I have plenty of things to say and they have been weighing on my mind. I will try my best to get some of them out of my head in an organised way, at least I am trying, despite being rather sleepy.
I have just finished reading Underground, one of Murakami’s books. Which means I have read all of his current work until his new book comes out in the near future. I bought this book some years ago but could not get round to reading it; the reason for this is that I could not cope with the very small font. It drove me nuts and because of this, it was extremely difficult for me to concentrate on the story. Eventually, I managed to give it a go again, although it took me ages to finish it. After a lot of effort, especially with my hands sweating profusely every time I picked up the book, I thought of it as a very interesting read.
Underground is a journalistic piece of work, in which the author interviewed the victims affected by the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Murakami also interviewed members and former members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, the leader of which, Shoko Asahara, ordered some of his close followers to perpetrate this senseless act of terrorism. The story provides an insight into the lives of the innocent people who were caught off guard by the horror of the event. Not only does it reveal how they felt about the incident, the book also provides some background information on these people – who they were, what they did and where they came from – so as to establish their characteristics. As sorry as I felt for the victims, I found the interviews a little bit repetitive. Understandably, the author wanted to give a precise account of what really happened on the underground on that particular Monday.
The second part of the book both irritates and intrigues me at the same time. In this section, the interviews allow us to go inside the minds of those who seek refuge – or as they call it “searching for enlightenment” – in a religious cult. What I gathered from the interviewees was their sense of alienation, loneliness and isolation. They were disillusioned with the hard realities of life and were trying their best to look for something more meaningful in their existence. Some, with a background of good education and respected jobs, decided to abandon their lives and promising careers to join this doomsday cult, pinning all their hopes on the the leader of Aum to cast light on the questions that they had been asking themselves. They gave up their own identities and ways of thinking and instead, replaced them with the guru’s ego and his flawed, warped ideologies, deserting a human’s basic common sense of what is right and wrong. Because of this, to me, they were just weaklings who were exploited by their master.
What I gleaned from reading this book was a personal understanding of my own imperfect Self. No matter how hard I try, I will never be completely fulfilled in life, but nevertheless shouldn’t I make the most of it? It does not matter who I am and what I do as long as I cause no trouble to anybody and have the ability to make my own decisions on how to live my life. I think I am satisfied with myself. At least, I would never dream of hurting other people like some of the Aum people did in the Underground.