The 5 Spot After Dark Reading Series — Part One

NOT ‘Fast Food for the Mind’

NOT ‘Fast Food for the Mind’

After Dark is a deceptively ‘sleek’ book.

And it is certain NOT 'fast food for the mind'.

Haruki Murakami continues with his author-style being reserved and portrayed as simple — simple language, simple declarative sentences, ease of reading.

But, don’t let ‘sleek’ fool you. Simple, it is not.

Easy to glide through, yet deep on concepts and hidden meanings within. Complex issues are parlayed into the essence of a universal language spoken after the sun has gone down.

After Dark is a novella, set in Tokyo but worldly nonetheless--during the witching hours of onenight, between midnight and dawn — specifically between 11:56 p.m. to 6:52 a.m.

Global recognition

There is a sense that certain events could only ever take place in the night. The time between dusk and dawn is explored as a metaphor on many levels, in different ways.

the reader as detective

In the style of detective fiction, Murakami creates the feeling that there are deeper meanings that need to be explored. It is as though we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Yet, this realm that lies between the lines is only hinted at. The reader becomes the investigator by choice. Co-exploring with the narrator is particularly clarified when invited as the narrator starts using the pronoun ‘we’.

There are few explanatory connections and reasons for acts. And, particularly, no judgements.

Instead the novel progresses through hallucinatory, dream-like edits and we are left to fill in the pieces.

This has been some frustration expressed by those, unfamiliar with particular musical or cultural innuendos. Yet, this is intriguing to other readers who step passionately into the Murakami world of the unknown.

nuances of life

The reason for this multi-part series is that every nuance in the book extends meaningful connections to other Murakami books and his author-talks of his work as well.

source: saatchiart

Themes of interest to me and prevalent through his work include:

  • the human condition
  • consciousness
  • unconsciousness (and the realms in between)
  • Self and others
  • subjectivity
  • objectivity
  • intersubjectivity
  • psychology
  • the psyche
  • the void
  • darkness
  • alienation
  • nihilation
  • fear

Since Murakami does not directly confront or expose the ethical dilemmas of self-identity and moral obligation, his work is sometimes seem as cultish. It has been compared with the work of Michael Ondaatje, the fantastic literary giant, The English Patient.

The themes are there for assimilation for the reader who is ready or wants to do so. This is clearly given as our choice.

from Hear the Wind Sing to Killing Commendatore

His novels keep getting longer, far from his first, Hear the Wind Sing, a thin story of a 21-year-old narrator and his friend Rat. In this book he shares an introduction to his writing and his unique voice.

source: jean michel serres

I love mind-maps. I am currently listening to the audio version of Hear the Wing Sing as I run and it helps the pain, trust me.

Mind-maps make me think of Einstein's thought experiments, but, I digress. Then, again, he did use thought experiments and imagination, big time, to build his relativity theory, so they must be worth some consideration.

the translation process and 'big words'

Murakami uses his own creative and highly unique technique evoking his author-signature. He writes first in English and then translates back into Japanese.

This brings his recognizable Murakami signature voice to the pages without the “big words”.

You don’t need the big words.-- Murakami

And yet, the writing is filled with extraordinary cleverness.

The classic Murakami is of mixed metaphors, double metaphors or double entrendres. These phrases with two or more possible meanings, juxtapose the innocent and literal with the ironic and figurative.

A basic metaphor such as “running a mile a minute” (I dream of that!) makes the reader think past the ordinary words. They are also key attributes of the Murakami-authorship style--threads that weave with abstract symbolism.

the subconscious without Jung

We see the surface, almost like a camera, but we know there is something behind it, even if Murakami doesn’t choose or have to describe it.

The subconscious is very important to me as a writer. I don’t read much Jung, but what he writes has some similarity with my writing.
To me, the subconscious is terra incognita. I don’t want to analyze it, but Jung and those people, psychiatrists, are always analyzing dreams and the significance of everything.
I don’t want to do that. I just take it as a whole.
Maybe that’s kind of weird, but I’m feeling like I can do the right thing with that weirdness.
Sometimes it’s very dangerous to handle that.

the more you know…..

The more you know about Murakami and the more you read his work, the more you can see these threads weaving through his fiction in abstract, symbolic ways. There is a huge amount going on beneath the surface. Finding those layers of other realms, time and space is very interesting work, indeed.

Murakami layers dream-like ‘other worlds’, inviting the reader to venture into issues such as self-identity and moral obligation. But, as he does this, and he is clearly engaging the reader to become a part of the process — finding connections in personally meaningful ways.

Murakami takes time, space and identity-narratives with subject and object, as opposites integrated into life. He blends them in ways that capture our personal and collective milieu.

He takes us into the colourless, emptiness essence of popular culture and demands attention. It is those inherent juxtapositions with the extremely interesting inner worlds, that are made available, for those who wish, or are brave enough, to dissent.

building global connections essential for the 21st century

Without at least some insight into the Japanese and American cultures, it is easy to get lost at points in Murakami’s narrative.

Don't worry about that. Dig in. It may be as easy to get lost in isolated space, if that is all one has to go on. Just as easy, it is, to build upon what is given and dig in further.

dig in

We are invited into the book in a way to embed the book’s concepts into our lives. The clever way Murakami connects seemingly disparate settings and characters invites the reader to participate in meaning-making. But, only when you want it.

Through this interpretative process, I found myself engaged in deepening my self-awareness and how I engage in the world. I agree with 'David' in Tuscan -- Haruki Murakami does deserve the Nobel Prize.