Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caught in a Chase

Has anyone you know ever been "sheeped"?

I tried to look up the meaning of the word in the Internet, and this is what I got:

1. To send email from another user's account, notifying the world that this person has broken computer security policy by walking away from their computer and left it unlocked.
2. Usually used in the game World Of Warcraft.
3. A take on the phrase "Pulling the wool over his/her eyes", meaning that you might as well have a whole sheep because you are lying or bluffing so much.

...And a whole lot of crap. But nothing really came close to what I had in mind when I was reading Murakami's "A Wild Sheep Chase". And after reading it, these weird images start creeping inside my mind. For one, I came close to the point when I'm starting to question my own sanity. Like I've been quite unhinged for a while. And who wouldn't? It's like your whole world was plunged into chaos and no matter what you do, you can't rub the feeling off. And I never wanted to admit I'm living a mediocre life after all. But after reading this, well...maybe I am. So I'm desperate to get into the chase for this sheep.

So, in my own words, I pluck out a meaning for the word.
sheeped: (adj) to be in a state of total mental mayhem, that of being sheep-like (like when you suddenly felt the urge to buy a woolen sweater)

OK, enough of this crap.

"A Wild Sheep Chase"is a mock-detective novel where names are of zero importance. Not a single character in the story had a name. Except for Kipper, the cat. They do have names of course, only they weren't actually identified in the book. So this guy is practically living a very normal life, or to borrow words from the book, a very "mediocre existence". He runs his own advertising company with a colleague, and then a few years later he and his wife got divorced. Then he meets a girl who's got seductive ears that, as he says, improves sex a thousand times.

But one day, he and his girlfriend get caught up in this serious business of one called "the Boss", a powerful right-wing politico, all because of a photograph of a sheep his friend "the Rat" gave him. Then he meets a weirdo in a sheep outfit who talks without pausing. Apparently, the sheep is no ordinary one; it's a lot bigger than the common breed, with a white face and a star-shaped mark on its behind (see book cover). This sheep was said to be the one that entered Genghis Khan, and to be made a host for this sheep means an unparalleled honor. Or so they say. So the sheep enters your body and he finds a healthy pasture inside you. Then you suddenly possess power beyond anything else. But when the sheep leaves your body, you'll be one useless, disgusting heap of garbage.

It's basically a tale of possession; a person becomes possessed by the sheep and he attains power beyond anyone's grasp. The sheep feeds on this "power" and you become its tool; when the sheep is inside you, you lose all hold on yourself. Simple: the sheep gives you power and then you give yourself to it in return.

I say this is one of Murakami's best. The profound, complex plot compensates with the simplicity of the characters. And you can even read it on the train! Easy-peasy! The suspense builds up fast, too, and you'll find yourself gripped by the chilling, eerie atmosphere at the end of the story. What should I say, the ending's spectacular! I was particularly struck by the ingenuity of the "sheep chase", with twists and turns you'd never really expect. In the end, I was actually "sheeped".

Turns out, I couldn't get over it. Maybe I should get myself some woolen sweater after all.

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