Meeting 1, October 10, The Glass Plate Game, Experimental College

notes: The Glass Bead Game

These two quotes from the novel were handy to put into perspecitive the idea of looking for what the Glass Bead Game might be, much less connecting with it in any way any materialized game.

"For although in a certain sense and for light-minded individuals non-existent things can be more easily and irresponsibly represented in words than existing things, for the serious and conscientious historian it is just the reverse. Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more necessary,than to speak of certain things whose existence in neither demonstrable nor probable. The very fact that serious and conscientious mean treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to existence and to the possibility of being born. - Alburtus Secundus."

"Still less is our essay intended as a textbook of the Glass Bead Game; indeed, no such things will ever be written. The only way to learn the rules of the game is to take the usual prescribed course, which requires many years, and none of the initiates could ever possibly have any interest in naking these rules easier to learn."


"The Glass Bead Game is a kind of highly developed secret language drawing upon several sciences and arts, but especially mathematidcs and music (and/or musicology), and capable of expressing and establishing interrelationships between the content and conclusions of nearly all scholarly disciplines."

Like every great idea the Glass Bead Game has no real beginning, rather it has always been, at least the idea ofi it. There are hints of it in, for example, with Pythagoras, among Hellenistic Gnostic Circles, among the ancient Chinese, every Platonic academy, every league of an intellectual elite. Albelard Liebniz, Hegel - dream of capturing the universe of the intellect in concerntric systems, and pairing the living beauty of thought and art with the magical expressiveness of the exact sciences. Nicholas of Cues. Albertus Secundus. 16, 17, and 18th century musicians who based their musical compositions on mathematical speculationsl

Age of the feuilleton: Writings ... Friedrich Nietzssche and Women's Fashions of 1870, The Composer Rossini's Favorate Dishes, The Role of the Lapdog in the Lives of Great Courtesans Interviews with famous personalities ... Noted chen\mists or piano virtuoosos queried about politics, etc.

Resisting the gererally declining drift of the culture

1. Scholars: Cultural conscience of scholars found refuge in he investigations and didactic methods of the history of music.

1. Leauge of Journeyers to the East: They fostered piety and revererence, and to them we are important elements in our present form of life and in the Glass Bead Game.

Glass Bead Game from age of the feuilleton

At first nothing more than a witty method of developing memory and inginuity among students and musicians, played both in England and Germany before it was "invented" in the Musical Academy of Cologne and given the name it has today. Bastian Perrot of Calw. A frame on which could be strung several dozens of wires on which could be strung beads of various sizes, shapes, and colors. Wires corresponded to lines of the staffs, beads to the time-values of the notes, etc.

Mathematics: In time the Glass Bead Game passed to mathematics, then was taken up and imitated by nearly all the scientific and scholarly disciplines, that is, adapted to the special fields. There was reduction of musical events to physical and mathematical formulas, and philology borrowed this method, beginning to meanure linguistic configurations as physcis measures processes in nature.

Chinese Warning Cry, an essay by a Paisan Scholar of Chinese Philology, pointed out the danger to society if it neglected to develope an international language of synbols,

A Swiss musicologist with a passion for mathematics Lusor (also Joculator) Basiliensis invented for the Glass Bead Game the principles of a new language, a language of symbols and forulas, in which mathematics and music played an equal part.

Missing element in public play

Every game had been a serial arrangemenht ,, an ordering, grouping, and confronting of cocentrated concepts from many fields of thought and aesthetics. Mnemonists... people with freakish memories and no other virtures, were capable of playing dazzling games, dismaying and confusing the other participants by their rapid muster of countless ideas. As a remdy ontremplation was introduced into the game: After each symbol conjured up by the director of a Game, each player was required to perform silent, formal meditation on the conent, origin, and meaning of this symbol, to call to mind intensively and organicallyits full purport.

The educational system and an individual's path to the order

Entrance to Regular schools and universities was by exam; to the shcools of the order entrance and advancement was by recommendation.

In schoolyard Debates of Plinio with reputation as an outsider and revolutionary took a non-Castalian, worldly, point of view in a series of schoolyard debates with Knecht whose life was rooted in Castalia.

Knecht's stay at Mariafel's Abby, and especially with Father Jacobus there, brings out much about relations of Castalia with the State and with the Catholic Church.

Methods of game Construction

1. Formal: Composed out of the objective content of the game

2. Psychological "pedagogical": to create unity and harmony, cosmic roundedness, in the mediation which followed every stage of the game.

Levels by difficulty

Starting with rarest and proceeding to the easiest to have accepted into the achives of the Game the levels were:: Rules, new symbols, and new associations of ideas.