My attempts to adapt myself to the standardized world remain fruitless

It may well be that my thinking of today is somewhat different from that of twenty years ago, but my feelings and my being, my wishing and hoping, are not different, they have become neither smarter nor stupider.  Today, as then, I can become a child, an old man, now two years old, now a thousand.  And my attempts to adapt myself to the standardized world […] remain […] fruitless.

There are two paths to salvation: the path of righteousness for the righteous and the path of grace for the sinner.  I, who am a sinner, have once more committed the mistake of attempting to reach salvation through righteousness.  I will never succeed.  And it, sweet milk to the righteous, is poison to us sinners, it makes us malicious.  I am destined to have to make this attempt, to commit this error, again and again, just as in intellectual matters it is my destiny that I who am a poet must constantly renew my attempts to overcome the world by thought rather than by art.  Again and again I take these long and laborious, lonesome excursions, continually make these attempts at reason and end in pain and confusion.  But this death is always followed by rebirth, I am always retouched by grace, and the pain and confusion are no longer bad, the wrong paths turn out to have been good, the defeats have been precious, for they have thrown me back on the maternal heart, have made it possible for me to experience grace once more.

Hermann Hesse, A Guest at the Spa