A note on the little project: My favorite contemporary author is Haruki Murakami; his latest work to appear in English translation is 1Q84 and was released in late October, 2011. His novels are often pulpy page turners, and the urge to get to the end to see what happens often hurries me up; I don’t notice things the first time through, and I certainly don’t stop to savor the first reading. So this time I am stopping and smelling the roses, so to speak by blogging about every three chapters I read. I go through them once, think about them for awhile, and then start typing notes—whatever comes to mind—as I skim over the chapters again. Sometimes I refer back to previous sections, but I try to keep it all pretty much within these three chapters. That way I’ll have an ongoing record of my response to the book.
Also, I am reading the book in hard copy. This is odd because I just got a Kindle, which has so far been very useful and has changed my reading habits for the better. I’m doing the hard copy of the Murakami to again be a sort of public reader; it’s a new book, his fans tend to be very loyal, and I am looking to start conversations with random people in a pleasant way.
So I’ve reached the point that happens in every long Murakami novel; there are too many threads, and it’s clear that he is the exact opposite of an academic writer; an academic spends his time holding the readers hand so that he is not lost; Murakami is constructing a world that is like our own, or at least like our own minds: it is complicated, I don’t feel like it would add up, even if I did stop to think it through, and now I want to find out what happens; now I am totally invested in the humdrum questions of plot.
So that puts me in a bit of a quandary; the idea of blogging about the book is to capture my first time reading it while slowing me down so that I savor it all the more. But what if one of the reasons I love Murakami is that he’s able to get that momentum going so that I have to finish it as soon as possible? In a sense it would be easier if I was reading the book in installments—I’d be forced to wait.
For the moment the best course action I think is to take a break from the extensive notes and thinking; I still want to record my thoughts, but I don’t want to get bogged down in specifics, as though I were taking notes for class.
As a side note, one of Murakami’s techniques is to say that the scene his character was a painting (here it is Landscape with Pistol, 496); it makes him sound all the more hip, like someone who goes to museums out of a legitimate interest, not to browbeat others or to come off like an intellectual. It also makes the scene into something still, a moment; it compresses time locally.
The final confrontation with the Leader
- It played out in an interesting way; the Leader puts Aomame in a position where she has to choose between her life and Tengo’s; of course she choose to sacrifice her life for Tengo’s; and yet what the Leader says doesn’t square with what Fuka-Eri says to Tengo. Fuka-Eri says that she and Tengo are safe because they have something the Little People don’t have. And yet the Leader says that the Little People can threaten Tengo’s life. Is he manipulating her into killing him? Is he somehow testing her love?
- We always have to make decisions with imperfect information
- In any case I am not sure how much I trust every word the Leader says, though I don’t think he’s wholly lying.
- All that talk about balance how Tsubasa is being healed and how everything is a concept stinks and seems like a way for him to justify rape; Aomame doesn’t believe him, and neither can I. Is Murakami indicting Idealism as morally permissive? But then aren’t morals ideas and so part of Idealism.
- Is evil created, or does it necessarily exist as a counterpart to good? Is the only ultimate good balance between the two? Can we accept evil?
- Why does Aomame have to run away after she kills him—why not hide her weapon and play dumb? She might not be able to kill anymore, but she isn’t planning on that anyway; this way she’s admitting her guilt to the commune and setting them after her. She’d have a better chance if she pretended nothing was up.
- Ah. So not everyone is aware that there are two moons; so Tengo might be in the same world as Aomame after all.
- He is also a jesus figure, at least for Buzzcut. Uhg.
- She’ll be staying in Koenji, at least for awhile. You know who else lives in Koenji? Tengo! Wooo!
Murakami and his Reading Lists
- Just like with music, Murakami is always able t o make me look into other things; Chekhov’s book on Sakhalin, now Jung, the Golden Bough, 1984, and so on.
What is real?
- Murakami seems to be saying that it is all a matter of what you believe; is he an idealist, as opposed to Aomame’s empiricism?
So what are the Little People?
- They’re a metaphor for any sort of mystical or supernatural influence on human life.
- They are also a mysterious will with uncertain aims; they are a prime mover, of sorts; or do they come about as the opposite to something? Does every action have its opposite somewhere else?
- They could be threatening, they could not be threatening.
Tengo and Fuka-Eri
- Tengo winds up with Fuka-Eri, in circumstances that are uncomfortably similar to the ones in which the Leader sleeps with the shrinemaidens: he is paralyzed with an erection and she initiates the sex; from what the Leader said it seems that Tengo himself might be qualified to be a Receiver. Maybe the whole thing is the Little People grooming him to replace the Leader?
- I like the idea of the Receiver and the Perceiver being opposites, of creating one while creating the other. Everything has its nemesis, like Buffy and the Master.
- Fuka-Eri says they are visiting the Town of Cats, which is some place that they are not necessarily supposed to visit; he has a vision of meeting Aomame as a ten year old.
- The descriptions of the sex are downright creepy. He may not be a pedophile, but I am not sure that uncle Haruki will be babysitting anyone’s kids in the near future.