After Dark – Haruki Murakami
September 19, 2009 § 8 Comments
It’s not as if our lives are divided simply into light and dark. There’s a shadowy middle ground.
There is so much about this book that I like and find thought provoking, but this quote sums up quite a bit of my thoughts about the book. Yet again, Murakami presents to me a story that is as embedded in reality as it is floating in fantasy.
The story telling technique used in this book is rather unusual, but unusual is what I’ve come to expect of Murakami and his writing. We are told right from the beginning that we are only a viewpoint, a camera floating in space, not having the capacity to participate in all that happens. Like camera viewports, we can only see what is within the rectangular frame, and we make up the rest of what we can’t view with our own imaginations.
This book reads much like watching a movie, but gives us the insight of a book. It is very intriguing, to say the least, as it’s not every day that I come across such a story. It’s almost like a study of contrasts, pulling into pieces the workings of a movie while keeping to the formalities of a book, jumping from place to place while still keeping within the same time frame.
And like most Japanese work that I’ve read, there is substantial reference to light and shadow.
Mari asks the bartender, “Don’t you ever play anything but LPs?”
“I don’t like CDs,” he replies.
“They’re too shiny.”
This little piece of conversation here reminded me much of Tanizaki’s work, In Praise of Shadows. Perhaps we don’t really realise it, but the gadgets and tools that we use these days do seem to carry that shiny tinge with it, like as if it is a given that modern people like all things that shine and sparkle.
The mask possesses equal levels of sorcery and functionality. It has been both handed down from ancient times with darkness and sent back from the future with light.
Again here, Murakami refers to the past as darkness, and the future as light. Again it implies how we perceive light and shadow, and how darkness and all the subtleties that come associated with it have now become undesirable.
This here is a story, I feel, about balance. There is this world, and then there is that other world. They both exist together, feed off each other, and both will cease to exist if any one disappears. There is an endless connection from me to you and back to me again. No matter how insignificant we feel about ourselves, or how far apart we may be, there is this web of connectivity that keeps all things in balance.
This may not be my favourite Murakami read so far, but it has been one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in quite a while. Hence my rather weird review of the book, which reads more like my own little tangent flying off from a couple of phrases picked out of the book. That’s probably why I call these posts my “thoughts”, rather than reviews, because more often than not, I tend to fly off tangents and write about things that may or may not concern the actual book.
But I digress.
This is, truly, a great piece of writing.