Brad's Reviews > Siddhartha

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
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Nov 04, 2010

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bookshelves: classic, philosophy, hippy
Read from November 04 to 28, 2010

I don’t really know why, but when I think of Siddhartha I think of hippies. I am sure I’ve seen a copy of Steppenwolf or Siddhartha in the hands of a hippy in a movie, or I've read about some hippy being a fan of the book in some bio about a sixties' rock star. Whatever the reason, though, that connection tugged on my reading of Siddhartha like gravity.

People often talk about how the hippies went from being love children opposed to Vietnam to investment bankers approving of the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, but there is little sadness attached to that talk. If anything it is used as an implied argument for the righteousness of the latter position, as though love is childish and imperialism (or just plain vengeance) is the adult reality.

I, too, have often wondered how one became the other, but I’ve always felt pretty bummed about the shift. I’m even sadder about it now that I’ve read Siddhartha. If my imagination of old tattered, dog eared copies of Siddhartha passing from reader to reader in communes has any kernel of truth to it, the old hippies clearly missed Hesse’s warning.

You see, Siddhartha does precisely what the hippies did. He turns his back on his search for Nirvana and runs smack into the corruption of possession. He grows fat, old, corrupt and poisoned by the comfort that enticed him to give up his search for the way. But Hesse lets him find his way back again. He hears the river, and the river leads him to love and timelessness and peace and living. It’s kind of beautiful, actually. But the important thing is that he sees his move into mercantilism and gambling and societal membership as a failure and returns to the happiness of simplicity.

If the hippies really did read Siddhartha, it’s too bad they didn’t heed Hesse’s message, but then they probably didn’t read it after all. It’s probably nothing but a piece of fancy that found its way into my head through some obscure piece of popular culture.

So "Om" to you, and go listen to the river.
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05/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Helen (Helena/Nell) Although I would be much better reading this Hesse novel myself, I feel a sudden compulsion to send you a poem of mine. Apologies in advance. It goes like this:


Half Light

We could go halfers on a halva
or even half a halva
unless of course you’d rather
have a lager at McArthur’s
or go for a pavlova
in the Café Casanova

Go on. We could pull over
and eat it in the Rover
or I could act as go-fer
and bring it to your sofa
in my fetching Balaclava—
and wash it down with Cava.

Oh do put down ‘Siddhartha’
and listen to your father!


Brad Fun. No one has ever written a poem on my comments before. I need more poetry in my life. Thanks, Nell.


message 3: by mark (last edited Nov 30, 2010 01:47AM) (new)

mark monday not all hippies became invest bankers! some became college professors or drug dealers.


Brad Yes, indeed. Well, one decent profession out of three ain't bad.


message 5: by Amber (new)

Amber Tucker I agree... the shiny connotation of "Social Legitimacy" associated with the shift you're talking about IS sad. It's sad that joining the big numb mindless rat race is viewed as a practical step in 'growing up.'

See, that's why I've always kinda thought about living in a commune... maybe the hippies didn't get it right, but I could try.


message 6: by mark (new)

mark monday live in a co-op, it's a nice middle ground. at least it was for me, in my 20s.


message 7: by Amber (new)

Amber Tucker Thanks for the tip, Mark.


message 8: by notgettingenough (last edited Dec 01, 2010 08:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

notgettingenough 131922 not all hippies became invest bankers! some became college professors or drug dealers.

Brad wrote: "Yes, indeed. Well, one decent profession out of three ain't bad."

Hey. Since when has drug dealer been a decent profession?


message 9: by Amber (new)

Amber Tucker ^ *Like*


message 10: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad You know me too well, notgettingenough :)


DoctorM Since 16th September 1926. A decision by the Board of Green Cloth.


notgettingenough wrote: "Brad wrote: "Yes, indeed. Well, one decent profession out of three ain't bad."

Hey. Since when has drug dealer been a decent profession?"



message 12: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad DoctorM wrote: "Since 16th September 1926. A decision by the Board of Green Cloth..."

Hee hee hee.


notgettingenough Brad wrote: "DoctorM wrote: "Since 16th September 1926. A decision by the Board of Green Cloth..."

Hee hee hee."


I think this is something American which I need explained to me please.


DoctorM The Board of Green Cloth was an obscure British administrative body in the 18th century that dispensed patronage and arcane administrative regulations...


notgettingenough wrote: "Brad wrote: "DoctorM wrote: "Since 16th September 1926. A decision by the Board of Green Cloth..."

Hee hee hee."

I think this is something American which I need explained to me please."



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