Thursday, May 8, 2008

Geisha, Interrupted

Bar Flower, a novel written by Lea Jacobson, now takes a place among my stash of favored literature. Her writing is eloquent and intelligent, thoughtful and easy-to-read, otherwise described as straight forward - with no guessing at metaphors and vocabulary. All in all, a very skilled artist. In the wake of my increasing thirst for all things Japanese and the country's darker underpinnings - including those of hostess clubs and virulent prostitution - Bar Flower emerged at precisely the right time. Lea keeps a blog called Geisha, Interrupted that is equally engulfing for the reader. A homage to her life in Tokyo, Japan.

My thoughts today have nothing to do with her book and the world of hostess clubs, but rather Haruki Murakami, who writes in his latest book After Dark this poignant paragraph, chosen by Lea and advocated by myself...

Archetype and Octopus

The following is a passage from page 92 of After Dark, the latest Haruki Murakami novel in English translation. For some reason I found it so brilliant, and, so perfectly bizarre!

* * *

Takahashi: "As I sat in court, though, and listened to the testimonies of the witnesses and the speeches of the prosecuters and the arguments of the defense attorneys and the statements of the defendants, I became a lot less sure of myself. ...To my eyes, this system I was observing, this 'trial' thing itself, began to take on the appearance of some special, weird creature."

Mari: "Weird creature?"

Takahashi: "Like, say, an octopus. A giant octopus living way down deep at the bottom of the ocean. It has this tremendously powerful life force, a bunch of long, undulating legs, and it's heading somewhere, moving through the darkness of the ocean. I'm sitting there listening to these trials, and all I can see in my head is this creature. It takes on all kinds of different shapes- sometimes it's 'the nation,' and sometimes it's 'the law,' and sometimes it takes on shapes that are more difficult and dangerous than that. You can try cutting off its legs, but they just keep growing back. Nobody can kill it. It's too strong, and it lives too far down in the ocean. Nobody knows where its heart is. What I felt then was a deep terror. And a kind of hopelessness, a feeling that I could never run away from this thing, no matter how far I went. And this creature, this thing doesn't give a damn that I'm me or you're you. In its presence, all human beings lose their names and faces. We all turn into signs, into numbers....What I want to say is probably something like this: any single human being, no matter what kind of person he or she may be, is all caught up in the tentacles of this animal like a giant octopus, and getting sucked into the darkness. You can put any kind of spin on it you like, but you end up with the same unbearable spectacle."

No comments: