#WritersWednesday: His Hero is Marcel

Time Line of the Universe

Time Line of the Universe Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team Source: Original version: File:CMB Timeline75.jpg

It goes for colours, type-faces, places, objects, smiles, books… The human spirit is attracted, inspired, by “things”, in a fashion that appears random to the observer (“tastes and colours…” goes the French saying). But it isn’t. There are reasons for everything, and randomness is often a metaphor for “we can’t explain this”.

Julian is attracted by – universes. Worlds, galaxies, star systems… Or should I write “multiverses”: the existence of multiple universes that rarely intersect, merely coexist, and, mostly, in ignorance of each other? He knows, has read about, that most physicists, mathematicians, philosophers, are generally skeptical about the concept. Generally, but sometimes not. And Julian is attracted by those writers who are less than skeptical, the party of the “cosmic inflation”, and its far away consequences. Julian believes in the Two Moons of Huraki Murakami: he too has seen them…

Sarah, who’s a far better mathematician than her husband, is willing to discuss strings theory and other quantum wonders, and let him indulge in his quest. He too is after the “Ultimate Nature of Reality” [*]. I do understand, and she does, that Julian seeks his inspiration from serious subjects: history, science, philosophy, the “thinking” authors of weird and wonderful stories.

So it goes for time: our Julian is obsessed by it. His hero is, of course, Marcel Proust, and he’s often written about Marcel, and written him into his stories, as himself or as his little prisoner. I am fascinated by this, as it links to his other obsessions, his writing style, and, finally, his love for both Sarah and Melissa, the two women in his life, the inspiration for his writing. There are reasons to believe that, for Julian, his friend Melissa is a reincarnation of the docile Prisoner, dear to Marcel, his Albertine…

But Sarah has another theory: Julian wishes to be Albertine, someone’s property, or, to be precise, his wife’s. So that Melissa maybe Julian, in the end, just in another “universe”. This intrigues me too, as often Melissa has told me she wished to be Julian, to live in his skin. Poor soul. What I keep to myself, for now, is that Melissa has also claimed to be Sarah, to “merge” with her.

Sarah, Albertine, Odette, Julian, Melissa, Swann? Julian is “à la recherche”, in this universe, or, as necessary, in another. Which writer is not?

[*] “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality”, by Max Tegmark, was reviewed by Brian Rotman in The Guardian of February 1, 2014.

#FiveSentenceFiction: Moon

1Q84 Aomame lifted her sight to the skies above: the crescent Moon started appearing behind the clouds, a silver ghost emerging from another world.

Tengo thought his lover had turned into a hopeless romantic, but he also felt the pull.

Soon the second Moon would appear, to confirm they had crossed the frontier between reality and their dreams.

A surge of memories invaded their souls, and slowly the smaller Moon appeared, shrouded with silver mist.

“You see, my love,” said Aomame in a whisper, “Anytime we are about to die, she appears, she’s our destiny…”

Inspired by Haruki Murakami’s immortal novel: 1Q84.

#AtoZChallenge: April 11, 2013 ~ Japan

Byôdô-in When I was a very young man, a boy still really, I imagined Japan as a beautiful and mysterious – hence unattainable – woman.  For at that age, one looks at countries one has not visited, let alone lived in, as one does those unfathomable creatures of the opposite gender, with a sense of wonder.

Assiduously I frequented the local dojo, which was run by the departmental GPO, in that far away antiquity before those marvellous public organisations were “privatised”, that is plundered, and perfected my throws.

I thought of the 1,800 islands Japan is made of, learnt about the Way of the Warrior –  the Bushido – admired films of kids of my age practising Kendo the way we kicked the ball at my school.  Then I learnt about the long history of a sea-faring and proud people who kept their country closed to the rest of the world for centuries. I learnt about the Tsunamis,  Mount Fuji, the bombs, the geography. I dreamed of Shikoku, the island of the 88 temples, of the mysteries of Kyoto, the imperial city, of the hero-Samurais, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, of the art and magic of the swordsmiths.  I even considered buying myself a Katana…

Katana Then I learned about Seppuku, read Mishima.  One of my judo coaches was a Vietnamese expert who had studied at the Kodokan: I resolved to go there, sometime.

Much later I discovered Haruki Murakami who wrote – still writes – like a Westerner with the elegance and poetry of his country.  And I fell in love – metaphorically – with Naoko (Norwegian Wood), Miss Saeki (Kafka on the Shore) and Naomame (1Q84)…

Japan is the third largest world economy by GDP, and the sixth military power by budget.  After Singapore she has the lowest homicide rate in the world.

Next year – 2014, or 1Q84 plus 30 years – Gorgeous and I are going to Japan, and she said she would come with me to the Kodokan, provided I visited the 88 temples of Shikoku with her, which I promised.  We will look for the second moon.

#AtoZChallenge: April 1 ~ Affinity

South_of_the_Border,_West_of_the_Sun_(Haruki_Murakami_novel_-_front_cover)

1 Close connection, structural resemblance

2 relationship, similarity of character suggesting relationship

3 strong liking or attraction

(Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English)

What attracts us to another human being? What determines our liking for a place, a beach, a tree, a mountain, a book, a song, a painting? And what makes us capable, or incapable, of affinity?

In his novel, “South of the Border, West of the Sun”,  Haruki Murakami describes the impossible attraction between two young people, which transcends time, growing up and the disappearance of the young woman, Shimamoto.  This a “fatal attraction”, a theme that Murakami will later extend in the magnificent 1Q84, where affinity as mutual love triumphs against all odds.

What indeed of the affinity for a book?  Is it attraction to a character, a style, a story?  Or perhaps it is the fact that we would have liked to write the story ourselves.  Affinity for art may be that: the aspiration to create, even when we know that we do not have the ability, the skills, the aspiration.

It is a world that is made of love. Did you think there is only the kind of love your sister knows for her husband? Did you think there must be here, a man with whiskers, and over here, a lady in a gown? Haven’t I said, there are no whiskers and gowns where spirits are? And what will your sister do if her husband should die, and she should take another? Who will she fly to then, when she has crossed the spheres? For she will fly to someone, we will all fly to someone, we will all return to that piece of shining matter from which our souls were torn with another, two halves of the same. It may be that the husband your sister has now has that other soul, that has the affinity with her soul—I hope it is. But it may be the next man she takes, or it may be neither. It may be someone she would never think to look to on the earth, someone kept from her by some false boundary…

A big thank you for Arlee at http://tossingitout.blogspot.co.uk/ who invented the Challenge for our greatest pleasure!

Sarah Waters, Affinity (reproduced from Goodreads)

Daily Prompt: Judgment Day

If you were to judge your favorite book by its cover, would you still read it?

1Q84 1Q84, Haruki Murakami’s masterpiece, is a long poem to love and the irrepressible human spirit: this cover is a joy to look at – the butterflies in the greenhouse, and the two moons.  The two moons signal that this world is another world, and that finding one’s beloved soul mate is to find the way back to the old world, the one before the fall.

Yes I would fall in love again with this novel, just looking at the cover! But then I am a fan of Murakami…

 

 

 

 

 

#WritersWednesday: November 7 – 1Q84

 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s latest book, and a universal best seller. I don’t intend to reveal anything of the plot, since some followers of these posts may not have read the book! 1Q84 is several books in one, a love story in the tradition of Haruki’s previous novels, especially Norwegian Wood (the love story that created the literary phenomenon Murakami for the world audience) and Kafka on the Shore, but also a reflection on modern Japan, its cities and landscapes, and human relationships.

The two central heroes of 1Q84 are ordinary people, though with special gifts. They are also failures, or at least they believe to be, for some twenty years – until one night they look at the moon. The book is full of musical and literary references, beautifully woven in the daily lives and thoughts of the characters. Some critics have pointed out that the novel mixes genres unashamedly: for this reader, this is one of the many charms of the book, which straddles highly speculative fiction and poetry. That the world we see is only an appearance created by our limited physiological abilities, sight, longevity and cultures, is a fact admitted by most writers. That there may be many variations around us is nothing more than a strong probability: but it only takes a walk along an expressway to discover one of these variations…

The novel was published in Japan in three books, the latest one year later than the first two. The UK publisher , Harvill Secker, has continued the tradition with books one and two in one volume followed by book three. I found book three in some way different in tone compared with the other two. Is it intentional, or the result of different sensibilities on the part of the two translators (Jay Rubin for books one and two, and Philip Gabriel for book three). Those translations are impressive but I wish I could read the original.