Twenty-Fifteen: I’m doing something I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m getting serious about reading, again. I’ve dusted off my paperbacks and charged up my Kindle. It’s time to take the time to feed my poor television-adled brain with a selection of healthy, nourishing fiction. So, read on, little brain. Read on. We’re going Book to the Future!
There is something motivating about seeing the shipping notice for the newest novel from your favourite author: it inspires you to read quickly, finishing the book you’re currently consuming, knowing that in less than 24 hours you’ll have no patience for the current book even if it was written by another author who, while not your favourite, is still someone you revere and respect.
Despite being a mere halfway through this novel when I set out for work this morning, I found a number of hours throughout the day –commuting, reading at lunch, and pushing through a good chunk at home this evening– to finish “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murakami.
I won’t say it was a great novel, but I enjoyed it. I won’t say it was my favourite Murakami story, but there was something haunting about it.
In the end there was just life: Tsukuru had reached a new clarity in his life and, like life, the other threads that intermingled with that transformation were just left dangling, uncertain.
Not being Japanese and only having a narrow selection of (translated) Japanese literature and film to draw my assumptions from, I will say my experience with the stories of this culture have often left me feeling all the same way: with a haunting sense of lacking resolution. I come back for more because there is something satisfying in not having a (is it a?) western-style neat-and-tidy ending, a happily ever after wrap up. In Japanese literature, or what I’ve consumed of it, I often feel like an observer to some segment of a life. It’s an important segment of course, but just like I’ve happened to tune into some meaningful fragment of a story that neither really starts or ends, but perhaps just ramps up in meaning for the span of time I’m watching it or reading it and then settles back into normalcy as it’s time to tune away. If that makes sense…?
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” is a novel filled with as much of the mundane as it is filled with philosophical musings. Teasing out what elements are important, which have meaning to the story and which are there merely to suggest the dimensionality of the setting is a complex task. The mind spins through the effort of seeking meaning in this little window, and we observe the stilted paradox of a seemingly emotionless man crippled by his emotions, a colourless and friendless being define his existence around a million different hues and a cast of characters who obviously care for him more than he can accept.
In the end there is nothing too complex about this story, but it is nuanced and deep, and it resonates with a simple kind of philosophical ennui that is at once frustrating and captivating. I think that is the point.