Chapters 10-12


  • Aomame’s previously been concerned about logic, and how her logical mind might not be able to cope with the world of IQ84 (106-110)
  • The Professor also speaks as though he is used to talking about logical topics (116).
  • the conflict between a chaotic, unpredictable world and logic isn’t just in other parts of Murakami (I keep thinking of May Kasahara thinking that it would be awesome to put one thing in the microwave and find something totally different when you opened it up—May wants 1Q84, she wants things to be illogical, is comfortable with that, her soul needs it, and Toru gets that; it’s the world around her that doesn’t get it). It reminds of of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, of all things—Nature is always ready to make a scientist into a fool, and the best scientists are always circumspect about their conclusions and the validity of their logical systems.

The compound/cults

  • Sakigake is mysterious, doesn’t open itself up to outsiders, is funded by some mysterious source; it’s very much like the house in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; so what makes it different from the house in Wind-Up Bird? What exactly constitutes a cult?
  • Cults are another fascination of Murakami’s, going back at least to Underground: the Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche. They are cultural outsiders (which Murakami tends to like), but they tend to inhibit free thinking among their other members (which he hates). They play an ominous role in human nature, and here the Professor wonders if people are so into the idea of utopia that they will abdicate their free will to the leader of the cult; are cults necessary? What makes people join them?
  • Even Fuka-Eri’s father felt that revolution was only “a metaphor or hypothesis… that exercising that kind of antiestablishment, subversive will was indispensable for a healthy society” (125). Now that is a statement, and one that I, for whatever reason, feel that Murakami himself could get behind.

Incidents of physical discomfort

  • Aomame had her moment on the stairwell getting down from the freeway, and at the end of chapter 10 Tengo experiences a wave of nausea, “a wrenching sensation through his whole body, as though his top and bottom halves were being twisted in opposite directions” (126). These moments seem to be the other side of the human ego-coin (the first being the cool rationalism and decisive action associated with Aomame and the dowager)

The girl on the train, the girl from Tengo’s childhood

  • There is something about the girl that Tengo sees on the train as well. She catches his eye as she and her mother leave the train and he feels that she is trying to communicate something to him; this is the opposite of what happened when as rode the train with Fuka-Eri (who seemed to be “reading” him but who communicated nothing herself (112-13). Tengo is helpless to help the girl (if that is what she really wants—he may be reading his own personal history into her look), and there is a special kind of terror in that.
  • We find out that Tengo had a maybe moment of awkward adolescent, proto-intimacy with the daughter of an evangelical Christian. They were both outsiders, and they both had to do their Sunday rounds; Tengo stood up for her at an awkward moment, but they never made anything of it and never even really communicated.
  • The girl’s family is obsessed with the End of the World, a theme that concerns Aomame as well (she wonders if being kicked in the balls feels like the end of the world; she had previously talked with Tamaru about the end of the world in the chapter about the butterflies).
  • She grabbed Tengo’s hand and looked at him; for the first time he felt there was a barrier removed from between them (remember that the professor said that it was like there was a membrane between him and Fuka-Eri when she first arrived at his house (146).
  • In Dickens the young girl would come back and play some noble role in the story. I doubt that will happen here.
  • The Professor more or less indicates that Fuka-Eri telling her story may help her overcome whatever happened to her in the compound, as if it were therapy; the truth may emerge through the story of Air Chrysalis. (the idea of telling unburdening yourself by telling a story about a troubling event also came up in the Aomame chapter. The dowager managed to coax out some troublesome memory from Aomame’s past (135) that, if nothing else, lead to a new door opening in Aomame’s life.

More on anti women bias in Japan…

  • The big theme of the Aomame chapter here is the bias against women in Japanese society. Aomame has a just-so talk with a woman who works in the police department and suffers a number of petty indignities and professional obstacles because of her gender (crude double entendrees, boring assignments, non-recognition of her abilities, and so on). I caught sight of this review on the AV Club and, while I didn’t read much of it, it did charge the book with being repetitive. Given the feminist slant of the Aomame chapters I suppose I can see where the reviewer was coming from… but I’ll give Murakami the same benefit of the doubt that I gave Larsson: somehow the rants make his character more necessary, if not more believable.
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