Kafka on the Shore


Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

In this declassified US Army document, Lt. O’Connor interviews Doctor Shigenori Tsukayama, a psychiatry professor. During the war, Dr. Tsukayama was ordered by the military to inspect the children involved in the Rice Bowl Hill Incident. Since other factors like poison gas had been ruled out, Dr. Tsukayama concluded that the children fell unconscious and lost their memories of the incident because of group hypnosis. But Nakata remained unconscious, and it was unclear why. Though his body continued to function normally, Tsukayama said in the interview, it was as if his mind had gone elsewhere to wander, leaving his body behind like “a fleshy container.” Tsukayama said it reminded him of Japanese myths of “spirit projection,” in which the soul separates from a living body and wanders like a ghost.
To heighten the mystery of what happened to Nakata, and further suggest that the event was both supernatural and psychological, Murakami includes this psychiatrist interview. Even reputable scientists like Tsukayama have apparently connected the incident to a supernatural theory: Nakata’s mind actually left his body. This is a literal version of a sensation experienced by many characters—that their “selves” are separate from, and oftentimes at odds with, their physical bodies. The fact that Nakata has literally experienced such a disconnect highlights the intensity of that feeling in other characters.
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Despite the best efforts of the doctors, nothing could be done to wake Nakata from his coma until one day, after weeks, he woke up on his own. Physically, Nakata was fine, but his mind had been wiped clean.
Again emphasizing the disconnect between body and mind, Nakata had an experience that altered his mind but left his body intact.
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