Reading Haruki Murakami changed the way I look at my life and body, especially his “What I talk When I Talk about Running.” Murakami is uncanny in bending reality to dreams, pulling their pitted strings together. What he gets out of this is a mastery over reality that is subjective. He doesn’t dive into our remote unconsciousness whose elements we share with others. His domain is consciousness which is our sole reason to be lonely. Unconsciousness has its way of surviving by feigning or by being mad. But how consciousness withstands its trauma of loneliness? Murakami answers that it creates fictions where reality is blended. So fiction becomes a removal and landing.
Man is a being that waits up on his chances, luck, alluring moments and ultimately on death. When it’s going to happen? if not today, perhaps tomorrow. But when actually? Murakami wrote in his ‘South of the Border, west of the Sun’, “’For a while’ is a phrase whose length can’t be measures. At least by the person who’s waiting.”
Do we gain an understanding of anything? What we call understanding, is not a misunderstanding from a different perspective? How should we have an understanding? Murakami has an advice, “understanding is but the sum of misunderstanding”. Nonetheless one should have a talent to do so, to put together his misunderstandings.
Man learns the strange lesson of life when he is sure that he has footed in death. Death grows up to be a measure of our regrets. So we should look closely at others death and learn to dissolve our regrets. Then we may be able to weep for our dead ones, dissolving their regrets. This is what Murakami tells in “Dance Dance Dance”, “People die all the time. Life is lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets, fairly, and if possible, sincerely.It’s too easy to not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person who dies.” In ‘Norwegian Wood’, he also wrote that “death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life.”
I love Western philosophy more than Indian philosophy due to its hammer effect. If Indian philosophy is a gentle breeze, the Western philosophy is a whirlwind. If Indian philosophy settles us, the Western philosophy unsettles us. Murakami perhaps is a man who loves storms more than gentle winds. He wrote in ‘Kafka on the Shore’, “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person walked in. That’s what the storm is about.”
Our biggest problem is that we expect too much love from life and we consciously probe whether the person whom we love deserves our love. Murakami ask us just love even those who don’t deserve our love, “If you can love someone with whole heart, even one person, then there is salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.”
Our poignancy about life is quite pointless. To be human is to be imperfect and sometimes worthless. We need to embrace this pointless things about life and laugh away the foolishness that is to be human. “remove everything pointless from an imperfect life and it’d lose even its imperfection”. We should not uproot our failings, when we do so, we are uprooting our instincts.
Man’s head is positioned upward, still its greatest utility lies in looking back. There is no use in going to future if we can’t look back to our past. Perhaps we move forwards to look backward. “A person’s destiny is something you look back at afterward, not something to be known in advance” writes Murakami.
Dreams may not become reality but reality can become a dream! This is something Murakami discovered, “When it’s all over, it’ll we seem like a dream.” After everything there is still time to dream.
I am comfortable with the person who has beliefs which are contrary to mine. But I can’t stand people who have convictions which are my beliefs. Nobody can fool a fool because he is already a fool. But we can make fool a man who thinks he is intelligent. “Nobody is easier to fool, than the person who’s convinced that he is right.”
According to Philosopher Heidegger the greatest possibility of man is death. We need to order our life to become worthy of that possibility. Modern technology has provided man with so much possibility that has rendered man oblivious of his destiny. Murakami points to this exhausting nature of possibilities when he wrote “possibilities are like cancer. The more you think about them, the more they multiply and there is no way to stop them”
The proverb says that those who live by the sword will die by it. We all have specific forms where in lies our particularity and individuality. We are going to die because of this particularity embodied in the from we possess. “No one could say that how long that life would last. Whatever has form can disappear in an instant.” How to deal with ephemeral quality of life? Murakami advices, “Life is so uncertain: You never know what would happen.One way to deal with that is to keep your pyjamas clean.”
Are you that sort of person who easily get irritated? Murakami is against you, “To get irritated is to get lose our ways in life”
I enjoyed his book on running, ‘What I Talk about When I Talk about Running’ as much as his novels. This book is about his passion of running. He prides himself in becoming a marathon runner. He says it has shaped his life and his writing.
From a physical activity like running, Murakami creates an ethic exploring its philosophy like Somerset Maugham who wrote, “In each shave lies a philosophy”
Running especially marathon is an exhausting activity, it can leave cramps all over body. Murakami pushed the limit of his bodily enduring following the advice he got from a fellow runner: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”
Why he is passionate about running? Perhaps it helped him to evict the driftness of life, “sometimes when I think of life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on shore.” I became envious of the way he was absorbing the surrounding while running, “As I run, the trade winds blowing in from the direction of the lighthouse rustle the leaves of the eucalyptus over my head.”
Running defies gravity. But everything that runs out of gravity falls into a void,”I just run. I run in a void. Or may be I should put other way: I run in order to acquire a void.” It is in this void that our consciousness makes us aware of the fact that we are lonely. Loneliness is a remedy as well as sickness. Its a double edged sword. So you must have mastery over its use, if not, it will hurt you badly. One cannot write without being solitary and solitude is painful like death. Murakami uses his daily running to his stride to put solitude in context, “That’s what I basically believe, and I have lived my life accordingly. In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is , more or less, inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like an acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away the person’s heart and dissolve it.” I think it can happen to priests and nuns. If they don’t manage their loneliness well, they can turn out to be quite heartless.
The Soliude which able to write also cut him away at his inside. In running he heals his wounds, “By running it’s like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent.” I may not have any share in Murakami’s genius but I am definitely in par with his vice. I always thought that I have a special talent to make others to dislike me. So when I read his confession that “I just can’t picture someone liking me on a personal level. Being disliked by someone, hated and despised, somehow seems more natural”, i felt relieved of finding a kindred spirit.
In running Murakami is not seeking a physical strength. More than his muscles, his mind becomes active through a kind of relapsing. “As I run I tell myself to think of a river. And clouds. But essentially I’m not thinking of a thing. All I do is keeping on running in my own cozy homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is pretty wonderful thing. No matter what everybody else says.”
The best thing I can do in this world is reading what others have written. My greatest fear is dying without reading books like The Man without Qualities. I also write some things. But compared to reading, writing is very hard, Perhaps more tougher than any physical activity. Thats why I’m not up to it besides my being not talented. What I admire in Murakami is his sincerity. Murakami in his sincerity both comforts and startles me. I’m facing myself when I read these words of Murakami. “I look up the sky, wondering if I’ll catch glimpses of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably should not be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative, often self centred nature that still doubts itself-that when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in sports. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”
Murakami is not in the rank of Kafka or Robert Musil. Murakami’s success lies in is ability to make things visible, in transmitting his ideas clearly and without any fuss. He is unusually accessible. He surprises us with his ordinary gestures. And this is the greatest lesson I have Learnt from Murakami: “To be able grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts.” Perhaps, that’s what I do now.