Do you know the feeling of not wanting to go on reading a book because one particular passage is simply so to the point that it feels like everything else will fade in comparison? With this passage below (from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami), I do.
As I was reading this during the previous week I found a passage, that reflects some of my own thoughts and conversations. Something I wanted to share today.
“Haida laughed. “…I don’t like to be tied down to one place. I want to be free – to go where I want, when I want, and be able to think about whatever I want.”
“Sure, but that can’t be easy to actually do.”
“It isn’t. But I’ve made up my mind. I always want to be free.”
“But it seems to me that thinking about things freely can’t be easy.”
“It means leaving behind your physical body. Leaving the cage of your physical flesh, breaking free og the chains, and letting pure logic soar free. Giving a natural life to logic. That’s the core of free thought.”
“It doesn’t sound easy.”
Haida shook his head. “No, depending on how you look at it, it’s not hard. Most people do it at times, without even realizing it. That’s how they manage to stay sane. They’re just not aware that’s what they’re doing.”…
“But unless you can do that intentionally,” Tsukuru said, “you can’t achieve the real freedom of thought you’re talking about, right?”
Haida nodded. “Exactly. But it’s as difficult as intentionally dreaming. It’s way beyond your average person.”
“Yet you want to be able to do it intentionally.”
“You could say that.”
“I don’t imagine they teach that technique in the physics department.”
Haida laughed. “I never expected they would. What I’m looking for here is a free environment, and time. That’s all. In an academic setting if you want to discuss what it means to think, you first need to agree on a theoretical definition. And that’s where things get sticky. Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. So said Voltaire, the realist.”
“You agree with that?”
“Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you should also not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. What’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary. That’s about all I can say.”
“Can I ask you a question?” Tsukuru said.
“In different religions prophets fall into a kind of ecstasy and receive a message from an absolute being.”
“And this takes place somewhere that transcends free will, right? Always passively.”
“And that message surpasses the boundaries of the individual prophet and functions in a broader, universal way.”
“And in that message there is neither contradiction nor equivocation.”
Haida nodded silently.
“I don’t get it,” Tsukuru said. “If that’s true, then what’s the value of human free will?”
“That’s a great question,” Haida said, and smiled quietly. The kind of smile a cat gives as it stretches out, napping in the sun. “I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. Not yet.”