Friday, September 01, 2006

Kafka on the Shore

From "Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel

"That's it," Oshima says. He taps his temple lightly with the eraser end of the pencil. "But there's one thing I want you to remember, Kafka. Those are exactly the kind of people who murdered Miss Saeki's childhood sweetheart. Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe. Of course it's important to know what's right and what's wrong. Individual errors in judgment can usually be corrected. As long as you have the courage to admit mistakes, things can be turned around. But intolerant, narrow minds with no imagination are like parasites that transform the host, change form, and continue to thrive. They're a lost cause, and I don't want anyone like that coming in here."

Oshima points at the stacks with the tip of his pencil. What he means, of course, is the entire library.

"I wish I could just laugh off people like that, but I can't."

I picked up this book because I'd read before that this Japanese author was Wu Bai's favorite. The price was right (and that's always a deciding factor here in Taiwan, where English books are so expensive), so I figured what the heck. I am completely inept at writing book reviews, and all I'm able to say is that this book is a marvelous tale, full of awakenings and insight, and I'm so glad I bought it. Murakami's other books are now on my list.

Prior to the above-quoted passage, Oshima mentions that these sort of people are those that T. S. Eliot called hollow men. ".....people who have no imagination.......People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they're doing. Callous people who throw a lot of empty words at you, trying to force you to do what you don't want to." I thought of Bush when I read all of this, and his entire administration. Parasites that transform the host, indeed, hollow men who lack imagination. And like Oshima, I wish I could just laugh them off.....and I, too, am frightened.

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