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Murakami // Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World

I came across Haruki Murakami’s Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World when @RobTerrin spontaneously gifted it to me when I tweeted about Criterion Channel’s Japanese Noir film curation. Thank you Rob and Twitter!

The book is really fun and touches on a lot of ideas I find really interesting. I thought data laundering was a cool idea when it occurred to me after I first heard the phrase “synthetic data” a few years ago, and Murakami was thinking about it in 1993!

I don’t have a ton of quotes to share from this book, one actually. I just recommend reading it – it’s quick and fun.

The following passage made me think of this conversation I had with a friend (Vincent), maybe in college. A thought experiment: if you perfectly understood a single thing, to every detail, would you understand everything / the entire universe completely? I think you would – because understanding that one thing means understanding it’s connection or relationship to every other thing.

“It wasn’t really raining. The sky was overcast, and I was in the hospital. There was a camphor tree by the window. I lay in bed and memorized every branch. A lot of birds came. Sparrows and shrikes and starlings, and other more beautiful birds. But when it was about to rain, the birds wouldn’t be there. Then they’d be back, chirping thanks for the clear weather. I don’t know why. Maybe because when rain stops, bugs come out of the ground.”

“Were you in the hospital a long time?”

“About one month. I had a heart operation. Funny, isn’t it? I was the only one sick, now I’m the only one alive. The day they died was a busy day for the birds. They had the heat turned up in the hospital, so the window was steamed up and I had to get up out of bed to wipe the window. I wasn’t supposed to get out of bed, but I had to see the tree and birds and rain. There were these couple of birds with black heads and red wings. That’s when I thought, how strange the world is. I mean, there must be millions of camphor trees in the world—of course, they didn’t all have to be camphor trees—but on that one day, when it rained and stopped and rained and stopped, how many birds must have been flying back and forth? It made me really sad.”

“It made you sad?”

“Because, like I said, there’s got to be millions of trees in the world and millions of birds and millions of rainfalls. But I couldn’t even figure one out, and I’d probably die that way. I just cried and cried, I felt so lonely. And that was the night my whole family got killed. Though they didn’t tell me until much later.”

Read Haruki Murakami’s Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World.