Thursday, May 4, 2017


Recently, I've been reading two books side-by-side, one in Indonesian and one in English. In Indonesian, I've been reading Dunia Kafka (or Kafka on the Shore), by Haruki Murakami, while, in English, I've been reading Stephen King's Finders Keepers. 

Now, when I was a young man, this would have posed no problem -- in fact, better not had, given that I was a literature major and would often be reading multiple books from multiple writers and multiple periods at the same time during the course of a term. I cannot recall ever getting one mixed up with another, say Dickens with Tolstoy, for instance, or The House of the Seven Gables with Bleak House. Not only would I keep them straight and separate, but I was able as well to compare and juxtapose, arranging a theme from one, for instance, alongside a similar theme from another in a comparative or explicative manner. 

Ah, those were the good old days. My mind is different now. Like pudding compared to layer cake. Like a swamp compared to a fresh water lake. Not only will I sometimes wonder for a moment who the characters are in a book I've been reading for the past month, but I will wonder what happened to a character or an event that, in fact, actually appeared in a different book altogether! This can arise when one book shares a common thread with another - for instance, when both novels contain a murder. 

Now, what happened to that unknown witness? Shouldn't he be coming forward? Oh wait, he can't. He's in another book. 

See what I mean?

Just think what one might write could he meld this sort of confusion into some sort of sense! Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will have become Dr. Hydell - the impossible protagonist, one of a kind, both in literature and in human experience. Here one might strike upon the most perfectly unlikely narrative and style, an elegant, somehow natural fusion of Hemingway and Faulkner, for instance, or of Castaneda and Flaubert. It would be more than just a book. It would be a language. 

Boggles da mind, don't it?

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