Benkyo Two on On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl

Postmodern
Japan

Spring 2002

Earl
Jackson, Jr.


talkingcure2000@aol.com

http://www.anotherscene.com/postjapan/

Benkyo Two




From Matt Sussman

 

On „On Seeing
The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning“

Here’s my analysis of a Murakami
story sans any mention of japan– sorry for

the tardiness of the reply.

In the story
„On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning“ the narrator
seems to take an immense pleasure in the continuous defferal and self-cancelation
of any sort of consumation of his desire for „the 100% perfect girl“ that
he randomly passes by on the street. Lacan (now folks, there’s no need
to cringe…yet) talks about „the force of a desire“ as a relic left in
the wake of the subject’s shift from demand to desire.

This shift instantiates
a lack that is constitutive of the subject, in which the particularity
of the object of need is lost, but reappears „beyond demand“ as a kind
of compelling trace of its former self that enables symbolic production
possible. I think this is what Lacan was getting at in that over-used sound
clip :“desire is lack.“ What’s also implied here is that the Object of
Desire is something that can never be consumated or retrieved– we can
only find approximations, substitutions of/for that which is ultimately
beyond our reach (and i think as Murakami or the Maltese Falcon can show
us, this is not a pessimistic life sentence damning us to eternal unfufillment.
It simply means you get to go on wild sheep chases to cool places like
Hokkaido or Constantinople). The story’s narrator seems to have a romantic
insight into these operations, as he relishes in both the continual inaccesibility
of his Object of desire, that which is identified as „the 100% perfect
girl,“ and in the continual impossibility of attempting

to talk about
that which can only be talked „around“, not „about“ per se.

Although he
can identify „the 100% perfect girl“ as such because of his intense physiological
response to seeing her, he is at a loss when he tries to remember anything
about her when attempting to describe her to his friend (68-69). He eventually
decides to recount (to an implicit meta-textual listener– us– as readers)
the speech he would have narrated to her had he approched her in the first
place. This is really funny, because, at what is ostensibly the climax
of the story (where normative-narrative reading protocol leads us to expecet
‚paydirt‘) the reader is presented with another set of self-negating gestures:
the very re-telling of the frame narrative that would of lead up to their
encounter negates what was always already impossible to begin with.

Much
like his desire for something that ultimately lies beyond signification,
the narrrator’s compulsion to tell us his story seems to be motivated by
a knowledge of the very ineffectualness of the act. He will forever be
telling and retelling this rehersal for an impossible potentiality, since
the „100% perfect girl,“ the one person who is supposed to hear his narrative,
can never exist for him long enough to hear it.

Indeed, I think
it could be argued that there can never be an actual „100% perfect girl,“
nor does the narrator seem to want one– rather, it is the pleasure of
the impossibility of the potentiality she promises that is really the object
of desire.


FROM: COLE ACKERS

RE: ON SEEING THE 100% PERFECT GIRL


below is a
response without a hint of „japaneseness.“

please pardon
its excessive tardiness.

best,

cole akers

The Portuguese word „saudade“, loosely

translated,denotes „longing“, „melancholy“, or

„nostalgia.“ In the context of Portuguese, however,

the term connotes a meaning that is irrevocably
lost

in translation. In his book In Portugal of 1912,
A.F.G

Bell makes a few disquisitional remarks on the meaning

of „saudade“ given its intended context:

„The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague
and

constant desire for something that does not and

probably cannot exist, for something other than
the

present, a turning towards the past or towards the

future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness

but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.“

Whereas a decontextualized reading of the „saudade“

insinuates a rather dreary

and destitute nostalgia for an impossible object,

Bellís recontextualization posits saudadeís meaning
as

a nostalgic yearning for an impossible object, only

slightly tinged with the hues of melancholia. In
his

short story „On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One

Beautiful April Morning“ [„100% Perfect“] Murakami

Haruki explores the concept of saudade in a postmodern

milieu and examines the ways in which nostalgia
can be

at once both ironic and romantic [in the fashionable

postmodern sense].

Murakami begins „100% Perfect“ with the narrator

addressing the reader, informing the latter that
he,

the narrator, had walked past his „100% perfect
girl“

one beautiful April morning in H——-, a fashionable

neighborhood in T—-. While the narrative seems

pleasantly feasible at the outset, the narrator

reveals the impossibility of his story by failing
to

adequately describe the 100% perfect girl. Rather
than

attribute qualities to her, he presents a short
series

of negations, explaining exactly what she in fact
is

not and how she is not, in any way, distinct (68-69).

The narrator proceeds to relate a speech he would
have

given the girl had he the chance to speak to her.

Though he posits the speech as the storyís happy

ending (had he the chance to speak to the 100% perfect

girl), the speech is itself a negation of the

narratorís original scenario, for the speech ends
by

announcing the impossibility of meeting oneís 100%

perfect match. This 100% perfect girl, then, is
wholly

theoretical and impossibly actual.

Though the narrator is aware of his narrativeís

impossibility, his motivation to narrate these events

is symptomatic of saudade, his „indolent dreaming

wistfulness“ (Bell). He tells the story not because
he

eagerly anticipates its fruition but because he
is

enamored of „something that does not and probably

cannot exist, for something other than the present.“

Murakamiís ironic romanticism is, arguably, a

postmodern romanticism, where pleasure is derived
from

possibility rather than actuality. 


Truth or Fiction:

On „On Seeing the 100% Perfect
Girl One Beautiful April Morning“

Brian Kindle

This is based on [Murakami
Haruki’s]
„On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl on Beautiful April
Morning.“ The story of the 100% girl presents the problem of the narrator.
He is currently talking to someone about the story he told to another about
a conversation he should have had with the girl of his dreams, even though
it is not sure why this girl is the 100% perfect girl. He can’t seem to
remember what girl looks like exactly and the only parts of the body that
are described, he can’t really remember at all. „Much as I like noses,
I can’t recall the shape of hers–or even if she had one“ (Murakami, 69).
This forgetfulness about her seems to be explained in his story that he
would tell her if he had gotten the chance to see her. Still, who would
believe such a tale? He cannot remember the girl because he still carries
a bit of the amnesia, or is it because the girl does not exist?


The narrator brings us into the story by first starting
the conversation off by repeating almost what he tells his friend in the
conversation that the two of them have. The description of his girl is
very vague for the most part. „She doesn’t stand out in any way“ and she
doesn’t seem to be that attractive to anyone, including the narrator (Murakami,
68). So how can she be the perfect girl for him? It is not a matter of
whether or not that the girl is attractive, but that it fits his mold of
his dream. I really think that this is mainly a dream of his that he desperately
wants to see come true. By recounting the tail[tale]
over and over again to each person he meets, he keeps his dream alive.


He believes in fate and wishes for this to come true.
When he passes by the woman he believes it was to be „crammed full of warm
secrets, like an antique clock when peace filled the world“ (Murakami,
69). At what time did peace ever fill the world? It may be a time in which
he had a great love in his life or just when something in his life felt
just right. Each part of the conversation he keeps explaining on how everything
would carry out, and continues to go into his dream state. He knows how
everything would look and even what she would wear for their experiences
together. This man is a dreamer; it is too perfect to happen. How would
someone react to being told that they are someone else’s 100% perfect person?

The narration also jumps around from person to person.
In the beginning of the story he is talking with someone, whether this
is the reader or someone else, and then he jumps to his conversation with
his friend. From this it comes back to the first person and then jumps
again into his mind this time. The story that he tells is not to the first
person, but his girl. It is more of an excuse to forget what he saw or
what he wanted to see. He wants to believe that what he saw is true. In
his story he says that the two think if „it was all right for one’s dreams
to come true so easily“ (Murakami, 71). I think that he actually believes
this statement in his story. If he had seen the 100% perfect girl then
he might not have thought it to be true and tried to forget all about her.
This might be the reason why he cannot remember anything about her, but
the bent hair. If this is so, then he has created this whole story of what
he wanted to say to her because he could not believe what was happening
when he saw her in the first place.

This narrator believes in fate and also may or may not
have seen his perfect girl. I am not sure which one that I believe. I think
that if he did see her and missed the chance to talk with her then he did
create this story to let himself believe that it really couldn’t be true.
If he did not see the girl, the story was created to keep the dream alive
that one day he will meet his perfect girl. He wants to believe in what
fate will bring him whether if it is the perfect girl for him or nothing
at all. — ~Brian Kindle


~Brian Kindle
zelphyer@cats.ucsc.edu

„What came first–the music or
the misery? Did I listen

to the music because i was miserable?
Or was I miserable

because I listened to music?“

~Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

 


benkyo1 benkyo2 benkyo3 benkyo4
benkyo5 benkyo6 benkyo7 benkyo8

Postmodern
Japan

Spring 2002

Earl
Jackson, Jr.


talkingcure2000@aol.com

http://www.anotherscene.com/postjapan/