Amphibiology Lectures: The Third Century (No.5)

Watershed for Haruki Murakami


At the last lecture I foretold about the direction of this session as follows: “This is my view observing the “schizophrenic stereo vision” from the side of 7 to ‘to move’ and 3 to ‘not to move’. In other words, whereas there must be a gap dividing between this side and that side, by the way, what is it? I am going to think about it at the next lecture.”

Accepting the direction, I try to answer the question. While I have experienced the Haruki Murakami’s world, in fact, I always have felt a concern bothering about something like chasing a mirage.

The concern was the description of specific name of music and of the musician which appeared many times on the pages of his works. It was not only pretty frequent, besides, but also anything to guess that they express rather deep connotations which end in neither mere explanatory nor metaphorical expressions.

In particular, when the description of such music came up to about jazz, it was even more elaborate. As it were, it was a critique of jazz with a novel style. Of course this was my hindsight knowing that after he left the university, he had managed a jazz cafe until to be a full-time novelist.

Incidentally, I knew an episode which told the significance of his profound knowledge to music. It was last summer at the music festival in Matsumoto (SAITO KINEN FESTIVAL MATSUMOTO), the hidden contributor to materialise the co-starring of Seiji Ozawa, a well-known conductor, and Junko Onishi, a jazz pianist who already had declared to retire, seemed to be him. This occurrence means that how big the magnitude of his presence among not merely in the field of jazz but in that of classical music as well.

I, while encountering with such a part again and again, have held a frustrated feeling due to own inability not to pick up the meaning of those expressions as if embarrassing a foreign language. This is because, as an invisible ray to human being is visible to insects and other animals, I might be untouchable in the field.

In that sense, it is insufficient to experience the Haruki Murakami’s world with merely the ability to read. Without having the sense to listen rather, it is concerned that I cannot reach the heart, if totally not meaningless.

In addition, I had the other foreign language too, which was found in the experience in my normal life rather than that in the Haruki Murakami’s world.

 It was to dance. In other words, I am such sort of human being who does not dance. That is, I am such kind of race which does not make communication with others through such a way of expression.

When I was aware this “missing” for the first time was the time in late teenager when I found that my two-year-younger sister did dance in her daily life. It was in mid 1960s when the twist begun to be popular, and I heard that she danced the twist at gathering with her friends, and occasionally I saw she was dancing the twist.

Of course, these “missing” have some difference depending upon circumstances and persons. Although there are those variations, it was certain to be a broad generational feature as average in the trend of the times. So, when I read the works of Haruki Murakami, I cannot dispel the concern mentioned above because presence of these “missing” connotes any decisive defect to understand what he wants to say.



Therefore, I must review some traits in my individual history.

 Among the same aged generation around me (I lived in the Nagoya city during the time in my late teens), it was true that there rose variety of topic and zeal about ballads and pop songs through radio and television. But, they did not draw my interest much, whereas when the fork songs were popular later, they drew my interest to some extent. 

On the other hand, in that time, there was not yet begun the habit to dance (at least I felt so) in our daily life. In the classes of school and the occasion of recreation, we experienced serene group dance called the folk dance, but it was just a part of the school events only. Even though in those opportunities, when a chance to take a hand of the girl student in my attention came around, naturally, I felt my chest pounding. Nonetheless, dancing itself did not occupy the essential position in my daily life. In addition, I was not a member of such a family with the custom whose parents enjoy dancing. 

In the residential district of the local city where I spent my childhood, festivals and bon dancing had been held in each town yearly, but they were something to have made me felt a poor attachment or a shallow local community event. Those weak traditions, however, disappeared completely from the town by the time I was late teens. That is, such an opportunity to dance and festival to share the traditional Japanese culture did not be given as far as my surrounding is concerned.

Thus, if one can identify the dance generation in the context of such imported foreign culture which would have settled down eventually, there were clear distinction between me as non-dance-generation and my sister as dance-generation due to only two years difference.

Much later in my life, there were several times of opportunities to meet some individuals who invited me to dance. However, a habit of such a way of communication did not grow between me who could not accept it and them. So my relationship with them has been still lacking it even today. Although I have a desire to enjoy it somehow and a feeling of guilty to them, I can do nothing since my body does not respond due to my awkward feeling to such myself if dancing. So as far as dance is concerned, I had been sealed clearly not doing it.

This means that I can be a member of the idiosyncratic vacume generation which had been separated from either the dance as an imported culture or the dance as a traditional Japanese culture. 

After that, when I myself who do not dance became to a foreign residence, especially in a Westerners country, I knew that it was not only the world of dance but the world of affection as well. So, I was made to see myself further to be an alien because I do not both.


The above is discussion on dance. But as to music, I lack clues further if trying to review my individual traits as a mirage mentioned at the beginning of the lecture. Of course, it is no doubt that there were day-to-day contacts to music more than dance. However, as to its degree, probably, the level might not reach to a level deep enough as knowledge and hobby but only the level of like a consumption to fill a mood and ears.

There is an episode on music I dare tell. I remember that when I went to hiking in the mountains of western Tokyo in my student days. At that opportunity I was impressed by the piano sonatas of Beethoven, called “Pastoral”, listened in a FM radio program through my portable radio. After that, when the blind pianist of the player visited Japan, I attended his concert alone by purchasing a ticket unusually. Perhaps, as to the music, it was the most sensitive period in my life. Even though, the level at the time was simply like that.

Rather than music, my concern was on paintings. As I wrote earlier, my attention to Vincent van Gogh [no English translation yet] was the greatest one which I showed in my twenties to an artist other than writers.

Presumably, music is intrinsically the field with the highest abstractedness as a means of expression. In addition, individual differences in the sense of sound and the influence of circumstance are large. Anyway it was the area of difficult enough to approach together with dance for me. This is why how I am I restricted in terms of stimulation by it.


By the way, music and dance may be the fields which this proverb suggests: “Ploughing the field and forgetting the seeds,” without counting the world of deep exchange of sentiment accompanied by social life especially that of heterosexual relationships, before reviewing my individual traits. In other words, that a person has been less-familiar with music and dance may point out the evidence of rawness of the person who has been with shallow personal experiences into these deep emotional exchanges, even if they were not totally. This means that the person has had the only limited experience of approach into the world of personal beauty associated with the smallest unit of social relations, or the “micro cosmos” if renamed.

In particular, my college life, which should be said the summit of student life after schools of coeducation, was the high land of barren and bleak indeed because the college I entered at 18-year-old was an institute of technology, especially its department of civil engineering which was an enclave of boys. Consequently, whereas I spent those days at the center of Tokyo where must have been very fertile, I had to have a very “serious” college life due to lack of counterpart whatever I wanted to challenge an adventure of the beauty.

Thus, my late adolescence was never rich with such unproductive love affair together with poor interest in music and dance. And as a generation too we enjoyed a “koha (bulls)” college life which would be said to be the historic specimen that played the last stage of such a traditional student style.

Moreover, even if it was described to be a “koha“, it was the “koha” of postwar democracy which characterised by lush and purity. That is to say, it was the generation with honesty like the blue sky of immediately after the war, who, for instance, did not have such a deformed heterosexual experience at brothels (banned since 1957) which was often seen among the bankara (rude and fortitude) style students in the pre-war time whose ethos had survived for a while even after the war at some local regions.

I, such person who has been reviewed above, have tried to experience the world of tree-year-younger Haruki Murakami and the keynote of his works characterised by “floating” story lines is the rampant and troublesome heterosexual relationships. And if I find the sense of distance and difference by the experience, this should be the veriest meaning of my detectable and measureable finding from a different generation which must be an unexplored world through move.

If this is true, should I see the meaning of the generational gap as the critical factor to divide between him and me?

Let me call this question the “difference in the experience of micro cosmos” using the above naming.

Then, it is said that I have found the existence of the “sparse in the experience of micro cosmos” to me (and my generation) through the “move” to the Haruki Murakami’s world. Or, in the contrary, the “richness in the experience of micro cosmos” was the given condition rather than the object of comparison for him. 

In other words, the “experience of micro cosmos” is a precondition of life for Haruki Murakami like the atmosphere rather than the issue on existence or the object of comparison of life.

What these experiences may suggest that, on the one hand, the world of schizophrenic mal-integration which is shown in his “floating” and “scrupulous” work structure has loaded on him like the atmospheric pressure in the “bottom of dried up well” [a repetitive metaphorical expression in his works]. On the other hand, the world was a sort of provocation or warning to the real society through his works. And, ultimately, it could be an escape-hatch for self-rescue from the atmospheric pressure.

Incidentally, some episodes about the relationships with his real wife, which are told in an essay representing the “scrupulous” side titled Foreign Language Sorrowful Soon [not translated into English yet], are unexpectedly a Japanese-style and no showing-off of their plenty abroad life. Yet, the heterosexual relationships expressed in South of the Border, West of the Sun is a “’low’ floating” world which can be extremely close to the “scrupulous” world. In this sense, understandable proximity is found by our generation.

Thus, the schizophrenic world he writes is not to disclose his own schizophrenic symptoms. Rather, his personality should be very “scrupulous” and “usual.” For, it is firmly controlled and integrated as seen in his completion of a 100km ultra marathon.

Real individuals who have to involve to the schizophrenic real world cannot escape from being induced to have a mal-integrated own personality restlessly. In order to integrate somehow such confusing sense – unsure whether real or unreal –, he has invented a tripartite device; i.e. novel for the fictional world, essay for the logical explanation, and running for the training, and he continues to use it fully.


As described above, I have experienced to the Haruki Murakami’s world through move. Especially, I have intended to use a psychiatric method by reversing the allocation of balance between “to move” and “not to move” from 3:7 to 7:3. In particular, I have done the move by placing the “difference in the experience of micro cosmos”, i.e. the generational gap in the smallest unit of social relations, at the pillar of the method.  

And, that the attempt of move beyond the boundaries of emotion and spirit found is that the gap separating between he and I was rooted In this sense, it is likely to form the main factor to build a watershed which divides my generation and his. Yet, because of this, whereas he dares to emphasise the “floating” by drawing the schizophrenic world in his works, the ending was the landing into the relief of surprising calm. In other words, he might be trying to move himself to the side where our generation being there by crossing beyond the watershed.

If this is the case, the watershed i.e. the gap separating between him and me, may suggest a presence of something being forced and unpleasant for both generations.


Thus, I have detected and  measured the “experience micro-cosmos” as the watershed which divides between him and me. Then, if I expand it further here, I have to sniff out the trend of individualisation of view of life in the time, since it was also related to the “micro-cosmos”. In other words, it is the emergence of individual value and the retreat of social value which could be detected and measured from the gap of merely three years.

Therefore, if asking a question whether “micro” or “macro” about the experience of cosmos here, a next dimension of the destination beyond the generational gap and the gap between ages might come to be visible.

At the next lecture, as the final session for the experience of Haruki Murakami which have been discussed over three times, I will consider the meaning of the question whether “micro” or “macro”.



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