after the unsettling tone of steppenwolf & the placement of personal freedom over social obligation in siddartha (in the movie, at least), i avoided hesse. sickness drew me back in.
the argument of personal freedom over & against social obligation is more clearly stated & nuanced. dropping the everyday against the backdrop of something foreign has placed it in high relief. moreover, it has made it more relatable; for who doesn't feel the pull of doing something or becoming someone as urged by a parent or mentor? each struggles to establish his or her own identity, either in harmony or discord within one's social sphere.
knect bows to the will of those above him & becomes to those around him the paragon of his class. when he admits his desires have primacy & breaks with his class forever, he dies days after doing so. his dream of teaching his young pupil as a form of penance for the disharmony he feels responsible for creating in the pupil's father is either 1) discharged as fulfilled by his brief time with the pupil & the pupil's assuming responsibility for his teacher's death or 2) was left unfulfilled.
the establishment of knect's identity is unambiguous. it is recognized by all, from his professional peers & their lackeys to his pupil. however, the quality of his person hasn't changed; the attitude of his person has. he hasn't become more intelligent or talented, he merely wishes to use his intelligence & talents for a different purpose. the worth of his changing position is posed to the reader with knect's sudden death. are we to interpret knect's struggle to keep up with his pupil, in an area that is obviously foreign to him & against which his instinct warned him, as ultimately useless?
while knect did not ostensibly achieve what he thought was his calling (teaching young pupils in the world outside his class), he did have a profound effect on his single pupil for the little time they had together. that knect was able to make this small difference in exchange for breaking with his class &, ultimately, his life, seems to be a poor purchase. however, knect's furthest-reaching actions were usually the most innocuous-seeming: befriending jacobus, listening to plinio, remaining without love of ambition. indeed, that after his most publicized act, leaving office & class, he plunged into death, leaving so little behind, prompted many to continue discussing his person in order to bring resolution to his "unfinished" life.
though much is insinuated in the final paragraph's of knect's legend, that his time with his pupil was brief but potent & was the impetus for a great change within the pupil; more is said by way of the introduction and the biography itself as to what knect achieved with his personal choice. his singular action, which was then viewed as discordant & asymptomatic, demanded context beyond his professional & public life--one which was till this point snubbed as unworthy of consideration for those who sought truth. knect successfully demonstrated the need for history to his class.
reflecting on the challenge that personal freedom brings against social obligation: they rely heavily on one another. knect wishes to teach young pupils; not, perhaps, how or what he was taught, but certainly the fruits of his own education would be borne out. ultimately the only thing that knect gives his single pupil is not a subset of facts or method of learning but an authentic example of intellectual aristocracy. is that all there is to give?
i suppose i have to conclude: i miss writing seminar papers.