Consumerism and Possibility of an Authentic Self in Murakami Haruki’s Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Abstract

Jean Baudrillard, in The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures, defines consumption not as “… individual function of interest across a corpus of objects … but the immediately social function of exchange, of communication, of distribution of values across a corpus of signs” (78). Therefore, “… social function and social organization far surpass individuals and impose themselves upon them by way of an unconscious social constraint …” (Baudrillard 78). Such a definition of consumption, depriving individuals of choice and an authentic self, can easily be used as a medium of power and control. By availing itself from the above-mentioned theoretical framework, this essay investigates to what extent Murakami Haruki’s Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World can be construed as a quest for an authentic self. While doing so, I intend to refer to Japanese consumerism in 1970s and early 1980s. I argue that the narrator of the hard-boiled land, who defines himself as born shopper, can be regarded as the representative of urban consumers of post-war economic miracle years. Similarly, the Town can be accounted an aspect of consumer culture in connection with the Japan railways ‘Discover Japan’ project. In both narratives, the narrator is lured into a system imposed on him. Thus, his choice to leave his shadow behind at the very end can be understood as an attempt to set himself free from the power consumerism exerts on him. Baudrillard, Jean. The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures. Trans. Chris Turner. London: Sage Publications, 1998.



Author Information
Burcu Genc, University of Tokyo, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2015
Stream: Literature - Asian Literature

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