Rolled Monk

Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Dancing to the tunes of a mad man?

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm

How does one describe a Murakami novel? The impact it makes on a person must surely vary; for if it didn’t, it would stop being a Murakami novel. Every book of his is an experience and I seem to become a different person after reading each one of them (short stories included). Now I am not conceited enough to claim that I understand him or his stories. Sometimes I don’t even believe he knows what he is writing about. He is possessed and he passes on bits and pieces of whatever possesses him through his characters; in various shapes and sizes.

One of the major themes in his books is loneliness. I suspect every metaphor he uses somehow alludes to loneliness. But I lack the skill to grasp their significance completely – maybe because it is a cultural phenomenon. Loneliness doesn’t come easily to us Indians… or maybe it does, I don’t know; this is what happens to me after every book of his and this is the first time I am trying to pen down my thoughts.

So I will try and talk about this latest book of his that I had just completed: Dance Dance Dance. I seem to have done a lot of dancing in the time it took me to finish this book; which was over a week. I was yet to start my prestigious stint as a management trainee before; and now, I have completed almost a week in the job. So I too have passed through a wall, disintegrated to bits and pieces, and reassembled at another point in life, not unlike the narrator of this novel. People don’t disappear that easily.

Another similarity between the book and my week thus far has been the setting: a five-star hotel; an ambience I claim no affinity to. Company provided accommodation and thus it’s a part of my new job description. But here I differ from the narrator in the sense that he is driven to go there by an inner calling and his entire world goes for a toss; actually towards the end it doesn’t. [SPOILER ALERT: just kidding! Nobody can spoil a Murakami novel]

It all boiled down to sex. How typical, isn’t it? Or maybe it isn’t. With my ability to grasp metaphors being as poor as they are, probably that is all I am able to interpret from this book. 380 odd pages of beautiful prose condense to a few scenes of love-making between the narrator and Yumiyoshi. What was that all about?

As of this moment I am very tempted to abandon giving form to my thoughts and just google the novel out; see what the erudite think about it. Surely there must be some amazing perspectives out there which could connect all the threads and explain what really happened. Why, Murakami himself might have offered an open-ended, if not conclusive explanation somewhere. But something is stopping me. A nagging feeling that tells me I would feel cheated of an experience if I had somebody else interpret Murakami for me; even Murakami himself. Weird right?

But coming back to the book and the theme of loneliness I mentioned, I think it was the narrator’s quest for forming connections that drove the plot on. To put it in more clichéd terms, it was his search for love. And he finds it too. In Mei; in Kiki; in Gotanda; in Yuki; in Yumiyoshi; in Dick; in Ame; in the sheep man; even in Makimura and Bookish. He connects with all of them. He is a shadow who can alter his persona around people – and yet he is not dishonest or hypocritical. He tries to make everyone around him happy without even realizing that’s what he is doing. That’s probably why I don’t hate him. It may also be the reason why I connect with him for this is the trait I think is needed in a person who is embarking on a sales career as I am. Wow!  

In most of his stories, Murakami, doesn’t mention the name of the narrator. I think it is a technique he employs very efficiently; for, in my case at least, I think it is my life that is unfolding in front of me. I am just an objective observer trying to make sense of it all and in the end I come out of it more confused and slightly bemused. And thus I end up neither loving nor hating the narrator. Just disinterested; like my feelings toward the Senegalese national anthem.

Now this brings me to another important point: I have concluded that this book is about the narrator trying to find love; and he does seem to be basking in its glory towards the end. But he is still insecure. Why is that? I think it is because he is too objective; too rational; He doesn’t love himself and he doesn’t hate himself too – he just has no interest. Maybe that’s why life is too tough for him. He wills it to be so. Therefore in an attempt to add sanity to the book and to my interpretation of it too in the process, I am going to introduce a takeaway from this all. And as clichéd as it might be, I think it makes sense: Learn to love yourself. Look for love within.