Monthly Archives: September 2010

Underground — Review

UndergroundUnderground by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found the review from Observer is the closest to express my sentiment about this book.

‘There is no artifice or pretension in Underground. There is no need for cleverness. What Murakami describes happens to ordinary people in a frighteningly ordinary way. And it is all the more bizarre for that.’

What Murakami assembled gave me, as a reader, a multi perspective view to a horror that most people and media only saw as a good vs evil phenomenon. It’s truly ordinary and honest. It shook me because as I flipped through the pages, I realized I could be one of them, both the victim and the perpetrator. I might feel and think the same thing if I were in their position: feeling disconnected, alienated from society. It doesn’t necessary yield that there’s something wrong in these individuals, but in essence, what’s going on in the society? What’s wrong with the society? How do the values and societal norms impact the members?

In this book, I think that’s the most fundamental learning. The Tokyo Gas Attack might happen as a result of this.

What will happen when society whose members have lost their sense of danger and care? What will happen when some people feel that cannot sync with society as as they feel the norms, the values, and their expected roles push them away from their essence as human being? It’s only natural that they will seek consolation elsewhere and renounce themselves from the society. What will happen if they seek consolation in the wrong place? Tragedy. Tokyo Gas Attack was only one of tragedies that could happen (and already happened)in this society.

One thing that I learned from this book is tragedy is not to be forgotten but for us, to learn something about ourselves. It’s a mirror that reflects our “dark side”, part of ourselves that we refuse to see. And in order to learn about it, we must not oversimplify it as the problem us vs them, but incorporate “them” to “us”. What’s going on in “US”?

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In the silence, I’ll find you and you’ll find me
Down by the river, we see our reflection dancing
How fate has brought us here!
The bride of life, the lover of death
Living in a new diorama
where laughter is cry and cry is the only laughter

Bearing the womb of heaven closing the gate to the present

… and we live in the future.