South of the Border, West of the Sun (More Murakami)

I finally got around to reading another Murakmi book and was, yet again, amazed at the elegance and simplicity in his writing. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but please read on at your own risk if you haven’t read it yet.

I’m actually quite happy at the moment, although from the excerpts I find myself highlighting for comment later, you’d never guess it. This book reinforced some of my views on life and dealing with the ‘difficult’ things passed along to us during our paths. One passage early on in the book touches on something I certainly believe in – that everything which you do, or have done, makes you up in to who you are. How often do we find ourselves looking back and asking “Is this really who I want to be? Is this who I set out to be?” to which, for me at least, the answer is a resounding maybe. I may not be exactly who I set out to be at the moment, but I never really set out to be anyone or anything in particular until a few years ago.

…”‘There are some things in this world that can be done over, and some that can’t. And time passing is one thing that can’t be redone. Come this far, and you can’t go back. Don’t you think so?’ … ‘After a certain length of time has passed, things harden up. Like cement hardening in a bucket. And we can’t go back anymore. What you want to say is that the cement that makes you up has hardened, so the you you are now can’t be anyone else.'”

While I agree with parts of that statement, and find it to be an interesting perspective, I don’t necessarily believe that we cannot change things if we actively seek to change them, even when centered around our most ingrained of habits. I do, however, agree with the feeling behind the words that time slips past, leaving us who we are as products of our choices and experiences. Time passes on, and we grow accordingly, because that’s life.

The accumulation of small realities

One of the most moving excerpts from the book comes and goes swiftly and is easy to miss. The author writes:

What we needed were not words and promises but the steady accumulation of small realities.

This statement is, of course, speaking to a particular relationship within the context of the novel, but can be applied universally towards relationships of any nature. We cannot force something to happen, or fall into something long lasting with words and promises, but instead need the steady accumulation of small realities. Dreams and promises are necessary, and wonderful for life, but it’s the small things and accumulation of said small things that makes it all worthwhile. My closest friends are those that I can talk to for hours, or sit side by side with for hours in comfortable silence appreciating a situation or company for the comfort that comes along with it.

Rules of attraction.

I was always attracted not by some quantifiable, external beauty, but by something deep down, something absolute. Just as some people have a secret love for rainstorms, earthquakes, or blackouts, I liked that certain undefinable something directed my way by members of the opposite sex. For want of a better word, call it magnetism. Like it or not, it’s a kind of power that snares people and reels them in.

Exactly. What is it that makes someone of the opposite sex attractive to any one of us. Sure, there are those definable qualities which one can pick up on within seconds of meeting someone, but there is also that undefinable quality, that spark which draws us in.

There is also the opposite side of the coin. One can usually tell, within moments, if that spark will grow, or if said magnetism exists.

Not that I was attracted to her. I wasn’t. She was nice, all right, and I enjoyed our time together. She was a pretty girl and, like my friend said, quite pleasant. But all those good points aside, when I asked myself if there was something in her that would bowl me over, that would zoom straight to my heart, the answer was no. Nada.

When it’s not there, it’s just not there. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve become that person to others, the guy that is nice enough, and smart enough, and can clean up nicely, but ultimately is lacking that certain something, but then I remember just how awesome I am, and project that feeling on to the other person.

All kidding aside (and I hope you realize that I was kidding – about the last part anyhow), that magnetism simply has to be there, especially at the early stages of a relationship for things to succeed.

4am Streets

The four a.m. streets looked shabby and filthy. the shadow of decay and disintegration lurked everywhere, and I was part of it. Like a shadow burned into a wall.

How quickly the color fades from the night when alone.

The moments of time linking night and dawn were long and dark. If I could cry, it might make things easier. But what would I cry over? Who would I cry for? I was too self-centered to cry for other people, too old to cry for myself.

Memory and Sensations

Because memory and sensations are so uncertain, so biased, we always rely on a certain reality- call it an alternate reality-to prove the reality of events. To what extent the facts we recognize as such really are as they seem, and to what extent these are facts merely because we label them as such, is an impossible distinction to draw. Therefore, in order to pin down reality as reality, we need another reality to relativize the first. Yet that other reality requires a third reality to serve as its grounding. An endless chain is created within our consciousness, and it is the very maintenance of this chain that produces the sensation that we are actually here, that we ourselves exist. But something can happen to sever that chain, and we are at a loss. what is real? Is reality on this side of the break in the chain? Or over there, on the other side.

Have you ever thought about something so much, so obsessively, that you begin to question reality? To question your memories and sensations? Reality and memory become blurred, leaving you confused and lost in a sea of conflicting memories and experiences.

That’s about all I have to say about that for now. Forgive the ramble and the sporadic nature of this post, I’ve slept about 20 hours in the last six days.


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One Response to “South of the Border, West of the Sun (More Murakami)”

  1. mrod Says:

    I’m glad you like the book!

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