Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Thanks, Mr. Murakami.

“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 every once in a while, let in fresh
air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever
in your own private library.”

 from Haruki
Murakami’s
Kafka on the Shore

Finishing a Murakami book always leaves me feeling a little
gut-punched and stupid and wowed and moved and thrilled. (Okay, I’ve only read
three of his books, but it’s happened every time so far.) I wrapped up Kafka
on the Shore
after work this afternoon full of amazement and adrenaline and at
the same time, that college student voice wouldn’t shut up about whether I
fully grasped the symbolism or allegory or imagery in the story and characters
and images.

But I think that feeling of not quite fully understanding
them only makes them more powerful to me. It’s like there’s something else
there, hidden around a corner, or not quite coalescing from the shadows; a tune
I can’t quite pick out, secreted behind the folds of a larger song.

And yet I like it. I like that I still have questions, and
that I wonder what Murakami means in one passage or another, or why one
character behaves one way, or what another is supposed to represent. I like
reaching that point of asking, “Wait – what just happened? But how – ?”
but then realizing that the story’s power is enough to keep pulling me along even
if the pieces don’t click into place with any kind of neat finality. I like to
be left wondering, and thinking and letting things soak and ferment and trigger.

It may not be the tidiest way to handle storytelling, but it’s
masterful if you can pull it off like Murakami, because too often, it’s just
clunky when authors try to come up with a click-and-clack explanation that
melds the real to the fantastic. (Another good example: W.P. Kinsella, who
wrote Shoeless Joe – inspiration for the movie “Field of Dreams.” Dead
ballplayers come out of the cornfield, and it just happens. There’s no need to
explain it. It just IS.)

Or, to be honest, maybe I am missing some big picture point
here: Maybe all the nuts and bolts of “Kafka on the Shore” do tighten down and
fasten things neat and shiny but I just don’t recognize the machine they’re
meant to create.

But when I read a passage like the one I’ve quoted, and I
have to get up almost immediately and get a pen to scribble it down because there’s
suddenly an icy, electric trickle running through the center of my chest, then
I think maybe I’m at least seeing the part of the picture I was meant to for now.

 

 

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July 28, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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