Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Role of the Writer in a Globalized World: The Fiction of Haruki Murakami

The role of the writer in a globalized world is both European ideology and invention. It is ideology as specific bourgeoisie history and political freedom in Europe was transformed by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant through his “Cosmopolitan” essay (1784) into a world republic (weltrepublik). Kant’s abstract universalizing concept was actualized by the rise of the European novel and the spread of European colonization in the 19th century and the Internet in the late 20th century. Logically ideas connected to economy, politics, military and literature were constructed as totality project of a single globalized world. Digital connectivity, universalization of European values of freedom and reason have created a new global reality. Therefore the role of the writer in a globalized world is a European invention and depends on the moral values, aesthetic culture and literary taste of the ‘digitally connected” Anglo-American world. Therefore we need to imagine the role of the writer within this globalized and individualized world which is guided by capitalism and modernity. Within this context we must understand the role of Haruki Murakami. Murakami grew up during the idealism of the 1960s which brought people together; he grows old in a twenty-first century where the young feel everything will become worse and disintegrate (dystopia). Murakami wants to create a new idealism for the young who are pessimistic about the future. He believes that the work of fiction can give a “hypothetical axis” (kaso-jiku仮想軸)to the world which is spinning uncontrollably on a broken axis. 

Conclusion: Though Murakami’s fictional spaces are filled with intense passion and a longing to be loved there is a bewildering confusion at the heart of his fiction. People like the Sheep Man reject the constraining aspects of society and go into hiding from “war, civilization, the law, the system.” They find themselves “at the edge of the world” where “everything spill[s] over into nothingness;” only love redeems (Dance Dance Dance, 389). At the end, neither the writer nor his characters are in a position to pontificate about the efficacy or futility of the world they live in. Can we finally create a “universal civic society which administers law among men” as Kant wanted? When Tengo in IQ84 asks the question to himself, “What kind of world will be there tomorrow?” the wise Fuka-Eri reading his mind answers, “’No one knows the answer to that. Only time will tell.” 

Mukesh Williams, January 16, 2015

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