Hear the Wind Sing

Haruki Murakami, on writing:

For me, writing is extremely hard work. There are times when it takes me a whole month just to write one line. Other times I’ll write three days and nights straight through, only to have it come out all wrong. Nonetheless, witting can also be fun. Compared to the sheer difficulty of living , the process of attaching meanings to life is altogether clear sailing. Back in my teens, was it? I was so startled upon awakening to this truth that for on week I didn’t say a word. If I so much as paid the slightest attention to things, the world would start to conform to my will—that’s what it seemed like. All values would shift, the very passage of time would change.

The catch became apparent, unfortunately, only much later. I’d rule a line down the middle of a notebook page, put down all the things I’d recently gained on the left, and on the right everything gone by the wayside—things I’d lost, things I’d crushed, things I was glad to have lost track of, things I’d sacrificed, things I’d betrayed—the list was endless.

A gaping chasm separates what we try to be aware of and what we actually are aware of. And I don’t care how long your yardstick is, there’s no measuring that drop. What I can set down here in writing only amounts to a catalog. Not a novel, not literature, not even art. Just a notebook with a line rules down the center. And maybe a lesson or two in it somewhere.

If it’s art of literature you’re looking for, you’d do well to read what the Greeks wrote. In order for there to be true art, there necessarily has to be slavery. That’s how it was with the ancient Greeks: while the slaves worked the fields, prepared the meals, and rowed the ships, the citizens would bask beneath the Mediterranean sun, rapt in poetical composition or engaged in their mathematics. That’s how it is with art.

Mere humans who root through their refrigerators at three o’clock in the morning are incapable of such writing.

And that includes me.

村上 春樹, 風の歌を聴け