Note: The first part can be found here
In the world of Murakami, abstract connection and synchronicity are even present at the prose level. Take, for example, the following sentence from The Wind Up Bird Chronicle:
“I felt a chill for no reason, then an unpleasant sensation as if something far away were moving slowly in my direction through a long darkness.”
In the above quote, the reader is told that the antagonist has fallen unconscious and is wading through a deep darkness. Then the above sensation is presented. Can such a sensation exist in reality?
It’s not possible to feel something moving from far away. But here, Murakami affixes two seemingly unrelated concepts. In a linguistic sense, Murakami employs correct syntax with no mind for semantics. As in the famous Chomsky sentence, “colorless green ideas sleep furiously,” or the title of Murakami’s book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, there is form without meaning.
Or is there?
In Chomskian terms, this sentence has a meaningful surface structure. While the deep structure hovers in the space between meaning and meaninglessness, form and formlessness. It is, essentially, the closest one can get to conveying the language of the subconscious, the language of dreams. It is perhaps responsible for the dream-like quality of the books readers often report.
In no other work are these forms more present than Karl Jung’s The Red Book, in which Jung recorded his fantasies, visions, and dreams. The book, in essence, deals with Jung’s first hand encounter with the deeper parts of the psyche. Reading it is like wading through a dense bog of hallucination.
“If I accept death, then my tree greens, since dying increases life. If I plunge into the death encompassing world, then my buds break open. How much our life needs death!”
“At a time when I still claimed that my sanctuaries were of crystal purity, and when I compared my friends to the perfume of the roses of Persia, both of them formed an alliance of mutual silence. They seemed to scatter, but secretly worked together.”
-The Red Book, Chapter VI: Death, Page 266
Here, we find the personification of feeling through physical forms like trees and crystals. This is a technique common in Murakami and magical realism in general. Again, concepts, including key plot elements, become related through metaphor and abstraction, rather than sheer logic.
“But metaphors help eliminate what separates you and me.” -Kafka on the Shore
In Kafka on the Shore, Murakami enlists this technique in full forces within the first ten pages. We have a storm raging inside Kafka, one he must pass through. Then later, a “dark, omnipresent pool of water,” which on occasion rushes out to freeze him. Finally, his heart is described as a great river. In this way, Murakami unfolds the emotional and subconscious reality of Kafka. It’s very Jungian.
Of Kafka on the Shore, the great John Updike once said, “At the center of this particular novelistic storm is the idea that our behavior in dreams can translate to live action; our dreams can be conduits back into waking reality.”
Indeed, it’s in these stylistic details that help Murakami translate dreams to waking reality.