The Stones Cry Out – Hikaru Okuizumi

The Stones Cry Out

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet… (Simic)

Throughout my academic life, the numerous geographical travels or even during the simplest stroll down the lane, never once did I think about the pebbles I kicked clearing my serene path. Standing in the midst of an eternal shimmering sand dune, the golden grains escaping the strangeness of my fingers, only if these minute granular marvels could voice the ancestral tale of the cerulean ocean free flowing a long time ago, the current sand once submerged at the subterranean oceanic flooring. The immaculately inscribed grave stone, the tiny rocks at the cremation grounds, the inert debris of shattered homes, the comatose history silent within the darkness of a cave rising with the slight flicker of a candle light, the history of mankind crystallised in the muteness of the empathetic universe; no such celestial sensibilities mirrored within me, until the potent voice of the gangrene inflicted lance corporal resonated vociferously within the cherry red walls of my room quietening the cello rendition next door. You normally don’t pay much attention to the stones you see by the side of the road, do you? You just think of them as meaningless objects scattered in the mountains, rivers and fields. Even if they’re in the way, it doesn’t occur to you that they might be worth picking up and studying. Well, you’re wrong, you know. Even the most ordinary pebble has the history of this heavenly body we call earth written on it.”

When does the war truly leave a soldier? Or rather when is a soldier liberated from the mirage of a crystallized masked reality? When or rather where the does the healing begin? Can the promising notion of cure truly culminate into totality challenging the linearity of time and liberating humans from the troublesome sensory core in which the living and the dead crowd? Can the imminent dawn of life moisten the dullness of a delirious death? A WWII war veteran, the traumatic POW experiences calcified like the etchings in the dark cave, Manase become the impervious symbolic stone, the transparency of his nightmarish memories masking the opaque reality. Unable to adjust to the nitty-gritty of the civilian life, Manase submerges himself in his exploratory geological obsession of accumulating assorted stones. On a broader horizon, war stories emit the general melancholic sentiment submitting the dilemma of reception and repulsion. But, when microscopically view in a higher magnitude, similar to the rainbow of refractive indexes of each rock-forming mineral scattered in a petri-dish underneath the magnified lens variegated through miraculous hued combinations revealing a painstakingly elusive design of a world within a world, these war stories create a galaxy of their own, magnifying the stippled mélange of a young soldier devoted to the objectivity of authoritative devotion and later as a civilian baffled in the subjectivity of free will. The heart of a man accustomed to numbness unmoved by the cyclic salvation of life and death, the vestiges of a harrowing time gone by floating like phantoms in the dense streams of memory marred by the wartime massacres, festering corpses, the spliced carotid veins in the consciousness of the cave. Memories are nothing but events that have changed into landscapes, and for people who have reached a certain age, the past holds more variety than future because they can paint the landscapes of their past

Okuizumi clutches the capricious masquerade of his protagonist haunting the decisive way of Manase’s war memories and his existing perplexities between schizophrenic hallucinations and a confronting lop-sided realism Resembling the sedimentary green chert demarcating two polarised era yet amalgamating the account of each of these times, Manase’s traumatic life is defined by his relationships each carving an eternal niche of two different worlds. The captain for whom Manase swore his blind devotion, served as a beginning for a long suffering inner dilemma of a governing fidelity to the valued supremacy and the subjectivity of exercising free will in a sovereign libertarian civilization. The illusion of lance corporal swarmed with flesh eating maggots in the inescapable sinister cave, embracing the guilt and loneliness serves the purpose of an eventual alternative reality aiding to unmask the fragmented mental instabilities. A tussle between an individual modernity and communal ideological adherence hampers Manase’s relationship with his two sons, thereby, weakening the already vulnerable bond with his wife. The trauma of repressed war experience develop into the metaphorical red-hot magma cooling and solidifying the bonds of a man to his surrounding under the influence of a changing environment regrettably acquiring only the impenetrable tangled opaqueness of the stone and not the evolving trait enhanced by the transient weather.

Time fits together in a peculiar way – fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain, all are exiled to the past to form a landscape in monochrome. It is a mystery and a blessing. The Palaeozoic, the Mesozoic…….the sedimentary, igneous , metamorphic rocks dispersed in the continuum of time, the vivid hues of the rock formation crystallized peacefully within the loneliness of fossils and metallic ores awaiting the wind of change in the evident erosion compressing a tangled world refracting the condensed history of the earth intermingled in the subtle chemical design . Unlike, the metamorphosing stone embracing the wind of change, Manase was trapped in the fragments of time, unable to amend under the changing weather. The static physicality of Manase repelled the upheaval of deep-rooted emotions coursing for an imperceptible change, equating the vacillating path of the minerals inside the solidified rocks, eventually crumbling beneath the pressure of hallucinations of a sinister past. The psychosomatic predicament masking the quintessence of real human existence alienates the entire being of Manase as a man, a war veteran, uprooting the simplicity of an everyday civilian life polarising the reality from the ephemeral uniqueness of the rock, a geological diversion that had consumed Manase.

Okuizumi establishes the mislaid subsistence of human pandemonium through the universe of geological gradations. The idea of a man being born as a part of the universe, the body predominantly made up of water, the bones brimming with calcium and the inner flow of blood a steady stream of non-static minerals exacting the zenith of evolutionary cosmos is analogous to the metamorphosing constitution of rocks/stones crystallizing the past, surviving the present and ultimately discovering a way to look into the altering future. Manase’s masking of the reality and inability to accommodate the subjectivity of a civilian life beyond his nightmarish past ceremoniously draws the intricacies of human obligations as an institution traumatized by conception of an ethical life rooted within the philosophical perseverance unmasking the blind devotion of societal responsibility; a far cry from the multi-dimensional fragments of the chert. This green chert, for instance consists of the petrified bones of ancient organisms. One day or bones will be like this. This is how the dead come to life again.

Man. Revolution. Life. War. Death. Man. The winds of change transforming the subjectivity of human life along with cyclic environmental existence juxtaposing the multiple dimensions of magic realism with the fragmented reality infused within the alternation of time. The delirious ethical instability shrouded with the philosophical resolution of the unreliability of real human existence resounds the linearity of time and the emancipation of humans from the rigid cyclic order in which the dead and living swarm awaiting for the next gleam of life when moistened with the far-fetched magnitude of evolving time emulating the phenomenal traits of a green chert that sparkle with life when moistened radiating the splendour of a gold-rimmed sunrise.Even the plainest, most ordinary pebble has the history of the universe written on it.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls. (C.Simic)**

———–

** The verses are taken from Charles Simic’s poem Stone from What The Grass Says.

4/5****

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