Murakami in THE BIG SHORT

Posted: January 9, 2016 by timjollymore in Uncategorized

Had she known the difference between Kazuo Ishiguro and Haruki Murakami, she would not likely have given me Murakami’s book WIND / PINBALL for my birthday. Even in this world, like Murakami’s world, and like the world of Wall Street, though, things happen for a reason.

Clarity: Ishiguro (whom she knew I’d read) and Murakami are of the same generation, one perhaps telling difference being that Ishiguro emigrated at a 6 while Murakami stayed put. I think both had to work to keep their lives together in the wake of the Japanese defeat in WWII.

I’ve long admired Ishiguro’s AN ARTIST OF THE FLOATING WORLD, a cross-generational look at social fallout in Japanese society after the defeat. It is a quiet book. Murakami’s WIND and more particularly its sequel (both the story of The Rat) PINBALL take that fallout a step further: now the younger Japanese generation, who must suffer for the sins of their fathers, play out lives like Gregor Samsas in a No play. Against the surreal industrial backdrop of a Tokyo bar named after it’s Chinese owner “J”  two friends  wait for a Godot-san to show them the meaning in their lives. Even sex, beer, occasional drugs, and learning are fruitless. Murakami becomes the master of this terrifying, sinister genre whose stars-certainly the only happy characters-seem to be pinball machines. Ishiguro may have countered or been influenced by Murakami in his chilling NEVER LET ME GO. Either way you have it the cold war wasn’t even the beginning of the biggest chill on record – post war British and Japanese living.

What does Murakami say in THE BIG SHORT? Toward the end of the film, before the credits roll (I think) look in the upper left of the big screen to see the fading quotation: “Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.” Okay, but will it be fire or will it be ice?

 

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