Modern Japan

Jackson, Jr.


Without A Theme


Postmodern Japan Forum on Murakami



From: Heather Christensen

Re: Murakami’s Narrators
I am having a strange problem of confusing the

narrator of A Wild Sheep Chase with the narrators

100% Perfect
and The
Second Bakery Attack

I think Murakami clearly specifies between the voice

that controls the story and the actual story itself

very important tension bc the events that occur

very affected by who is viewing them in this story),

but the voice that he uses (in what I have read
of his

work) is similar in all of his writings. South
of the

Border, West of the Sun has many of the same

that these narrators have as well.

Qualities that interest me about this

(semi)omnipresent narrator is this universal life

boredom – his characters do’t seem disgustingly

dissatisfied with life, but they seem aware of the

patterns of life with only a few significant moves

changes. They seem settled and sedated with a

particular form of life. Yet in A Wild Sheep
, I

enjoy how the ear girlfriend continually shocks

startles the narrator – she is a strange character

is easily likable and yet the narrator seems not 

blown away be her clairvoyance, wackiness,

serendiptious (?) actions…….

I also would like to explore the idea of this story

being written from multiple perspectives – I am

to the narrator and the way he lives his life, and

think it would be luxurious to hear about the wild

sheep chase from other voices, how does Kipper feel?

The ex-girlfriend? How does anyone explain all this?






From: Earl Jackson, Jr.

To: Heather Christesen

On: Murakami’s Narrators

Yes I have that problem, too, Heather. And i agree with you – it’s related
more to Murakami’s control over the narrative than anything careless. But
speaking of careless, I think is that pervasive non-chalance that all her
narrators share – even in the face pretty certain doom or even endless
days of meaningless ordinariness. That non-chalance isn’t indifference
I don’t think, however And  maybe whatever the „self“ can’t be any
more in terms of identity, continuity, and coherence, is compensated by
the thematic regularity in narratorial affect over and across his texts.




From: Kristi Valenti

On: Cole
Aker’s work
on „The 100% Perfect Girl“
From: Kristy Valenti 

Subject: Re: Murakami’s 100% Saudade

To: Cole Akers 

I think that you are on to something with Murakami
and intuition.
. Seeing as 

his characters tend to engage with their circumstances
very mater-of-factly, 

they are given the opportunity to act off of intuition.
It seems to me that 

sensibility and understanding are rules that we
directly apply in order to 

come up with a so9sollution. When learning how to
master something two very 

typical ways of conceiving of it are either algorithmically
and through a 

rule of thumb approach. The algorithmical approach
seems to be like 

understanding, you understand certain algorithms
to work within a certain 

context so they are applied. A rule of thumb approach
appeals more to 

sensibility as it is something that can be applied
all the time like, 

keeping your eye on the ball will help you in most
contexts. This applies 

to Murakami in that in order to utilize these two
approaches one must apply 

them very actively with a premeditated plan and
some hope and expectation of 

a particular outcome. If Murakami’s characters are
behaving through 

intuition and without the formerly mentioned pathways
does this indicate 

that they are not as concerned with solving issues
through formerly 

established procedures. I think that it does. Murakami’s

approach life through there own pathways, they seem
to be living life by the 

seat of their pants, witnessing life and reacting
to each circumstance in a 

manner that seems unpredictable. Is this because
they are more predisposed 

to living life in the present? I’m not sure that
the protagonist in the 

100% perfect girl was living life in the present.
I’m not sure if was 

behaving as you described, „reconstructing reality
so it better suits your 

purpose“ he seemed to do this passively, in that
he constructed a very 

convineint reality in his head, although he did
not engage this reality with 

any thing physical. I believe that he was reflecting
on the circumstance 

very intuitively, and seeing as this piece was devoid
of much action and 

mostly consisted of reflection that fact that intuition
was present does 

leave us with ground to state that intuitive engagement
with life in some 

sense is a them in Murakami’s writing. I wonder
if we relied more on our 

intuitions and less on what we believe to be established
methods if our 

general engagement with life might become more fruitful.
A master chess 

player who goes down a line of twenty opponents
and makes each move within 

seconds tends to make just as many good moves as
he does ina one on one game 

in which a half hour is allotted for each move.
Experteice seems to exist 

through experience and a surrender to the premise
that I know what I am 

doing as much as i need to for me in this current
situation. Not to say 

that rule of thumb and algorithms are not important,
I just don’t think they 

should be the cornerstone upon which we determine
are projected rate of 

success and experience.




From Earl Jackson Jr

Re: Kristi Valenti on Cole Acker on „On Seeing the 100% Perfect
Girl One Beautiful April Morning.“

Hi Kristi – very nicely done! And would like to call everyone‘
attention to the difference in Kristi’s use of the term „intuition“ and
Tim Powers‘ use of the term „intuition“ in his very interesting suggestion
for reading „The Second Bakery Attack.“ See: Benkyo
7 and 8.


Justin Ellerby on „The
Second Bakery Attack
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 00:37:23 -0700

I am finding it very difficult to formulate a coherent,

interpretation of „Second Bakery ATtack“, and don’t
really feel I know how 

to do this without falling into the trap of creating
a series of equations 

between (overly?-)determined symbols in the story
and their labored 

significations into the forced schema I hypothesize.

Instead, I’d like to re-educate the infantile Surrogate
Mother Hypothesis I 

offered in class and in my first e-mail as an expressly
and permanently 

immature Peter and Wendy Neverreading, to be used
as no more than a 

primary-color-ful backdrop for whatever’s actually
going on in this story, 

which feels quite out of reach, thank you very much.

„When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter,
who is to be 

Peter’s mother in turn; and thus it will go on,
so long as 

children are gay and innocent and heartless.“ –
J.M. Barrie



Marriage is for some people a sort of self-served
eviction notice from 

Neverland, often despite the fact that our adulthood
has been rather poorly 

ad-libbed along up to this point („I myself have
adopted the position that, 

in fact, we never choose anything at all. Things
happen. Or not.“).



Ide Sachiko describes a facet of the cultures of
Japanese marriages, which 

may be a way of acting out and acting against this
fear, perhaps just more 

psycho-sexually explicit than many AMerican cultures
in this regard:



„The function of boseiai is not limited to the relationship
between mother 

and child. The bonding of couples i soften founded
on boseiai(Sachiko(Ide?) 




„Within [boseiai] men are always little boys. They
are dependent on their 

mothers until they marry, and then the wife takes
up the boseiai role in 

relation to the husband, and later toward her children
(Sachiko 42)“.



Our narrator has just married a woman about whom
he seems to know very 

little (at least not enough to know she owns a shotgun
and a pair of ski 

masks). He wakes up in the middle of the night hungry,
and his wife feels 

the same hunger pains, on his behalf

As pointed out in class, they were not just looking
for food, or they would 

have found another store, or would have paid or
their burgers. However, I 

would suggest that [the narrator]/[the motivation
of the story] is using 

food, and particularly the kinds of food, as a way
of expressing both the 

narrator’s need as an infant for sustenance and
the unfulfillment of his 

desire, both in the unavailability of sustenance
and in the inferior 

substitutes he is afforded. Looking at what’s on
the menu for our 

protagonists throughout the story, one may notice
a general trend away from 

real nutritional value, or lasting fulfillment of
hunger: cookies, beer, 

soda, and burgers described as emitting a smell
akin to „a swarm of 

microscopic bugs“.

The fact that they had to steal their burgers has
more to do directly with 

accounting for and responding to the events of the
first bakery attack, and 

does not, in my mind, controvert their prevalent
drive towards nourishment.



Speaking of which… In the case of the first bakery

why the narrator and his friend so opposed to work
in the first place? 

Is it because they don’t want to grow up?

Are they still children at this point?

Would this juvenility be controverted by their 

attempted violence?

Are Lost Boys any less boys, „gay and innocent and 

heartless“ because they kill and are killed?



Only the last of these questions has any definite
answer as far as I can 




A major tear in the fabric of my idea here is in
the lack of accounting for 

why the baker’s sidestepping the violent situation
should place the curse of 

growing up on the boys. It would be philistine of
me to say that they were 

bored out of childhood by the operas, and the idea
doesn’t find support 

anywhere else. However, the remarkable nobility
of the baker’s actions 

almost seems like it was a fairer deal than the
boys knew what to do with, 

and adult-erated them with an understanding of the
world that forced them to 

see the world in moral terms which neccesitated
their abandonment of 

innocent crime.



As plug-in plug-out theories, these are all a stretch
to be sure, but pluck 

them and see how they sound anyway.



Happy Trails,





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Modern Japan

Jackson, Jr.


Without A Theme