reading list 2013: january

Reading Haruki Murakmai’s 1Q84 is a release from self egotism.

Allow me to explain.

The world of 1Q84 is like a dark, dark fairytale.

Not the world we are familiar within Disney films, illustrated children’s books and  television culture that focuses on adapting the last century’s conception of what entails a suitable story for youths, but the type of fairy tale that describes how the reality of the world, or at least the perception we assume it to be, is not quite what it seems.

The protagonists of the story begin to realize that the little details of differences, that the other characters take for granted, are signs that are inhabiting a different world from their own. In this world of 1Q84, according to the ‘Leader’, ” (in their world) there is no absolute good, no absolute evil… Good and evil are not fixed, stable entities but are continually trading places. A good entity may be transformed into an evil entity in the next second. And vice versa.

Such was the way of the world that Dostoevsky depicted in The Brothers Karamazov. The the most important thing is to maintain the balance between the constantly moving good and evil. If you lean too much in either direction, it becomes difficult to maintain actual morals. Indeed, balance itself is the good.” (x)

We are of little significance to the entities that last for countless ages, mountains, dwellers of the ocean depths, particles floating in the universe outside of our atmosphere. Humanity’s actions and thoughts are of trivial importance to them. Aomame notes that “human beings, (themselves) are ultimately nothing but carriers—passageways—for genes. (Our genes) ride us into the ground like racehorses from generation to generation. Genes don’t think about what constitutes good or evil. They don’t care whether we are happy or unhappy. We’re just a means to an end for them. The only thing they think about is what is most efficient for them.” (x)  And yet there’s a counter argument to that fact, that these same actions that we believe to act on our own, can affect a series of events like the protagonist and her lover choices over their unborn child, that will shape the course of the gradually rise of a tidal wave into a typhoon.

Overall, my understanding from reading the book, and by the book, I am referring to the underlying message and not the narrative elements or structure (for not are we often told that if we wished people to remember, that we would tell them a story?) is a lesson in humanity’s curious ability to blend strength and weaknesses. Murakami’s underlying message is a portrayal of the humanity’s ability to simultaneously be powerlessness in the face of events occurring outside of their control, and yet, also possessing the ability to alter the outcome by the sheer force of will and determination.

I was reminded me of a vivid experience of powerlessness, when I first learned of the future of Earth. That, once upon a time, the continents of this planet Earth were once one solid land mass known as Pangaea, the last supercontinent to form before the present, and forming about 300 million years ago before dividing into different continents surrounded by the oceans. But did you know that ultimately, the continents will someday reconnect again? That by 100 million years from the present, “the continental spreading will have reached its maximum extent and the continents will then begin to coalesce.

In 250 million years, North America will collide with Africa while South America will wrap around the southern tip of Africa. The result will be the formation of a new supercontinent (sometimes called Pangaea Ultima), with the Pacific Ocean stretching across half the planet.” (Introversion) It was somewhat of a shock.

Essentially, the underlying message that I derived from Murakami’s 1Q84 is of the overwhelming realization of our individual role or our perceived role in existence/reality is never what it seems to be.