(this material is currently in preparation)
The novel Sputnik Sweetheart sat on my bookshelf for years before I read it. Almost gave it away, in fact, not realizing what I had there. A relative latecomer to Murakami’s novels, it was the non fiction Underground that first got my attention. His novels have sometimes come very late to the English market, of recent times, much faster.
The goal here is not to do a Wiki type article, or a literary critique, but explore this author’s take on dreams and Dharma.
In an interview with The Guardian, authored by Oliver Burkeman, Murakami stated that he does not dream in his sleep, or rather very little, but rather in waking life. Then, perhaps he is in a waking state as he does recall his dreams, as have I, often only remembering dreams I have in the late night or early morning, as my consciousness stirs me to greater awareness. It is those dreams I can write down on arising.
“His outlook, instead, is that of a curious if slightly bemused spectator – both of the surreal stories that emerge from his subconscious, and of the fact that they are devoured by readers in their millions, in Japanese and in translation. It’s surely no coincidence that the typical Murakami protagonist is a similarly detached observer: a placid, socially withdrawn and often nameless man in his mid-30s, who seems more intrigued than alarmed when an inexplicable phone call, or the search for a lost cat, leads him into a dreamlike parallel universe…”
“He operates from a bedrock trust in his subconscious: if an image arises from that dark inner well, he figures, it must be meaningful by definition – and his job is to record what arises, rather than to analyse it.”
“So now the reader and I have a secret meeting place underground, a secret place in the subconscious… It’s the meeting place that matters, not analysing the symbolism or anything like that. I’ll leave that to the intellectuals… I’m not a storyteller. I’m a story watcher.”
Burkeman writes. ‘His relationship to those stories is that of the dreamer to a dream, which may explain why he claims almost never to dream at night.’ Murakami says “Well, maybe once a month, I dream. But I usually don’t. I think it’s because I get to dream when I’m awake, so I don’t have to dream when I’m sleeping.”
“And you know, if that’s what comes to me, maybe there’s something right about that – something from the deep subconscious [that resonates with] the reader. So now the reader and I have a secret meeting place underground, a secret place in the subconscious. And in that place, maybe it’s absolutely right that fish should fall from the sky. It’s the meeting place that matters, not analysing the symbolism or anything like that. I’ll leave that to the intellectuals.” -Murakami