Victory From Our Utter Uniqueness
"If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to
come from our utter uniqueness." - Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami Wins Jerusalem Prize
Japan Today ~ http://www.japantoday.com
Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami won the
Jerusalem Prize for his "artistic achievements and love of
people" Sunday, becoming the first non-European-language writer
to receive the Israeli literary prize. In his speech at the
ceremony, Murakami, 60, stressed that each person must work to
stop states and organizations from getting out of control,
apparently criticizing Israelís recent large-scale offensive in
the Gaza Strip.
Murakami said he thought that attending
the ceremony might give the impression that he supports Israelís
dependence on its overwhelming military but said he eventually
decided to "speak rather than say nothing." During the 15-minute
speech in English, he warned that the system, which is supposed
to protect people, "sometimes takes on a life of its own and
it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others coldly,
efficiently and systematically."
In writing novels, he always keeps in mind
a high, solid wall, and an egg that breaks against it. "I will
always stand on the side of the egg," he said. The wall is a
metaphor for the system and the egg represents each personís
soul enclosed in a fragile shell, according to Murakami.
"We are all fragile eggs faced with a
solid wall called the system.... To all appearances, we have no
hope... the wall is too high and too strong... If we have any
hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our utter
uniqueness," he said. "Each of us possesses a tangible
living soul. The system has no such thing. We must not allow the
system to exploit us," he added.
While he received loud applause from the
audience of around 700, a middle-aged man said he was offended
due to the speechís political content. He said it is wrong to
criticize Israel when receiving a prize from the nation.
Murakamiís attendance came despite criticism from
pro-Palestinian groups, including a Japanese nongovernmental
organization, that receiving the award would lead to defending
Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians.
The Jerusalem Prize winner is selected by
a panel of judges appointed by the Jerusalem mayor and is given
to authors whose writings have expressed the idea of individual
freedom in society, according to the award presenter. Noting
that Murakamiís books have been translated into 40 different
languages and have garnered acclaim the world over, including in
Israel, the presenter said the decision to confer the prize to
him was "made out of profound esteem for his artistic
achievements and love of people."
"His humanism is clearly reflected in his
writings," the presenter said.
Several of Murakamiís works such as
'Norwegian Wood' have been translated into Hebrew and he is a
widely known novelist in Israel. Past winners of the Jerusalem
Prize, created in 1963, include U.S. playwright Arthur Miller
and British philosopher Bertrand Russell.