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1Q84 (1Q84 #1-3)
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Posts Gone By > 1Q84: Down Went Aomame: Bk 1 Ch 1-12

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message 1: by Andrew, Wound Up (last edited Feb 09, 2014 06:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andrew Finazzo (johnyqd) | 343 comments ***Open discussion of Chapters 1-12 of Book 1 below, no spoiler marks needed. Be sure you have read through these chapters before reading! Note: if this is your first visit to this topic I recommend you read this post about discussion ideas, then skip down and post your initial response, then read and respond to other people's posts.***

At the very least check in here when you finish this section and tell us if you are enjoying the book. I'll post specific discussion ideas below, along with some general topics we'll see repeated throughout the book.

Mic Breaks discussions:

1) At this point in the novel what do you think the Little People are?

2) Do you think Tengo has always lived in 1Q84?

3) How were your opinions of Aomame and Tengo influenced by their respective intimate relationships?

General Discussions:

1) Share your favorite quote(s) from this section.

2) Share your favorite word(s) used in this section.

3) Do you have a favorite or most intriguing character at this point in the novel?

Location reminder

If you are returning to this topic after having continued past this section, here is a plot reminder:

Tengo has returned home after his visit with the Professor.


message 2: by Andrew, Wound Up (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andrew Finazzo (johnyqd) | 343 comments Little People: The Little People really exist. At least in Fuka-Eri's childhood recollection. At this point we can confirm that some parts of Air Chrysalis are autobiographical - specifically we know Fuka-Eri lived in a commune which likely had goats. I am also inclined to believe that the members of the strange commune would lock a young child in with a dead goat for ten days as a punishment based on their apparent unconcern when she leaves.

Tengo primarily uses "little" as an appropriate descriptor for children, including memories of himself. With a little person staring up at them, even people determined not to pay would usually end up forking over the money... Aomame uses little as a physical descriptor of body parts, specifically her breasts and a man's penis which she calls his "little man". I think these are all coincidental uses of the word.

The one usage that stands out for me is the dowager's reference to a butterfly as a "little person". Like the Little People the butterflies come and go quickly and nothing is left behind after they are gone. The dowager's explanation when Aomame asks if you can befriend a butterfly is fascinating, specifically: "You suppress your presence as a human being, stay very still..." In some ways this seems to describe Fuka-Eri's normal state of being.

This relation to a butterfly correlates to the use of chrysalis vs cocoon but, as various people point out, doesn't contextually make sense since a chrysalis is formed and a cocoon is made.

Now that I've spun my wheels too long not answering this question I'll do my best to answer it. Even though I envision the Little People as Lilliputians from Gulliver's Travels I believe that they are actually a figurative representation of Fuka-Eri's emotional response to her forced isolation.

Tengo's Origins: I think Tengo is from 1984 but I'm not yet sure when he traveled to 1Q84. His dizzy spells are his bodies response to the change, a kind of spiritual vertigo.

Intimate Opinionations: I feel pity for both of them.

When I met Aomame I thought her detachment was related to what she was doing (assassinating). Then we see her clinical interaction with the balding man. I wonder what happened to Aomame which made her approach life with such an ongoing clinical detachment? I want to like the protagonists in the books I read, even if they are anti-heroes; Aomame's attitude towards her environment is so devoid of passion it isolates her from me (the reader).

Tengo's relationship with this married girlfriend is simple and allows him to maintain a simplicity throughout his life. This simplicity lets Tengo consistently enjoy life without ever loving it. I think this simplicity also prevents Tengo from finding a story worth telling when he writes.

The characters' unusual sexual relationships aren't the thing that keeps me from connecting with them so much as the reasons I imagine they have chosen to be in these relationships.

Quotes: Note that I read this section aloud to my wife so I wasn't able to stop as consistently to highlight quotes and words.

A physical object could only be in one place at one time. Einstein proved that. Reality was utterly coolheaded and utterly lonely. I think this correlates with my previous comments about the main characters.

"There has to be an end somewhere. It's just that nothing's labeled 'This is the end'. Is the rung of a ladder labeled 'This is the last rung. Please don't step higher than this'?"

Whatever might have happened, she would have to do something to make the world whole again, to make it logical again. And do it now. Otherwise, outlandish things could happen. I love how this encapsulates the mystery and challenge of the novel.

Aomame's logicality is punctuated here: Constipation was one of the things she hated most in the world, on par with despicable men who commit domestic violence and narrow-minded religious fundamentalists.

The police are a kind of nepotistic society, so it's easier to get hired if you're related to a policeman. I think this is an accurate portrayal of an outsider's perspective of law enforcement but isn't quite accurate... but it may have been accurate in Japan in 1984.

A bird, possibly. Or it might have been someone's soul being blown to the far side of the world. Murakami often uses dreamlike imagery and scenes in his stories but so far in 1Q84 I think it is more muted than in his other novels.

I am still wrapping my head around the Professor's statement: One aim of my field is to relativize the images possessed by individuals, discover in these images the factors universal to all human beings, and feed these universal truths back to those same individuals.

Words: gangly, occultism, taskmaster!

Character: I keep my eyes on Fuka-Eri because it seems like she holds the keys to this mystery - even though I don't even fully understand what is going on in 1Q84. Her character keeps being expanded as the story goes on in confusing and crazy directions. This is all mixed up more because of her limited communication skills. Murakami did a superb job crafting such a unique and enigmatic character.

message 3: by Michelle, Overrun By Pets (last edited Feb 10, 2014 02:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle Finazzo | 281 comments Little People
I think Little People are real and are present while Fuka-Eri and Tengo are traveling on the train to meet The Professor. This also leads me to believe that Air Chrysalis is at least partly autobiographical for Fuka-Eri. I'm becoming ever more concerned about what really transpired at the Sakigake commune.

My first impression was that the Little People were fairies, until I discovered that they seemed to require assistance in fetching water. Fairies would definitely be able to locate their own water, even if they prefer rainwater. My second theory is that they are spirits. I'm not sure if they are good or bad, or what their intentions are. It seems like they may not be super jazzed that Fuka-Eri is sharing secrets with outsiders in the form of a book. The theory I really hope is NOT true is that the Little People are split personalities of Fuka-Eri which originated because she suffered great trauma as a young child at the commune.

I think Tengo was transported to 1Q84 just like Aomame was. The relationship between Tengo's timeline and Aomame's timeline is not clear as of yet. Aomame's door into 1Q84 was while hearing the Sinfonietta in the cab, just prior to climbing down the emergency stairs from the expressway. "The music gave her an odd, wrenching kind of feeling. There was no pain or unpleasantness involved, just a sensation that all the elements of her body were being physically wrung out. Aomame had no idea what was going on."

Tengo's door to 1Q84 was during his conversation about the shootout at Sakigake with The Professor. "Gun battle, Tengo thought. I remember hearing about that. It was big news. I can't remember the details, though, for some reason, and I'm confused about the sequence of events. When he strained to recall more, he experienced a wrenching sensation through his whole body, as though his top and bottom halves were being twisted in opposite directions. He felt a dull throbbing deep in his head, and the air around him suddenly went thin. Sounds became muffled as though he were underwater."

Both Tengo and Aomame had similar physical reactions during their transportation into 1Q84. The primary difference between 1984 and 1Q84 seems to hinge on the Sakigake commune shootout with law enforcement.

Neither Aomame or Tengo have love in their life. Both are involved in physical relationships that don't seem particularly sustainable or fulfilling.

I am guilty of having a double standard in regard to this question. I quite like Tengo as a character and don't hold his relationship with his older, married girlfriend against him.

I am not a fan of Aomame. She is an ass-kicking, contract killer who takes out men guilty of heinous domestic violence. I SHOULD really like her, but I don't. I am very creeped out by her predatory prowls for one-night stands in bars. I am also horrified by her fascination with men's noggins. She reminds me of a black widow spider who will snatch out her ice pick at any moment and stab either an intended victim or a lover. Maybe in time we will discover what has occurred in her past that has her so troubled.

Favorite Quotes
"He was right. A physical object could only be in one place at one time. Einstein proved that. Reality was utterly coolheaded and utterly lonely."

"His mind wanted to wake up, but his muscles and internal organs resisted. He might as well have been a hibernating animal trying to wake up in the wrong season."

"Komatsu believed that mental acuity was never born from comfortable circumstances."

"When she didn't want to answer, or when she clearly had no intention of responding, she simply ignored the questions, as if she had never heard them."

Favorite Words
Prefecture, undulate, schizoid, gangly, superfluous, vividness, celadon teapot, heavenly dispensation, bespectacled, and impediments.

Favorite Character
My favorite character is The Professor because he filled in some holes in a very sketchy story. I also like his description "...a thinly built man entered the reception room with nervous footsteps. He was probably in his mid-sixties. He was no taller than five foot three, but his excellent posture prevented him from looking unimpressive. His back was as straight as if it had a steel rod in it, and he kept his chin pulled in smartly."

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