An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro

An Artist of the Floating World

Each time my eyelids bowed down to the devil of grave drowsiness, the concave depths displayed a lean, modest shadowy figure standing on the Bridge of Hesitation; the wrinkles on his forehead becoming deeper , trembling with culpability, wishing for Noriko’s miai to be an incessant success. The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow Jerome K Jerome was accurate with his analysis of the solitude of an idle mind bringing generous thoughts. There I was, nursing an acute bronchial cough cursing the fateful knitting needles for hampering my purling flair even as Masuji diffidently questioned Mr.Kuroda’s whereabouts to his surly assistant. How could a man be punished for something he believed in? How can skepticism prevail on man’s patriotic ideals when his loved ones too perished in the dreadful horror? Is the idea of patriotism merely seductive when one does not have to stand on the edge of its justification? “Ordinary men with no special gifts of insight, it was simply our misfortune to have been ordinary men during such times.”, that is what Mr. Mastuda asserted rubbishing Masuji’s contemplation of a culpable survival. The close knit life of ordinary men is anything but ordinary. The narrow area of existence magnifies the aspects of circumstantial actions. The wrongs do not get washed by the flow of vast oceanic waves but float amid the marshes of a pond. Isn’t ‘the lives of ordinary men’ restricted as the stagnant pond waters? The tight-knit communities in which he daily moves, the by-lanes, the alleys which witness his daily travels and those numerous heads that pop up at the windows every time he closes his door; absolutely nothing is inescapable in the life of an ordinary men. With such unusual vigilance how could his troubles then be marginal? Dignity and self-respect brings a sense of calmly happiness to the life of an ordinary man. With no monetary affluence or supremacy, ‘dignity’ seems the only path of his civil acceptance. In a world so constricted with flimsy lifelines of obstinate relationships, exile is a nightmarish death.

‘The validation of a war’; I dread debating this subject as my nerves tremble with utmost anger. A part of me appreciates the use of military powers in virulent situation of civil conundrum. And, then there is the other half that contests the legitimacy of the power usage in case of political egotistical fulfillment. Comprehension of any war literature is a chaotic process hindered by my faint heart. I have always nattily stayed away from any war related prose, especially the ordeal of soldiers or the aftermath of human lives. I may not know the tribulation of braving a war front or structuring a war graph, nevertheless I certainly know that is shameful to doubt the worthiness of valiant sacrifices. The anger that seethed when Suichi called the deaths of young Japanese soldiers wasteful appeased when he validated his disdain by questioning the prevailing injustice of seeing the ‘real culprits’ still alive and enjoying luxurious perks amid the brazenness of righteousness. “To my mind, that’s the greatest cowardice of all”. How true! Isn’t’ that a bitch! Ishiguro speaks the language of restless youths of many generations questioning the inequitable penalty of the war. The politicians, spiritual leaders, capitalist cliques waving their chameleonic flags of patriotism shy away from battling on their once beloved home ground. Why those clandestine escapes to safe havens when their own vile concoctions amalgamate in their own drinks? Why not brave the salient turmoil themselves, that these ‘benevolent guardians’ stir? Suichi admitting flaws of the nationalistic chimera, the misplaced self-respect and prevailing shamelessness veiled under a patriotic farce is a tale told by every life of a torn nation.

Japan was a torn nation after the WWII, feelings ranging from compassions to abhorrence raced among the minds of those alive and trying to weave a better future in their displaced living. Those who once were applauded for their patriotic songs were now mercilessly beaten and whispers about selected betrayers flooded the atmospheric desolation. Masuji was among those who lived with ignominy finding getaways from his past leeched onto him like a hungry parasite. Masuji Ono may have once been the most revered artist of his time, but to me he is now a worried father of Noriko fearing the consequences of his past action being detrimental on his daughter’s future. Having lost his wife and son in the war, the only family Masuji had was his two daughters, how in the devil could he allow his condemnation of his war efforts hamper the bright prospects of his unmarried daughter. Masuji was no longer the influential artists of the Pre-war era; he was now an old feeble man who relied on old memories and occasion outing in the Midi-Hidari neighborhood for a pleasurable day; comprehending the wisdom behind the western influence in his grandson’s rearing

Kazuo Ishiguro highlights the apprehension of a man in admitting his mistake in the fear of his denunciation; chronicled three years after the war. An Artist of the Floating world, the name Ishiguro chose for his novel, travels through magical serenades of flamboyantly lit streets of Midi-Hidari district, the hypnotic sways of delicate fingers playing amongst the elegant kimonos captured through beautiful brush strokes ,where an local artist reveled in his honorable dignity only to lose it and then gain it back again with grit and determination as there is certainly no shame in admitting one’s mistake made in the best faith because in a ‘changing world’ one is bound to stumble and falter because no one is perfect or a virtuous ‘sensei’.

4/5****

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