In and impossibility. This binary creates an
In Haruki Murakami’s world, whatseemingly is a normal plot suddenly turns into something unexpected, which in asubpar level, can be considered weird: talking cats and monkeys, bizarredreams, and twisted realities. Again, in a subpar level, these uncanny thingsare just elements which make his fiction interesting, but looking into it,these rather absurd elements develop how the characters, the main charactersmostly, see themselves as creatures, living in worlds. In fact,the study conducted by Dil (2007) purported that the characters in the firsteleven of his novels, as well as in his earlier short stories undergoexistential anxieties because of capitalism. This as Mad Weber calls it, thecharacters are victims of “bureaucratic machination” which can cause a loss ofidentity. In a similar study, Lu Yu (2013)concluded that the characters in some of Murakami’s novels also experienced self-alienation,which leads to a loss of identity.
The study then puts forth the idea that thisphenomenon is an explanation as to why the characters either retreated, ortraversed into an “other world”, or into an imaginary world. Harking from these ideas, thestudy then focuses on the study of Haruki Murakami’s selected fiction mostespecially those that were published in the 21st century: three of his novels (Kafka on the Shore, The Colorless Tsukuru Tazakiand His Years of Pilgrimage, and AfterDark) and three of his later short stories (“Town of Cats”, “A Shinagawa Monkey”,and “Samsa in Love”). The study aims to explain thesurreal elements present in his work, not just as mere impossibilities, ratheras realities created by the characters as product of their unconscious insearch of their identities. In doing so, the research uses the theories of thefantastic, most especially the ideas of Tzvetan Todorov in explaining theuncanny elements in the texts.
Todorov’sideas focus on the binary of possibility and impossibility. This binary createsan ambiguity, not only in the part of the character/s in a story, but also inthe reader’s minds as well. In resolving this ambiguity, a confrontationbetween the character, and the phenomenon should be put emphasis to explain howthe uncanniness of the work operates. In doing so, taking in consideration thefact that the characters experience alienation and identity loss are primalfactors in unravelling the intellectual, at the same time visceral, “otherworld.” Additionally, the paper also appliesthe ideas of Jacques Lacan in unraveling the identities of the characters whichresulted from and because of traversing into an “other world”. Lacan’s conceptson the real, the imaginary order, and thesymbolic order (the big other) are used to further discuss the loss of theidentities of the characters, and how they regained it during and after navigatingthrough the “other world.”Lastly, the study includes studyplans in teaching the selected fiction of Haruki Murakami, which can be usedmost especially in the teaching of 21st Century World Literature to Senior HighSchool students. The subject is apt for this course in K-12 since Murakami is acontemporary writer, and some of his works were written and published in theturn of the century.