views out onto the world around him, so he's placing them in one convenient place, on one person.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#15 | Back to Top11-04-2006 09:25:50 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

...I can't read a few chapters of a book and then stop, even if it would do my analytical abilities some good emot-frown  I read the whole thing through in the last couple days.  IMHO it is very good.  The parallels to Utena are buried a little deeper than I'd expected, but they're there, and the book would be worth reading even if they weren't.

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#16 | Back to Top11-05-2006 06:08:20 PM

Dulcinea
Wakaba Wrangler
From: New England
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 14

Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Trying not to respond with spoiliers is getting to be quite painful at this point. emot-tongue Yes, I've read this book before, and often. Let's see.

Yes, Emil (and most Hesse protagonists) has a tremendous Oedipus complex (one that only becomes more apparent when he  sexually matures.) Female characters in Hesse tend to mostly symbolize "mother" and "home', and be important mostly as a stage in the character's journey (but seldom as the final one).

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#17 | Back to Top11-05-2006 07:56:16 PM

Yasha
Bitch Queen
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Registered: 10-15-2006
Posts: 6018
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Don't worry about spoilers too much. We all intend to get there eventually! emot-biggrin


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#18 | Back to Top11-08-2006 10:11:40 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Dulcinea wrote:

Yes, Emil (and most Hesse protagonists) has a tremendous Oedipus complex (one that only becomes more apparent when he  sexually matures.) Female characters in Hesse tend to mostly symbolize "mother" and "home', and be important mostly as a stage in the character's journey (but seldom as the final one).

emot-aaa You weren't JOKING.

Chapter 4

Suspicions concerning Oedipus complex and homosexuality CONFIRMED. Emil seems to me to have an excessively unhealthy obssession with Demian and a strangely narrow view of the world even as his view of it expands. It's like life is under a lens for him, all great importance and no capacity to understand the flow of it. I'd even say he has a form of OCD in his unnatural obssession with his painting, given that he's pretty clearly not an artistic type naturally. He seems to also depend entirely on the influence of others, without any mind of his own, as though he's still a child.

His state makes me hope for a resolution of his compulsive, obssessive, over-reliant nature, but I wonder if we'll get that, and I don't think we will. He's writing back on his life and there's nothing in the tone that suggests any great maturation has occured in those areas.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#19 | Back to Top11-09-2006 12:36:35 PM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

It's been a long time since I've re-read Demian.  Right now I'm trying to re-read Steppenwolf.  What I've found with Hesse, though, is that the figures don't parallel so obviously with Utena as the themes.

Emil starts with this childish, hard division of the world into light and dark.  He believes that people can only be of one or the other, that he himself is supposed to be of the light world, but is drawn into the dark.  It's obvious that he thinks there's a "right way" to live, one which his parents exemplify and expect him to follow.  His first rebellion is to notice and become secretly obsessed with the dark world.  He (mostly) transfers this obession to Demian, as you have noted, overly idealizing him also.

What Demian is to be, as a guide, is (I think) most apparent in the segment following Emil's painting of the bird.  We are led to believe that he left the note in Emil's book which read, "The bird struggles out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wants to be born, must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God's name is Abraxas."

That leads Emil to begin seeking Abraxas, a god who is of both the light and dark worlds.  Some of the text reminded me of Campbell's division between Eastern and Western religion.  Mainly, that Western religion was characterized by a remoteness, a separation of mankind from God (and therefore a self-justification to a remote, external God that one must please), while Eastern religion is characterized by the connection to God and an internal journey seeking to become completely one with God.

Emil is a child of western philosophy, his parents have not taught him about any connection to God.  His religion was one that separated the world into "light/good" and "dark/bad" and indoctrinated him with shame and guilt (Original Sin).  He needs to overcome his tendency toward childish idealization and obsession before he can take another step toward self-fulfillment.

I guess I should re-read before I say much more, particularly regarding the end, which I have always struggled with.  I always felt that as a protagonist, Emil...lagged behind in comprehension.  His "tutors" always seemed to mystify him, be one step ahead.  His point of view is always a little limited, he has a habit of forming idealized obsessions, and always has to explain things in terms of incomplete metaphors.  I think that makes the book effective as a picture of Emil's journey.  We are pretty much forced to see the world through his lens, which we realize over and over is an incomplete picture.  I don't think the end of the novel demonstrates his ultimate self-discovery--but that makes sense to me.  Self-discovery is a process, not a destination.

I always felt that the quote "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." Was directly relevant to Utena.  A world of nonsense, madness and dreams for those who stop deceiving themselves.  Akio simulated that madness for the duelists, believing the pinnacle of the world to be power, the secular power represented by the Chairman's residence.  He belittled the "illusion[s] of fairy tales" his machine created "for those with naive wishes in their hearts."  He underestimated the power a dream in a naive (or even a jaded) heart could have.  In rejecting the nonesense of fairy tales, he rejected the very thing that formerly gave him power and might have led him to self-fulfillment.  (Allusions to Jung's archetypes and their direct relevance to the everyday workings of our minds.)  It was in the fairy-tale world, using fairy-tale symbols, that Utena was able to ultimately inspire Anthy.  That inspiration led to the very real action of Anthy stepping out of the world of Ohtori.


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#20 | Back to Top11-11-2006 10:03:49 PM

bella
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 11-04-2006
Posts: 581

Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Thoughts on the First Three Chapters

I gave up reading Dracula for you guys!

I've read through about three chapters. I think it has SKU themes all over it. Especially how the world is split into havles: the light and the dark, the childhood and adult, the pure and forbidden. I think I'm falling for Demain, and I so want him and the main character together. You can cut the tension with a knife, really. etc-love
It's a great read.


Happy Holidays Everyone! :3

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#21 | Back to Top11-12-2006 04:16:42 AM

Sanguine_Rose
Juri Jeerer
From: UK
Registered: 10-24-2006
Posts: 47

Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

I really love the part where Emil sort of stands up to Demian saying "everyone isn't Faust". Since A) I think what Demian said was really snobby and B) its good for Emil to question Demian once in a while. It's healthy to rebel against his authority figure because that's all a part of growing up. He shouldn't take everything that one person says as gospel truth, even if he does see him as his mentor. Or should i say tormentor? Which is what it seems in chapter 4.

In the later chapters he starts to become his own man, and becoming a mentor to Knaur in a way. I feel bad when his friendship ends with the organ player but i suppose that some friendships will come to a natural end.

I agree with Demian's theory that if God is all light then he's a false god. its only when we embrace ourselves as a whole that we can be complete, just like Abraxas. I think if some of the characters in SKU did this then they would be so much better off. Especially Anthy. She really needs to start loving herself for who she is.


When Patrick Stewart says "Come", WE ALL COME.

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#22 | Back to Top11-13-2006 07:14:12 AM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8731
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

What worries me is that Emil seems to want to renege on his stab at Demian, like it wasn't a step in the right direction so much as his own ignorance rejecting the wisdom presented him.

I'd like to think his torment in chapter four involves some sort of resistance to the control Demian has over him, or the realization that not everything can be spoon-fed to Emil. I keep getting the impression we're watching a man grow up in a glass bottle imposed on him, and his form is being shaped to fit it without his consent. Kinda like Utena, she thought she was her own person, but she's been shaped slowly by a hand she couldn't see. The difference is Emil is very much aware of the man providing the lens through which he sees the world.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#23 | Back to Top11-13-2006 11:27:06 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Giovanna wrote:

I keep getting the impression we're watching a man grow up in a glass bottle imposed on him, and his form is being shaped to fit it without his consent. Kinda like Utena, she thought she was her own person, but she's been shaped slowly by a hand she couldn't see. The difference is Emil is very much aware of the man providing the lens through which he sees the world.

Hm!  I'm not sure Emil's persona is being shaped "without his consent."  Demian is Emil's rock star and role model and highest aspiration primarily because Emil chose him to play that role.  It's true that until roughly the time he stumbles across Beatrice Emil periodically rebels against Demian, but even then he obsessively measures himself against Demian's standard.  I guess it comes down to whether you think Emil chose to accept Demian as his standard, or whether you buy Demian's inevitable reply: free will is an illusion and that there was no choice on Emil's part at all.

This only strengthens the Utena comparison.  Utena had a formative experience during her childhood years with a man she saw as an ideal role model.  By her own choice, she sought to seek and emulate him.  But the role model was so deliberate in setting Utena up to make this choice that in some sense it was scarcely a choice at all.

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#24 | Back to Top07-13-2008 01:18:48 AM

Ragnarok
Caption Captor
From: Canada
Registered: 10-20-2006
Posts: 4472
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

Yeah, so anyway; Knauer is totally Miki.


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#25 | Back to Top07-19-2008 03:33:49 PM

Baka Kakumei Reanna
Atlantean Singer
From: Wisconsin
Registered: 07-31-2007
Posts: 572
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Re: Great Big Demian Read-Along!

I'm finally starting to think I should read this, even though my current "to read" list is massive as usual. D:


We see things not as they are, we see things as we are.

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