[Fis] Murakami and Swift

Karl Javorszky karl.javorszky at gmail.com
Fri Mar 26 11:23:32 CET 2021

Murakami and Swift
            2021 03 26

These last, long weeks being very much conductive to staying at home, one
would address the task of reading a long novel or two. Haruki Murakami’s
“1Q84” and “Killing Commendatore” touch on subjects that are, in this
person’s opinion, worthy of discussing in this present
scientific-intellectual debating society.

Let us put Murakami in a connection with Jonathan Swift. The Irishman has
presaged with his “Gulliver’s Travels” massive changes in the perception of
royalty, authorities, rules and conventions. Although King Charles II was
tried and executed in 1649, the Restoration twelve years later has
eradicated the positive connotations to getting rid of a ruler. Up to
Gulliver, it seems that the common understanding has continuously accepted
the religious-mythical connotations of political force. The belief in
authorities and their possession of transcendent powers has been the
unspoken background of the idea of a functioning society. Swift has
challenged the prevailing meme, by substituting it by a narrative, where
Kings are minuscule, pompous dotards. The slogans of state get deflated if
the common cause is reduced to the conflict of opening up the breakfast egg
on which end. You can’t adore a God-Emperor if he is that naïve, completely
lacking common sense and decency. Laughing about a mighty ruler is a
necessary step towards guillotining the formerly mighty same. As a
medicine, Swift’s Gulliver has the characteristics of a *depot forte. *Its
effects establish themselves almost imperceptibly, over a long time period.
It took over three generations from Gulliver to the French Revolution.

Murakami appears to me to exert a similar influence on contemporary
thinking as Swift had. It may take another generation or two to be able to
speak in rational terms about his ideas. Like the ideas brought home by
Gulliver from his Travels, the ideas expressed in 1Q84 elicit in their
reader a smile and a wonderment, ending in a relieved realisation: this is
only a phantasy, a tale, a story; this is nothing real. Swift has stated,
although not *expressis verbis,*

·       Kings come in all kinds of varieties;

·       There is no unified, general rule of how Kings are to be;

·       Kings maintain their rule by earthly methods of power and by
elaborate memes;

·       Almost anybody has more common sense and decency than the Kings.

Murakami does the same work of destroying, levelling and salting
intellectual empires by stating, in the guise of an elaborate
cloak-and-dagger sci-fi mystery phantasy:

·       Realities come in all kinds of varieties;

·       There is a specific variety of non-standard reality, which people
(not: Murakami) call metaphysics;

·       This parallel reality is actually merged with the common reality,
deviating visibly from that only in specific circumstances;

·       There are rules and axioms and protagonists in metaphysics very
similar to those in common reality (“physics”);

·       If we had different sensory organs, we could perceive parts of the
other (“metaphysical”) reality, possibly losing some perceptions of the
normal reality (if we could sense the Earth’s magnetism, we might not be
able to distinguish some colors: we would live in a different reality);

·        The density of relations in the other variant influences actual
facts in this variant (the density of charge in the parallel world of
relations causes an actual lightning in the world of realised facts; the
density of desire causes space to conflate/merge and people to

·       Both variants are subject to identical axioms of inner consistency
of the sequel being a deduction/corollary of the present: both worlds have
an inner logic, which deviates only partly from the logic of the parallel

·       Time is a recurring element; one who remembers is partly identical
to one who is perceiving/had perceived;

·       The continuity is not really continuous, not even for one and the
same individual;

·       Aside from one global clock, about which we do not speak, there are
local clocks which run at differing speeds;

·       It is possible for the two worlds to merge and to disunite without
any problems, the worlds can /and do/ exist alongside each other;

·       The moral of the story on the example of the protagonist heroes is,
that a full, ideal life includes the knowledge and ability to surf both
waves and to connect with one’s alternate selves, be these laterally or
temporally distinct.

Well, of course, a phantasy is a phantasy. Thank God, thank our Kings,
thank our Schools we can well recognise a phantasy from hard-core reality.
Heaven forbid establishing Murakami’s unified dual space-time concept as a
credible and sensible idea of which the time has come.

Murakami’s idea of the parallel world appears to me like a smear,
lubrication, veil, packaging cellophane foil or skin. It is well attached
to the surface of the factual world, and agglomerates only at times into
such droplets or crumplets which modificate the actual things, all the
while dramatically influencing the properties of the things they lubricate
and separate at the same time. One would hope that time and patient
research will bring to the surface such rational words, connected by
rationally imaginable relations, which support the vision of two narratives
running concurrently: one details what are the facts and one details what
are the expectations, based on the facts so far. The two rhetorical strands
could support Murakami’s vision. In case one had such a story to tell,
about facts and expectations based on facts, one could call that what
Murakami calls the Q-time/space also *the information content *of the
story. This point makes the literary work a suitable subject for a
submission to FIS.

Happy and healthy Eastern to you all!

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