Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bears in magazines, bears in dreams

Last night, I was reading in bed, reading the Haurki Murakami story, "U.F.O. in Kushiro," in this week's New Yorker. I was stoned and I was tired, having spent the past couple hours watching a documentary on Richard Nixon. At some point, I paused the thing, getting too tired, or at least too tired of a historical documentary about Nixon. So I lay in bed reading this story. I read the first couple of pages, fading more and more, soon throwing it to the floor, turning off my bedside lamp and falling asleep. The story is about this man whose wife has just mysteriously left him after watching news coverage of the Kobe earthquake for five days straight. The man has an offer from one of his co-workers to go on a trip out of  town to deliver a package to his sister, offers this as a way to get away for a while.

I woke up this morning, the magazine at my side. I showered, got dressed, put the magazine in my bag, and headed off to work. On the subway, I read more from this story, intending to finish it. I came across this section and paused, memories of my dreams from the night before coming back to me.

"Do you get bears around here?" Komura asked.

Keiko giggled and turned to Shimao. "Bears!"

Shimao gave the same kind of giggle.

"I don't know much about Hokkaido," Komura said by way of excuse.

"I know a good story about bears," Keiko said. "Right, Shimao?"

"A great story!" Shimao said.

But their talk broke off at that point, and neither of them told the bear story. Komura didn't ask to hear it. Soon they reached their destination, a big noodle shop on the highway. They parked in the lot and went inside.

Reading this section, I suddenly remembered that I had a dream involving bears last night. The dream suddenly took on a lot more import to me now. I had been reading this story, went to bed before this section involving bears, dreamt about bears, and then read this bear section and recalled the bear dream, pieces fitting together, life and dreams intersecting, meaning seemingly present, something trying to be said, told.

The dream was already vague by this point but what I remembered very strikingly was that a large part of the dream was set inside a big commercial airplane. This plane, for some reason, was flying really low, and by really low I mean an altitude of about thirty feet or so. Absolutely insane and dangerous, but it seemed normal, a nice way to make things scenic - dream logic. We ciircled right above this marsh and there were all these brown bears in the marsh, hunting for fish in the water. I watched one of the bears catch a fish. My face was pressed against the window. I remember being incredibly wowed by being able to witness these bears so up close.

I have done some research into this and have learned that bears can symbolize cycles due to their hibernation, that there is an awakening motif present. Airplanes, I have learned, symbolize change or a search for freedom or adventure.

Murakami stories often evoke something mystical, mysterious; there is always something noirish and mysterious about the workings of life. I felt like this dream last night really brought me into this story, brought my life in the realm of this Murakami version of reality. I think something's about to happen. I hope so.

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