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…Because I have no idea what just went on, but I liked it. Kawabata’s “One Arm” was confusing, and really beautiful. I feel like I’m three minutes of discussion away from uncovering exactly what it was that made me love this story so much. In a lot of parts I feel lost. For example, when the narrator and the arm are in his apartment. “Nothing human would see me. If anything it would be a self. Yours.” For a second I’m lost. Then I’m laughing. People are always looking for themselves. Funny. And then we’re right back in the emotions, feeling, seeing, wondering. Does she feel the way I feel? Memories come next. Then back to “reality” and the narrator is touching the arm and reminded of the girl. He calls her beautiful. He claims she isn’t perfect, and that that’s what makes her perfect. Next he’s attaching the arm to his body but first he asks it to say “please.” And then it’s beautiful. Sexual. Uncomfortable, almost as if you’re walking in on a moment too private to witness.

I gazed at the arm on my knee. There was a shadow at the inside of the elbow. It seemed that I might be able to suck it in. I pressed it to my lips, to gather in the shadow.
“It tickles. Do behave yourself.” The arm was around my neck, avoiding my lips.
“Just when I was having a, good drink.”
“And what were you drinking?”
I did not answer.
“What were you drinking?”
“The smell of light? Of skin.”

It is sad, too. There’s loss when the narrator has to let go of his own arm. He is frantic as he loses a piece of himself in exchange for a piece of her. I’m not sure what it is that I love about this story, but I know that I love it. Maybe “One Arm” is a parallel to love. Maybe this is one of those times that I’m wrong.

One Response to “Can we talk about this…?”

  1. Beautifully done, Jenny, as usual. Keep thinking about this story. It’s so elusive, as you suggest, but also so rich with metaphorical possibility.