Thursday, December 1, 2011

Other Other Worlds and Other Other Other Worlds

"In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, writers offered the real thing; that was their task. In War and Peace Tolstoy describes the battleground so closely that the readers believe it's the real thing. But I don't. I'm not pretending it's the real thing. We are living in a fake world; we are watching fake evening news. We are fighting a fake war. Our government is fake. But we find reality in this fake world. So our stories are the same; we are walking through fake scenes, but ourselves, as we walk through these scenes, are real. The situation is real, in the sense that it's a commitment, it's a true relationship. That's what I want to write about." 
- Haruki Murakami

I've been in the throes of Murakami's 1Q84 since it came out, weeks ago (family building slows your ability to plow through a thousand-page book considerably). I'm enjoying what little time I have with it, though as with all of Murakami's literary worlds, this is one you should immerse yourself in if you want to fully appreciate its rhythm and surreality.

A weird phenomenon occurs, sometimes, where I'll simultaneously take in creative works that have pretty striking parallels, and that's sort of happening now, with 1Q84 and the show Lost, which I just finished watching (oh Netflix, how you hijack my life). The alternate reality playing out in 1Q84 really reminds me of what took place on Lost, especially the triggers that eventually lead the characters to become aware they are perhaps living something other than what they've been fated to live. Whether fate and destiny play into 1Q84, I have yet to find out, but the symbols of some other world, like the dual moons and alternate versions of history, are intriguing, so far.

Something tells me I miss out on a lot of good alternate universe stuff by refusing to read most genre fiction, but then, I'm not as interested in straight-up alternate fantasy worlds that complement a real one (i.e. Through the Looking Glass). The "other reality" is more thought-provoking, the tangent universe-type thing you see in Donnie Darko, for example, where things are just off enough for the characters to take notice and journey to an understanding of where they are and where they're supposed to be. That's a bit of what's happening in 1Q84, and it's fun to see the characters' more subtle shifts in their awareness of something other than their reality as they know it going on.

I need sausage rolls.

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