Kafka on the shore

Just last week, I finished a book called Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (translated from Japanese to English) on my Kindle. It’s a pretty hard book to read; I started it two months ago, stopped cuz it got boring, and picked it up again two weeks ago to finish it. There were parts that I couldn’t put down, parts that scared the bejesus out of me when I was reading it at night, and parts where I just went “what just happened?” I’m trying to get my hands on a hard cover so I can read it a couple times, and flip back and forth to connect the dots.

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I highlighted sentences and quotes that came out at me as I read along, most of which I would like to share (my favorites are in bold). The quotes touch at the deepest parts of life, and however many ways there are to say it, Murakami (and translator Philip Gabriel) does it effortlessly; many times, I feel like he pulls the words that I didn’t even know where there, right out of my core. I’ve also found answers in these quotes, answers that make it okay for me to feel. And I hope you do too.

Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s just a natural feeling.


“The world is a huge space, but the space that will take you in – and it doesn’t have to be very big – is nowhere to be found. You seek a voice, but what do you get? Silence.”

” ‘Even change meetings are the result of karma.’ ‘But what does it mean?’ ‘That things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events, there’s no such thing as coincidence.”

The world of grotesque is the darkness within us. Well before Freud and Jung shined a light on workings of the subconscious, this correlation between darkness and our subconscious, these two forms of darkness, was obvious to people. It wasn’t a metaphor even. If you trace it back further, it wasn’t even a correlation. Until Edison invented the electric light, most of the world was totally covered in darkness. The physical darkness outside and the inner darkness of the soul were mixed together, with no boundary separating the two. They were directly linked.

“But that calm won’t last long, you know. It’s like beasts that never tire, tracking you everywhere you go. They come out at you deep in the forest. They’re tough, relentless, merciless, untiring, and they never give up.”

“It’s because all the performances are imperfect. A dense artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert.”

“Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will be even worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in, Mr. Nakata. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes.”

There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes.

“No matter who or what you’re dealing with, people build up meaning between themselves and the things around them. The important thing is whether this comes about naturally or not. Being bright has nothing to do with it. What matters is that you see things with your own eyes.”

“The darkness in the outside world has vanished, but the darkness in our hearts remains, virtually unchanged. Just like an iceberg, what we label the ego or consciousness is, for the most part, sunk in darkness. And that estrangement sometimes creates a deep contradiction or confusion within us.”

“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.” I had to read this sentence five times to understand it.

The strength I’m looking for isn’t the kind where you win or lose. What I want is the kind of strength to be able to absorb that outside power, to stand up to it. The strength to quietly endure things – unfairness, misfortune, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.22.32 PM


One thought on “Kafka on the shore

  1. Wow– I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that both forces me to really THINK and also reaches in and toys with parts of my emotions and mind that I often neglect. Maybe I ought to pick this one up!

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