Child of the Cosmos

Have you ever looked at people
and told yourself that
one day you are going to
write about them?
about how her lips pursed as she
uttered every syllable like a
prayer before a God
that is not there;
about how the sound of her strange
pronunciation floated like mist
over the fading of consciousness;
about the silver tongue you wish
you could erase
if only to break the barrier
that is language.

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Book Review: Rediscovering Murakami: On Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

colorless-tsukuru-tazakiColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel—a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan—from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami. Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages. (Goodreads)


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Spaceless

I need a release.

It would probably take an entire day or two, or maybe even a lifetime, like writing a Proust novel of some sort, for me to tell Mom how differently my thoughts about love, relationships, family, God, religion, and life in general have changed since I left home.

Not that leaving home was a good thing, but it certainly gave me a bit more of a perspective and transformed me from that typical high school girl who knows too much about rebellion but was rather too scared to step out of her comfort zone, into a person who actually took a step, however frail and fragile such a step at first seemed.

In retrospect, it seemed manageable, easy. But transitions are always the hardest to take especially when one has no strong hold of everything that has shaken and has broken loose.

I still remember our house in the South, as that which one of my estranged friends referred to as my ‘fortress,’ for in there I was more than guarded, I was safe and sound. But more than that, I was watched upon. And isn’t this what’s missing in the world that is out there? For we look so much at what’s ahead of us that we don’t even look anymore at that which is in front of us, that we don’t look anymore upon each other.

I still remember my father’s eyes, and how they burned, tortured, arrested my soul with his steadfast surveillance as much as I burned with his steadfast love. In high school, I thought of love as chains shackled around my feet, refusing to give me movement. But in college I roamed the empty unfamiliar streets with boys begging for the same love that my father has so selflessly lavished upon me.

But arrogance stopped me from running back to my father’s feet, asking for forgiveness for whatever it was that had me sundered from them all. We always look at the present as something that ‘needs more’ of everything: needs more space, needs more time, needs more improvement. In high school I thought I needed more freedom than home was able to provide for me, but in college I thought of home, safe and adequate, for all that I was wanting, missing, longing for.

I look at this life now, with a vision that’s still blurry from all the things that has happened for the past three years in the university, trying to see what my Mom and my Dad would see, trying to carefully extract their perceptions of what has become of their divergent daughter.

There are instances when I would feel proud of my accomplishments, of my experiences; when I would send over to Mom a photo of a certificate I received from a seminar in a private university; when I would tell Dad about thoughts that were so conceived in the midst of my trying to philosophize about every fucking thing in the world. But in the end it would all seem so small, so insignificant, and I would hark back to a day when I was just a little girl and how my every action was more than enough to make them satisfied.

There is something about innocence, and the art of forgetting, that detaches man from all of the present and brings him face to face once more with his child-like self. And it is not just about the mere negation of what was already been situated in the here and now. But far from that, it is a return to the more aboriginal of being, that which is naive and infantile, a soul unblemished and uncorrupted.

Aren’t we doomed with our memories, we the remembering mass of humans? Would life be any different had it been the case that our minds could retain only a day’s worth of memory and discard them thereafter?

There are days when I would wish for a tennis ball, or even the big neighboring ball that is the moon, to strike me on the head, to make me forget history. But forgetting history would also mean forgetting the good and the bad, forgetting Mom and Dad, forgetting all people, forgetting even the self. But how could one live in oblivion? How could one live at all?

I think about the future, and in my projections of what is to come, I see nothing. A blank space, an eternal rivulet of the nameless and the nothingness. Back in the days when people asks me of my plans I would respond with a healthy enthusiasm and present them a delicately drawn portrait of all my hopes and dreams which include getting my degree on time, landing a job, taking all that there is to take in life with all the energy of a Spanish bull.

But when people asks me now, I would think about the void and how it engulfs us deeper and deeper into that which is uncanny. It reminds me of the ending part of Murakami’s 1987 novel Norwegian Wood where Midori asks Watanabe where he is. Watanabe’s response was rather eerie, belonging to the terrifying unseen. And in his place I feel firmly fastened as well.

Where are you now?
Where was I now?

Gripping the receiver, I raised my heads and turned to see what lay beyond the phone box. Where was I now? I had no idea. No idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again I called out for Midori from the dead center of this place that was no place.

Book Review: On Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five

slaughter-house-fiveSlaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. (Goodreads)


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Book Review: A Quick Note on Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart

sputnik-sweetheartSputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel. Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire, and should she ever tell Miu how she feels for her? Meanwhile K wonders whether he should confess his own unrequited love for Sumire. Then, a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island: Sumire has mysteriously vanished. (Goodreads)


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