Steppensalsawolf.

22 Dec

The following references are from:
Steppenwolf
by Hermann Hesse ».

This book is about a man’s internal struggles, and surprisingly, about his struggles to learn to dance.

Page 46:
“… The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seeker by pleasure. He achieved his aim. He was ever more independent. He took orders from no man and ordered his ways to suit no man. Independently and alone, he decided what to do and to leave undone. For every strong man attains to that which a genuine impulse bids him seek. But in the midst of the freedom he had attained Harry suddenly became aware that his freedom was a death and that he stood alone. The world in an uncanny fashion left him in peace. Other men concerned him no longer. He was not even concerned about himself. He began to suffocate slowly in the more and more rarefied atmosphere of remoteness and solitude. For now it was his wish no longer, nor his aim, to be alone and independent, but rather his lot and his sentence. …”

Page 46

The man of salsa by salsa. The man of gigolo by gigolo. If a salsa gigolo is not to be ruined, must he give up salsa, gigolo, or both? What else must he give up, and for how long?

Pages 87-88:
“… “Now that shows,” I cried in a fluster, “that I was right! Nothing could grieve me more than not to be able to carry out any command of yours, but I can dance no shimmy, nor waltz, nor polka, nor any of the rest of them. I’ve never danced in my life. Now you can see it isn’t all as easy as you think.” …

… “Wait a bit,” she cried. “So you can’t dance? Not at all? Not even a one step? And yet you talk of the trouble you’ve taken to live? You told a fib there, my boy, and you shouldn’t do that at your age. How can you say that you’ve taken any trouble to live when you won’t even dance?”

“But if I can’t — I’ve never learned!”

She laughed.

“But you learned reading and writing and arithmetic, I suppose, and French and Latin and a lot of other things? I don’t mind betting you were ten or twelve years at school and studied whatever else you could as well. Perhaps you’ve even got your doctor’s degree and know Chinese or Spanish. Am I right? Very well then. But you couldn’t find the time and money for a few dancing lessons! No, Indeed!”

“It was my parents,” I said to justify myself. “They let me learn Latin and Greek and all the rest of it. But they didn’t let me learn to dance. It wasn’t the thing with us. My parents had never danced themselves.” …”

Pages 87-88

After all that work to overcome beginner’s hell, why would a salsa gigolo want to give it up? It must be for some higher purpose. A bargain a salsa gigolo makes with himself. Or a promise to the gods, that if he were to give up *this* that they would grant him *that*.

Pages 119-120:
“… We had put the gramophone on a chest of drawers among piles of books. And now my instruction began. Hermine turned on a fox trot and, after showing me the first steps, began to take me in hand. I trotted obediently around with her, colliding with chairs, hearing her directions and failing to understand them, treading on her toes, and being as clumsy as I was conscientious. After the second dance she threw herself on the sofa and laughed like a child.

“Oh! how stiff you are! Just go straight ahead as if you were walking. There’s not the least need to exert yourself. Why, I should think you have made yourself positively hot, haven’t you? No, let’s rest five minutes! Dancing, don’t you see, is every bit as easy as thinking, when you can do it, and much easier to learn. …

… In an hour she was gone, assuring me that it would go better next time. I had my own thoughts about that, and I was sorely disappointed over my stupidity and clumsiness. It did not seem to me that I had learned anything whatever and I did not believe that it would go better next time. No, one had to bring certain qualities to dancing that I was entirely without, gaiety, innocence, frivolity, elasticity. Well, I had always thought so.

But there, the next time it did in fact go better. I even got some fun out of it, and at the end of the lesson Hermine announced that I was now proficient in the fox trot. …”

Pages 119-120

With time, the internal struggles of being a salsa gigolo are lifted. A salsa gigolo slowly re-learns how to live again, without a constant flow of salseras in his life. At first, the withdrawal from salsera may feel like a piece of his identity or flesh has been ripped off him, but then he may pursue other hobbies, find other ways to spend his time, while marking his calendar.

Pages 147-148:
“… “You’re really doing splendidly,” she said. “Dancing suits you. Anyone who hadn’t seen you for the last four weeks would scarcely know you.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Things haven’t gone so well with me for years. That’s all your doing, Hermine.”

“Oh, not the beautiful Maria’s?”

“No. She is a present from you like all the rest. She is wonderful.”

“She is just the girl you need, Steppenwolf — pretty, young, light hearted, an expert in love and not to be had every day. If you hadn’t to share her with others, if she weren’t always merely a fleeting guest, it would be another matter.”

Yes, I had to concede this too.

“And so have you really got everything you want now?”

“No, Hermine. It is not like that. What I have got is very beautiful and delightful, a great pleasure, a great consolation. I’m really happy –”

“Well then, what more do you want?”

“I do want more. I am not content with being happy. I was not made for it. It is not my destiny. My destiny is the opposite.” …”

Pages 147-148

And with enough time away from salsera, a salsa gigolo may come to realize that it was not about salseras after all, but rather something more selfish. It was about the beauty of the dance he can create for himself, for his own pleasure. And when he deems that he has kept his promise to himself long enough, and returns, it is with fresh eyes and a tentative heart, and a hope not to lose himself so completely again.

Salsa Gigolometer 80

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