Monday, November 23, 2015

Currently Reading 11.23.15

Rubber Soul

When my mind is swimming in the split-pea soup of indoor school activity, my confidence in my abilities to produce original thought and analyses looks something like this:

But you know what? Turns out my brain can work properly (though I haven't exactly proven that with the above stream of gmod gifs...dear Lord). So...

I'll get serious now. Serious thoughts, Alex. Funerals. Death. Trump 2016.

For real, though.

I've been re-reading one of my favorites, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (hey, don't hate on things because they're mainstream!). 

If you haven't read the book, great! Listen to The Beatles' Rubber Soul album.

But find a way to listen to Rubber Soul, the album which Norwegian Wood (the song) is from, think long and hard about it, and you'll get the novel.

You see, that's what I realized.

But first, let me back up. The major song in Norwegian Wood, loved by the faded and buried main character Naoko, is, well, Norwegian Wood. It's mentioned by another character that this song is favored by Naoko for its simple sentimentality. 

While listening to Rubber Soul on a car ride (particularly the song 'In My Life'), I realized that every single one of the unmentioned songs of that album could describe Murakami's novel better than Norwegian Wood; they fit the plot and characters more.

In My Life
Drive My Car
You Won't See Me
Nowhere Man
Think for Yourself
The Word
What Goes On
I'm Looking Through You
If I Needed Someone
Run for Your Life

[Michelle was briefly mentioned in the novel, but I'm not including it for time's sake]

The titles of those songs alone are the book.

Norwegian Wood the song, obscure in both its lyrics and style, did nothing, I thought, to complement the in-the-moment reading of the text of the novel. Strange that Murakami would choose that title when he (as a big Beatles and general Western music fan) most definitely had listened to the rest of that album, which certainly described the book better.

I didn't sit in that irony for too long. Turns out Murakami is better than that.

The novel itself is a memory slowly gaining importance as it is being relived by Watanabe (the character whose perspective the novel is written in) up until page 293, the final page. Norwegian Wood is for page 293. It's a retroactive song that sits within the lines, soaking in the meaning of the text until it gains its real value once the book is closed. By all means, listen to the rest of the album while reading; those songs, surely lodged in Murakami's brain and dispersed into his self-proclaimed 'unconscious writing,' will gladly complement the fleeting characters and emotions running through the novel. But listen to Norwegian Wood to remember.

It's the song that Naoko valued for its pure sentimentality, seemingly inconsequential parts of the plot, guaranteers of the setting of the 1960s. 

Close the book, face up, and you're Watanabe, left with a two word, two minute song that encapsulates the memory of two years, three lovers, and one death.


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