You might fail countless times, or feel like a failure, but joy comes from the simple act of trying. Them comes the miracle. The leap that actually does bring you to other side. What Murakami really wants to do is to write.
The running and other forms of sport help him to do that. In other words, he uses physical work to keep his mind and body in great shape to prolong what he really likes doing for as long as possible. Work is exalted. The idea of exertion and effort is exalted. The idea of the body as the temple of the soul, or at the very least as a precious receptacle, a vehicle for profundity, is vibrant.
But at the same time, and just as with Kierkegaard, you sense strongly that Murakami really feels for all those people who are not living their life to the full.
Summary of Wine of Astonishment Essay
For all their mutual weirdness, they are full of empathy. In essence, I feel what really unites Kierkegaard and Murakami is their sense of duty to their art and their craft. That includes physical exertion — walk, run yourself through that wall that brings you to inspiration at the other side of physical exertion. They are both Knights of Persistent Art but they understand the significance of this in both its negative and positive spheres.
This negative artistic sphere is the knowledge that you are a Knight of Infinite Resignation as Kierkegaard put it. This means that you are no saint who can do miracles by the simple act of being. In performing this sacred act, they are almost on a par with the Knights of Faith. Through their art of bringing the impossible into being, they attain the highest heights of faith in that higher sphere of life and the soul.
These are just other terms for the unknowable but felt God. As with other great festivals that humans celebrate all over the world, Christmas is not a question of a series of facts, but what you passionately feel in your heart and your art. I send best wishes to all my many readers for a Happy Christmas and a peaceful, creative New Year.
A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary | Bartleby
At long last, an affordable new translation by the Irish writer and filmmaker Paul Larkin, published by the Danish Museum Tusculanum Press and bearing the more English-friendly title A Fortunate Man , is now available. It presents the first real opportunity for English-language readers to encounter what the scholar Flemming Behrendt, in his afterword, calls one of the most re-read and talked about novels in Danish literary history.
It is set against the backdrop of a Copenhagen that, in the final decades of the nineteenth century, was transformed into a battleground of struggles between conservatives and progressives, Christians and atheists, the old and the new. The influential critic Georg Brandes gave a series of lectures on modern European literature, championing French naturalism and Darwinian freethinking, that inaugurated the prolific cultural and intellectual flowering known throughout Scandinavia as the Modern Breakthrough, encouraging writers like Ibsen, Strindberg, Hamsun, and Jacobsen.
A Fortunate Man breathes the excited, tempestuous air of its time, but it often feels strikingly modern. What is Per if not an ancestor of the Silicon Valley positivists of our time? Therefore it is done. Like Nietzsche, Fjaltring finds it difficult to reconcile the Old and the New Testaments, and even suggests that one is the travesty of the other. As strange as it may sound, one of the few vibrant and complex portrayals of Jewish life in the nineteenth-century European novel happens to have been written by this son of a provincial Danish pastor.
Lucky Per! Though less conventionally attractive than her flirtatious sister Nanny, Jakobe possesses a commanding intellect: she is prodigiously well read, widely traveled, and firmly independent. She is also, from a young age, painfully conscious of the degradation and injustice that Jews encounter everywhere from their Christian neighbors across Europe.
All summer long, she had been reading newspaper reports about these legions of refugees and the shameful acts which the mob had visited upon them—either to the indifference of the authorities or even with their outright collusion. The newspapers described how Jewish homes had been set alight with the families still inside; Jewish families had been robbed down to the very clothes they stood in; their women had been violated and abused; old Jews and children alike had been stoned to the point where gutters ran with blood.
On its knees willing to suffer for the truth—the truth it has suppressed—for injustice, which it has blinded. Even as their engagement is broken the narrative seems to expand rather than diverge; it is as if Pontoppidan was so affected by his own creation that, unlike Per, he could not bear to be without Jakobe, whom we never entirely lose sight of.
Still, it is Per Sidenius and his conflicted, beleaguered soul that Pontoppidan plumbs. A proper Bildungsroman , the novel parades its hero through a variety of conflicting influences, from his dogmatic father to the progressive Dr. Nathan, the liberal-minded Pastor Blomberg, and the Nietzschean Fjaltring. As sure as day followed night, and then night came again; and just as if all life on earth was born out of this dialectic between the dark and the light, so too was religious life conditioned by this inexorable paradox that, with its conflicting forces, ensured that the soul was in constant flux.
A Christian faith that was not continually renewed by doubt was a lifeless thing — nothing more than a broom handle, a crutch which might help a soul to forget its lameness for a while, but could never be a life-affirming construct. A huge city containing millions like this possessed something of the magic of the ocean. There was something of the siren call of the rolling waves in this murderous existence, in this wild tumult, this incessant ascending and descending, which right to the moment of extinction continued to hold out the promise of new and limitless opportunities.
Pontoppidan is always of two minds about things, and it is for this reason that A Fortunate Man, while being one of the great novels about modernity, never once buckles under the weight of the ideas and currents it depicts. Pontoppidan is repeatedly drawn out into the abundance, the noisy pluralism of life, even as his hero travels deeper and deeper into the small privacy of his own being. As Thomas Mann put it in his birthday letter:. As a genuine revolutionary, he sees in prose above all a scrutinizing power.
With that charming, indeed captivating, stringency which is the secret of all art, he judges the times and then, as a true poet, points us towards a purer, more honorable way of being human. Very occasionally in your life, you will experience a moment where your efforts in a particular discipline all meld together into a sense of great harmony. That something you did was exactly as you wanted it and had worked for.
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They are all forms of play, of fun and enjoyment, the basis of all art; but also represent years of practice, dedication, grim determination even, in the face of past failures in your chosen calling. Just one of those moments when everything goes right; all your abilities and interests, your passions, coalesce to create something unique. Of course, I got crucial help from others when translating, writing and imagining this book into existence. Thus I consulted experts in various fields and in particular the sagacious Flemming Behrendt from the Pontoppidan Society who also wrote the afterword to my book.
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Then at the other end of the process was my brilliant editor at Tusculanum Press, Jordy Findanis. But overall A Fortunate Man is my creation with the original author in the Danish — blessed Henrik Pontoppidan — at my shoulder. I urge you all dear readers to simply get the book and be astonished. But to get to that point, I need to describe, very briefly, the way I approach translations. The late and much lamented artist, writer and thinker John Berger is a moral, political and artistic lodestone for me and I want you to hear what he told us in his last book, Confabulations, about the art of translation.
It was a Eureka moment for me. This too is a form of astonishment. To be confirmed by others in your convictions. Essentially John Berger rejects the idea that human language is exclusively verbal and textual. The key thing is that, beyond the different individual languages, is a meta-language that we immediately know. The linguistic Mother of all Mothers. No language is entirely separate. We all know symbols and signs, gesticulations, feelings in the air, a space charged with a particular colour.
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There is deep snow, twinkling stars, a racing moon and silvery ethereal clouds. How to conjure that excitement.