Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

He never met anyone he felt like getting to know better, so he spent most of his time in Tokyo alone. On the plus side, he read constantly, more than he ever had before.

You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.

There are certain thoughts that, no matter what, you have to keep inside.

Jealousy—at least as far as he understood it from his dream—was the most hopeless prison in the world. Jealousy was not a place he was forced into by someone else, but a jail in which the inmate entered voluntarily, locked the door, and threw away the key. And not another soul in the world knew he was locked inside

This might sound rude, but I think it’s an amazing achievement to find even one specific thing that you’re interested in.

I don’t have any set, clear goal like you. I just want to think deeply about things. Contemplate ideas in a pure, free sort of way. That’s all.

“The cook hates the waiter, and they both hate the customer,” Haida said. “A line from the Arnold Wesker play The Kitchen. People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody. Right? I know I don’t want to live like that.”

“Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries. What’s really important in life is always the things that are secondary. That’s about all I can say.”

Something must be fundamentally wrong with me, Tsukuru often thought. Something must be blocking the normal flow of emotions, warping my personality. But Tsukuru couldn’t tell whether this blockage came about when he was rejected by his four friends, or whether it was something innate, a structural issue unrelated to the trauma he’d gone through.

The world isn’t that easily turned upside down, Haida replied. It’s people who are turned upside down.

Apart from whether I like it or not, I don’t reject thinking about things that aren’t logical. It’s not like I have some deep faith in logic. I think it’s important to find the point of intersection between what is logical and what is not.

You need to use the thread of logic, as best you can, to skillfully sew onto yourself everything that’s worth living for.

“I understand, but maybe it only appears, from the outside, that the wound is closed.” Sara gazed into his eyes and spoke quietly. “Maybe inside the wound, under the scab, the blood is still silently flowing. Haven’t you ever thought that?”

Haida liked looking things up at the library. Generally this meant I want to be alone for a while.

Basically a quick, impromptu brainwashing course to educate your typical corporate warriors. They use a training manual instead of sacred scriptures, with promotion and a high salary as their equivalent of enlightenment and paradise. A new religion for a pragmatic age. No transcendent elements like in a religion, though, and everything is theorized and digitalized. Very transparent and easy to grasp. And quite a few people get positive encouragement from this. But the fact remains that it’s nothing more than an infusion of the hypnotic into a system of thought that suits their goal, a conglomeration of only those theories and statistics that line up with their ultimate objectives.

And no matter how close we once were, and how much we opened up to each other, maybe neither of us knew anything substantial about the other.

But it would take a while for his mind to catch up to reality. It was nobody’s fault.

“But I work for a company, so I can’t just do what I like. There are all kinds of boring things I have to do.”

One other thing I learned from working in a company was that the majority of people in the world have no problem following orders. They’re actually happy to be told what to do. They might complain, but that’s not how they really feel. They just grumble out of habit. If you told them to think for themselves, and make their own decisions and take responsibility for them, they’d be clueless. So I decided I could turn that into a business.

Take your time. I can wait, Sara had said. But things weren’t that simple. People are in constant motion, never stationary.

Still, being able to feel pain was good, he thought. It’s when you can’t even feel any pain anymore that you’re in real trouble.

Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language.

And in that moment, he was finally able to accept it all. In the deepest recesses of his soul, Tsukuru Tazaki understood. One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.

I survived the crisis. Swam through the night sea on my own. Each of us did what we had to do, in order to survive. I get the feeling that, even if we had made different decisions then, even if we had chosen to do things differently, we might have still ended up pretty much where we are now.

Everyone alive has a personality. It’s just more obvious with some people than with others.

No matter how honestly you open up to someone, there are still things you cannot reveal.

It’s just that it’s hard to survive in the real world.

We survived. You and I. And those who survive have a duty. Our duty is to do our best to keep on living. Even if our lives are not perfect.

There are some things women don’t want other people to see.

Don’t let the bad elves get you.

That amazing time in our lives is gone, and will never return. All the beautiful possibilities we had then have been swallowed up in the flow of time.

You don’t lack anything. Be confident and be bold. That’s all you need. Never let fear and stupid pride make you lose someone who’s precious to you.

But months passed, and contrary to his expectation, his heart didn’t stop. The heart apparently doesn’t stop that easily.

Sara said she has feelings for me. He had no reason to doubt it. But there are countless things in the world for which affection is not enough. Life is long, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes victims are needed. Someone has to take on that role.

I turn to him and warmly applaud him

“It’s the first thing I always say at our new employee training seminars. I gaze around the room, pick one person, and have him stand up. And this is what I say: I have some good news for you, and some bad news. The bad news first. We’re going to have to rip off either your fingernails or your toenails with pliers. I’m sorry, but it’s already decided. It can’t be changed. I pull out a huge, scary pair of pliers from my briefcase and show them to everybody. Slowly, making sure everybody gets a good look. And then I say: Here’s the good news. You have the freedom to choose which it’s going to be—your fingernails, or your toenails. So, which will it be? You have ten seconds to make up your mind. If you’re unable to decide, we’ll rip off both your fingernails and your toenails. I start the count. At about eight seconds most people say, ‘The toes.’ Okay, I say, toenails it is. I’ll use these pliers to rip them off. But before I do, I’d like you to tell me something. Why did you choose your toes and not your fingers? The person usually says, ‘I don’t know. I think they probably hurt the same. But since I had to choose one, I went with the toes.’ I turn to him and warmly applaud him. And I say, Welcome to the real world.”

From Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

what are people seeking

Jack Lule:

Newspaper sales, magazine circulation, television news ratings, and website traffic all surge during dramatic and sensational events: schoolyard killings, royal weddings, hurricanes, assassinations, airline crashes, and inaugurations. What are people seeking? They’re not going to use these stories to vote for a candidate. They want compelling dramas. They want satisfying stories that speak to them of history and fate and the fragility of life. They want myth.

I walked out of Auschwitz into life and I made a vow

Benjamin Zander:

So now, I have one last thought, which is that it really makes a difference what we say – the words that come out of our mouth. I learned this from a woman who survived Auschwitz, one of the rare survivors. She went to Auschwitz when she was 15 years old, and her brother was eight, and the parents were lost. And she told me this, she said, “We were in the train going to Auschwitz, and I looked down and saw my brother’s shoes were missing. And I said, ‘Why are you so stupid, can’t you keep your things together for goodness’ sake?’ ” The way an elder sister might speak to a younger brother. Unfortunately, it was the last thing she ever said to him, because she never saw him again. He did not survive. And so when she came out of Auschwitz, she made a vow. She told me this. She said, “I walked out of Auschwitz into life and I made a vow. And the vow was, I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say.” Now, can we do that? No. And we’ll make ourselves wrong and others wrong. But it is a possibility to live into.

advice from stephen king

CBR:

Vaughan shared an anecdote about working on “Under the Dome” where the producers team had hired scientists and technicians to help determine what an actual dome falling over a small town would be like. At one point, they called King to discuss what the atmosphere in a semi-permeable dome would be like and the novelist interrupted them. “He said, ‘You know you guys can just make shit up, right?’ and I realized that was a valuable lesson,” Vaughan recalled.

every mother chimp does the same thing

i cannot verify if this experiment actually happened. if the results are true, it’s pretty mindblowing.

The Telegraph:

Half way through the novel, Yvonne’s barrister tells a story about an experiment in which a female chimpanzee and her newborn baby were placed in a specially prepared cage. When a dial was turned, the floor of the cage became hotter and hotter. At first the mother and baby leap from foot to foot. Then the baby jumps into its mother’s arms. The mother continues to hop about, trying to climb the cage walls. But eventually, every mother chimp does the same thing: she puts her baby on the hot floor and stands on it.

“I read that in a newspaper before I had children,” says Doughty, “and it stuck in my mind.