Magister ludi

August 11, 2019. What are analogies?


I suddenly realized that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbols led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the center, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge.

Herman Hesse, in The Glass Bead Game

In 1943, Herman Hesse published his magnum opus, The Glass Bead Game. Part Bildungsroman, part science fiction, part Jungian psychodrama, the novel tells the life story of Joseph Knecht, a gifted young man who join a scholarly

Pattern recognition

“Quaerendo invenietis” is my advice to the reader.

Douglas Hofstadter, in Gödel, Escher, Bach


Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.



  • The Glass Bead Game (or: Magister Ludi) (1943), Herman Hesse.
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979), Douglas Hofstadter.


When Hesse won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, the committee singled it out for its “special position” in his work.

Herman Hesse’s magnum opus, The Glass Bead Game, is one of my favourite novels. It combines science fiction, Bildungsroman, and Jungian psychodrama into a fun and surprisingly readable package. But as the Nobel committee pointed out when they awarded Hesse the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946, it can strike some readers as “recondite”. Why?

At its heart, the novel is about play.

In high school, a family friend introduced me to Gödel, Escher, Bach, a sprawling, idiosyncratic “pop science” book about the nature of consciousness, logic,