23 January 2016

The Elephant Vanishes

Finally finished 1/7 remaining Murakami books (except Wild Sheep Chase).

Decided to start with a collection of short stories to ease myself back into a reading mood. My favourite out of this collection is "Sleep", partly because of the easy connection to my own days of futile efforts to fall asleep. In fact I slept so terribly last night sigh.

My second favourite is "Window". It starts off talking about hambagu, which led to me looking up recipes and a subsequent intense wanting to buy tofu since it's a common mix-in for a lighter texture. And tofu was what occupied my mind for the following day, and ugh it takes so much effort to make my way to a store in Atlanta that sells them for a quasi-reasonable price.
Anyways, the point of the above is to have some sort of a parallel structure because what I really want to talk about is the ending of this story. It is the most conclusive ending I've read in a Murakami book so far, and ever beautiful in his ways.
Even now, I have no idea. There are lots of things we never understand, no matter how many years we put on, no matter how much experience we accumulate. All I can do is look up from the train at the window in the buildings that might be hers. Every one of them could be her window, it sometimes seems to me, and at other times I think that none of them could be hers. There are simply too many of them.
Of course it hits close to home too, and it reminds me of this scene in H&C where Mayama is sitting on a bench across from Rika's building looking at her window.
Another quotation from the same story, which is something to aspire to:
I felt so rich with the genuine sense of daily living. 


Other quotations:
Our city, these streets, I don't know why it makes me so depressed. That old familiar gloom that befalls the city dweller, regular as due dates, cloudy as mental Jell-O. The dirty facades, the nameless crowds, the unremitting noise, the packed rush-hour trains, the grey skies, the billboards on every square centimetre of available space, the hopes and resignations, irritation and excitement. And everywhere, infinite options, infinite possibilities. An infinity, and at the same time, zero. We try to scope it all up in our hands, and what we get is a handful of zero. That's the city.
from "A Slow Boat to China"

Memory is like fiction: or else it's fiction that's like memory. [...] Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn't even there anymore.  
from "The Last Lawn of the Afternoon"

And I hear things. Not sounds, but thick slabs of silence being dragged through the dark. [...] Those are the initial indications. First, the aching. Then, a slight distortion of my vision. Tides of confusion wash through, premonitions tugging at memories, memories tugging at premonitions. A finely honed razor moon flats white in the sky, roots of doubt borrow into the earth.

I mean, why send out a botched attempt at a letter? Better to send nothing at all, right? At least, that's what I think: a message imperfectly communicated does about as much good as a screwed-up timetable. 

An exercise for myself that I've gots to do one day is to categorize by theme or topic, all the quotations that I've collected over the years, scattered across here, notebooks and tumblrs. Also to devise a way to display them.

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