Saturday, July 20, 2013

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Reading "Kafka on the Shore" by Murakami was probably not as much of an impact as Norwegian Wood. But for some reason, the passages seemed to strike so very close. Far too close to add my comments to the passages.




Sometimes, fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing direction. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You'll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.

Where does your responsibility begin here? Wiping away the nebula from your sight, you struggle to find where you really are. You're trying to find the direction of the flow, struggling to hold on to the axis of time. But you can't locate the borderline between dream and reality. Or even the boundary between what's real and what's possible. All you're sure of is that you are in a delicate position. Delicate - and dangerous. You're pulled along, a part of it, unable to pin down the principles of prophecy, or or logic. Like when a river overflows, washing over a town, all road signs have sunk beneath the waves. All you can see are the anonymous roofs of the sunken houses.






Time weighs down on you like an old ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to slip through it. But even if you go to the ends of the world, you won't be able to escape it. Still you have to go there - to the edge of the world. There's something you can't do unless you get there.

I'm free, I think. I shut my eyes and think hard and deep about how free I am, but I can't really understand what it means. All I know is I am totally alone. All alone in an unfamiliar place, like some solitary explorer who's lost his compass and his map. Is that what it means to be free? I don't know, and I give up thinking about it.

So I want you to be careful. The people who build high, strong fences are the ones who survive the best. You deny that reality only at the risk of being driven into the wilderness yourself.





You don't want to be at the mercy of things outside you anymore, or thrown into confusion by things you can' t control. If there's a curse in all this, you mean to grab it by the horns and fulfill the program that's been laid out for you. Lift the burden from your shoulders and live - not caught up in someone else's schemes, but as you. That's what you want.

As long as I was alive, I was something. That was just how it was. But somewhere along the line it all changed. Living turned me into nothing. Weird ... People are born to live, right? But the longer I've lived, the more I've lost what's inside me - and ended up empty. And I bet the longer I live, the emptier, the more worthless, I'll become. Life isn't supposed to turn out like this. Isn't it possible to shift direction, to change where I'm headed?

What Chekhov was getting at was this: necessity is an independent concept. It has a different structure from logic, morals, or meaning. Its function lies entirely in the role it plays. What doesn't play a role shouldn't exist. What necessity requires does need to exist. That's what you call dramaturgy. Logic, morals, or meaning don't have anything to do with it. It's all a question of relationality.





A long time ago I abandoned someone I shouldn't have. Someone I loved more than anything else. I was afraid someday I'd lose this person. So I had to let go myself. If he was going to be stolen away from me, or I was going to lose him by accident, I decided it was better to discard him myself. Of course I felt anger that didn't fade, that was part of it. But the whole thing was a huge mistake. It was someone I should never have abandoned.



You're afraid of imagination. And even more afraid of dreams. Afraid of the responsibility that begins in dreams. But you have to sleep, and dreams are a part of sleep. When you're awake you can suppress imagination. But you can't suppress dreams.




Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That's part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads - at least that's where I imagine it - there's a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off once in a while, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you'll live for ever in your own private library.
 

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