ZYZYGY Inspiration Part 3: From “The Glass Bead Game” to ZYZYGY

Finally, we conclude our series on the inspiration leading to Zyzygy. The following quotes and comments represent my final observations from Hermann Hesse’s book that have lead over the years to the innovation of the Glass Bead Game named Zyzygy. View Part 1 and Part 2 for the full commentary.


Photo by drmakete lab

“That name,… [the Glass Bead Game]… which for many a prophetic spirit in those days embodied a visionary ideal, was: Magic Theater.” Page 28.

Magic Theatre is a stage upon which a Player’s move – which is the interaction of Symbol, Bead and Board – is made visible to all the other Players. Magic Theatre is the outward expression of the inner intention of the move.

“Similarly, the symbols and formulas of the Glass Bead Game combined structurally, musically, and philosophically within the framework of a universal language, were nourished by all the sciences and arts, and strove in play to achieve perfection, pure being, the fullness of reality. Thus, “realizing” was a favorite expression among the players. They considered their Games a path from Becoming to Being, from potentiality to reality.” Pages 30-31.

The Realizing Doors focus the cumulative contents of the current game like a mirror that reflects the processes by which the Game has been played. It stimulates self-reflection and is also how you retrieve your Beads from Limbo.

“Above all, however, the Magister had to keep strict watch over the further elaboration of the Game.” Page 32.

In Zyzygy, the Magister is called the Master of the Game, and every game has one. The Master is the Guide, Coach, Teacher and Umpire of the Game.

“The Game was not mere practice and mere recreation; it became a form of concentrated self-awareness for intellectuals.” Page 24.

Within Zyzygy, artistic creativity, religious contemplation and social cooperation have equal standing along with intellectuality.

“Let no one, therefore, expect from us a complete history and theory of the Glass Bead Game. Even authors of higher rank and competence than ourself would not be capable of providing that at the present time. That task must remain reserved to later ages, if the sources and the intellectual prerequisites for the task have not previously been lost. Still less is our essay intended as a textbook of the Glass Bead Game; indeed, no such thing will ever be written.” Page 6.

I think that Hesse is putting out a challenge to the future, which I think is upon us. Let’s accept the challenge and start playing this game.

Thank you for your interest in Zyzygy, the playable Glass Bead Game. I welcome your feedback and comments below, and be sure to support our campaign to build the interactive game on Rally.org!

Robert E. McCracken, M.D.

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