So after some buzz on the internets, a movie trailer, a bit of Urbana bus reading and an Asian Kung-fu Generation single, I decided I should probably finish Solanin. And since it’s pretty short, at two volumes and fourteen chapters in each, I managed to do it in one night. And well, Solanin resonated with me to an eery degree. It’s not hard to see why. After all, I’m right at the cusp of entering the life stage that the characters were struggling through.
And it’s sort of the perfect storm of things that I’m thinking about that made me much more receptive to Solanin than I otherwise would have been, even a few months beforehand. It’s just last week that I was deciding whether or not to work my ass off for a shot at grad school instead of staying the course and going into industry after graduation. And it was only a few weeks ago that I felt the mid-coop malaise that I usually get. And then there’s all of the graduation buzz for this year’s graduating class, signaling that my own graduation is only a year away.
Now, my situation is nowhere near as bad as what’s in Solanin. That’s not to say that the situation in Solanin is horrible. What makes it scary is that the things the characters go through is incredibly normal. I’m incredibly lucky to be majoring in something that I’m super interested in, that I’m relatively good at, and that won’t bankrupt me in the future. If I were studying something in which even one of those three criteria weren’t met? I’d imagine I’d be able to relate with the characters a lot more than I already am.
One of my friends joked that it seemed like I was the only one out of our posse with a future. But even then, no matter how well lined up things might seem to us, we’re still wracked with uncertainty and we’re still gazing at the sky while we’re walking, wondering what things are going to be like in a few years. Solanin’s power is in speaking to this part of us that might be buried inside of us. It draws it out and sets it in front of us for us to examine.
Solanin’s story and the reaction it got out of me reminds me of 5 Centimeters per Second. Solanin didn’t affect me emotionally anywhere near the degree that 5cm/s did, which left me in a depressed mood for a day. What 5cm/s did was set off a firestorm of reflection on how I considered relationships of all sorts, not just romantic ones, with distance thrown in. Similarly, Solanin made me think about what I was doing and where I was trying to go with the time that I had left as an undergrad.
It should go without saying that the sort of work that is able to push you to really think about what it’s presenting in the context of your own life rather than that of the characters is rare, powerful, and unnerving.