READING: THEN AND NOW
Recently, I finished reading a third novel by Haruki Murakami, “Sputnik Sweetheart.” As I closed the covers of the book for the last time, I had two impressions. The first was how pervasive western ideas were in much of the world. I have never been to Japan but after reading Murakmi’s work, I had the feeling I could buy a hot dog or find a good pair of jeans in the center of Tokyo. My second thought was about Murakami’s courage as he invites his reader into the dark places in his mind.
To be honest, the road he takes us along is familiar. There are only a few important questions to be raised about human existence: Why are we here? How do we make our lives meaningful? What is good and evil? What is love? Though much has been written on these questions, the answers remain elusive. One begins to wonder, after so many miss-spent words, that the human race doesn’t fall silent.
(“Student in Study” by Jan Davidsz de Heem)
But for a writer the quest is as important as the solution. Murakami fictional worlds are full of surprises. Reading him one feels awakened, as if being splashed by cold water.
When I was a college student, I would have analyzed his phrases and cross referenced his images until, like the snaring of a wild bird, I would imagine I could claim ownership of his visions. But who’s to say the connections I made were the writer’s intent and not my own inventions?
Today, I no longer presume I can penetrate the world of another. It is enough to be startled by a fresh image. Reading has become a meditation. I honor any writer who can arouse fresh thoughts in me of my own experience.