One theme I love in literature, is of the wandering soul. The simple careless breeze of a character onto which a reader can place anything they like. The kind of character whose attributes are mere observations of others, and whose interests usually amount to life’s simple pleasures; music, food & long walks. An individual whose life can be imagined in snapshots or picture postcards found in the back rooms of bars.
I find these types of characters interesting. Lonely fools whose lives seem extraordinary because they are so ordinary. Obviously, it's usually the story which makes them interesting, but that is true of real life, we are only as interesting as the stories we tell ourselves and each other. Take someone you know for example who's a great pub story teller, or someone who's great at pulling jokes out their sleeves, and they're usually the ones who have the ears of others. The ones who command the conversation, and to whom we all want to speak. In short the ones sat in the middle of the table, the leaders of the pack. Obviously we only see the story they let us see, thus hiding their depth. Where as the lonely souls are the ones who traditionally let us see this depth.
The lonely wanderer is key throughout literature. It's as old as Romeo, Jesus and Holden Caulfield. The romantic disposition of a man searching for themself, finding it in politics, booze, vice and the arms of women. But here is where the line breaks off into another. Here a second type emerges from the sterotype. The sound of a sigh by the sea, and the cross legged lunchtime reader whittling the hours on a bench with a book. The one content to be alone for sake of not knowing another way. But if one is to truly look into the trend & phenomenon of the blank canvas or tabla rusa character, then it has to be said that this theme lacks a leading female model. Literature is awash with the typical broody male traveler written by broody male travelers, and it has become an expression men have toyed with all to much.
I didn't wish to break into this subject so suddenly, I need to think a little harder on the matter. I simply wanted a good introduction to the film I watched last night called 'Tony Takitani'. Based on a Haruki Murakami short story, the film tells the tragic tale of a true lonely son of a jazz musician and his fashion obsessed wife. The strange thing here however, was this character never did 'find themself' in any of the typical inspirations, and ultimately remained removed from the world around them. The plot told us this was because of Tony's upbringing, and firmly stood by this view. It didn’t glamorize or portray his life as a detached swirl of debauched living, but rather of domestic living. The 21st century male, a clean home proud passive individual, head swimming with nonsense with contact lens eyes blurred by the city.
Every time I stumble across one of these lost souls, I find myself connecting a little more with their character, gradually splashing a little colour into mine. I like the way the theme has evolved from the romanticism of Byron and the thrill seeking 20th century beats, but to an altogether more reserved individual; who does the dishes, takes out the rubbish, drinks at the weekends, and takes paracetamols for their migraines. In this, like the novels of Murakami, we see the inklings of a domestic romantic, who perhaps is a little too wise for the mistakes of his ancestors, yet too afraid to become anything more than an ink stain on a forefinger.