The Folklore Of Our Times (Haruki Murakami)

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(Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum.)

Haruki Murakami was born in Japan in 1949. His novels include Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle; he has also published two short story collections, The Elephant Vanishes and After the Quake.


was born in 1949. I started high school in 1963 and went to college in 1967. And so it was amid the crazy, confused uproar of 1968 that I saw in my otherwise auspicious twentieth year. Which, I guess, makes me a typical child of the sixties. It was the most vulnerable, most formative, and therefore most important period in my life, and there I was, breathing in deep lungfuls of abandon and quite naturally getting high on it all. I kicked in a few deserving doors – and what a thrill it was whenever a door that deserved kicking in presented itself before me, as Jim Morrison, the Beatles and Bob Dylan played in the background. The whole shebang.

Even now, looking back on it all, I think that those years were special. I’m sure that if you were to examine the attributes of the time one by one, you wouldn’t discover anything all that noteworthy. Just the heat generated by the engine of history, that limited gleam that certain things give off in certain places at certain times – that and a kind of inexplicable antsiness, as if we were viewing everything through the wrong end of a telescope. Heroics and villainy, rapture and disillusionment, martyrdom and revisionism, silence and eloquence, etcetera, etcetera… the stuff of any age. Only, in our day – if you’ll forgive the overblown expression – it was all so colourful somehow, so very reach-out-and-grab-it palpable. There were no gimmicks, no discount coupons, no hidden advertising, no keep-’em-coming point-card schemes, no insidious, loopholing paper trails. Cause and effect shook hands; theory and reality embraced with aplomb. A prehistory to high capitalism: that’s what I personally call those years.

from Pocket

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