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Prose in a Glass: Against a Wall

Prose in a Glass: Against a Wall

As many of you know, the Japanese author Haruki Murakami is one of my absolute favorites. In 2009, he traveled to Israel to accept the Jerusalem prize for literature, an award given to writers whose work deals with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. He was advised not to go because of the violent fighting that was occurring in Gaza at the time. He ignored that advice and gave an acceptance speech in which he said that the following quote would forever be engraved in his mind: “Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.” Although Murakami claimed not to be making a direct political speech that day, he did go on to draw metaphorical comparisons between human beings as eggs, and the systems of government that we create as walls. He believes that his one and only reason for writing is to “keep a light trained on The System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them.” In short, the driving force behind his work is to champion human individuality and personal dignity. There is much talk of walls these days and I certainly have no desire to enter into that fray. I will say that I agree with Murakami in that the political structures we put in place to protect human rights sometimes end up being their greatest threat. The constant vigilance and demand for accountability that can come from the artistic world often seems to be one of the few things that has the power to neutralize that threat, even if only because it raises awareness.

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