Thursday, July 01, 2010

quotes from Murakami's Norwegian Wood

*
I could not begin to imagine why any dog would have to go around sniffing flowers on a rainy day.

*
The world around me was on the verge of great transformations. Death had already taken John Coltrane who was joined now by so many others. People screamed there'd be revolutionary changes - which always seemed to be just ahead, at the curve in the road. But the "changes" that came were just two-dimensional stage sets, backdrops without substance or meaning. I trudged along through each day in its turn, rarely looking up, eyes locked on the never-ending swamp that lay before me, planting my right foot, raising my left, planting my left foot, raising my right, never sure where I was, never sure I was headed in the right direction, knowing only that I had to keep moving, one step at a time.

*
"My window looks out on a big garden, which is used as a meeting place by all the neighbourhood cats. I like to stretch out on the veranda and watch them. I'm not sure how many of them get together, but this is one big gang of cats. They sunbathe in groups. I don't think they're too pleased to see me living here, but once when I put out an old chunk of cheese a few of them crept over and nibbled it. They'll probably be friends of mine before too long. There's one striped torn cat in the bunch with half-eaten ears. It's amazing how much he looks like my old dorm Head. I expect him to start raising the flag any day now".

*
...and now he was taking it easy, house and land had been in the family for a long time, children were grown-up and independent, and he could manage a comfortable old age without working. Which is why he and his wife were always travelling together.
“That’s nice," I said.
“No it's not," he answered. "Travelling is no fun. I'd much rather be working."

*
A class reunion was the last thing I wanted to have anything to do with.

*
The afternoon deepened, twilight approached, and bluish shadows enveloped the garden. Seagull disappeared, but I went on staring at the cherry blossoms. In the spring gloom, they looked like flesh that had burst through the skin over festering wounds. The garden filled up with the sweet, heavy stench of rotting flesh.
[…] I spent three full days after that all but walking on the bottom of the sea. I could hardly hear what people said to me, and they had just as much trouble catching anything I had to say. My whole body felt enveloped in some kind of membrane, cutting off any direct contact between me and the outside world. I couldn't touch "them", and "they" couldn't touch me. I was utterly helpless, and as long as I remained in that state, "they" were unable to reach out to me.
I sat leaning against the wall, staring up at the ceiling. When I felt hungry I would nibble anything within reach, drink some water, and when the sadness of it got to me, I'd knock myself out with whisky. I didn't bathe, I didn't shave. This is how the three days went by.

*
A small glass full of anemones stood by the window.

*
April was too lonely a month to spend all alone. In April, everyone around me looked happy. People would throw off their coats and enjoy each other's company in the sunshine - talking, playing catch, holding hands. But I was always by myself. Naoko, Midori, Nagasawa: all of them had gone away from where I stood. Now I had no one to say "Good morning" to or "Have a nice day".

*
We stared at the crescent moon hanging over Inokashira Park and drank our Chivas Regal to the last drop.

*
Reiko on Naoko: "That girl had everything worked out for herself. I'm sure that's why she was so full of energy and smiling and healthy-looking. It must have been such a load off her mind to feel she knew exactly what she was going to do. So then we finished going through her stuff and throwing what she didn't need into the metal drum in the garden and burning it: the notebook she had used as a diary, and all the letters she had received. Your letters, too. This seemed a bit strange to me, so I asked her why she was burning stuff like that. I mean, she had always been so careful about putting your letters away in a safe place and reading them over and over. She said, I'm getting rid of everything from the past so I can be reborn in the future.' I suppose I pretty much took her at her word. It had its own kind of logic to it, sort of. I remember thinking how much I wanted her to get healthy and happy. She was so sweet and lovely that day: I wish you could have seen her!

We had the windows wide open, but there was hardly a breath of wind. It was black as ink outside, the grasshoppers were screaming, and the smell of the summer grass was so thick in the room it was hard to breathe.
[…] She fell sound asleep straight away. Or maybe she was just pretending to sleep. Whatever, she looked so sweet and lovely that night, she had the face of a girl of 13 or 14 who's never had a bit of harm done to her since the day she was born. I saw that look on her face, and I knew I could let myself fall asleep with an easy heart..."

*
By living our lives, we nurture death. True as this might be, it was only one of the truths we had to learn. What I learned from Naoko's death was this: no truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness, can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning. Hearing the waves at night, listening to the sound of the wind, day after day I focused on these thoughts of mine.

*
Sometimes I feel like the caretaker of a museum - a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I'm watching over it for no one but myself.

*
It was one of those early autumn afternoons when the light is sharp and clear, exactly as it had been a year earlier when I visited Naoko in Kyoto. The clouds were white and as narrow as bones, the sky wide open and high. The fragrance of the breeze, the tone of the light, the tiny flowers in the grass, the subtle reverberations that accompanied sounds: all these told me that autumn had come again, increasing the distance between me and the dead with each cycle of the seasons. Kizuki was still 17 and Naoko 21: for ever.

*
Watanabe: I mean, that was such a sad little funeral! No one should have to die like that.
Reiko: We all have to die like that sometime. I will, and so will you.

scanned and spellchecked by the blog author, as per edition

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