Quotes from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

Haruki Murakami ·  309 pages

Rating: (11.4K votes)


“The rain that fell on the city runs down the dark gutters and empties into the sea without even soaking the ground”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“If you lose your ego, you lose the thread of that narrative you call your Self. Humans, however, can't live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others.

Now a narrative is a story, not a logic, nor ethics, nor philosophy. It is a dream you keep having, whether you realize it or not. Just as surely as you breathe, you go on ceaselessly dreaming your story. And in these stories you wear two faces. You are simultaneously subject and object. You are a whole and you are a part. You are real and you are shadow. "Storyteller" and at the same time "character". It is through such multilayering of roles in our stories that we heal the loneliness of being an isolated individual in the world.

Yet without a proper ego nobody can create a personal narrative, any more than you can drive a car without an engine, or cast a shadow without a real physical object. But once you've consigned your ego to someone else, where on earth do you go from there?

At this point you receive a new narrative from the person to whom you have entrusted your ego. You've handed over the real thing, so what comes back is a shadow. And once your ego has merged with another ego, your narrative will necessarily take on the narrative created by that ego.

Just what kind of narrative?

It needn't be anything particularly fancy, nothing complicated or refined. You don't need to have literary ambitions. In fact, the sketchier and simpler the better. Junk, a leftover rehash will do. Anyway, most people are tired of complex, multilayered scenarios-they are a potential letdown. It's precisely because people can't find any fixed point within their own multilayered schemes that they're tossing aside their own self-identity.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“Since I'm a novelist I'm the opposite of you - I believe that what's most important is what cannot be measured. I'm not denying your way of thinking, but the greater part of people's lives consist of things that are unmeasurable, and trying to change all these to something measurable is realistically impossible.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“I feel very strongly that all Japanese at that time had the idea drilled into them of 1999 being the end of the world. Aum renunciates have already accepted, inside themselves, the end of the world, because when they become a renunciate, they discard themselves totally, thereby abandoning the world. In other words, Aum is a collection of people who have accepted the end. People who continue to hold out hope for the near future still have an attachment to the world. If you have attachments, you will not discard your Self, but for Renunciates it's as if they've leaped right off the cliff. And taking a giant leap like that feels good. They lose something - but gain something in return.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“It was just that, no matter where I found myself, I felt like there was a hole inside me, with the wind rushing through. I never felt satisfied. From the outside you wouldn’t imagine I had any troubles.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche



“Psychologically speaking (I’ll only wheel out the amateur psychology just this once, so bear with me), encounters that call up strong physical disgust or revulsion are often in fact projections of our own faults and weaknesses.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“Haven’t you offered up some part of your Self to someone (or something), and taken on a “narrative” in return? Haven’t we entrusted some part of our personality to some greater System or Order? And if so, has not that System at some stage demanded of us some kind of “insanity”? Is the narrative you now possess really and truly your own? Are your dreams really your own dreams? Might not they be someone else’s visions that could sooner or later turn into nightmares?”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“What alternative is there to the media’s “Us” versus “Them”? The danger is that if it is used to prop up this “righteous” position of “ours” all we will see from now on are ever more exacting and minute analyses of the “dirty” distortions in “their” thinking. Without some flexibility in our definitions we’ll remain forever stuck with the same old knee-jerk reactions, or worse, slide into complete apathy.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“I have no physical symptoms, but psychologically there's this burden. I've got to get rid of it somehow. Of course, when I first went back to work I was scared the same thing might happen again. It takes positive thinking to overcome fear, otherwise you'll carry around this victim mentality forever.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“one person too much and freedom goes out the window.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche



“But at the same time who would ever think, “I’m an unimportant little person, and if I end up just a cog in society’s system, gradually worn down until I die, hey—that’s okay”?”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“Sometimes, in this multifaceted world of ours, inconsistency can be more eloquent than consistency. 5”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“Since living meant accumulating sin, I thought dying would be much better for the world. These”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“Everyone just abandoned us there the whole time and walked on by. It was absolutely terrible. As”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“From a certain perspective, primitive religion always carries its own associated special aura that emanates from some psychic aberration. In”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche



“Humans, however, can’t live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“The sad fact is that language and logic cut off from reality have a far greater power than the language and logic of reality—with all that extraneous matter weighing down like a rock on any actions we take. In”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“There’s an upside to passengers too. A guy around 50, always travels on the first train of the day, always used to greet me, he probably thought I’d died until I returned to the job. Yesterday morning when we met, he said: “Alive and well means you’ve still got things to do. Don’t give up the fight!” It’s such an encouragement just to get a cheerful greeting. Nothing comes of hatred.”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“He always carries two lucky charms his wife gave him—not that he really believes in that sort of thing …”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


“When your head goes empty, even tears don’t come. It”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche



“I glanced over all the magazine and newspaper articles I could find, but the difference between the image I’d invented and the person I actually met was startling. Of course, that image was a complete fabrication on my part and no one was to blame, but it did make me pause to consider how the media works—how they make up whatever image they want. The”
― Haruki Murakami, quote from Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche


About the author

Haruki Murakami
Born place: in Kyoto, Japan
Born date January 12, 1949
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