Thursday, 7 May 2015

Soseki Natsume (1908) - The Miner

(Available from Sep. 2015)

[夏目漱石の 『鉱夫』]

So this was me back then... reading Soseki... and just as he lived in London when he was young.. I was living far away from home in Japan, picking up colloquial words in Japanese that I'd never need ever again, yet each with their own unique, yet irrelevant, peculiarity (which is probably an oxymoron...)  It also captures my taste for p'taters... and I'll often find myself on the edge of town with a packet of chips.. ready to explore out further...

Amazon writes: "The Miner is the most daringly experimental and least well-known novel of the great Meiji writer Natsume Soseki. An absurdist tale about the indeterminate nature of human personality, written in 1908, it was in many ways a precursor to the work of Joyce and Beckett."

(There's also a lot of Joyce and Beckett that are excellent precursors to 'Joyce' and 'Beckett'...)

I saw why the stream made so much noise: it was full of big rocks.  They were irregularly shaped and, lying down or thrusting upward, they seemed to be there for the express purpose of blocking the flow.  The water was crashing against them, and it was running at an incline.  It came dancing down as if it were being pursued, spreading out the force of its fall from the mountain in easy payments.  So while it might be called a stream, in fact it was more like a broad waterfall paid out in monthly installments. Thus, for a stream with so little water, it was surprisingly turbulent.  The water came rushing down with the reckless abandon of a pushy Tokyoite and flowed past, spouting white foam and twisting and turning like blue, sticky strands of candy.  It was awfully noisy.  Meanwhile, the sun was going down bit by bit.  I looked up but couldn't find anyplace it was shining.  There was just a soft glow over where it had sunk down, and the mountains shouldering that portion of the sky stood out greenish-black.  The time of year was May, but it was cold.  The sound of the water alone made it seem like anything but summer.  And the color of that mountain, with the setting sun on its back and its face in shadow - what could you possibly call that colour?  You could get away with purple or black or green if you simply wanted to give it a name, but how do you set down the way that colour felt?  The mountain looked as if at any moment it was going to lift up, float over my head, and crunch down on top of me.  That was probably what was making me feel so cold.  Vaguely aware that, in another hour or so, every last thing all around me was going to turn the same eerie colour as that mountain over there, and that Chouzou and Ibaraki and I were going to be wrapped in that single, world-enveloping hue, I must have realized that the colour that everything would be in an hour or so was the colour of that one special place where the sun was going down, and sensed that at any moment the colour of the mountain was going to spread from the one special place to take in everything, and this was what had made me feel as if the mountain was going to lift up and crunch down on top of me - which is the analysis of the situation that I came up with just now, sitting at my desk, I'll have to stop this.  Free time inspires a lot of pointless activity.  I was just cold, that's all - so cold that I began to envy Ibaraki his red blanket.

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