Love and power in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (*)

“There is always, as I said, only one reality”

 the driver repeated slowly, as if underlining an important passage in a book.

Published by Haruki Murakami in three volumes between 2009 and 2010, 1Q84 is an enveloping novel that gradually reveals its multiple meanings to the reader, as if each meaning were a layer of cloth the reader must discover slowly and patiently, as if the novel were the body of a woman bent on seducing her readers, until she is left naked, in the shadows, in a vast silence. Like other Murakami´s novels, 1Q84 delicately gathers, combines, recombines, and fuses a vast and heterogeneous diversity of themes and realities: dreamlike, fantastic, concrete. Among all these elements, the millenarianism that impregnates the ideology of the members of the Christian sect The Society of Witnesses, an institution around which several narrative lines revolve, and which preaches the imminence of the end of times, prevails as a seminal idea. Maybe the writer felt the responsibility of incorporating into the novel references to the works of the authors who most influenced him, as if the survival of this unique collection of ideas and works were threatened by an apocalyptic event. Murakami makes in this novel a systematic effort to make explicit the references to the authors whose ideas, narrative styles and textual fragments inspire him. Thus, 1Q84 refers in multiple ways to Kafka, Conrad, Proust, Jung, Frazer, Chekhov, Dostoevsky. And to George Orwell whose novel 1984, Murakami takes as inspiration.

In Murakami’s novels, such as The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, Killing Commendatore and, especially, 1Q84, the reader comes across a mixture of intercultural and intertextual literary elements in which it is possible to identify where the dialectics, tensions and contradictions are present. Perhaps for this reason, the image that best describes Murakami’s work is that of a flexible and protean mesh that resembles the net that the tightrope walker places under herself. IQ84 begins with the musings and digressions of Aomame, a 30-year-old girl who is traveling in a taxi that is moving very slowly because of a formidable traffic jam on the Shuto Expressway. The taxi driver listens to Janacek’s Sinfonietta, a piece she also enjoys, but what she really cares about is the likelihood that she will not reach her destination on time. Talking with the taxi driver about the possibilities of taking alternative routes, he suggests that she get out of the taxi right there, walk to a checkpoint, open a gate and look for an emergency staircase that will take her to street level, from where she could take the subway to her destination. Impeccably dressed in high heels and a miniskirt, her walk along the edge of the jammed highway is a surprise and a spectacle for drivers. When she reaches street level to take the subway, she still doesn’t realize that something extraordinary has happened to her getting out of the taxi (or did it happen when she got into the taxi?). She has entered a parallel world where many things are identical to our world. But this other world has some differences. For example, policemen have a different uniform and carry Glocks or Berettas instead of revolvers. Again, none of this distracts the focused Aomame from her goal, which is to get to a hotel, find a man, and murder him in his room with an instrument very similar to an ice pick that she has made herself. With surprising accuracy, this delicate and elegant woman, although not at all fragile (she is a teacher of martial arts and other sports disciplines), neatly and quickly executes her task and leaves the hotel. A short time later, two important characters in her life enter the scene: Tamaru, an enigmatic and enlightened bodyguard, who protects the rich, distinguished and sophisticated Dowager, the wealthy heiress of a powerful family (whose real name is Shizue Ogata). She firmly and severely fights male abuse of women. With her own resources, she finances the maintenance of a safe house where several women live hidden from their former aggressors, or in the process of physical, psychological and spiritual recovery. The Dowager´s firmness in her rejection of women’s mistreatment has led her to resort to murder in extreme cases, when it is not possible to save a female victim from the clutches of her male aggressor. Aomame, a precise, discreet, strong and intelligent woman, works as a hitwoman. She has been her executing arm for some time. Her most recent victim hid behind a facade of a decent, hard-working man, but at home he abused his wife frequently and systematically. The relationship between Aomame, Tamaru and the Dowager is one of respect, affection, admiration and few words. 

Aomame has only one friend, and this is Ayumi, a policewoman who reminds her of Tamaki, a very close friend she had when she was a teenager, who committed suicide at 23. Ayumi has become her occasional partner in bars or clubs, where she goes every time she feels the desire for a sexual adventure that will soon fall into oblivion. It is amazing how she combines her almost ascetic life of grueling physical training with the occasional night out for sexual license. Yet even this inconsistency is part of her everyday life. Although this is an illusion because there is no such thing as everyday life for Aomame, at least not in this world that seems to have turned her life into something extraordinary, where things are not what they seem, just as the taxi driver warned her. She calls this world “1Q84,” where the “Q” designates a question mark, a mark that differentiates it from the 1984 Japan she used to live in before entering this world whose most conspicuous feature—she believes— is that it has two moons. Because of the indisputable nature of this detail, she does not dare to ask anyone whether or not the two moons that she sees up in the sky are something real or if they are a hallucination. But she will soon realize that the world in which she lives is stranger than she thought, and that the extraordinary is not shaped only by the existence of those two moons.

In alternating chapters (other than those in which she narrates Aomame’s adventures) Murakami tells the story of Tengo, a talented and stylish young writer who aspires to be a novelist and who earns his living teaching mathematics at a technical school. One of Tengo’s best friends is Komatsu, a literary magazine editor who is 16 years older than Tengo. They had met many years ago. Now Komatsu makes a proposal to Tengo. For a literary contest in which he will be a judge, he asks Tengo  to rewrite a novel that has been written by Fuka Eri, a 17-year-old girl who has written a fantastic and fascinating story. Tengo is initially reluctant to act as a ghostwriter, but after reading the manuscript, meeting Fuka Eri, and being charmed by her enigmatic beauty, he will accept Komatsu’s commission. He ignores the kind of trouble he got himself into by making this decision. The reader will gradually realize that Fuka Eri is not what she seems to be, maybe as a consequence of living in a world where nothing is what it seems to be. 

Air Chrysalis, the novel written by Fuka Eri, describes the life of a girl within a closed religious community that could be the Sakigake sect. Fuka Eri tells how the character in that novel came to know the Little People, tiny beings with special powers that one day came out of the mouth of a dead animal. In the novel, she also talks about how these tiny beings weave chrysalis from which emerge, as if it were a cocoon, doppelgangers of some of the human beings who live in the sect. Fuka Eri says that in Air Chrysalis she tells of her own experience; although those who listen to her or those who have read her novel do not believe this. The novel wins the literary prize and, after being widely advertised and promoted, strange things begin to happen. Tengo and Komatsu receive threats. Fuka Eri believes that the people of the Sakigake sect fear that the novel is a coded description of secret practices of the sect that they do not want to spread. Although he still doesn’t know it, from the moment he agreed to write that novel, Tengo began to embark on a path that will bring him closer and closer to Aomame. At some point in the future, his path and that of Aomame will meet. 

In one of the chapters, Murakami suddenly introduces Ushikawa, a dark and strange being whose most outstanding physical feature is the unsymmetrical shape of his head (there is a character with the same name in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, it could be the same person. Or he could rather be a doppelganger living in a parallel world different from 1Q84. In this novel, Ushikawa works as a spy for the Sakigake sect, and seems to have the role of thwarting the relationship between Aomame and Tengo. This character breaks the alternation of the chapters dedicated to the two leading characters. Thus, in almost the entire third part, one after the other, chapters that narrate the events of Aomame, those of Ushikawa and those of Tengo follow one another. The chapters that talk about Ushikawa show him as a character playing the role of a little Big Brother, sneakily prying into the lives of Tengo and Aomame. He performs this work in an absurd way that ends up taking away the meaning of his job and even his own life. The surveillance society, the Foucauldian surveillance-and-punishment, eventually falls apart, loses density and consistency to the point that it would be possible to wonder whether or not  this dual practice (one listening to or watching the other) ever really had any consistency. logical, or physical and it was not just an intimidating and in extreme cases terrifying illusion. But if surveillance is one of the faces of Power (I watch you because I dominate you, I watch you to dominate you), this reflection leads to the question of whether Power, instead of being that dense and monolithic mass (attributes with which quite often we invest it), it is not a mirage, something that resembles a cloud, an illusion that can vanish without one realizing it, due to a sudden and unexpected change in the delicate balance of elements that weaves the tessiture of the surrounding reality. As happened with the Berlin Wall or with the rigid order that had been erected in the soviet Union. What is the final destination of the information that the dark Ushikawa collected about Aomame and Tengo? What use were the thousands of files produced by the Stasi, in whose collection millions of man-hours were invested by those who spent years listening to and recording the conversations of others, or observing and photographing those others? Or what good was it to Ushikawa to learn, just before his life was to be terminated, that the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung had erected a tower with his own hands that, as he wrote in his autobiography, was his way of inhabiting an archetype? Perhaps Murakami sought to communicate to the reader, through the acts of the relentless and precise Tamaru, that sometimes those who collect information about the lives of others, much of which is useless, could receive, ironically, together with the imminent announcement of his death, a piece of information that they will no longer be able to use.

One day the Dowager asks Aomame for a new task that, she warns, could be her last, because of its risk and difficulty. It is about assassinating the leader of the Sakigake sect. A man who is believed to be responsible for heinous physical and sexual abuse committed against prepubescent girls. Aomame ignores the Leader´s original name, before founding the sect, was Tamotsu Fukada, the father of Fuka Eri. For weeks Aomame trains physically and mentally to succeed in this job that will demand the best of her. It is a time when Aomame will go from moments in which she trains to push her physical perfection and fighting skills to the limit, to others in which she becomes discouraged, loses confidence in herself, and is assailed by fears of dying. The description of this encounter is a narrative exploration of the inner workings of charisma. The Leader is the representative of charismatic power; even before meeting him personally, Aomame anticipates how dangerous he can be. Also, she has the feeling that the meeting will leave a lasting mark on her. This man, and the hermetic organization that surrounds and protects him, instills in her a diffused fear that permeates everything around her.The charisma invests the Leader with a numinous aura capable of spreading out his influence through space and time. In contrast with the charismatic power of the Leader, the power that the Sakigake sect wields over its followers is born from its impregnability. There are archetypal figures that represent this aspect of Power and that an author like Franz Kafka, whose sensitivity towards power and its metaphors was always razor-sharp, explored them in his novels. In The Castle, for example, this building governs and subdues the inhabitants of the surrounding village because it is a visually and cognitively impregnable structure: None of the villagers who live outside of the Castle know what goes on inside. The Sakigake sect shares with the Kafkaesque Castle an absolute imperviousness, fending off the repeated attempts of the inhabitants of the neighboring populations to enter the place, and keeping a reluctance to disclose any information to the government officials responsible for supervising the sect. Thus, both villagers and officials perceive the sect as a hermetic and hegemonic structure. Another feature that defines the sect as a metaphor of power is its real (or apparent) total knowledge of the ideas, beliefs, desires, expectations, passions of those over whom it wields its power. This is the reason why power always has in store instruments such as the panopticon. Vigilance is critical to protect this illusion. It does not matter that later the collected information proves to be useless. It is the very fact of watching that counts, since the mere act of knowing someone is watching instills fear and submissiveness. Of course, this attitude may come from a sanction for certain behaviors or ideas that power forbids. On the day of the meeting, that cognitive impregnability of the sect began to be undermined. The meeting gave Aomame knowledge about the sect, its hidden practices, its inner structure, and it radically changed Aomame’s feelings about the Leader. As if Murakami had re-wrote the scene as a version of a similar one that takes place in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, suddenly, mixed with Aomame’s deep dislike and fear of the Leader, an unexpected empathy, with hues of compassion towards him emerged from her heart. In Conrad’s novella, there is a similar meeting between a defiant Marlow and a despondent Kurtz. Aomame was surprised when the Leader implied that he was aware of the reason she had gone to see him; and she was further surprised when the Leader begged her to carry out the task she had been assigned. He told her that, despite the superhuman powers he possessed (he hears voices that grant him prophetic or clairvoyant knowledge about the world, he could do unthinkable things, such as paralyzing Aomame’s arm in midair, and preventing her from carrying out her task), he was unable to avoid attacks of increasingly intense physical pain that afflicted him and, for this reason, he had envisioned his own death as the only end to his torment. Acknowledging his responsibility regarding certain ineffable acts, the Leader longed for death, which he considered as an opportunity for his atonement. It is not surprising then that we have the impression that the words the Leader uttered in the shadows of his room paraphrase those of James Frazer in The Golden Bough: «Why did the king have to be killed? It was because in those times he was the one who heard the voice (…) And the murder of the one who heard voices was the indispensable task that the community had to carry out in order to maintain the balance between the minds of those who lived in the land and the power manifested by the Little People.” These words have an unmistakable Frazerian flavor. And it may have been these words which led Aomame to conclude that even if the Leader had committed reprehensible acts, for which he seems to regret, he is a special being. This is why she said to him: Surely, you are also a very capable and superior being. I am sure there must be a world in which there was no need for me to kill you. To which the Leader replied: That world no longer exists. This reflection almost reproduces the opinion that Marlow had of Kurtz: Whatever he was, he was not common. He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch-dance in his honour he could also fill the small soul of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings. The structure of both meetings is analogous. That Leader whose acts, when viewed from afar, might have been judged abominable or reprehensible, is a special or superior man, and his acts, when viewed from a very close point of view, become less susceptible to criticism. It is as if in the vicinity of that leader, even he who defies him, is liable to be seduced by the powers of his charm which in turn will blur his reason. Though, this does not weaken the argument formulated by the Leader: Sometimes it is necessary to kill the king to restore balance. In that meeting, the Leader also told Aomame that Tengo, the boy who had studied with her at school when they were 10 years old, the same one whose hand he held for a few moments one day in his childhood in a scene whose details he has not forgotten, had also entered the strange world that she had entered. And then he added that she and Tengo were in this world for the sole purpose of meeting each other again. This revelation arrived to Aomame as an epiphany, and introduced a new topic in the novel: love. A parallel world in which the lovers enter separately to eventually meet once more. And the Leader does something else. He lets Aomame glimpse that in an infinite number of other possible universes, Aomame and Tengo would not have met again, perhaps, because in many of them,  Aomame would not have needed to kill the Leader and, therefore, the meeting between the Leader and her would not have taken place, nor would the revelation that the former made to the latter.

The Leader, like Kurtz, is clairvoyant. They both know ahead of time that someone is coming to capture and kill them. They know everything about their killer, even his deepest musings and secrets. The Leader knows that her name is Aomame and that she loves Tengo; he knows that she calls that sparsely populated world 1Q84. Also, similar to what happens in Conrad’s novel, the Leader has access to a moment of lucidity, which allows him to know that his death is his only path to liberation and redemption. This explains why he strives to persuade Aomame to carry out the task she had planned. Like Conrad, Murakami is interested in the chances that a being like the Leader will have an opportunity for atonement. The Leader stumbles upon that opportunity when Aomame walks into his room. He knows that she represents a way out from that world that encloses him in a suffocating way. This suggests that, over time, power itself had turned into the real supreme leader and not the other way around. The tragic thing is that in real life it does not happen like in literature. More often than not, the kings of sacred forests do not recover their lucidity before dying; on the contrary, many leaders, so many of them despotic autocrats, take their blindness and foolishness to the grave. Most of the monarchs in the real world, after a brief or long agony, after ruling in a forest where the sacred trees have died, and the land have got wasted, are left alone, shouting with an aged speech in a barren land. Very often they behave like kings who persist in their foolishness, relentlessness, recklessness, ruling blind, clinging to power, spreading misery and suffering to their people. They lost the opportunity for lucidity and they are convinced that they will be able to indefinitely postpone the inevitable arrival of their replacement.

Going back to what the taxi driver tells Aomame: «There is always only one reality.» That sentence seems the beginning of a reductio ad absurdum of the hypothesis that there are indeed multiple realities. Or, it should rather be stated that Murakami seems to be a believer (a player with the idea) in the multiverse. It makes us think that the taxi driver is deliberately lying and that Murakami wants to prove the exact opposite of what his character claims: that there is more than one reality, perhaps infinite worlds. As Hamlet said to his good friend Horatio when the shadow of the former’s father appeared to them: «dear Horatio, there are more things in heaven and on earth than your philosophy can dream of.» Hamlet’s phrase does not only refer to the infinite multiplicity of things that we can come across in reality. Because it is not an observation of a quantitative nature but rather a qualitative one that means not only that the multiplicity of the real brings together very different things. The phrase can also be interpreted in this other way: that there are also things in heaven and on earth without mass and even things impossible to measure; things that are outside the categories of space and time, such as a ghost or the soul. Upon reaching this point, one wonders if all those things of such a different nature are also part of reality or whether they rather belong to other realities, other worlds: the world of dreams, illusions and hallucinations; to those of the spiritual, numinous or transcendental realms; to the worlds of fantasy or fiction; or to the world of memory, that corrodes or wears away with the passage of time. If that were the case, reality would be like a mixture or combination of multiple worlds that in our myopia and limitations we perceive as a single realm. On the other hand, neither our senses nor our reason allow us in all cases to realize when we find ourselves within one or another of the possible worlds. Nothing prevents the limits between various realms from being blurred. And that is what often happens in 1Q84. The novel is similar to an experiment in combining and recombining multiple worlds. Or an exploration of how multiple worlds intertwine and connect, even if most of the time we think we know the boundaries between what is real and what is not. Thus, for example, Tengo, does not understand how it is possible that three different texts, each of which describe a different world, are related and similar to each other in such a surprising and exact way. Those three books were: The untitled novel that Tengo was writing; Air Chrysalis, the novel written by Fuka Eri (ghostwritten by Tengo); and 1Q84, the title of a novel (Murakami´s) and the name of a world with two moons in the sky. In what way, Tengo wonders, does fiction interfere with reality? In what way does one determine the other if the most logical thing would be to believe that the opposite is true: that it is reality that inspires or determines features of the worlds of fiction? «The newly added moon was exactly the same size and shape as one for which he had invented a description. (…) This can’t be, Tengo thought. What kind of reality emulates the creations of fiction? «No, this can’t be.» He said out loud (…) there is no way that is possible. This is a fictional world, a world that does not exist in reality. It was a world within a fantastic story that, night after night, Fuka Eri told Azami and Tengo himself then developed. Could this mean, then, Tengo asked himself, that this is the world of the novel? Could I somehow have left the real world and entered the world of Air Chrysalis, as Alice does when she goes down the rabbit hole? Or could the real world have been revamped so that it is exactly consistent with what is described in the Air Chrysalis story? ».

Murakami pays homage to Orwell in the title of his novel 1Q84. He also does this by including conspicuous aspects of totalitarianism in the novel. In addition, due to these twists of fate, the year 1984 has a second totalitarian connotation for the Japanese because it was the year when the Aum Shinrikyo sect was founded, a model of a fundamentalist group, totalitarian to some extent. In 1995, this sect perpetrated the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo Metro, in which 13 people died, 54 suffered serious health consequences and another 980 suffered minor effects. This terrorist act sensitized Murakami who in 2001 published the work Underground, The Attack on the Tokyo Subway and the Japanese Psyche. In this work, Murakami attempted to deconstruct the difference between We, an epithet that designates the victims of the attack, and They, the attackers, who were members of the sect, arguing that, somehow, both were consequences and elements of the Japanese psyche. Japan, for example, is a nation where religious sects flourished, many of them with millennial and apocalyptic beliefs such as Aum Shinrikyo. Those who joined the ranks of these sects did so with an idealism that could not be classified as false, superficial or hypocritical. Over time, many of these sects drifted towards fundamentalism. This occurred in the Aum Shinrikyo sect. The curious thing is that the followers of the sect, according to what Murakami found in his work, did not abandon it en masse when it drifted towards a more radical position, they did not even abandon it after the attack on the Tokyo Subway. Murakami offers an explanation for why educated and intelligent young people joined a sect like this, despite its radicalism and destructive capacity. He alleges that staying was a criticism of the excessively materialistic attitude with which Japanese culture approaches life.The sect’s eloquence and extreme moral values would have acted as surrogates for the spiritual and moral vacuum in which many young Japanese are still raised. It is possible that Sakigake, the fictitious religious cult that Murakami uses to analyze the logic of a charismatic power, was inspired by the Aum Shinrikyo sect. Perhaps he did so to draw attention to the ease with which a community of bucolic ideals that preaches a return to the simple life associated with farm work and spiritual development, can easily transition to a closed, hegemonic institution, opaque to civil or state scrutiny, capable of resorting to force and violence if necessary, if its existence or the achievement of its ideals are threatened. Another way of paying homage to Orwell in 1Q84 is by creating a way out of totalitarianism through love, for the citizens of that dystopia that is 1984. It is as if Murakami were telling the citizens of the Orwellian dystopia that the world in which 2 plus 2 is 5 is just one of infinitely many possible worlds; because there are others, as predicted by Quantum Theory, in which 2 plus 2 can be 7 or 19. And in some of those worlds, the hegemonic rulers who subjugate them may be slaves, or free men just like them, who have realized how absurd and perverse power is when it is perpetuated or wielded without restriction. One way to enter that quantum universe in which worlds multiply and freedom does so along with them, is absolute love. This is one of the most effective weapons to defend ourselves from absolute power. Just as absolute power isolates in an absolute way (I am here reminded of Kafka as the visionary narrator of absolute power and its metaphors creating that black box that was The Castle; or in Max Weber, who devised the image of the Iron Cage, as representation of bureaucracy (in one of the ending chapters of The Protestant Ethics); or again in Kafka’s story “The Imperial Message”, with the stairs, the patios, the doors and the palaces, all of them instrument to isolate the individual. Such a difference with absolute love, that leads to fusion with the beloved and to the consequent dilution in the other of our individuality. Alternatively, the other defensive weapon against absolute power is literature. 

In the preface to the four novels that together make up the Alexandria Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive and Clea), the novelist Lawrence Durrell tells us that these novels are an exploration of contemporary love that pays tribute to Einstein’s Relativity Theory. The first three novels, Justine, Balthazar and Mountolive would be versions of the same series of events, which occur in the same period of time but told by three different narrators, from three different angles, including that of the omniscient narrator. These three novels would correspond to the three spatial dimensions of this theory (width, length, height). Clea, the fourth novel, narrates the future development of the events narrated in the first three novels, and presents a closure of these stories. According to Durrell, this novel corresponds to the fourth dimension of Einstein’s Theory: time. There is something in 1Q84 that evokes Durrell’s project. Indeed, if Durrell made an attempt to connect relativity with literature and love, Murakami seems to be trying to link quantum theory with literature and love. Aomame and Tengo, two persons who had met when they were both ten years old and studying together in primary school, held hands for a few minutes. During those moments a unique and very strong connection (a sort of macro entanglement, poetically talking) was created between the two. Then the children separated and did not know more about each other for twenty years, until 1984. That year, something unique happened to both of them. In different and independent ways, both entered without an intention, to a world in which their paths would cross again. This is what the Leader reveals to Aomame. What is surprising is that until 1984, none of them was clear about what had happened to them that day at school. But in 1984 when, stuck in the middle of the extraordinary stories of which they are a part, they reflect on that occasion, they begin to realize that they had fallen in love. In the depths of their hearts they had total certainty that they loved each other. They intuited that this was true love. But they thought it was unrealistic to long for a reunion. The revelation that the Leader made to Aomame, that among infinite parallel worlds, 1Q84 is the only one in which they can meet again, shows the narrator’s absolute confidence in the infinite power of unconditional love. As if Murakami had the conviction that love possesses a limitless wisdom that will lead us blindly to that single world where the Omniscient God who plays not dice but billiards, could always lead us to that singular world among infinite possible worlds—no matter how absurd, crazy, or inconsistent this world may be; how full of risks, malice or cruelty it may be—in which the lover will find the lost beloved one more time. 

In summary, taking as an axiom the heterogeneous chaos of intermingled worlds that is reality, Murakami explores in 1Q84 the limits of two instruments that human beings have developed to create order in reality: Power and love. Power separates, creating dividing lines between the elements of a chaotic reality; defines compartments to facilitate the task of segregating diversity according to multiple criteria. Power watches that the categories it has created are kept separate. Power controls those who are under its influence so that their behavior is consistent with predefined action patterns. Power dislikes freedom precisely because freedom is the root of free will, and therefore can cause man to display behaviors that are not congruent with the repertoire of previously defined behaviors. Power defines sanctions and executes them when it considers it necessary. Power creates a reality, or several if it considers it necessary, each of them well specified. In Orwell’s 1984, totalitarianism teaches that in its reality 2+2 is always 5. And it will ensure that this truth is repeated as many times as necessary. Love, on the contrary, unites, creates bridges or links between what is separated. Love, like the spider, weaves threads or networks that gather the multiple and heterogeneous elements of reality to the point that one gets to have the illusion that they are all part of the same thing. Love creates communicating vessels between once-tight compartments. Facilitates sharing; erases the borders between the multiple worlds that coexist in reality. Love is chaotic, create mess. You can create a poorly specified reality in which, like in the world of Hamlet, anything can happen. For example, an immaterial shadow or a ghost talking to a living being. Love can make a world with two moons, or five or eighteen. There are no set parameters in the worlds that love creates. You can not anticipate them. But love can also create ten, one hundred, one thousand, realities, each one unspecific, each one open, each one with a combination in which everything can be possible. They are unpredictable worlds in which nothing is impossible. In which there are rules, but also violations of those rules. Realities that can be understood and rationalized by the man of science or the philosopher, but only up to a certain point. Though, I insist, regardless of whether they are one or infinite realities, love creates surprising, unpredictable, wonderful worlds, similar to those of our fantasy, or those of our dreams.

Quantum Theory postulates the existence of parallel worlds. This hypothesis derives from a certain formulation of this theory developed by the American physicist Hugh Everett (1930-1982), who in his doctoral thesis of 1957 postulated the existence of a Universal Wave Function, while denying that a collapse of the wave function (as the Copenhagen interpretation maintains, developed essentially according to the ideas of the positivist Niels Bohr) that would be produced with the appearance of the observer in a system whose variables are governed according to quantum mechanics. So, given an event with multiple outcomes, each associated with a certain probability, the notion of wave function collapse implies that when one of the possible outcomes becomes manifest (to the observer), the rest of the outcomes possible, regardless of their probability of occurrence, disappears. There is no room for parallel worlds. In the multiple worlds version, this does not occur. The wave function does not collapse, and all possible worlds exist in parallel. I find a similarity between 1Q84 and the Borges short story by Jorge Luis Borges, «The garden of forking paths», where the author describes that field of fiction in which there are «infinite series of times, in a growing and vertiginous network of divergent times , convergent and parallel. This web of times that approach, bifurcate, cut off or that are ignored for centuries, encompasses all the possibilities».

(*) This English version on 1Q84, specifically on two particular topics, love and power, blends different posts I wrote in Spanish (and published here) some years ago. As many readers may have noticed, Murakami is one of the authors whose novels I have tried to read them all. I haven’t written about all of them, though. But I may do it one day. Some editing has been done to this English version. Some inaccuracies have also been fixed.

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