Woodie Guthrie once signed off, New York City, New York State, New York Everything, New York New York New York. He also liked claiming that this place was the same as every where else, and his songs were everyone else’s song. This was Every place, Every where, Anywhere. Haruki Murakami states in his interview with John Wesley Harding that to him, this is a nowhere place, nowhere city, nowhere street. I’m not particularly sure which nowhere he’s referring to in specific, but still I find Murakami and Guthrie’s words to both be putting a finger to the same point. While I was transcribing Wes’s interview with Murakami, I found myself taken by Murakami’s charisma that somehow transcended the thick, arty pages of BOMB, and stuck to my forehead. I couldn’t stop wrinkling it in quiet shock. After thumbing through the interview, and rereading several parts, I attempted to tack several of Murakami’s quotes to my mental tack board. His views on writing were so similar to my own, it’s as if I accidentally spilled my guts on a chair seat somewhere, and he just so happened to have soaked it up with the seat of his pants and gathered my thought patterns through strange osmosis. I have never read anything the man has written- though I’ve heard much about him- and yet this interview really struck me.
“I can do anything when I’m creating some stories. I can make any miracle. I can say I deal in magic.”
After having to spend several hours pouring over stacks of allotted 25 page manuscripts at The Agency, I am already connecting the dots to what many writers think people want to read about. They all begin the same: the grease spot on the driveway; the sun setting; the abusive father yelling; the criminal whores on the ship bound for Australia praying they’ll be able to ply their trade. Well. After having read one too many stories revolving around honey-thick taboo sexual encounters, coke problems, and music obsessions, I had begun to write most modern authors off as sheer fetishism. Not that you will find me calling the pot kettle black, however; the first complete short story I ever wrote was all about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. In any case, I was growing tired with this similar string of Hollywood shock values, and found myself secretly wondering when I could sneak another Neil Gaiman book into my agenda to rid myself of the drug abuse and get my fantasy geek on. After reading Murakami’s interview, however, I found that perhaps my draw towards the surreal was not for nothing. Normally a huge fan of regular old literary fiction, my strange attraction towards magical surrealism has been popping up all over the place- from disliking most of the stories Salman Rushdie chose for last year’s “Best American Short Fiction Stories” except for Kevin Brockmeir’s “The Year of Silence” (a piece about short periodical short blips of silence all across the world, suddenly changing the way different people view their lives) to favoring “The Invasion from Outer Space” by Stephen Millhauser (where alien yellow dust falls to the earth instead of green extraterrestrial blobs) over any modern mobster story.
So why this draw to the ephemeral, the changing-and perhaps what some would say, worst of all- the not possible? Murakami brings to light this incredible notion of humans constantly being stuck inside of ourselves; stuck in the habitual nature of our personalities, sometimes never able to break free. By writing, he claims, he is able to step outside of himself; become someone new. “I don’t write for bread and butter,” he says. Perhaps that is why I hold these works so close: what better way to discover new areas of ourselves than by creating fantastical worlds and peoples that can live right out in the ordinary? Truth is stranger than fiction, as everyone loves to throw around; but I feel sometimes fiction can emphasize a truth, and in that regard, perhaps a certain level of surrealism is the closest we’ll ever get to that truth. Reading a good tale that plugs me into the ether and connects me to whatever is going on out there is similar to staring at a Pollock painting. Your not quite sure what is going on, and there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for it, and yet…
And yet it makes more sense than anything else you’ve looked at because it doesn’t make sense. Because it’s in the here and now, and yet it doesn’t partake in time. It’s Anywhere, Somewhere, Everywhere, and Nowhere, all at the same time. And perhaps that’s the closest to the truth we can get. Once we understand the nature of the thing. The thing that is the forging of a truth through pen and paper (or more likely, a plastic key, and LCD screen). The thing that becomes a reality in and of itself without the help of an explanation. Just as life gives no explanation. I don’t want to pinpoint sex addicts, or drug fiends. Not today, anyway. Maybe some years down the road when I’m further from memories of people who have fallen by the wayside, much like many of the characters in books I’d like to someday forget. I want to find a way to open my own eyes up and suggest a new way to find reality within the unreal. I hope somehow, someday, I’ll manage to do so.
“When I’m writing I believe that somebody else can understand my feelings, somebody else can experience those things I’m experiencing. I call it empathy. When I ran the jazz club, customers came to the club. Maybe eight out of ten wouldn’t like my club. But if two people liked my club, they came back. And my club did well. But some people would want ten out of ten people to like their club. I just think two of ten is enough. I can feel somebody will know what I’m feeling. It is a lonely life sometimes, like throwing a stone into the deep darkness. It might hit something, but you can’t see it. The only thing you can do is to guess, and to believe.” - Haruki Murakami