From Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (two college boys talking to each other, 1968):

“ ‘What kind of authors do you like?’ I asked, speaking in respectful tones to this man two years my senior.

‘Balzac, Dante, Joseph Conrad, Dickens,’ he answered without hesitation.

‘Not exactly fashionable.’

‘That’s why I read them. If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that. Haven’t you noticed, Watanabe? You and I are the only real ones in this dorm. The other guys are crap.’

This took me off guard. ‘How can you say that?’

‘’Cause it’s true. I know. I can see it. It’s like we have marks on our foreheads. And besides, we’ve both read The Great Gatsby.’”

What are you reading?

What are you listening to?

What are you watching?

How do you consume, and where, and why?

This is what i’ve been thinking about for a while now. It seems like the very act of reading is impressive to people these days – “You read books? a coworker asked me once over salads, to which I had no real response – so I guess I think of it more in terms of general media. Binge-worthy TV shows. Podcast culture. Drake. “Serial.”  “Stranger Things.” “The Night Of.”

I’m reading another Murakami book right now – Sputnik Sweetheart – so clearly I’ve got Haruki on the brain. Whenever I read Murakami I have the tendency to dress like his characters, behave like them, eat like them, dream their kind of lucid, unsettling dreams.

{Simple clothing. A sense of transcendent boredom. Of being immersed in the inexplicable. Plain-jane normalcy: the only space where the surreal can take hold – once the egoic pretensions drop, once you stop trying, once you pay attention to the delicate arrangement of simple food on a simple plate, etc.}

Anyway, I sat outside today at lunch with my book and eavesdropped on girls from another company talking about podcasts, TV shows, and how much they *love* the Brentwood Farmer’s Market – the kind of aimless conversations I have with my own coworkers before I excuse myself from boredom. These girls were all slightly overweight, with faces buried under contoured makeup and the kind of voices and shoes that suggest they know they should be more confident than they actually are.

Yet another moment where I shore up my own rituals and habits – novel before me, phone stowed in another room, vintage sweater, clear skin, homemade organic salad – as proof of my own superiority. Which of course I need because in fact I sense deep down that I am a nothing. And that I even have to think of human beings in those terms…that’s where it all starts to eat itself.  Is being aware, at least, a start? I want to grow, actually grow, not just hold a growth-shaped hole against other people to make myself feel better about my own addictions.

Structurally, that above paragraph is unrelated to the point I was trying to make about Murakami/reading/media consumption. But maybe the real point I’m trying to make is that I am feeling such tension between being irritated by everyone’s complacency and being compassionate. “Trying not to be a dick,” but also “kind of judgmental” maybe is the best phrasing.

Behold my brain, etc. Behold the mark on my forehead.

Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind. I’m in a corporate office. I need to get back to work.




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