Haruki Murakami: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

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Haruki Murakami: “Once again, life had a lesson to teach me: It takes years to build up, it takes moments to destroy.” 


MICAH-LIDBERG-illustration-cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art
illustration by Micah Lidberg

Cosmic Quotes: Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End of The World by Haruki Murakami


You are caught between all that was and all that must be. You feel lost. Mark my words: as soon as the bones mend, you will forget about the fracture.


I am here, alone, at the end of the world. I reach out and touch nothing.


“Once, when I was younger, I thought I could be someone else. I’d move to Casablanca, open a bar, and I’d meet Ingrid Bergman. Or more realistically – whether actually more realistic or not – I’d tune in on a better life, something more suited to my true self. Toward that end, I had to undergo training. I read The Greening of America, and I saw Easy Rider three times. But like a boat with a twisted rudder, I kept coming back to the same place. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was myself, waiting on the shore for me to return.”

“Was that so depressing?”

“Who knows? Maybe that was ‘despair.’ What Turgenev called ‘disillusionment.’ Or Dostoyevsky, ‘hell.’ Or Somerset Maugham, ‘reality.’ Whatever the label, I figured it was me.”


Everyone may be ordinary, but they’re not normal.


Now for a good twelve-hour sleep, I told myself. Twelve solid hours. Let birds sing, let people go to work. Somewhere out there, a volcano might blow, Israeli commandos might decimate a Palestinian village. I couldn’t stop it. I was going to sleep.


The mind is strong. It survives, even without thought. Even with everything taken away, it holds a seed—your self.


MSCorley-illustration-book-cover--cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art-cover
illustration by M.S. Corley

“I never had what it takes to make a first-rate anything.”

“That’s wrong,” she declared. “Everyone must have one thing that they can excel at. It’s just a matter of drawing it out, isn’t it? But school doesn’t know how to draw it out. It crushes the gift. It’s no wonder most people never get to be what they want to be. They just get ground down.”


Most human activities are predicated on the assumption that life goes on. If you take that premise away, what is there left?


No two human beings are alike; it’s a question of identity. And what is identity? The cognitive system arisin’ from the aggregate memories of that individual’s past experiences. The layman’s word for this is the mind. Not two human beings have the same mind. At the same time, human beings have almost no grasp of their own cognitive systems. I don’t, you don’t, nobody does. All we know—or think we know—is but a fraction of the whole cake. A mere tip of the icing.


The unwaking world was as hushed as a deep forest.


I wasn’t particularly afraid of death itself. As Shakespeare said, die this year and you don’t have to die the next.


Nobody chooses to evolve. It’s like floods and avalanches and earthquakes. You never know what’s happening until they hit, then it’s too late.


“I was born by the sea,” I said. “I’d go to the beach the morning after a typhoon and find all sorts of things that the waves had tossed up. There’d be bottles and wooden geta and hats and cases for glasses, tables and chairs, things from nowhere near the water. I liked combing through the stuff, so I was always waiting for the next typhoon.

I put out my cigarette.

The strange thing is, everything washed up from the sea was purified. Useless junk, but absolutely clean. There wasn’t a dirty thing. The sea is special in that way. When I look back over my life so far, I see all that junk on the beach. It’s how my life has always been. Gathering up the junk, sorting through it, and then casting it off somewhere else. All for
no purpose, leaving it to wash away again.

This was in your hometown?

This is all my life. I merely go from one beach to another. Sure I remember the things that happen in between, but that’s all. I never tie them together. They’re so many things, clean but useless.”


Humans are immortal in their thought. Though strictly speakin’, not immortal, but endlessly, asymptotically close to immortal. That’s eternal life.


Open your eyes, train your ears, use your head. If a mind you have, then use it while you can.


All imperfections are forced upon the imperfect, so the ‘perfect’ can live content and oblivious.


rachel-suggs-illustration-cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art-drawing
illustration by Rachel Suggs

That is dreamreading. As the birds leave south or north in their season, the Dreamreader has dreams to read.


You tell me there is no fighting or hatred or desire in the Town. That is a beautiful dream, and I do want your happiness. But the absence of fighting or hatred or desire also means the opposites do not exist either. No joy, no communion, no love. Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without despair or loss, there is no hope.


Once again, life had a lesson to teach me: It takes years to build up, it takes moments to destroy.


Listen. I may not be much, but I’m all I’ve got. Maybe you need a magnifying glass to find my face in my high school graduation photo. Maybe I haven’t got any family or friends. Yes, yes, I know all that. But, strange as it might seem, I’m not entirely dissatisfied with life… I feel pretty much at home with what I am. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want any unicorns behind fences.


What was lost was lost. There was no retrieving it, however you schemed, no returning to how things were, no going back.


I am so tired. I feel myself drifting, away, a little by little. I am overcome by the sensation that I am crumbling, parts of my being drifting away.


Had I done the right thing by not telling her? Maybe not. Who on earth wanted the right thing anyway? Yet what meaning could there be if nothing was right? If nothing was fair? Fairness is a concept that holds only in limited situations. Yet we want the concept to extend to everything, in and out of phase. From snails to hardware stores to married life. Maybe no one finds it, or even misses it, but fairness is like love. What is given has nothing to do with what we seek.


Let your body work until it is spent, but keep your mind for yourself.


Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in fight, searching the skies for dreams.


That’s the way it is with the mind. Nothing is ever equal. Like a river, as it flows, the course changes with the terrain.


The best musicians transpose consciousness into sound; painters do the same for color and shape.


“Think it over carefully. This is very important,” I say, “because to believe something, whatever it might be, is the doing of the mind. Do you follow? When you say you believe, you allow the possibility of disappointment. And from disappointment or betrayal, there may come despair. Such is the way of the mind.”


Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering.


No. Kindness and a caring mind are two separate qualities. Kindness is manners. It is superficial custom, an acquired practice. Not so the mind. The mind is deeper, stronger, and, I believe, it is far more inconstant.


I’ve always liked libraries. They’re quiet and full of books and full of knowledge.


rachel-suggs-illustration-cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art
illustration by Rachel Suggs

“But how do you see you?” she asked.

“Ever read The Brothers Karamazov?” I asked.

“Once, a long time ago.”

“Well, toward the end, Alyosha is speaking to a young student named Kolya Krasotkin. And he says, Kolya, you’re going to have a miserable future. But overall, you’ll have a happy life.” Two beers down, I hesitated before opening my third.

“When I first read that, I didn’t know what Alyosha meant,” I said. “How was it possible for a life of misery to be happy overall? But then I understood, that misery could be limited to the future.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Neither do I,” I said. “Not yet.”


As you may know, in this Town, memory is unreliable and uncertain. There are things we can remember and things we cannot remember.


All efforts of reason and analysis are, in a word, like trying to slice through a watermelon with sewing needles. They may leave marks on the outer rind, but the fruity pulp will remain perpetually out of reach.


“To tell the truth, I do not know this thing called ‘mind,’ what it does or how to use it. It is only a word I have heard.” “The mind is nothing you use,” I say. “The mind is just there. It is like the wind. You simply feel its movements.”


Metaphysics is never more than semantic pleasantries anyway.


I never trust people with no appetite. It’s like they’re always holding something back on you.


Never trust a man who carries a handkerchief, I always say. One of many prejudicial rules of thumb.


Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink.


Life’s no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe’s my own to fool with.


Anyway, I’m in bed with her, with her bracelets. Her face is a blank, so I darken the lights. Off go her silky undergarments. The bracelets are all she has on. They glint slightly, a pleasant muffled clinking on the sheets. I have a hard-on.

Which, halfway down the ladder, is what I noticed. Just great. Why now? Why didn’t I get an erection when I needed one? And why was I getting so excited over two lousy bracelets? Especially under this slicker, with the world about to end.


Many are the women who can take their clothes off seductively, but women who can charm as they dress?


rachel-suggs-illustration-cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art-green
illustration by Rachel Suggs

I always say—a prejudice on my part, I’m sure—you can tell a lot about a person’s character from his choice of sofa. Sofas constitute a realm inviolate unto themselves.

This, however, is something that only those who have grown up sitting on good sofas will appreciate. It’s like growing up reading good books or listening to good music. One good sofa breeds another good sofa; one bad sofa breeds another bad sofa. That’s how it goes.

There are people who drive luxury cars, but have only second- or third-rate sofas in their homes. I put little trust in such people. An expensive automobile may well be worth its price, but it’s only an expensive automobile. If you have the money, you can buy it, anyone can buy it. Procuring a good sofa, on the other hand, requires style and experience and philosophy. It takes money, yes, but you also need a vision of the superior sofa. That sofa among sofas.


You got to know your limits. Once is enough, but you got to learn. A little caution never hurt anyone. A good woodsman has only one scar on him. No more, no less.


Genius or fool, you don’t live in the world alone. You can hide underground or you can build a wall around yourself, but somebody’s going to come along and screw up the works.


Everything, everything seemed once-upon-a-time.


Were the stars out when I left the house last evening? All I could remember was the couple in the Skyline listening to Duran Duran. Stars? Who remembers stars? Come to think of it, had I even looked up at the sky recently? Had the stars been wiped out of the sky three months ago, I wouldn’t have known.


The further we traveled in the darkness, the more I began to feel estranged from my body. I couldn’t see it, and after a while, you start to think the body is nothing but a hypothetical construct.


Time is too conceptual. Not that it stops us from filling it in. So much so, we can’t even tell whether our experiences belong to time or to the world of physical things.


You said that the mind is like the wind but perhaps it is we who are like the wind Knowing nothing, simply blowing through. Never aging, never dying.


A secret’s a secret because you don’t let people in on it.


Presently, I sense within me the slightest touch. The harmony of one chord lingers in my mind. It fuses, divides, searches–but for what? I open my eyes, position the fingers of my right hand on the buttons, and play out a series of permutations.

After a time, I am able, as if by will, to locate the first four notes. They drift down from inward skies, softly, as early morning sunlight. They find me; these are the notes I have been seeking.

I hold down the chord key and press the individual notes over and over again. The four notes seem to desire further notes, another chord. I strain to hear the chord that follows. The first four notes lead me to the next five, then to another chord and three more notes.

It is a melody. Not a complete song, but the first phrase of one. I play the three chords and twelve notes, also, over and over again. It is a song, I realize, I know.


Gala Poliakova-illustration-cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art-unicorn
illustration by Gala Poliakova

When you say you believe, you allow the possibility of disappointment. And from disappointment or betrayal, there may come despair. Such is the way of the mind.


Losing you is most difficult for me, but the nature of my love for you is what matters. If it distorts into half-truth, then perhaps it is better not to love you. I must keep my mind but loose you.


“Do you really think you can read out my mind?” she asks me, face to face.
“I think so,” I say, wishing to convince myself. “There has to be a way.”
“It is like looking for lost drops of rain in a river.”
“You’re wrong. The mind is not like raindrops. It does not lose itself among other things. If you believe in me at all, than believe this: I promise you I will find it. Everything depends on this.”
“I believe you,” she whispers after a moment. “Please find my mind.”


I do want your happiness. But the absence of fighting or hatred or desire also means the opposites do not exist either. No joy, no communion, no love. Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without the despair of loss, there is no hope.


You are not lost. It’s just that your own thoughts are being kept from you, or hidden away. But the mind is strong. It survives, even without thought. Even with everything taken away, it holds a seed–your self. You must believe in your own powers.


We were all getting old. That much was as plain as the falling rain.


My world foreshortened, flattening into a credit card. Seen head on, things seemed merely skewed, but from the side the view was virtually meaningless–a one-dimensional wafer. Everything about me may have been crammed in there, but it was only plastic. Indecipherable except to some machine.


Now I’m not trying to make excuses, but I don’t get turned on by that many women. If anything, I think of myself as more the non-turn-on type. So when I do get turned on, I don’t trust it; I have to investigate the source.


I wasn’t particularly afraid of death itself. As Shakespeare said, die this year and you don’t have to die the next. All quite simple, if you want to look at it that way. Life’s no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe’s my own to fool with. Hence I can live with it. But after I’m dead, can’t I just lie in peace? Those Egyptian pharoahs had a point, wanting to shut themselves up inside pyramids.


Genius doesn’t specialize; genius is reason in itself.


Even if I had my life to live over again, I couldn’t imagine not doing things the same. After all, everything—this life I was losing—was me. And I couldn’t be any other self but my self. Could I?


We can’t even tell whether our experiences belong to time or to the world of physical things.


Stealing memories was stealing time. I got so mad, I lost all fear. I didn’t care what happened. I want to live! I told myself. I will live. I will get out of this insane netherworld and get back my stolen memories and live. Forget the end of the world, I was ready to claim my whole self.


I am overcome by the sensation that I am crumbling, parts of my being drifting away.


No matter how tired the body gets, one must never let the exhaustion enter one’s thoughts.


rachel-suggs-illustration-cosmic-orgasm-haruki-murakami-quotes-book-hard-boiled-wonderland-end-world-fan-art-dream-reader
illustration by Rachel Suggs

There is no ‘why’ in a world that would be perfect in itself.


“I’m thinking it would be wonderful if I could follow you into that world where you’re going.”

“And leave this world behind?”

“That’s right,” she said. “It’s a boring old world anyway. I’m sure it’d be much more fun living in your consciousness.”


You can visit Haruki Murakami’s website and Rachel Suggs’ illustrations for Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World on behance and her website for illustrator’s more works, cheers!  ♥ #cosmicorgasm 


 

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