Skip to main content

Jung was writing about James Joyce's Ulysses, but his observation rings just as true for Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 when he wrote:

What is so staggering about 'Ulysses" is the fact that behind a thousand veils nothing lies hidden; that it turns neither toward the mind nor toward the world, but, as cold as the moon looking on from cosmic space, allows the dream of growth, being, and decay to pursue its course.
Two moons hang in the sky, and the reason for why that is so is revealed by Murakami in Book 2 of 1Q84. The second moon, which existed in a story told by a teenage girl who ran away from a cult, was brought to life by a cram school teacher who took that story at the behest of his editor and rewrote it into a bestselling piece of literature. The woman that this teacher, Tengo, has always loved finds herself looking at the two moons in the sky and remembering the boy she gave her heart to when they were both 10 years old.

At the same time Aomame is looking at the two moons, coming to terms with her new-found realization that she has spent her life loving Tengo, he is looking at those same two moons with the new-found realization that he has always loved her. He imagines that the moon has given Aomame the best thing it can give a person -- "pure solitude and tranquility".

That there are two moons gazing impassively down at the separated pair plays directly into Murakami's theme of duality. It's seen throughout this middle section of 1Q84 with the various couplings of characters and reflected situations. In one of the many expository speeches in this section, Jung is referenced:

Where there is light, there must be shadow, and where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light and no light without shadow. Karl Jung said this about 'the Shadow' in one of his books: 'It is as evil as we are positive ... the more desperately we try to be good and wonderful and perfect, the more the Shadow develops a definite will to be black and evil and destructive ... The fact is that if one tries beyond one's capacity to be perfect, the Shadow descends to hell and becomes the devil. For it is just as sinful from the standpoint of nature and of truth to be above oneself as to be below oneself.
Aomame, begins this section accepting her final, and most difficult, assignment. She is a vigilante assassin whose benefactor, the dowager, wants her to kill a cult leader who has been raping prepubescent girls. His victims include a little girl who is sheltered at the dowager's safe house for abuse victims but who mysteriously disappears.

Yes, this is the same cult that the teenage storyteller, Fuka-Eri, escaped from, and her father is the same cult leader who has been raping the little girls. In what is the most difficult part of the novel to accept, the cult leader has a different story to tell. The sexual congress is how the Perceiver and Receiver in Murakami's created mythology see and hear the Little People who are the movers and shakers, the tricksters, in this novel. Fuka-Eri tells the story the same way and performs the same with Tengo after she goes into hiding following her story's publication.

This conceit is where Murakami's delicately woven tale threatens to unravel. Instead of taking this part of the story on face value and waiting to see what happens next, my reaction is to wonder why any man would think this kind of NC17-rated excuse of Star Trek-style fan fiction would fit into a complex structure of a three-book literary work.

Although I don't think Murakami intended this to be the profane counterpart to the sweet tale of Tengo and Aomame, this is the only way I can make it fit. Because the crux of the tale is stated explicitly in this section:

If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there's salvation in life.
Aomame decides to carry through her mission because doing so, she is told, will keep Tengo safe. When she tries to go back the way she came when she entered 1Q84 (the alternate reality from the year 1984) the way is blocked.

Book 2 starts to pull together some of the threads that were introduced in the first book, especially the stories of Tengo and Aomame, the two moons and the Little People. How other parts of the whole narrative fit haven't quite coalesced, although they are becoming part of this main story. Most importantly, Tengo's distant father, wasting away and suffering from dementia, speaks to him cryptically about his mother. Tengo was raised by this man, who apparently isn't his father, after his mother left.

And because this is Murakami, there are finally cats. In this case, they appear in a story Tengo reads while going to visit his father and later tells to the older man. It's a fable (which calls to mind Philippe Claudel's latest novel with a seemingly abandoned village) in which a man on a train stops in a quiet town. No one is there. He stays until night falls, when hundreds of cats arrive and carry on as if they were human, doing routine things. He stays a second, then a third, night. The town is the place where the man "is meant to be lost".

This story seemingly inspires Tengo's father to tell him that he is nothing and that he has been filling a vacuum left by someone else. When he is gone, Tengo will fill that vacuum. Tengo has had a dream for years that he is a baby in his crib, watching his mother embraced by another man. Now, he is told that "the woman who gave birth to you is not anywhere anymore" and that she "joined her body with a vacuum". When one of the strange figures in Fuka-Eri's story, an air chrysalis, forms on the bed where his father has been in a coma, the stories are nearly joined together. But there is a third book to come.

There also is a cliffhanger to see resolved regarding Aomame's determination to save Tengo. Murakami leaves no doubt that belief in love and in the world are entwined. The cult leader Aomame was sent to kill tells her, while referencing the Paper Moon song:

If you don't believe in the world, and if there is no love in it, then everything is phony. No matter which world we are talking about, no matter what kind of world we are talking about ...
Meanwhile, Tengo ends Book 2 vowing:
I will find Aomame ... no matter what happens, no matter what kind of world it may be, no matter who she may be.
With this great a set-up, and still shaking my head over the offensive idea of sex with young girls as a way to transfer knowledge, Book 3 had better be transformative. We'll see next week.
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, jarbyus

    Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

    DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
    SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
    Sun (hiatus) 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
    Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
    MON 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery Susan from 29
    Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
    alternate Tuesdays 8:00AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
    Tue 10:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
    WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
    Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
    THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
    alternate Thu 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
    FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
    SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
    Sat 4:00 PM Daily Kos Political Book Club Freshly Squeezed Cynic
    Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid
  •  I hope someone else chimes in here. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, bookgirl, Limelite, jarbyus

    I listened to this book on CD in the car.  A rather fragmented means to such a complex story.  

  •  I appreciate the work you do for your diaries (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bookgirl, Limelite

    You explain things so well!!

    Thank you!!!

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 08:43:23 PM PDT

  •  LimeSon Bought This Book for Me (0+ / 0-)

    in the Kindle edition.  Confess I haven't got to it yet.  But your diary may be the spur applied to my lassitude!

    If only we had long winter nights here on the edge of the Everglades.  Sadly, no.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 07:12:57 AM PDT

  •  I am wondering (0+ / 0-)

    where, not when, I might read this.  Perhaps somewhere away from all media.  Hard for me to do complexity with my current schedule.

    By the way, bookgirl, I did finish Seating Arrangements, and although I think Shipstead is a very good writer, my final thought was that the cast seemed too much like caricatures, most without redeeming features, especially Winn.  Shipstead's throwaway scene (actually, almost literally, as he spins his daughter away from him at the Wedding dance) was not enough for me to think that he, himself, will really change.  But I did enjoy parts of the book, and, as I say, her writing was good enough for me to try again, if she writes a second novel.

    I really enjoy your reviews, speaking of good writing.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 01:39:36 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site