Discover more from Western Coffee
Nakata let his body relax, switched off his mind, allowing things to flow through him. This was natural for him, something he’d done ever since he was a child, without a second thought. Before long the borders of his consciousness fluttered around, just like the butterflies. Beyond these borders lay a dark abyss. Occasionally his consciousness would fly over the border and hover over that dizzying, black crevass. But Nakata wasn’t afraid of the darkness or how deep it was. And why should he be? That bottomless world of darkness, that weighty silence and chaos, was an old friend, a part of him already. Nakata understood this well. In that world there was no writing, no days of the week, no scary Governor, no opera, no BMWs. No scissors, no tall hats. On the other hand, there was also no delicious eel, no tasty bean-jam buns. Everything is there, but there are no parts. Since there are no parts, there’s no need to replace one thing with another. No need to remove anything, or add anything. You don’t have to think about difficult things, just let yourself soak it all in.
— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
I’m settling in back home this week, but I wanted to share something that came up when I was with my dear college friends over the weekend.
We’d been talking about the notion of being understood by someone else—a classic, maybe universal desire, and one whose fulfillment I’ve always found implausible. It’s like a Powerball ticket: Once in a while you’re going to match up one or two numbers with somebody, and if you’re very lucky you might get four or five. But all of them?
As I rolled over the next morning and wrote in my notebook, one reward of being with these acute and curious beings whom I’ve known for so long occurred to me, that they function as a kind of telescope array. Fluctuating distortions by Earth’s atmosphere might make it impossible to get a clear image of some astronomical phenomenon from a single point. But if you take synchronized images from multiple locations, you can compute a higher-fidelity image than you’d ever be able to get from a single ground-based telescope. In this way the collective of my friends, sipping tequila in a cowboy tub in Yucca Valley, becomes audience to a greater share of one another than is normally in view.
Creative acts have a related benefit: I think they’re almost by definition a synthesis or coherence of disparate aspects of us, a harmonizing of invisible parts into an artifact that can be seen (including by its creator) and shared. The process of writing to figure out what you think makes sense through this lens, because the you who is doing the thinking is perhaps really a confederation of yous, and the thinking an act they perform together.
I’m less than $500 away from qualifying for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 as a charity fundraiser. Please make a donation to the nonprofit Achilles International.
Thanks for reading Western Coffee! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.