In 1943, Hermann Hesse published Das Glasperlenspiel (“The Glass Bead Game”). The game itself is a central theme of Hesse’s novel. He gave only a sketch of how it might be played in practice, but made it clear that it is a game of comparisons and analogies across different subject areas, in the tradition of Pythagoras, Lull, Kepler, Kircher and others who searched for the unifying principles of all knowledge. The history of the development of the game in the novel demonstrates a direct analogy with the history of mathematics in the seventeenth century, as shaped by mathematicians with a deep interest in music theory (Maths and music).
Paul Pilkington has brought Hesse's Glass Bead Game to life in an ongoing series of books. This Glass Bead Game can be played at many levels of complexity. Its moves can be deeply technical, or conversationally playful.
A forthcoming volume will collect and challenge notable examples of glass bead game moves from literature, the media, and other diverse sources, and will put into play a range of opening gambits intended to inspire further exploration and elaboration of the form by others, especially in more informal contexts. Examples are being aired on an ongoing basis at Paul's Twitter account @JustKnecht (Volume 4 - The Twitter Project).
Playfully using the language of the game itself: in bringing the dreamer’s concept into reality, these volumes do for Hesse’s Glasperlenspiel what Gothic architecture did for Plotinus’s light-drenched Enneads, what the Bolshevik revolution did for Marx’s Capital, and what the World Wide Web did for Gibson’s Neuromancer.
The books are available at: