May. 19th, 2012

labingi: (ivan)
Sorekara commonly gets described as one of Soseki's quite good but not masterpiece works. I think that's fair. It's about reasonably well-off young man, Daisuke, in Meiji Japan (living on a family stipend) who at thirty is under pressure to marry and/or get a career. He prefers to philosophize and not be tied down (in MBTI terms, he's about the highest "P" I've ever encountered; he's turned it into an entire philosophical system). And because this is Soseki, he also has deeper conflicts in his personal relationships that skewer him between family expectations and personal desires, traditional Japan and modern individualism, etc.

As usual with Soseki, all this is intricately expounded upon with loving detail and much social and psychological pondering, all from our hero's point of view. It's thoughtful and a good encapsulation in one man's life of convulsions in Japanese society more broadly. However, it fell emotionally flat for me for two main reasons.

1) Daisuke, by nature, is not a deep feeler. He has his feelings, of course, even love of a sort, but he is more a woolgatherer than anything, and even at his most tormented, he seems to speak across a veil of abstract pondering that distances me from emotional impact. (It also doesn't help that this is a strong one-protagonist, one-POV story and there is no character of particular depth--or at least who Daisuke understands to be of particular depth--to play off of him.)

2) It's got one of those up in the air endings that doesn't explain anything about what the whole story has been leading up to. It leaves one scratching one's head and thinking, "And then...?" (ha, ha). Yes, this is plainly intentional, as it is in so much Modern and postmodern literature, but I usually find that a lack of closure lacks closure. I'm not talking about wrapping things up in a Victorian bow, which I hate, but rather giving the reader some sense of why we've been bothering to read: some message, lesson, understanding, turning point, something it's been tending toward. At the end of Sorekara, I honestly had no clue what was going to happen next; it was like ending in the middle. And yes, I am aware that Daisuke underwent a climactic (no spoiler) transformation, but it just didn't amount to much I could get my hands on.

On the whole, I enjoyed the process of reading the novel relatively well, but at the end, I felt that it had all been a little bit for naught. I doubt it's a book I'll reread, though there are certainly bits of it that showcase Soseki's psychological genius ably.
labingi: (Default)
Disclaimer: I've only read a bit in the Trigun manga (plus Wikipedia), so my Plant knowledge is far from complete, and I'm very open to having my musings corrected.

From what I can make out, the Plants in Trigun are a fascinating study in the nature of selfhood and (un-)differentiation of self, other, and environment. Spoilers Follow )

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labingi

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