THE DEEP ONES: "The Ice Man" by Haruki Murakami

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THE DEEP ONES: "The Ice Man" by Haruki Murakami

2housefulofpaper
Editat: març 5, 2020, 3:39am

I read this in The Weird. The story has a brief introduction which says Murakami based it on a dream that his wife had. I don't know how representative of his work "The Ice Man" is (I've read Kafka on the Shore, and this story, and that's it, so far) but taken by itself it does have the shape of a kind of anxiety dream. The Ice Man initially is the only weird or uncanny element in what looks to be a real world set-up (it's occurred to me before that a lot of fantasy and horror stories have similar structures to jokes - they introduce their one uncanny element (a horse walks into a bar, say or modern cities create new types of ghost from the inhabitant's anxieties and neuroses) but thereafter the joke, or the story, rigidly follow the physical laws of the universe and the set-up's internal logic) but by the end of this story the location has changed to an impossible "south pole" which seems more like a child's picture book version of the far north. From one world to another. It's disorientating in its apparent naivety.

I suppose allegories are there to be read, or maybe imposed (too strong? - "laid over", perhaps) the story as Murakami's narrator tells it. About relationships across cultures, or relationships in general. I have no idea how much of that the author has added to the original dream-inspiration.

3AndreasJ
Editat: març 5, 2020, 2:59am

I also read it from The Weird, and liked it a fair lot. It's the only Murakami I've read.

It feels like a dream, yes, though it's probably too coherent to be a faithful rendition of a real one, and I'd expect Murakami added a fair bit to it. Given it was his wife's dream, I did wonder if the ice man in some sense is Murakami himself.

4AndreasJ
març 5, 2020, 3:00am

>2 housefulofpaper:

BTW, you've got the wrong touchstone to The Weird.

5housefulofpaper
març 5, 2020, 3:40am

>4 AndreasJ: Thanks, fixed (the one time I don't check!..)

6RandyStafford
març 15, 2020, 3:01pm

I didn't mind this story, but, if it's an allegory, I don't know for what.

Is this a metaphor about a woman regretting her marriage when something changes externally – but not her husband’s attitude or actions? She was kind of bored not working and her husband providing for them. Is she not capable of contentment and tries to change the setting of their relationship to regret? Was the Ice Man’s disquiet at the suggestion of a South Pole vacation because he knows, despite his amnesia, that she’ll change there from the woman he loved? But he still, according to the narrator, loves her.

7elenchus
abr. 30, 2020, 11:10am

Somehow I missed this one. I blame the pandemic.

I also read out of The Weird and while I've had my eye on a couple Murakami novels, this is the first fiction of his I've read, I think.

>2 housefulofpaper: it's occurred to me before that a lot of fantasy and horror stories have similar structures to jokes

I've made a similar observation but never succeeded in putting it into words so succinctly. I find those tales which adhere most strictly to "real world" less satisfying than those which allow the fantasy element to blossom or fully propagate. Murakami sort of strikes a middle ground here, probably suitable given the short form.

>2 housefulofpaper: I suppose allegories are there to be read
>6 RandyStafford: if it's an allegory, I don't know for what

It does give a strong impression of allegory, but I also couldn't come up with anything useful. I'm beginning to think of allegory as a rational person's take on dream wisdom. One take on how to get meaning from dream is to understand it as metaphorical and "both / and" whereas allegory seems to steer toward analogy and "either / or" interpretations. For this story, at least, I like the idea that it serves up a lot of meanings, and they're all equally relevant: cross-cultural relationships, changes in personal intimacy over time, fantasy worlds where people vacation in Antarctica.