One true quote

In my blog I never post random pictures with inspirational quotes allegedly said or written by a famous person but today I have to make an exception. I’ll explain later, here is the quote:


It is a beautiful quote to begin with. And the second thing – I love Hermann Hesse.

I bumped into this quote on the internet whilst I was looking for some other stuff about Hesse. His quotes, which I so passionately underline in every one of his books, I utterly love. Sometimes I just randomly open the “Steppenwolf” and just go through some of these passages I underlined, read them and think about them. So when I found this quote, I was intrigued to know where it is from. Not that I have read all of his books, poems and essays. Not even half of them but still, I was curious. So I googled, I searched, I took my time…. but in the whole great cyberspace there was only this quote with his name beside it – and no reference at all.

So umm… if that quote is not to be found in anything ever written by Hesse, it must have been just something he said. So umm… I imagine Hesse hanging out with his mates in a pub (funny thought), drinking pints, engaged in a casual conversation about women and Hesse saying something like: “….so we got in a fight and she was mad at me for two days but then I fell on my knees and said “my Liebling if I know what love is, it is because of you” and she was playing it cool for a while but then she forgave me ha ha”. Then one of his mates remembered this, told it to his children, they told it to their children, until in the 21st century this mates’ great great grandchild created an inspirational pic in photoshop and put it up online.

I spent six years at uni, having to cite every single sentence, in every single stupid essay, and yet each time I was turning my paper in I was covered in a cold sweat whether the authorities wouldn’t accuse me of plagiarism. Oh… good old plagiarism. How I miss the lecturers’ threats of expulsion and public humiliation if we but “borrow” a sentence that is not our own and fail to give credit to the one who “owns” rights to it. Between you and me, I was always wondering that if I use a sentence like, say, “Based on my research, I consider my first hypothesis as wrong,” which surely must have been used by somebody in an academic writing before, would that count as plagiarism too?

This “Hermann Hesse” quote only reminded me why I don’t like these motivational quotes scribbled through a nice picture in an ornamental font. Because “déformation professionnelle”. A trauma of being expelled, (or getting an F if I’m lucky), for plagiarism still hangs above me like a dark cloud. Give me an author, a source, a year and a page, or it didn’t happen 🙂

A funny story just popped in my mind. In my first year I was writing an essay on Nietzsche and wanted to kick the essay off with a nice thought provoking quote so I went to google and found one on wikiquotes and put it there right at the beginning. (You know, first year.) When my professor was giving me feedback he briefly alluded to this quote and said something like: where is it from by the way? I said: “umm… I don’t remember exactly….” When all of a sudden, through half open doors of his office he saw another philosophy professor and cried out: “Béla! (that was his name, weird I know) You are an expert in Nietzsche, come and see this quote. You know every single Nietzsche’s writing backwards, surely you’ll know where this is from!” I don’t remember how I’ve gotten through this first academic shame of mine. I only know two things: 1. Béla didn’t know the quote. 2. I passed 🙂

Do you want to know a secret? I didn’t write a blog post about that picture because I wanted to mock the wannabe-philosophers who make up quotes or rephrase the existing ones. I put it up because I fucking love it. It speaks my mind at this very moment. It describes how I feel towards one particular person. The words are exactly something I would love to tell him. In this instance I don’t care if it’s fake. It’s not Hesse, okay, but whoever said it, it was nicely said.

So, if it’s not Hesse and the true author is unknown, it could have easily been said by anyone of us, couldn’t it?

Maybe I’ll use it then. I’ll write it in a letter. I’ll pretend I was the one who made it up and this time I won’t be scared of being called a plagiarizer.


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