Having Dreams

I like science fiction. One of my favourite science fiction writers is Dan Simmons. I will at some point probably explain more about the Spanish science fiction tradition.

But Japan has a different story telling tradition for almost every kind of fiction. Whether it is meant for young people, old people, women or men, there is a distinct Japanese-ness about it that you really can’t avoid. Not only in comics, also in writing (although the writing is given much less attention — sadly!!).

In Kobe, 1992, a major earthquake hit Japan. Probably many people my age will remember being little and seeing the short white and black film of a man in an office holding on to a shelf. The people who don’t will definitely remember the one happening right now (10’000 people missing at the time of writing). Japanese author Haruki Murakami published a book called After the Quake, containing four short stories about different personas in different states of reality experiencing the Kobe quake. I want to remember a man exploring the tunnels under Kobe and ending up having to settle a violent conflict between a very big mole and a similarly gigantic earthworm.

Haruki Murakami comments on Japanese society from a generally fantastic point of view. The desolate plains of sheep and Hokkaido. The journey from Tokyo to the far north. He is very mainstream now, presumably for the same reasons as Terry Pratchett: he brings a different image to the world, we see the world from a place where things that we would otherwise not see or understand can be explained and given context.

Michael Moorcock is probably one of those people who are very proficient at doing exactly that. The world in his stories ends up so fragmented and curt that I can’t even keep up. I made a very tacky joke the other day about having become a Pirate Baptist. In reality, the joke is picked from a book called Behold the Man written by Michael Moorcock. Religious and psychological references are spread out on every page. Freud, the Bible, Jesus, mostly the crucifiction part of which one of the main characters has an obsession(!!!) The crucifiction obsession is, to my understanding, what the story is built up around. I never finished the book. I wrote a friend and asked her about all of the things that made the book unreadable. I only received a response last year, three years after I sent her the original letter.

John the Baptist was an Essene. They were a group of people living in the deserts of Judea. You can find then on Wikipedia but the way they are described in Behold the Man they worked under very hard condition and fasted a lot. This brought them in contact with God, Demons, Spirituality in what our society would probably called hallucinations brought on by starvation, heat and extreme physical effort. The Essenian environment is where Jesus met Legion. Water, for the Essenes, would hold a special meaning, and a way of, I guess, finding peace or calmness. From calamity to calm, standing in a river, getting filled with the essence of salvation. A drink.

Baptism today is celebrated slightly differently. We often associate it with impressive preachers and large choirs (Aretha Franklin). From a missionary viewpoint, surely they have to be some of the more fun people to get missionated by. I’m not sure starvation and deadly physical work is the best way to conduct your life. Haruki Murakami and Dan Simmons are, all in all, less agonizing to read and I didn’t even consider Moorcock having a lot of depth in his story. He just wanted to make his book difficult.

But singing, dancing, talking and giving people drinks? I’m sure many people would be very amused if I did that more often.

I do hope that the moles and the earthworms of Japan will calm down. Stay safe, Japan.

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