Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on The Shore and its exploration of the absurdity of the human psyche which is often denied.

Bruno Savoie
3 min readMar 12, 2022

Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on The Shore and its exploration of the absurdity of the human psyche which is often denied.

Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on The Shore is just one of the books that speaks the language of universality. Of course, this is my opinion, but in his writing, particularly that of Kafka on The Shore, I found that I was looking at a mirror which reflected back to me the own inner-workings of my psyche. Through an intricate, almost inscrutable trajectory of inter-changing souls, and subtle connections between characters whom meet in a world which is not even physically, or tangibly presented but metaphorically alluded too, the reader is taken through a literal labyrinth of interweaving dreams and reality. “Responsibility begins in dreams”, is a theme which prevails, and pervades the whole of this book, pointing to the subtle, yet truly real interaction between waking state, and the sleeping state which gives way to manifestations, and expressions of the unconscious.

It is a rather Jungian kind of work, pointing to the inner-workings of the human psyche, the vast, deep, and perhaps even infinite field of consciousness which is the inherent structure, if I can put it that way, of human behaviors. Also, Freudian in the way parental relations, aggressive impulses and confounding sexual desires are expressed.

It’s almost as though, through his writing, in this package of human mundanity, tragedy, and the utter realness of the human experience, articulated in a language of magical surrealism, Murakami erects a portal, through which, the reader (me), is able to find a subtle realm, which is sort of hidden by the seeming mundanity and ordinariness of the human experience.

Presented through the narrative of this young boy Kafka, having to embark on an arduous journey to come to terms with this fate of sorts which has been scrutinizingly implanted into his subconscious, in a way, his father has almost, like a surgeon cutting into someone’s exterior with a scalpel in order to implant some kind of device, placed this destiny into his sons inner canvas, and young Kafka Tamura is fated therefore to kill his father, ‘be with’ his mother, and have sexual relations with his sister.

It is only by accepting this fate, you know, it’s interesting to note that Carl Jung regarded fate as the unconscious impulses which dwell in that dark area of ourselves which we’ve labeled as demonic, or untouchable, all of our most naughty, instinctive, obscene perversions are stored away, compartmentalized in this, however of course life is an inevitable phenomenon which finds expression in the most subtle ways, and these subtle manifestations of the unconscious repertoire of emotions is what Carl Jung describes as our ‘Fate’, it is essentially a self-doing fatalistic thing, without our knowing of course.

Thus, it is only by coming to terms with this most undesirable part of us that we truly become more colorful, and whole. In the darkness, there lies the things which terrify us the most, but to Murakami, and perhaps existentially true, it is those most terrifying things, those absurd, indecipherable things which leave us completely blown away, this is the magic of life is it not, a genius spark of creation is in everything, and to me it seems that Murakami is one of the most dexterous conduits for this genius darkness, we shall call it.

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