Saturday, December 11, 2010

408. Murakami

Knew this guy was around, had heard about him,
but never got around to reading him until now.
All has changed thanks to audiobooks dot com
and long boring drives to companies in this area
where I fight against the banks by teaching English.

No, no, it’s cool. Send no money, relax.

Thinking. Even trying not to think
takes time. Time comes down, comes
tick-tick-ticking, bong-bonging on the hour
and seems placidly set to go on forever, maybe
even beyond: tick-tick. Bong.


Stars will still shine when you are dead
having sent out their incontinent pulses of light
when your great-great grandaddy, equipped
with the coarse peculiar clothing of the time was doing
something shameful behind that hedge.

It’s all right. The stars see nothing.
They are supremely self-absorbed,
they are galactical Hindus.

There is us and then there is everyone else
ran the cosy accepted Japanese view
before Murakami drove a truck through it.
He should be arrested like Julian Assange
for this blatant display of sad soiled linen

(in which ordinary people come out looking pretty good.)

The thing about Japan you need to know is that
everything works, but you don’t know how it works,
and you’re not encouraged to ask: the buses and trains
run perfectly, so do all the shops and services,
as the government strains to produce consumer heaven
pointing at all the pink and yellow balloons in the sky
while sitting on the lid of a seething stink-ridden cesspit
of foul forbidden secrets. Ho, ho, says Murakami.

I love the casual way he goes about it.
He plays a subtle game with Japanese society,
setting up a number of running parallel stories
about everyday life in very flat and easy, almost bland language.
But then the stories becomes stranger, more menacing,
and the themes coalesce. The manically suppressed
secrets of a wound-up anal-retentive nation spill out,
blinking in the light, crouching, eyes darting for the exits,
but by now all the doors are closed. Nobody else in Japan
dares to, or can even think about doing this.