Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kafka on the Shore

I'm reading Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, and something in it resonated deeply with Ta-Nehishi Coates's writing on the confederate history month. But first, an observation. Everywhere I lived, and just now as I travel through Europe and hear the noise of anti-immigrant sentiment from the recent British election to the anti-minaret law just passed in Switzerland, and most lastingly in my experience growing up under Salazar and his successor: fear is a constant of life — biology rules — that forms an easily manipulable (by those who seek power) self-sustaining feedback with ignorance and lack of imagination. Social and economic instability, or their threat, form a favorable environment for that stable conformation. Now Murakami's character Oshima:

But there's one thing I want you to remember, Kafka. Those are exactly the kind of people who murdered Miss Saeki's childhood sweetheart. Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe. Of course it's important to know what's right and what's wrong. Individual errors in judgment can usually be corrected. As long as you have the courage to admit mistakes, things can be turned around. But intolerant, narrow minds with no imagination are like parasites that transform the host, change form, and continue to thrive. They're a lost cause, and I don't want anyone like that coming in here.

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