14 February 2016

South of the Border, West of the Sun

alternative title: probably & for a while

The connections I feel with this book is only second to H&C, that is all you need to know.

I have lots more to say though. Like how this book packs a punch from the first to the last chapter. In first chapter:
We held hands just once. She  as leading me somehow and grabbed my hand as if to say, This way - hurry up. Our hands were clasped together ten seconds at most, but to me it felt more like thirty minutes. When she let go of my hand, I was suddenly lost. It was all very natural, the way she took my hand, but I knew she'd been dying to do so.
The feel of her hand has never left me. It was different from any other hand I'd ever held, different from any touch I've ever known. It was merely the small, warm hand of a twelve-year-old girl, yet those five fingers and that palm were like a display case crammed full of everything I wanted to know - and everything I had to know. By taking my hand, she showed me what these things were. That within the real world, a place like this existed. In the space of those ten seconds I became a tiny bird, fluttering into the air, the wind rushing by. From high in the sky I could see a scene far away. It was so far off I couldn't make it out clearly, yet something was there, and I knew that someday I would travel to that place. This revelation made me catch my breath and made my chest tremble.

And that was probably (probably is the only word I can think of to use here; I don't consider it my job to investigate the expanse of memory called the past and judge what is correct and what isn't) a mistake.

With ears perked up and eyes closed, I imagined the existence of a certain place, this place I imagined was still incomplete. It was misty, indistinct, it's outlines vague. Yet I was sure that something absolutely vital lay waiting for me there. And I knew this: that Shimamoto was gazing at the very same scene.
We were, the two of us, still fragmentary beings, just beginning to sense the presence of an unexpected, to-be-acquired reality that would fill us and make us whole. We stood before a door we'd never seen before. The two of us alone, beneath a faintly flickering light, our hands tightly clasped together for a fleeting ten seconds of time. 
The second chapter ends with:
She's not Shimamoto, I told myself. She can't give me what Shimamoto gave. But here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can. How could I ever hurt her?
But I didn't understand then, that I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.
 Then these:
What we needed were not words and promises, but the steady accumulation of small realities.

If I stayed here, something inside me would be lost forever - something I couldn't afford to lose. It was like a vague dream, a burning, unfulfilled desire. The kind of dream people have only when they're seventeen.
Izumi could never understand my dream. She had her own dreams, a vision of a far different place, a world unlike my own.
 Chapter 14 comes along with shaaaarp words:
"For a while is a phase whose length can't be measured. At least by the person who's waiting," I said.
"But there must be times when that word's necessary. Situations when that's the only possible word you can use," she said.
"And probably is a word whose weight is incalculable."

"Is that what you see in my eyes? That you know nothing about me?"
"Nothing's written in your eyes," I replied. "It's written in my eyes. I just see the reflection in yours."
I would have never noticed the...irony (I don't think I'll ever feel confident that I'm using this term correctly) of the second quotation from chapter 1 if I was not jotting these down. Now it makes me wonder how little of every book I've actually understood...or even noticed. But it's really painful for me to re-read, or re-play (exhibit: Xillia: too much Alvin feels to play through Milla's story), anything. So I guess I'll just read slower in the future.

Another...symbol? imagery? that's repeated is that of rain:
Look at the rain long enough, with no thoughts in your head, and you gradually feel your body falling loose, shaking free of the world of reality.

All my words lost their strength and, like raindrops glued to the window, slowly parted company with reality. On rainy nights I could barely breathe. The rain twisted time and reality.  
Expanding on reality:
But once I acknowledged that the envelope had disappeared, it's existence and non existence traded places in my consciousness. A strange feeling, like vertigo, took hold of me. A conviction that the envelope had never actually existed swelled up inside me, violently chipping away at my mind, crushing and greedily devouring the certainty I'd had that the envelope was real.
Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so biased, we always rely on a certain reality - call it an alternate reality - to prove the reality of events. To what extent facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is crated within our consciousness, and it is the very maintenance of this chain that produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist.
This perfectly captures both my appreciation and frustration with how adaptable humans are:
Sometime I couldn't stand how we were just going through the motions, acting out our assigned roles. Something crucial to us was lost, yet still we could carry on as before. I felt awful.


I was very close to buying a silver fish brooch as reference to the one worn by Shimamoto, since I'll probably never find a bird brooch similar enough to the one that Morita gave Hagu. 

Despite Shimamoto being the prevalent subject of the quotations, my favourite character in the book is actually Yukiko and I have hella respect for her strength and gracefulness.

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