I would like to visit two places in the new few months under the auspices of doing research for my novel: New York and Korea. Of course, they also call to me on an emotional level; I can never go too long without having seen either my hometown and my mother country.
I often wonder whether all my travel (thus far: to places NOT New York or Korea) is preventing my own travels to what Murakami calls “the underground” or “the dark place.” Or if I ought to choose destinations more relevant to my work. Or whether they will all help me travel to that place of truth. Or whether it doesn’t matter one bit.
I was up in Tahoe again–making time to visit Mono Lake, a beautiful lake stemming from prehistoric times, then abused and shrunken, revealing the remarkable tufas in the high desert air, looming out of the shallow salty aklaline waters. It is like seeing the skeleton of a lake, now being rehabilitated.
I want to, in my writing, expose myself down to those bones. I am reading some of my short stories and I do wonder if I am courageous enough–and I am apt to think that no, I am not. I am guarding some part of myself as I write. I read the work that’s been published and I now realize that the courage was there in those pieces. The published pieces are the ones that frightened me once written, as if seeing some part of me stripped bare.
These days, I’m thinking about Murakami’s comment about his writing process: about going to the underground and observing what he sees, writing it down. And then shutting the door and going back to the daylight. He also said he was not able to write in his early twenties because he had not had much hardship in his life–but that he began to write later because he had finally experienced hardship (he did not specify what that hardship might have been).
He spoke of the underground as “a dangerous place.”
I am wondering about the components to such travel. I’ve been discussing with a friend via email, who asks me the same–what do you think Murakami means by “the dark place?” Having the experience/content, and having what I see as “stillness” are requirements to making that journey
The dark place/underground/subconscious for me, contains all the things I sock away during my daily life. It is that closet of neglected and shameful and fearful feelings that I shed and hide. I was also raised to not acknowledge fear or sadness, and so this compartment has been artfully decorated and arranged…and terrifying to enter. And so going to the dark place is a scary experience, because I have to confront and process these feelings, find the stories associated with all the things that my conscious has rejected. It is time consuming and exhausting, but thoroughly rewarding. And sometimes I find some brilliant matches.
Of course this journey need not be so fearful or dangerous. It is, I realize, a very different place and process for many writers. Which leads me to some curiosity about what the “dark place” or “underground” looks like to you.
How about you? What do you think Murakami means by “the dark place?”
p.s. in other news, I learned today that you do NOT put metal forks in toasters, even if you plan on being VERY careful in fishing out the pita bread. Nope. Because you’ll get electrocuted.
And I also learned today what it actually FEELS like to get shocked like that, and how weird and sickening the feeling is, and how you are UNABLE to SCREAM while getting shocked (did you know this? Now you do).
And finally, I learned that should you get that sickening feeling of electricity running through your hands and up your arms…LET GO OF THE FORK QUICKLY. Because I did not let go quickly, as I thoroughly ruminated, “What’s going on? What is this weird and sickening feeling? Hrmmm. This feels really odd and very wrong. Why is this happening? Hrm. Am I? Oh wait. I think I’m getting–omg, ELECTRIC SHOCK!” (It takes a good 10 seconds to say all that to yourself). And then and only then, did I drop the fork. As a result, I spent the rest of the day with tingling hands and arms, spaced out, nauseous, and very very very tired.