I found some notes the other day. They were taken when I’d been reading Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse.
The passage did strike me at the time.
The male narrator gives an intoxicating description of the moment he realises what possessions can mean to us.
It begins with a recollection of a gift given recently.
From there it blossoms into a very poetic take on how objects become imbued with a magical, emotional quality.
They come to stand for something far bigger and yet far more personal than the mere material from which the object is made.
A good reminder that people’s attachment to things is deep, subtle and complex.
“I gave her a new purse of red lacquered leather. As a matter of fact, she laughed at me over the red purse. It was charming, but a bargain, and no longer in fashion.
In these matters, about which up to that time I was as little learned as in any language of the Eskimoes, I learned a great deal from Maria.
Before all else I learned that these playthings were not mere idle trifles invented by manufacturers and dealers for the purposes of gain.
They were, on the contrary, a little, or rather, a big world, authoritative and beautiful, many-sided, containing a multiplicity of things, all of which had the one and only aim of serving love, refining the senses, giving life to the dead world around us, endowing it in a magical way with new instruments of love, from powder and scent to the dancing shoe, from ring to cigarette case, from waist-buckle to handbag.
This bag was no bag, this purse no purse, flowers no flowers, the fan no fan. All were plastic material of love, of magic and delight. Each was a messenger, a smuggler, a weapon, a battery.”
Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf