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A Wild Sheep Chase

novel by Haruki Murakami

A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (羊をめぐる冒険, 1982) is a novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

QuotesEdit

 
I was twenty-one at the time, about to turn twenty-two. No prospect of graduating soon, and yet no reason to quit school.
 
There are various reasons why an individual might habitually consume large quantities of alcohol, but they all effectively boil down to the same thing.
  • I was twenty-one at the time, about to turn twenty-two. No prospect of graduating soon, and yet no reason to quit school. Caught in the most curiously depressing circumstances. For months I'd been stuck, unable to take one step in any new direction. The world kept moving on; I alone was at a standstill. In the autumn, everything took on a desolate cast, the colors swiftly fading before my eyes. The sunlight, the smell of the grass, the faintest patter of rain, everything got on my nerves.
    • Chapter 1: Wednesday Afternoon Picnic
  • "I don't know, there's something about you. Say there's an hourglass: the sand's about to run out. Someone like you can always be counted on to turn the thing over."
    • Chapter 2: Sixteen Steps
  • To sleep with a woman: it can seem of the utmost importance in your mind, or then again it can seem like nothing much at all. Which only goes to say that there's sex as therapy (self-therapy, that is) and there's sex as pastime. There's sex for self-improvement start to finish and there's sex for killing time straight through; sex that is therapeutic at first only to end up as nothing-better-to-do, and vice versa. Our human sex life- how shall I put it?- differs fundamentally from the sex life of a whale. We are not whales- and this constitutes one great theme underscoring our sex lives.
    • Chapter 4: The Whale's Penis and the Woman with Three Occupations
  • So it was that my most impressionable years of boyhood were spent gazing at not a whale, but a whale's penis. Whenever I tired of strolling through the chill aisles of the aquarium, I'd steal off to my place on the bench of the high-ceilinged stillness of the exhibition room and spend hours on end there contemplating this whale's penis.
    • Chapter 4: The Whale's Penis and the Woman with Three Occupations
  • “What’s more, you’re loads better than you think you are.” “So why is it I get to thinking that way?” I puzzled. “That’s because you’re only half-living.” she said briskly. “The other half is still untapped somewhere.”
    • Chapter 4: The Whale's Penis and the Woman with Three Occupations
  • There are various reasons why an individual might habitually consume large quantities of alcohol, but they all effectively boil down to the same thing. Five years ago, my business partner was a happy drunk. Three years later, he had become a moody drunk. And by the last summer, he was fumbling at the knob of the door to alcoholism. As with most habitual drinkers, he was nice-enough, regular-if-not-exactly-sharp kind of guy. He thought so too. That's why he drank. Because it seemed that with alcohol in his syste, he could more fully embody this idea of being that kind of guy.
    • Chapter 7: Before the Strange Man
 
We can, if we so choose, wander aimlessly over the continent of the arbitrary.
 
Generally, people who are good at writing letters have no need to write letters. They've got plenty of life to lead inside their own context.
  • We can, if we so choose, wander aimlessly over the continent of the arbitrary. Rootless as some winged seed blown about on a serendipitous spring breeze. Nonetheless, we can in the same breath deny that there is any such thing as coincidence. What's done is done, what's yet to be is clearly yet to be. In other words, sandwiched as we are between the "everything" that is behind us and the "zero" beyond us, ours is an ephemeral existence in which there is neither coincidence nor possibility. In actual practice, however, distinctions between the two interpretations amount to precious little. A state of affairs (as with most face-offs between interpretations) not unlike calling the same food by two different names. So much for metaphors.
    • Chapter 10, Counting Sheep
  • Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.
    • Chapter 10, Counting Sheep
  • There are symbolic dreams—dreams that symbolize some reality. Then there are symbolic realities—realities that symbolize a dream. Symbols are what you might call honorary town councilors of the worm universe. In the worm universe, there is nothing unusual about a dairy cow seeking a pair of pliers. A cow is bound to get her pliers sometimes. It has nothing to do with me. Yet the fact that the cow chose me to obtain her pliers changes everything.
    • Chapter 12, Wherefore the Worm Universe
  • Generally, people who are good at writing letters have no need to write letters. They've got plenty of life to lead inside their own context.
    • Chapter 13, The Rat's First Letter
  • “My biggest fault is that the faults I was born with grow bigger each year. It's like I was raising chickens inside of me. The chickens lay their eggs and the eggs hatch into other chickens, which then lay eggs.”
    • Chapter 13, The Rat's First Letter
  • I don't really know if it's the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more ocean fronts filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over? Who needs it?
    • Chapter 15, The Song Is Over
  • "Speaking frankly and speaking the truth are two different things entirely. Honesty is to truth as prow is to stern. Honesty appears first and truth appears last."
    • Chapter 17, The Strange Man's Strange Tale
  • You have an interesting history. Now people can generally be classified in to two groups: the mediocre realists and the mediocre dreamers. You clearly belong to the latter. Your fate is and will always be the fate of dreamers.
    • Chapter 17, The Strange Man's Strange Tale
  • The world is mediocre. About that there is no mistake. Well then, has the world been mediocre since time immemorial? No. In the beginning, the world was chaos, and chaos is not mediocre. The mediocratization began when people separated the means of production from daily life.
    • Chapter 18, The Strange Man's Tale Goes On
  • The negation of cognition thus correlates on the verbal level. For when those two pillars of Western humanism, individual cognition and evolutionary continuity, lose their meaning, language loses meaning. Existence ceases for the individuum as we know it, and all becomes chaos. You cease to be a unique entity unto yourself, but exist simply as chaos. And not just the chaos that is you ; you chaos is also my chaos. To wit, existence is communication, and communication, existence.
    • Chapter 18, The Strange Man's Tale Goes on
  • “Everybody has some one thing they do not want to lose," began the man. "You included. And we are professionals at finding out that very thing. Humans by necessity must have a midway point between their desires and their pride. Just as all objects must have a center of gravity. This is something we can pinpoint. Only when it is gone do people realize it even existed.”
    • Chapter 22,Sunday Afternoon Picnic
  • "Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment," she said, thrusting a skinny back of her hand before my eyes, "most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.
    • Chapter 25, Transit Completed at Movie Theater, On to The Dolphin Hotel
  • “Sheep hurt my father, and through my father, sheep have also hurt me.”
    • Chapter 26, The Sheep Professor
 
We Japanese seem to live from war to war.
 
Time. Particles of darkness configured mysterious patterns on my retina. Patterns that degenerated without a sound, only to be replaced by new patterns. Darkness but darkness alone was shifting, like mercury in motionless space.
 
The basic stupidity of modern Japan is that we’ve learned absolutely nothing from our contact with other Asian peoples.
  • "Looking at things this way," she said, comparing the left and right side of the chronology, "we Japanese seem to live from war to war."
    • Chapter 30, Further Decline of Junitaki and Its Sheep
  • The house kept its own time, like the old-fashioned grandfather clock in the living room. People who happened by raised the weights, and as long as the weights were wound, the clock continued ticking away. But with people gone and the weights unattended, whole chunks of time were left to collect in deposits of faded life on the floor.
    • Chapter 32, An Unlucky Bend in the Road
  • There's nothing worse than waking up in total darkness. It's like having to go back and live life all over from the beginning. When I first opened my eyes, iy esd sd ig I ertr living someone' else's life. After an extremely long time, this began to match up with my own life. A curious overslap this, my own life as some else's. It was improbabblr that such a person as myself could even be living.
    • Chapter 38, And So Time Passes
  • Time. Particles of darkness configured mysterious patterns on my retina. Patterns that degenerated without a sound, only to be replaced by new patterns. Darkness but darkness alone was shifting, like mercury in motionless space. I put a stop to my thoughts and let time pass. Let time carry me along. Carry me to where a new darkness was configuring yet newer patterns.
    • Chapter 38, And So Time Passes
  • I guess I felt attached to my weakness. My pain and suffering too. Summer light, the smell of a breeze, the sound of cicadas - if I like these things, why should I apologize?
    • Chapter 40, The Rat Who Wound the Clock
  • "A friend to kill time is a friend sublime."
    • Chapter 40, The Rat Who Wound the Clock
  • “Weakness is something that rots in the body. Like gangrene. I’ve felt that ever since I was a teenager. That’s why I was always on edge. There’s this something inside you that’s rotting away and you feel it all along.”
    • Chapter 40, The Rat Who Wound the Clock
  • I watched an old American submarine movie on television. The creaking plot had the captain and first officer constantly at each other’s throat. The submarine was a fossil, and one guy had claustrophobia. But all that didn’t stop everything from working out well in the end. It was an everything-works-out-in-the-end-so-maybe-war’s-not-so-bad-after-all sort of film. One of these days they’ll be making a film where the whole human race gets wiped out in a nuclear war, but everything works out in the end.
  • The song is over. But the melody lingers on.
  • There's that kind of money in the world. It aggravates you to have it, makes you miserable to spend it, and you hate yourself when it's gone. And when you hate yourself, you feel like spending money. Except there's no money left. And no hope.
  • “The Boss is an honorable man. After the Lord, the most godly person I've ever met." "You've met God?" "Certainly. I telephone Him every night.”
  • Mediocrity is a constant, as one Russian writer put it. Russians have a way with aphorisms. They probably spend all winter thinking them up.
  • “I think I just don’t like names. Basically, I can’t see what’s wrong with calling me ‘me’ or you ‘you’ or us ‘us’ or them ‘them.”
  • There's not a branch of publishing or broadcasting that doesn't depend in some way on advertising. It'd be like an aquarium without water. Why, ninety-five percent of the information that reaches you has already been preselected and paid for.
  • The basic stupidity of modern Japan is that we’ve learned absolutely nothing from our contact with other Asian peoples.

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