A Letter to Hermann Hesse

Written and translated by Fadi Abu Deeb

Bildresultat för Hermann Hesse

Dear Herr Hesse,


Sir, I cannot deny the fact that I have been, since childhood, haunted by that strange voice that called me to anarchism.  Neither socialistic nor traditional religious regimes succeeded in making me a “clothed” and “quiet” human being, who can represent any party without, in the end, causing it at least some trouble.  “Reality”, that has nothing to do with reality, has become, I suppose, more brutal, chocking and graceless than it used to be at the outset of the previous century.  Therefore, my need to sink into imagination, and to seriously indulge myself in thoughts and (undoubtedly inspired) images- this need has become some sort of necessity, not a luxury.

In general, your ideas -which I know that you did not proposed as a recommendation- are good to spend time in this alleged “reality”, as you call it.  However, I have a few notes that I would like to draw attention to:

  • I cannot travel, like you used to do. All the countries of this region need visas.  Some of them may even prevent the resident from returning in case he went beyond their borders for some time.
  • I will think a thousand time before deciding to spend my vacation painting. Painting toolkit is very expensive.  Arts here are for beyond-bourgeoisie class.  If you are not a professional, it is better not to spend your money- assuming their existence- on non-emergencies.
  • Until this very moment, I have not been able to buy a book and a beef sandwich on the same day, without exposing my personal economy to long-term damage.
  • I would love to bask in the sight of a forest, flowers or some river moss, or even walk along a lake shore, but heaven willed that I would live in dry lands. If lakes existed, one half of them would be semi-military zones, and the other half would be owned by gangs or aristocrats.
  • I love trains, but they do not exist. If they did, they would be very expensive.
  • I would like to watch beautiful girls of the countryside, but not at the expense of my head! Watching girls here is taken as some kind of devilish abomination.  This is natural when the god of this region is afraid of women and consequently lock them up, like the god of your ancestors in the Middle Ages.  The woman here is an imprisoned diva, toward whom we exercise the ugliest acts of sadism in her presence, while in her absence, the most bizarre acts of masochism we do to ourselves.
  • My backbone sometimes hurts, but we do not have healing asylums for ordinary people, like the one you described.
  • We have ISIS, which is an Islamic organization supported by some of those boring Europeans that you described. They want to take us back to the age of the Islamic ‘church’.  What is that ‘church’?!  Well, it is even worse than the one your old continent ran from!
  • Many military organizations hope that my young friends and I will join them. This is the most famous profession in the region these days.
  • There is no isolated green countryside over here.
  • If such a place existed, it would not be for people to go for meditation and relax. It would be for thieves and smugglers, and for poverty to flourish.
  • Saudi Arabia (Originally, an organized militia of Bedouins, invented by your neighboring Brits) is on our borders. Its position decreases a lot my chance to go abroad.
  • Israel (also a large military base, also invented by your neighboring Brits) is also on my borders. It also prevents my internal tourism effectively.
  • Our countries are not God’s lands for us to wander as we wish. They are the lands of His agents and those who rule by his name.  They are theirs not ours.  The trees are theirs and the rivers are theirs too, while we have our dark urban burrows.
  • I cannot say more, dear sir. I live under the wing of gods who are accustomed to swallow praise and thanksgiving every morning, noon, and night.

Yours sincerely,

An ordinary young man from the Middle East

On the first of August, 2014


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