The book that started what? – This blog, my previous blog, my love for writing, my love for Murakami, my love for metaphors (that might have happened long before) and surely many more things it started…
Let me tell you something about my beloved book that this blog owes its name to.
The main character finds it hard to distinguish the reality from dreams. This blurring of lines between perception and imagination is a usual figure in Murakami’s novels. I dare to call Kafka Tamura a signature Murakami’s main character. He’s lonely, a bit tragic and there’s something about him that makes him separated from the rest of the world, but he strives to find his place in it. His life is full of lonely moments, full of questions. He needs to answer two major questions: Who is he and what is the meaning of his own existence? He doubts himself and everyone around him. His thoughts are often obscure and nihilistic, and yet there is purity in them. He suffers a great sexual frustration and unease with his own body and sexuality. He has a strong fixation on his mother and sister owing to his father’s dark prophecy. He often thinks about death and eventually is closely linked to it. Maybe even a patron of death itself.
This book to a large extent ponders over the questions of fate and predestination. It makes you think whether we are even able to escape the events that are predestined to happen to us – if we truly want to avoid them – and if we do there’s a possibility we end up running straight towards them.
Why did all this influenced me to the extent it had? The truth is never before reading this book have I ever come across anything like Kafka on the Shore. It’s so weird, it’s so genius and so metaphorical you definitely have to read it twice or three times before really getting the best of it (and before truly appreciating it). Murakami uses such beautiful language that after finishing the book I was like: What the hell – I want to be able to see the world the way he does, I want to make the most of our language (no matter how insufficient it is) the way he does, I want to create such beautiful sentences – use such beautiful words – shit I want to be a writer!
Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. 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.
An 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.” (p. 4-5)
“Your heart is like a great river after a long spell of rain, spilling over its banks. All signposts that once stood on the ground are gone, inundated and carried away by that rush of water. And still the rain beats down on the surface of the river. Every time you see a flood like that on the news you tell yourself: That’s it. That’s my heart.” (p. 11)
“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.” (p. 180)
“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.” (p. 181)
“Like flowers scattered in a storm, man’s life is one long farewell.” (p. 192)
“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will be even worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.” (p. 192)
“But metaphors help eliminate what separates you and me.” (p. 385)
“We all die and disappear, but that’s because the mechanism of the world itself is built on destruction and loss. Our lives are just shadows of that guiding principle. Say the wind blows. It can be a strong, violent wind or a gentle breeze. But eventually every kind of wind dies out and disappears.” (p. 439)