1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I was going to put this up a long time ago, but I did not quite have the time. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to process books in some way so that the knowledge that you have gained while reading them does not leave you in time. 1Q84 was the book I read almost all of last year outside of required readings for classes. A novel of 1157 pages, it was a hefty reading, but I think it helped me process all that I learned while I was in Japan and much that I have learned in the past few years. Haruki Murakami is my favorite author and the longevity of this novel really emphasizes how skilled Haruki Murakami is at creating a whole new, almost tangible world in his novels even with the surrealist elements he is famous for. When I read 1Q84, I felt like I was living my life side by side with the characters. That’s one reason why I loved it, but I also loved how Murakami always includes tidbits of life-long wisdom or philosophy hidden beneath his words and character, but still relatively easy to decipher. It makes his work accessible to always anyone. Anyway, here are some quotes I found memorable while reading 1Q84. I tried to chose the ones that made the most sense out of context so that there would be as little spoilers as possible.


‘I know you’ve got something inside you that you need to write about, but you can’t get it to come out. It’s like a frightened little animal hiding way back in a cave – you know it’s there, but there’s no way to catch it until it comes out… just give it time.’ (30)


‘Real life is different from math. Things in life don’t necessarily flow over the shortest possible route.’ (58)


A certain something, he felt, had managed to work its way in through a tiny opening and was trying to fill a blank space inside him. The void was not one that Fuka-Eri had made, It had always ben there inside Tengo. She had merely managed to shine a special light on it. (60)


It was Aomame’s firm belief that the human body was a temple, to be kept as strong and beautiful and clean as possible, whatever one might enshrine there. (168)


All I can do is live the life I have. I can’t trade it in for a new one. However strange and misshapen it might be this is it for the gene carrier that is me. (310)


I’m not afraid to die… What I’m afraid of is having reality get the better of me, of having reality leave me behind. (443)


That was the one thing she was hoping – to be accepted and embraced unconditionally, to be comforted by someone,  if only for a moment. (468)


If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation. (536)

‘… there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.’ (583)


‘Most people and not looking for provable truths. As you said, truth is often accompanied by intense pain, and almost one one is looking for painful truths. What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning. Which is where religion comes from.’ (550)


‘…it is just as sinful from the standpoint of nature and of truth to be above oneself as to be below oneself.’ (579)


And come to think of it, isn’t this world we live in itself life a gigantic model room? We come in, sit down, have a cup of tea, gaze out the window at the scenery, and when the time comes we way thank you and leave. (622)


What kind of world will be there tomorrow? ‘No one knows the answer to that.’ Fuka-Eri said. But the world to which Tengo awoke did not appear especially changed from the world he had seen as he fell asleep the night before. (634)


As long as I’m alive, I can think what I want, when I want, any way I want, as much as I want, and nobody can tell me any different. (708)


His life seemed to lose its center of gravity – not that he had ever really had one, but up to that point, other people had placed certain demands and expectations upon him, and responding to them had kept him busy. Once those demands and expectations disappeared, however, there was nothing left worth talking about. His life had no purpose. (725)


I want to live, she decided. It was a strange feeling. Had she ever experience that felling before in her life? (762)


‘But actually time isn’t a straight line. It doesn’t have a shape. In all senses of the term, it doesn’t have any form. But since we can’t picture something without form in our minds, for the sake of convenience we understand it as a straight line.’ (782)


Nature abhors a vacuum. (799)


‘… people aren’t reborn for their own sakes. They can only do it for someone else.’ (863)


‘I think you lost all interest in this world. You were disappointed and discouraged, and lost interest in everything. So you abandoned your physical body. You went to a world apart and you’re living a different kind of life there. In a world that’s inside you.’ (900)


Is this what it means to go back to square one? … He had nothing left to lose, other than his life. It was all very clear-cut. In the darkness. a razor-thin smile came to Ushikawa’s lips. (925)


‘People need routines. It’s like a theme in music. But it also restricts your thoughts and actions and limits your freedom. It structures your priorities and in some cases distorts your logic.’ (972)


The warmth and the pain came as a pair, and unless he accepted the pain, he wouldn’t feel the warmth. It was a kind of trade-off. (1004)


It was such a long time, Tengo thought too. At the same time, though, he noticed how the twenty years that had passed now held no substance. It had all passed by in an instant, and took but an instant to be filled in. (1134)


Whether this place we’ve arrived in is the world we started out from or a whole new world. What do I have to be afraid of? If there are new trials ahead for us, we just have to overcome them, like we’ve done before. That’s all. But at least we’re no longer alone. (1151)


Despite all that happened, I never lost myself … Thank goodness I can be here, as me. Wherever here is. (1152)


‘We needed that much time … to understand how lonely we really were.’ (1154)


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