"It was a me outside of me... it was me in a form that shouldn't have been me!"

Archive for the ‘Added by Katrina Kocialkowska’ Category

“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.” – book reviews

In Added by Katrina Kocialkowska on March 11, 2011 at 1:53 am

“As in his novels, Murakami’s central fascination is with the essential strangeness and unfathomability of life. (…) In story after story, seemingly ordinary people relay instantly engrossing histories — often through a writer named Murakami — that turn on coincidence or surreal elements and blur the line between dreams and reality.” –Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor

“In Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, the 25 stories juxtapose the deeply bizarre with the mundane to evoke fleeting moods of sadness, hope, nostalgia, and dread.” –Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly

“In many of these stories, narrative tension is prolonged by a refusal to explain (…..) The stories in this collection have all of Murakami’s characteristic strangeness, but they combine the strangeness with structure. They show him at his very best; not as a cult novelist but as a really first-rate writer of short fiction. (…) The lasting effect is not that of a Japanese writer trying to write about the west, but of a writer whose relationship with his own culture is as complex, strange and powerful as the stories he creates.” –Tobias Hill, The Guardian

“If Murakami’s novels are grand enigmas, his stories are bite-sized conundrums. (…) The great pleasure of the new story collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, is watching Murakami come at his obsessions from so many different angles. There’s a panoply of strangeness between these covers (…..) This collection shows Murakami at his dynamic, organic best. As a chronicler of contemporary alienation, a writer for the Radiohead age, he shows how taut and thin our routines have become, how ill-equipped we are to contend with the forces that threaten to disrupt us.” – Antoine Wilson, The Los Angeles Times

“Whatever the sources of their inspiration, the stories inBlind Willow, Sleeping Woman are nothing like a serious critical evaluation of a national identity. These stories are a succession of disparate and abstracted discontents that do not add up to a political position. A protest against the universe is a pre-political protest, crippled by its own generality, best carried out by teenagers and lunatics. What redeems Murakami’s writing from its puerility is its aestheticism: its haunting imagery, its credible voices, its allegorical play, its skill for surprise.” – Chloë Schama, The New Republic

“Haruki Murakami’s fictional world is extraordinary, but within the indisputable and beguiling weirdness that lurks below the casual-seeming surface, there is often a core that is disappointingly commonplace or even banal. (…) Too many stories use loneliness as a predictable plot device rather than a discovery about feeling. Characters have off-the-peg existential crises, resulting in sweating and vomiting for men, and silent tears and shoulder-shaking sobs for women.” – Tom Deveson, The Sunday Times

“Each of us possesses a tangible, living soul.” Haurki Murakami on people and stories

In Added by Katrina Kocialkowska, Haruki Murakami on March 11, 2011 at 1:52 am

From Haruki Murakami‘s acceptance of the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society .

“Please do allow me to deliver one very personal message. It is something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the wall: rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something like this:

“Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.”

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?

What is the meaning of this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells are that high, solid wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians who are crushed and burned and shot by them.

This is not all, though. It carries a deeper meaning. Think of it this way. Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: it is “the System.” The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others — coldly, efficiently, systematically.

I have only one reason to write novels, and that is to bring the dignity of the individual soul to the surface and shine a light upon it. The purpose of a story is to sound an alarm, to keep a light trained on the System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them. I fully believe it is the novelist’s job to keep trying to clarify the uniqueness of each individual soul by writing stories — stories of life and death, stories of love, stories that make people cry and quake with fear and shake with laughter. This is why we go on, day after day, concocting fictions with utter seriousness.

My father died last year at the age of 90. He was a retired teacher and a part-time Buddhist priest. When he was in graduate school, he was drafted into the army and sent to fight in China. As a child born after the war, I used to see him every morning before breakfast offering up long, deeply felt prayers at the Buddhist altar in our house. One time I asked him why he did this, and he told me he was praying for the people who had died in the battlefield. He was praying for all the people who died, he said, both ally and enemy alike. Staring at his back as he knelt at the altar, I seemed to feel the shadow of death hovering around him.

My father died, and with him he took his memories, memories that I can never know. But the presence of death that lurked about him remains in my own memory. It is one of the few things I carry on from him, and one of the most important.

I have only one thing I hope to convey to you today. We are all human beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, fragile eggs faced with a solid wall called the System. To all appearances, we have no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong — and too cold. If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls and from the warmth we gain by joining souls together.

Take a moment to think about this. Each of us possesses a tangible, living soul. The System has no such thing. We must not allow the System to exploit us. We must not allow the System to take on a life of its own. The System did not make us: We made the System. That is all I have to say to you.”

Murakami on fiction for an unreal world

In Added by Katrina Kocialkowska, Haruki Murakami on March 11, 2011 at 1:47 am

Over the past 30 years, I have written fiction in various forms ranging from short stories to full-length novels. The story has always been one of the most fundamental human concepts. While each story is unique, it functions for the most part as something that can be shared and exchanged with others. That is one of the things that gives a story its meaning. Stories change form freely as they inhale the air of each new age. In principle a medium of cultural transmission, stories are highly variable when it comes to the mode of presentation they employ. Like skilled fashion designers, we novelists clothe stories, as they change shape from day to day, in words suited to their figures.

Viewed from such a professional perspective, it would seem that the interface between us and the stories we encounter underwent a greater change than ever before at some point when the world crossed (or began to cross) the millennial threshold. Whether this was a change for the good or a less welcome change, I am in no position to judge. About all I can say is that we can probably never go back to where we started.

Speaking for myself, one of the reasons I feel this so strongly is the fact that the fiction I write is itself undergoing a perceptible transformation. The stories inside me are steadily changing form as they inhale the new atmosphere. I can clearly feel the movement happening inside my body. Also happening at the same time, I can see, is a substantial change in the way readers are receiving the fiction I write.

There has been an especially noteworthy change in the posture of European and American readers. Until now, my novels could be seen in 20th-century terms, that is, to be entering their minds through such doorways as “post-modernism” or “magic realism” or “Orientalism”; but from around the time that people welcomed the new century, they gradually began to remove the framework of such “isms” and accept the worlds of my stories more nearly as-is. I had a strong sense of this shift whenever I visited Europe and America. It seemed to me that people were accepting my stories in toto — stories that are chaotic in many cases, missing logicality at times, and in which the composition of reality has been rearranged. Rather than analyzing the chaos within my stories, they seem to have begun conceiving a new interest in the very task of how best to take them in.

By contrast, general readers in Asian countries never had any need for the doorway of literary theory when they read my fiction. Most Asian people who took it upon themselves to read my works apparently accepted the stories I wrote as relatively “natural” from the outset. First came the acceptance, and then (if necessary) came the analysis. In most cases in the West, however, with some variation, the logical parsing came before the acceptance. Such differences between East and West, however, appear to be fading with the passing years as each influences the other.

We often wonder what it would have been like if 9/11had never happened — or at least if that plan had not succeeded so perfectly. Then the world would have been very different from what it is now. America might have had a different president (a major possibility), and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might never have happened (an even greater possibility).

Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put it in different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world. What can we possibly call this if not “chaos”?

What kind of meaning can fiction have in an age like this? What kind of purpose can it serve? In an age when reality is insufficiently real, how much reality can a fictional story possess?

…In that sense, at the same time that fiction (story) is presently undergoing a severe test, it possesses an unprecedented opportunity. Of course fiction has always been assigned responsibility and questions to deal with in every age, but surely the responsibility and questions are especially great now. Story has a function that it alone can perform, and that is to “turn everything into a story.” To transform the things and events around us into the metaphor of the story form and to suggest the true nature of the situation in the dynamism of that substitution: that is story’s most important function.

Biologist and British science fiction writer Paul McAuley, author of the very good the Quiet War andGardens of the Sun, reflect on how science fiction has largely failed to engage the world Murakami evokes but has the potential to do so in his response to Murakami’s article:

As a science-fiction writer, I find Murakami’s ideas incredibly interesting. And hopeful. Or rather, potentially hopeful. For something similar should have happened to science fiction, shouldn’t it? After all, catastrophes and sudden shifts in perception are part of its stock in trade. But instead of confronting Reality A, the genre has, in the first decade of the 21st century, too often turned to its own comforting version of Reality B: retreating into pleasant little pulpish daydreams in which starships still effortlessly span a galaxy where a guy can turn a profit, or where technology is as controllable as clockwork and the actions of individuals can still make a mark on history. Meanwhile, they grumble, ‘mainstream’ writers are grabbing ideas from the genre and doing terrible things to them without acknowledging the source. As if permission could be somehow given, or withheld.

I prefer the point of view of William Gibson, who has pointed out that the only way to tackle the place we’re in now is to use the science-fiction toolkit – the tropes, images and metaphor developed from the crude flint hammers of pulp by decades of cooperative effort and argument. If other writers are using the science-fiction toolkit to evolve new kinds of stories in the present’s different air, that’s exactly what we should be doing, too. Forget the past. Especially the pasts of all those great glorious science-fiction futures, lost when it all changed. Look again at the future. Embrace change. Let go. If only. If only.

Read the full article “Resilience Science” by Garry Peterson: http://rs.resalliance.org

Murakami’s representation of the “self”.

In Added by Katrina Kocialkowska on March 11, 2011 at 1:17 am

Consciousness is variously defined as subjective experienceawareness, the ability to experience “feeling“, wakefulness, the understanding of the concept “self“, or the executive control system of the mind. It is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of mental phenomena.Although humans realize what everyday experiences are, consciousness has been difficult to define, philosophers note (e.g. John Searle inThe Oxford Companion to Philosophy):

“Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”
—Schneider and Velmans, 2007

A person’s self-image is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (heightweighthair colorgenderI.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experiences or byinternalizing the judgments of others. A simple definition of a person’s self-image is their answer to this question – “What do you believe people think about you?” A more technical term for self-image that is commonly used by social and cognitive psychologists is self-schema. Like any schema, self-schemas store information and influence the way we think and remember.

Introspection is the self-observation and reporting of conscious inner thoughtsdesires and sensations. It is a conscious mental and usually purposive process relying on thinking,reasoning, and examining one’s own thoughts, feelings, and, in more spiritual cases, one’s soul. It can also be called contemplation of one’s self, and is contrasted with extrospection, the observation of things external to one’s self. Introspection may be used synonymously with and in a similar way to human self-reflection. It is used greatly as a spiritual examination.

Introspection is like the activity described by Plato when he asked, “…why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?”

Philosophy of mind is a branch of modern analytic philosophy that studies the nature of the mindmental eventsmental functionsmental propertiesconsciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind-body problem, i.e. the relationship of the mind to the body, is commonly seen as the central issue in philosophy of mind, although there are other issues concerning the nature of the mind that do not involve its relation to the physical body.

Article has been based on the WikiPedia www.wikipedia.org

What is the atmosphere like? In what way Murakami describes the mood of the setting…

In Added by Katrina Kocialkowska, Haruki Murakami, The Mirror on March 11, 2011 at 12:05 am


“It was a miserable night. The wind was getting stronger and stronger, and the air was growing increasingly damp

The pool gate kept banging open and shut like a lunatic bobbing and shaking his head senselessly. It was totally irregular: yes, yes, no, yes, no, no, no… like that…

I know that’s a really odd way to put it, but at the time that’s what it felt like… The last checkpoint was the boiler room, next to the cafeteria, on the far east side of the school. Unfortunately, the janitor’s room was on the far west side of the school. As a result, I had to walk the whole length of the first floor corridor on my way back to the janitor’s room. Naturally, it was pitch black. When the moon was out, a little light penetrated into the hallway, but if not, you couldn’t see a thing. I’d make my way back shining the flashlight right in front of me. Since there was a typhoon close by that night, naturally the moon wasn’t out. Every once in a while there would be a flash of lightning, and then darkness once again.

‘What the…?!?.’ It was like I could make out a figure in the darkness. Just out of the corner of my eye. I fixed my grip on the sword, and turned in that direction. In a heartbeat, I trained the beam of my flashlight there. It was a spot on the wall next to the shoe rack.
And there I was. That is to say–it was a mirror. There was nothing there except my own image reflecting back at me. The mirror must have just been installed, and hadn’t been there the day before. That’s why it had caught me off guard. I felt immensely relieved and totally stupid all at once. You dumbshit, I thought to myself. Still standing in front of the mirror, I set the flashlight down, fished a cigarette out of my pocket, and lit it. I had a smoke staring at myself in the mirror. A tiny bit of light from a street lamp came in through the window, and that light reached the mirror. The clanging sound of the pool gate could be heard coming from behind me…

But at that time, the only thing I understood for certain was that the person staring back at me hated me from the very depths of his soul. It was a hatred like a dark iceberg, a hatred that no one could cure. That was the only thing I could understand.”

The comparison of the Reflection’s soul to an Iceberg

Hatred (or hate) is a deep and emotional extreme dislike, directed against a certain object or class of objects.

Self-hatredself-loathing, also sometimes autophobia refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself.

What is a Typhoon?

typhoon is a tropical cyclone  that develops in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ocean  between 180 and 100 E. For organizational purposes, the northern Pacific Ocean is divided into three regions: the eastern (North America to ), central (140°W to 180°), and western (180° to 100°E). A Pacific typhoon, then, is a tropical cyclone in the northern Pacific Ocean west of 180°. Identical phenomena in the eastern north Pacific are called hurricanes, with tropical cyclones moving into the Western Pacific re-designated as typhoons. The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for tropical cyclone forecasts is in Japan, with other tropical cyclone warning centers for the northwest Pacific in Honolulu (the Joint Typhoon Warning Center), the Philippines, and Hong Kong.( www.wikipedia.org)

Ken Adam on his set design

In Added by Katrina Kocialkowska, Cinematography on March 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm