Monday, June 28, 2010

from Norwegian wood, Murakami

*
Midori: “I felt defenseless when my hair got short all of a sudden. As if somebody had thrown me into a crowd all naked”.

*
Midori: “Nobody likes being alone. I just hate to be disappointed”. You can use this line if you ever write your autobiography.

*
Nagasawa: I don't give a damn about power and money per se. Really, I don't. I may be a selfish bastard, but I'm incredibly cool about shit like that. I could be a Zen saint.

*
Midori: It's sad. Like if a pretty girl says 'I look terrible today, I don't want to go out,' that's O.K., but if an ugly girl says the same thing people laugh at her."

*
A florist's was open, so I went in and bought some daffodils. Daffodils in autumn: that was strange. But I had always liked that particular flower.
Three old women were the only passengers on the Sunday morning tram. They all looked at me and my flowers. One of them gave me a smile. I smiled back. I sat in the last seat and watched the ancient houses passing close to the window. The tram almost touched the overhanging eaves. The laundry deck of one house had ten potted tomato plants, next to which a big black cat lay stretched out in the sun. In the garden of another house, a little girl was blowing soap bubbles. I heard an Ayumi Ishida song coming from somewhere, and could even catch the smell of curry cooking. The tram snaked its way through this private back-alley world.

*
Midori took a tall, slim glass from the cupboard and arranged flowers in it.
...
Taking hold of the glass with the daffodils, she studied the blooms for a while.
"I don't think I'll put them in a vase," she said. "If I leave them like this, it's like I just happened to pick them by a pond somewhere and threw them into the first thing that came to hand."

*
Watanabe: I hated running out of smokes in the middle of the night. I don’t like having something control me that way.
Midori: You are very clear about what you like and what you don’t like.
- Maybe, that’s why people don’t like me. Never have.
- It’s because you show it. You make it obvious you don’t care whether people like you or not.

*
I'd love to cook a stew for you,
But I have no pot.
I'd love to knit a scarf for you,
But I have no wool.
I'd love to write a poem for you,
But I have no pen.

"It's called “Have Nothing'," Midori announced. It was a truly terrible song, both words and music.

*
"I'm looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortbread. And you stop everything you're doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortbread out to me. And I say I don't want it any more and throw it out of the window. That's what I 'm looking for."
"I'm not sure that has anything to do with love," I said with some amazement.
"It does," she said. "You just don't know it. There are times in a girl's life when things like that are incredibly important."
"Things like throwing strawberry shortbread out of the window?"
"Exactly. And when I do it, I want the man to apologize to me. "Now I see, Midori. What a fool I've been! I should have known that you would lose your desire for strawberry shortbread. I have all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of donkey shit. To make it up to you, I'll go out and buy you something else. What would you like? Chocolate mousse? Cheesecake?"'
"So then what?"
"So then I'd give him all the love he deserves for what he's done."
"Sounds crazy to me."
"Well, to me, that's what love is. Not that anyone can understand me, though." Midori gave her head a little shake against my shoulder. "For a certain kind of person, love begins from something tiny or silly. From something like that or it doesn't begin at all."

*
Another half hour and the fire was out. … Two crows had settled on nearby lamp-posts to observe the activity below.

*
Naoko (letter): When I'm absorbed in a game, though, I lose track of who are the patients and who are staff. This is kind of strange. I know this will sound strange, but when I look at the people around me during a game, they all look equally deformed.
I said this one day to the doctor in charge of my case, and he told me that, in a sense, what I was feeling was right, that we are in here not to correct the deformation but to accustom ourselves to it: that one of our problems was our inability to recognize and accept our own deformities. Just as each person has certain idiosyncrasies in the way he or she walks, people have idiosyncrasies in the way they think and feel and see things, and though you might want to correct them, it doesn't happen overnight, and if you try to force the issue in one case, something else might go funny.

*
Naoko (letter): Unable to find a place inside ourselves for the very real pain and suffering that these deformities cause, we come here to get away from such things. As long as we are here, we can get by without hurting others or being hurt by them because we know that we are "deformed". That's what distinguishes us from the outside world: most people go about their lives unconscious of their deformities, while in this little world of ours the deformities themselves are a precondition. Just as Indians wear feathers on their heads to show what tribe they belong to, we wear our deformities in the open. And we live quietly so as not to hurt one another.
In addition to playing sports, we all participate in growing vegetables: tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, watermelons, strawberries, spring onions, cabbage, daikon radishes, and so on and on. We grow just about everything. We use greenhouses, too. The people here know a lot about vegetable farming, and they put a lot of energy into it. They read books on the subject and call in experts and talk from morning to night about which fertilizer to use and the condition of the soil and stuff like that. I have come to love growing vegetables. It's great to watch different fruits and vegetables getting bigger and bigger each day. Have you ever grown watermelons? They swell up, just like some kind of little animals.

When we're not farming, we read or listen to music or knit. We don't have TV or radio, but we do have a very decent library with books and records. The record collection has everything from Mahler symphonies to the Beatles, and I'm always borrowing records to listen to in my room.

*
Black tile roofs and vinyl-sided greenhouses caught the early autumn sun and sent it back with a glare.

*
Watanabe about Reiko: There was something almost mysterious about this woman. Her face had lots of wrinkles. These were the first thing to catch your eye, but they didn't make her look old. Instead, they emphasized a certain youthfulness in her that transcended age. The wrinkles belonged where they were, as if they had been part of her face since birth. When she smiled, the wrinkles smiled with her; when she frowned, the wrinkles frowned, too. And when she was neither smiling nor frowning, the wrinkles lay scattered over her face in a strangely warm, ironic way. Here was a woman in her late thirties who seemed not merely a nice person but whose niceness drew you to her. I liked her from the moment I saw her.

*
Sleeping soundly in this flat of hers [Naoko’s], I wrung the fatigue from every cell of my body, drop by drop. I dreamed of a butterfly dancing in the half-light.
...
Going to the kitchen, I drank some water and stood there looking through the window over the sink. I was facing a window in the building opposite, on the inside of which hung several paper cut-outs - a bird, a cloud, a cow, a cat, all in skillful silhouette and joined together. As before, there was no sign of anyone about, and there were no sounds of any kind. I felt as if I were living alone in an extremely well-cared-for ruin.

*
"It's a quiet place, so people talk quietly," said Naoko. She made a neat pile of fish bones at the edge of her plate and dabbed at her mouth with a handkerchief "There's no need to raise your voice here. You don't have to convince anybody of anything, and you don't have to attract anyone's attention."

scanned & spellchecked by the blog author, as per edition

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