In 1915 Herman Hesse published a series of stories under the title ‘On the Road’, among which is a parable: ‘The Execution’. The very concise text reads as follows:

The master came down with some of his disciples from the mountains to the plain and approached the walls of a big city, before the gates of which a great multitude was gathered. As they came closer, they saw a scaffold erected and the executioners were dragging a man weakened by imprisonment and torture from the tumbrel to the chopping block. The multitude pressed round the spectacle, scoffed and spat at the condemned and eagerly awaited his beheading with noisy pleasure.

‘Who is this man,’ the disciples asked themselves, ‘and what could he have

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