Haruki Murakami’s new book, Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage, is receiving critical acclaim, most recently from Rivka Galchen. (“The Monkey did it,” By Rivka Galchen, Harper’s Magazine, October 2014, pgs. 86-89.) I haven’t read Murakami’s newest work yet, but it should be no secret to anyone who reads these blogs that I am a fan of his work. (Blogs 8/1/12, & 6/5/13). For the most part, Galchen’s remarks about Murakami’s style are on the mark; but when she speaks of his “ghostly world,” (Ibid pg. 87) I feel I must object. Murakami doesn’t reach into the past for worlds that are dead. He explores the quantum world of blurred edges.
One of the reasons I feel I am right is the way he goes about developing his novels. Like me, he doesn’t begin with a plan but seeks to tap into the unformed unconscious as a way of discovering new worlds.
When I start to write a story… I don’t know the conclusion at all and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. If there is a murder case as the first thing, I don’t know who the killer is. I write the book because I would like to find out. (Ibid pg. 87.)
Consciousness, we know, occupies a small part of our brains. It sits upon the foundation provided by the unconscious and may well be its pawn rather than its master. Studies indicate that decisions we think we reach at the conscious level may be made in the dark world of the unconscious. I move my arm, not by choice, but because I’m executing an unrecognized command. If the supposition is true, then who is the unmoved mover inside us?
Murakami’s quest throughout his works is to seek the unmoved mover, that keeper of vast worlds and multiple realities. The mind leads a quantum existence — unstable because as we search for it, truth changes, altered by our attempts at discovery. A quantum writer knows that he or she does not create insight but must wait passively for a truth which is insubstantial as smoke. Writing becomes a meditation on the quixotic.
If Murakami’s worlds seem incomplete, he makes no apology. That is the nature of the quantum world. His stories begin with a finite boundary, as Galchen observes. But it is also true, as with my novel, Trompe l’Oeil, that the goal of the quantum writer is to “recede forever inward.” (Ibid, pg. 88.)