Now I’m very worried. I don’t know what this means but I’ve just stumbled across two instances of this bit of strangeness that seems important. Perhaps important is the wrong word and this is just a random coincidence that just happens to be a trigger for me. I’m interested in seeing if it is a trigger for something bigger for others.
Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors. He is in a world class that few writers achieve. The worlds that he builds are very ordinary and small except when they slip into something very remote and strange but just around the corner from our neighborhood Starbucks or its equivalent. We are dealing, after all, with worlds that link through Japan and there are indications of that but these are not so important as to be more than mildly intrusive. But that is, itself, mildly intrusive because we may not be thinking about being Japanese but we all inhabit a world that includes Japanese elements. The fact that they are not exotic unless made to be exotic makes us aware of the commonness of global elements that triggers both knowledge of these elements that we may not know we had and awareness of their familiarity. But then Japan is very familiar to me but I know Murakami’s popularity incorporates some part of these elements for everyone wherever they live.
But the problem appears in Murakami’s most recent novel, 1Q84. This is a novel of two people from oddly strange families, but not so odd that we aren’t troubled by familiarity, who met in elementary school and then were seperated. The result can only be said to constitute an imbalance causing something like quantum mechanical disturbances in our world and a close parallel. It became possible to climb, inadvertently from one reality to another as these two people struggled to find themselves by finding the other.
The indicator of which world you were in was the presence of a second moon. Not a big moon but a smaller and somewhat imbalanced moon shaded a bit green or perhaps I made that up. The shock of walking out of a coffee shop and noticing that the moon was out in late afternoon and then noticing a second moon just below it forced a stop. But no one else seemed to notice. Pause. Did they not see it? Or was it something they expected? A sudden and large risk of social embarrassment or more. The moon! Yes, the moon is up, and the conversation continues. But the other one? Wait. Maybe only I see the other one. We walk on toward our homes but in a normal world that is suddenly very different. What else has changed?
Going back in time to 1975. A very different world struggling out of disaster with few people left in the city. Some buildings still smoldering and smoke hanging low in the sky hiding the sun, the moon, the stars and other things that are not understood and other things, that no one wants to understand. Communications are down but the coasts seem to be ok. Only the city is abandoned but other people slowly arrive to check it out. There is a bar giving away booze and a dog owned by a woman with a boy still dancing behind the bar in a cage. Leaving the bar and all stop because there is a light in the sky. The moon appears through smoke and clouds that haven’t broken for weeks. Everyone stares but there is a second moon. So they name it George. But was it there? The smoke returns and the only newspaper reports the moon and the second moon, George, but it is strictly hearsay.
Dahlgren, by Samuel R. Delaney. The Ulysses of 20th century science fiction. Officially a “difficult” book. But not so difficult now and very much like a mid 21st century book that escaped its time and place and fell to earth in 1975. We seem to be almost there. But not quite. And it is strangely of another land, no phones and no computers. The newspaper is critically important but not to us. Nothing happens in the end except the Kid leaves and things continue somehow.
Are we going to wake up one morning to a second moon? Another world? A memory of a second moon? We are in transition to a different world but it is not clear that we will survive the trip. This one may not end well but there is also hope for solutions and answers that were never available before.
There is also an easy flow of sex and gender and food and full acceptance of diversity. And those desperately hanging on to old and moldy ways of thinking can disappear into the fog or smoke or past or future. But we will follow the second moon and rediscover those things we thought we never had. Maybe the second moon appearing in two very different but similar books is the sign we’ve been waiting for.