I woke up and the hard part was over

I always dream about the same thing now, over and over. My subconscious is stuck on this and won’t let go, which makes for very upsetting dreams. It’s frustrating to go to sleep and dream about someone cheating on me, in graphic detail. I’m not really sure why this is happening. I guess I’m still holding out hope for some sort of happy end to our story, which is obviously not going to happen. I must be dreaming about it because I’m under a lot of stress, and the subject just lends itself to that sort of thing. It’s painful enough to think about it when I’m awake, but when I dreamt about it, I felt trapped. This isn’t a dream that makes you think it was a memory, it was a dream that put me there, wherever I was, and I couldn’t get out.

On the other hand, I’m taking a more positive outlook on my situation. This is the first time in several years that I’m not moving anywhere, not stressed about finding a place to live or money, and frankly, now that I think about it, I like this. For a couple of years now I’ve been super ambitious and motivated and always looking forward to the next goal, but I think it’s a good time to sit around and do nothing.

I’m going to work harder at finding a job.

Supporting other people’s dreams

I’ll continue to support other people’s ideals and dreams. It’s important for me to do so because so many people have supported me in the past, and they didn’t have to. It doesn’t affect me one way or the other, but it’s nice to do something that resembles an act of kindness once in a while.

Dreaming

I dreamt about JJ a couple of days ago, woke up and thought I’d actually seen her. Then I realized it had been a dream. The subconscious is a powerful element. How else do you explain a vivid dream where everything she says sounds perfectly logical, where I hear her laugh and see her smile and feel her hugs. I don’t even know how many weeks it has been since we’ve spoken. Like X said, I’m in the moment of remembering the good moments now.

Dreaming reminds me of Murakami. More importantly, dreaming reminds me of the DREAM Act and immigration reform, which I’ve mistakenly stopped mentioning on this blog. Please do some research on immigration reform and support the DREAM Act. For many undocumented students such as myself, it’s the only chance for a better life. At the rate my immigration petition is moving through the system, I’ll be 30 years old by the time I get a green card. I’d have been in the US for 20 years; two-thirds of my life would have been spent in California.

A couple of my Bay Area friends stopped by on the way home from the San Diego Comic Con. It’s been several months since we’ve seen each other. The last time was the Tuesday before I left Berkeley. I’d gone to San Francisco to see them and we ended up going to a Ramen restaurant in Japantown, on Post and Laguna, then drove to the Sunset to go to a Japanese dessert cafe. Today, we went to Subway and had a good hour all together before they left to drive the five hours to SF. It’s a shame Richard went to Japan and didn’t come to SDCC. Chris and Luke more than made up for his absence though. They’re wonderful people and they make me realize how lucky I’ve been to meet them.

Murakami Redux

I finished Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” a couple of days ago. I have to say that it got a lot better after page 140. I like his inclusion of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria – that plotline was the best part of the entire novel. I do feel as though the ending left me needing something more. I want to reread the whole novel but I know it will be a let down. There’s some great symbolism and dream sequences, but some of the plot components are left to their own devices and not united to form something better. There are a lot of loose threads left at the end of the novel, which annoys me a lot. Murakami could have done a lot better. Not that it was a bad novel, because it wasn’t. It just wasn’t as good as expected.

There are a lot of allusions as to the evil nature of the wind-up bird, but they don’t get played out. What’s with the buried heart and Cinnamon’s doppelganger? They don’t even mean anything, and once you read past them in the novel, they disappear. They’re not used for any sort of plot development, and this gives them the function of creating a mood. Granted, Murakami does a good job of setting the mood, but ultimately we need more than a mood. We need some sort of resolution, something more than mental conflict. Why the hell is May Kasahara even a part of the novel? I know she’s the opposite of Toru, but the whole sequence of letters from the wig factory could have been taken out.

It isn’t a bad novel, it just isn’t satisfying in the end.

Murakami

I began reading “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami this afternoon at Borders. I got through about 45 pages or so before I had to leave. Even in translation, the novel is amazing, but more on the translation later.

What I find most interesting even after only 45 pages of the novel is the sense of dread and menace that is prevalent throughout. After all, the novel is essentially about a lost cat. The protagonist is a man who has quit his job at a law office to live at home, while his wife (who may or may not be having an affair) works as a graphic designer. There’s an interesting Lolita-esque moment when the protagonist meets a 16 year old girl who has been thrown from the back of a motorcycle, and falls asleep in her yard while searching for the lost cat. Then there’s a mysterious phone call from an anonymous woman. I’m not giving very much away.

Murakami creates a very dream-like state. Nothing is really concretely described. I got confused by the spatial description of the “alley that is not an alley” and the houses surrounding it. Particularly impressive are the chapter headings, which have a main title, and two or three sub-headings. For some reason, this works really well, because throughout the chapter, all the titles are elucidated or glanced over. This gives the feel of uncertainty and some ambiguity.

The title of the novel in particular is curious. “Chronicle” implies some sort of detective story or noir. The wind-up bird does make an appearance in the first chapter, but it’s just a set piece, and isn’t of any importance for awhile, at least from my reading. I mean, it’s definitely thematically important, but it isn’t obvious, if you know what I mean.

The translation is good, but apparently the translator, Jay Rubin, who translated the “only official translation,” reduced the original novel by 15-20%, source: Amazon user review. The wikipedia article about the novel states, “Two chapters from the third volume of the original three-volume Japanese paperback edition were not included in the English translation. In addition, one of the chapters near the excluded two was moved ahead of another chapter, taking it out of the context of the original order,” sourced from this 2000 roundtable between Philip Gabriel, Rubin, and Gary Fiskjeton (Knopf editor).

How can you reduce a work by 2 chapters, when Murakami’s chapters are at least 20 pages long, and not consider how much of a change in pace and thematic control you’re creating? I’d rather read the Russian translation, which is apparently the full version. It’s true that the novel is now, in its abridged version (which is implied by the copyright page as being “adapted by Jay Rubin”), at 642 pages. It’s also true that abridging a work is a slap in the face to readers who want uncompromising quality. Why would you want an abridged version of anything? “The Brothers Karamazov” was recently (1990 being relatively recent) translated again, and there is no abridgement. By the way, that translation comes out to around 740 pages, so even if Murakami’s original text were translated, it would still be shorter than Dostoyevky’s masterpiece.

2 chapters matter, even in a 640+ page work. Simple as that. I hate reading works in translation anyway, as it just contributes to the belief that English is the most important language in the world. This also brings me to the issue of canon, but more on that in a later post. Even though I don’t speak Japanese, I speak Russian, so I can read that translation.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to Borders and finish the novel, and then maybe I’ll start on “Infinite Jest” or something.