HauteLit from HotLanta: Murakami

Photo Credit: Hiroshige

““Well, I have to confess that I don’t―I don’t trust you anymore.  Art, you’ve become a very strange young man.”

“Dad.”

“Last time we met, you spoke like an insane person.  What was all that nonsense?  It was very upsetting to hear you talk that way.  I felt terrible.  I was very shaken.”

My father had a way of looking as though he were about to weep but was making a superhuman effort to contain his tears, and it never failed to destroy me.  I started to cry quietly as I chewed a wet and interminable piece of bread.”

-Michael Chabon, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Identical scenes such as this have occurred with rampant frequency in my life.  Not just with parents, but with everyone and it may just be all in my head.  I seem to feel the sentiment of Art’s father in, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” bleeding through the awkward silences where the unsaid is spoken.  It’s disconcerting.

Instead of just doing my thing and being me despite the “haters” who might or might not actually be hating, I’ve done a complete 180° turn into homemaking which is a thing I’ve said I would never do.  Now that I work from home, there are so many distractions to distract me such as finally unpacking all the boxes, cooking, laundry, dishes, organizational tasks, etc and I willingly threw myself into them.  I think I turned to these little homemaking tasks as a way to seem ‘normal’ again in the eyes of others.

When I was little, I would be scolded for reading, because I should be “social,” or “go out with friends, when all I really wanted to do was write imaginary book reports, make imaginary inventions and draw imaginary things in my room.  I actually preferred reading over TV as a kid, I mean, isn’t that what parents want?  No, I was weird.  They didn’t like that weirdness.  They wanted me to socialize so that I would be “normal.”  Then, I went to a university that didn’t exactly value the arts, and I surrounded myself with people who don’t get the whole idea of being artistic.  So I feel like people have been subtly telling me my whole life art and writing have been purposeless, silly, needless things or a flight of fancy and not a serious pursuit.  It’s my fault for listening.

Of course, my delving dive into homemaking failed me completely because although I love to cook, I’m the least organized homemaker-type person and the people around me very well could have changed their minds about the whole me being a writer thing by now since I’ve been harping about it for ages and finally made the big move.  Thus I have failed at just being me, the writer and artist I really am and I failed at not being me.  Where was I to go?

I turned to Haruki Murakami’s, “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” and was saved.  It’s quite simple really.  I needed to go to a healing place, one that could provide an outlet for osmosis into other worlds, in other words, an underground well like Toru’s in the novel.  I needed to retreat into a “well” in order to allow my soul to reform itself into the new shape and place of my body.  My body has moved to a new place and changed so drastically externally in such a short time that my soul had no time to catch up, to reverse the years of damage that had been done to it during its formative stages.  It had expanded too much into all the wrong places.

I turned out the lights and retreated into the darkest corner, in the deepest corner for the longest time.  Just as Murakami says through Toru, “[…] my body began to lose its density and weight, […] my mind was dragging my body into its own territory.”  The cogs and the wheels that moved my body along in the world had to be remade, but the only materials existing in my new hollowed out shell were clippings and snippings of memories, of desires and of intent, so they were paper-machéd together.  Before they could fully dry and harden as they needed to, my body demanded that they move and so these cogs mashed together in a wet glue-y state and my body inched forward at a slow, unnatural pace for a time until, after enough reflection, I was able to notice the mirrors in the shadows again.  I could smell the cinnamon that I so loved once again and the smell of birthday candles emanated through the windows.  Through my well, with my soul now fitting in its new shape and place, I can travel to new worlds.

Sometimes the world needs us to move at an incredible pace.  We’re expected to know, “what’s going on.”  We’re expected to “contribute,” but we must know the sorts of things that an unknown THEY want us to know we must contribute in a way THEY want us to.  I don’t mean this as to imply some sort of deep conspiracy but more that society naturally wants us to become archetypes to fit in certain places and perform certain tasks, but what about those of us who want to stop. And think.  And learn.  Is there a place for us?  Is there a way to shut ourselves away from the world in order to pursue some sort of higher understanding of the world or to create strategies and thoughts that might go outside of the norms?  My newly formed soul asks these questions to a world made of souls who more match my previous form, the one that moved at lightspeed with a head down and hands flying across keyboards, with lips making small talk with great effort to important people.

There’s been much discussion about NaNoWriMO on the interweb as of late and although I can see how many might appreciate the support network, the online tracking and the e-mail blasts, I really only need the excuse.  I just need something to tell “the world” so that I can legitimately spend oodles of time writing without feeling the tug of my old soul and my old form pulling me back into a swirl of confusion I couldn’t fit into.  I plan to finish my novel in November, not really as a part of NaNoWriMo but because it has set the month of November as a designated writing month which I shall use to my advantage.  I won’t post on any message boards.  I won’t submit my novel at the end to win a “prize.”  In fact, I still really don’t understand how it works.  I really just want to finish my novel in a time where it’s acceptable to write.  The time is all I need.  I like my well.  I like my reclusive state because that is where the morphine drip of creativity and imagination occurs.

LITERATURE BY MURAKAMI OR THAT MURAKAMI LIKES

Haruki Murakami, “IQ84

Haruki Murakami, “Dance, Dance, Dance

Ryu Murakami, “Sixty Nine”

Banana Yoshimotos, “Kitchen

ART THAT I WOULD WANT TO HAVE IN MY WELL

Yoko Ono’s, “Grapefruit”

Hiroshige

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Rinko Kawauchi

MUSIC I WOULD WANT TO HAVE IN MY WELL

Nujabes, “Battlecry

Meiko Kaji, “The Flower of Carnage”

Akira Yamoaka, “Heaven’s Night”

MOVIES THAT I WOULD WATCH IF I COULDN’T BE IN MY WELL

Lost in Translation

Kill Bill Vol. 1

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