This post is well overdue, however, with all the chaos going on in the last few days, I can’t blame myself. You can, I guess, but I won’t.
The last week on Monday the 24th IB exams finished. That’s right, after four years of agony, I’ve made it to the end. Technically, there’s still another month of waiting to sit through before I can get the actual results, but for now, my active role in the International Baccalaureate Program has ended. In some ways it was a disappointing end. We all gathered for our final exam, French, sat there for three hours and went home. We yelled for a bit, did a little jig and played some IB appropriate music, but aside from that, the whole thing went out with a whimper. I suppose that’s to be expected. After a month of exams, everyone would rather sleep or go to the mall than explode with excitement. I know I sure did.
After a month of hell, in which I had perhaps the worst exam schedule possible, I was ready to go to sleep for a month. Which I did, for at least a day. Then the next day, I got up, went to school, and prepared for Prom and Anime North (more on those in Part 2). Sure it was only for one hour in which i did essentially nothing, but it was still a return to the grind. The accomplishment of finishing this whole ordeal has yet to have a serious effect on my life, though I imagine it will in a month’s time. More worryingly is University in three months. University. I’m going to University, which for now will have a capital U. I still have yet to accept that. Maybe a couple more times will do it.
Nope, it’s still not real. Despite my reluctance to accept this fact, it is still true, and I will be attending University, Ryerson University no less. Can anyone believe this? Ryerson University is the best university in Ontario, if not Canada for Journalism, which is the program I will be attending in three months. I can’t say it though, not without some hesitation. I went through four years of hell to go to Ryerson University? The place where you can get in with a 70 percent average and then graduate to become a general manager at Wal-Mart? Yeah, it’s that Ryerson too, the slacker’s University. I can’t reconcile it yet. I imagine I will, or I’ll won’t let myself stay there.
In spite of my depression at the end of all things, there is something to this conclusion that has some real fun to it. Our last exam took place exactly where our first exam began. Five years ago in February, I took the IB entrance exam in the cafetorium of my school and passed, to my surprise I might add. I joined IB not because of its prestige but on a whim, it was one of those things my parents told me to do. I even made fun of the people who were going, calling them presumptuous entrants to the ‘I’m Better’ Program, where they would be bred to believe they were superior than the rest of the regular high schoolers (I’m paraphrasing clearly. I still couldn’t spell correctly in Grade 8). I wasn’t wrong. IB did exactly that, though I officially deny I ever said such a thing to begin with.
That being said, so where did this all come to a close? The cafetorium, again. When I look back on it, I have to admit it was a perfect ending. I don’t think that last exam would have had the same amount of closure had I not returned to whence I arrived. While I deny that this end has yet to have an immediate effect, the long term effects resonate in that room. The first time I was there, I knew five people and sat awkwardly between two people I didn’t know. Last Monday, I knew everyone and I could call them all by name. Or most of them anyway.
And then we took the exam, and just like elementary school came to an end so to did IB. I never should have expected this to end with a bang. I suppose it’s about time I realize that most experience don’t have a cut off point, one day that you look up and say, you know what, tomorrow is My Life Part 2. There’s no final page to the chapter, no cliffhanger at the end, it just sort of goes on and permiates into everything else that will ever happen to you. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I recently came into the possession of two novels, both of them by acclaimed author Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood and After Dark. I feel guilty for not discovering him earlier. In fact I only realized his existence after reading over a list of foreign writers we could use for our World Literature essays (HAHAHAHAHA IB), and went “Wait! This guy’s Japanese!” So yes. I started reading his work purely based on race. Shut up.
I can immediately say that they’re fantastic reads, and entertaining for anyone who wants to read emotional drama. Murakami’s style and prose captures the essence of the characters he writes. I was honestly amazed with some of the writing in Norwegian Wood, just how gripping the content was, no matter how little actually happened. After Dark was a little less impressive because while it had the same style as Norwegian Wood, it didn’t have the same intrinsic value as Norwegian Wood. Let me explain, Norwegian Wood takes place in Japan during the 70s, and talks about the alienation of people in that era. If looked at logically, the narrator does nothing but listen to long monologues for most of the book, and yet so much of what is being said is interesting it doesn’t matter.
After Dark has much more happen, while less is being said outright. Though there is merit in delivering a novel like that, the problem with After Dark is that Murakami doesn’t pull it off. The story seems to build up to a climax that doesn’t exist. The characters certainly develop, and most of the problems have resolutions, except for two. And if you read it you might get the same feeling. The odd sensation that you’ve missed 5 or 6 pages somewhere that delivered important plot information, and maybe I did. I certainly did read it late at night. However, in Norwegian Wood, you’ll know the climax what you see it. It’s the beginning of a soul crushing chapter, written in font slightly bigger than the rest. Based just on this I have to say Norwegian Wood is the better of the two books.
WARNING – WARNING – MATURE SUBJECT MATTER AHEAD. IF YOU’RE TWELVE OR ACT LIKE YOU ARE STOP READING.
Regardless, what prompted me to write this article is not eloquence, it was sex, to be honest. Norwegian Wood is full of sex. It’s justifiable, since this novel takes place during a time were sex among teenagers began to be a way to express yourself. You could be rebellious by having sex, or you could prove your love for someone by
breaking the rules to do so. It’s not that it became more acceptable, perhaps more liberal is term. My point was that there are times where the sex seems a little gratuitous and a little awkward. One chapter in which a character stated that she could help if he needed to get rid of some semen strikes me particularly. It puts the act of sex as a passé action, but also makes it seem generous, as if the act is a private moment of both giving and taking. It’s powerful, and it just plain creeps me out.
This is probably because I’m 17 and male, and a good part of me is remarkably immature. Still, I have to commend the man for not branding it as complete beauty or damning it as a perversity as we are so keen to do. In fact, when the main character makes the decision to commit himself and his body to his girlfriend, Murakami makes sex appear like a beautiful thing, while showing how it can be used badly. Now, my literary prowess is limited due to age and laziness to read anything outside of school curriculum and fantasy, so I’m likely over glorifying the writer in this aspect. Yet, it still astounds me how much it made an impact. And for that Murakami is awesome.