I finally watched Tony Takitani, a movie based on the Haruki Murakai story of the same name, (You can read the story here.) I was a little disappointed, just because the script followed the story almost word-for-word. The vast majority of the film consisted of nearly static shots, narrated in the third-person throughout. In several scenes a character would look into the camera and provide a line of third-person narration. It was beautifully shot and acted, but the style was sort of alienating; overall it felt “told” instead of presented in a more self-contained way. This effect was probably enhanced by the fact that it’s in Japanese with English subtitles, creating yet another textual layer between me and the action on the screen.)
It’s not safe for me to leave my apartment. On Sunday I stepped on a plastic bottle-cap carelessly left on the road, skidded out and completely wrecked my other ankle in a fully embarassing sidewalk bail-out. According to the doctor at my neighbourhood clinic (who I’m quite familar with by now), it’s a worse tear than the last one, which sounds pretty bad because the last one he said was about as bad as he’s seen. Still, it doesn’t appear quite as gruesome as before, although there is still a significant amount of hemorrhaging. We’re all very concerned. “That hemorrhaging has me concerned,” he said. “If it’s still painful to walk on after ten days, come back and we’ll X-Ray it to see if you’ve detached a tibial bone.”
It’s probably nothing, I said, I’m just a bleeder. “You are a bleeder,” he agreed.
I’ve finally started reading Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami’s novel. I bought a copy about five years ago, just before I crammed all my belongings into my car and drove out West. It was one of the books I left packed in a box in my dad’s shed. The box later migrated to my brother’s house, where it resides to this day, for all I know. After hearing somewhere that the protagonist spends a portion of the book reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, I decided to cash in some of my Amazon gift certificate on it. Whenever I read a mention of Magic Mountain, I get a little chill. Norwegian Wood is the second book I’ve read in past month that explicitly references it; the other was Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table.
I spent about a year reading Magic Mountain. It’s an enormous, dense tome and after nearly every page I’d find it resting on my lap as I stared out the window at the pigeons and reflect on whatever had struck me that day. The story revolves around Hans Castorp, a young man visiting his cousin at an exclusive sanatorium in the Alps for patients with tuberculosis and other lung ailments. He is soon diagnosed with suspicious-looking spots on his lungs, and his two-week visit expands to fill seven years. During his stay he dabbles in botany, painting, and charity. He falls in love with another patient, and receives a philosophical education from the discussions between Settembrini, the humanist man-of-letters who spends his time preparing his contribution to a project called The Encyclopedia of Human Suffering, and the semitic Jesuit theologan, Herr Naptha. Thomas Mann knows how to write character: all of the forty-plus patients and doctors at the Bergdorf Sanatorium are quirky yet plausible, vivid and distinct without overwhelming the story.
Towards the end of the summer, the events on Magic Mountain began to sharply mirror particular events in my own life. It was kind of freaking me out, actually. When I came down with a strep infection, then so did Hans Castorp. When I went hiking in the mountains to try and shake myself out of a lethargic, bitter funk, also then did Hans. It was spooky.
I’m glad I didn’t get around to reading Norwegian Wood before Magic Mountain, because a major portion of the former directly draws on the theme and setting of the latter. I’ve just got to the part where Toru goes to visit the girl he’s in love with, the tragic, inscrutable Naoko, at a sanatarium in the moutains near Kyoto. The parallels between the Bergdorf and the Ami Hostel are quite apparent already. It definitely adds a lot to the experience to have that frame of reference.
Now that I think about it, I’ve had really good really good luck with the books Murakami refers to; I think I picked up Stendhal’s The Red And The Black because a character in Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World read it.
“What would you give in order to get your hands on the utmost in luxury blood?” I love Dose One’s lyrics and I love this album.
Man Man “Banana Ghost”
From another one of my favorite albums this year, Man Man’s Six Demon Bag.
The new Cornelius LP, Sensual, isn’t really grabbing me the way Point did. Sensual sounds a lot more minimal and cerebral, more experimental, while Point had a more accessible lush pop energy to it. Still good though, and “Gum” is my favorite song on it at the moment.
Maybe it’s just my seasonal depression talking, but I find that during the dark Vancouver winter nothing beats kicking back and watching seven consecutive hours of television.
This weekend I rented the entire first season of Battlestar Galactica, and I’m now in the middle of season two. If you had told me a month ago that I’d be heavily invested in this show, I would have called you some kind of insane crazy person and probably rolled my eyes at you and your obviously sub-adequate taste in televisual entertainments. Boy, would I have been (uncharacteristically) mistaken!
This (third) season is shaping up to be a real humdinger, despite last week’s disappointing filler/budget-saving episode. An episode without Gaius Baltar is like a day without sunshine (aka. a day in Vancouver.)