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Chapter 16


SnowyYeti
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I feel like we haven't talked about chapter 16 enough and the significance of Johnny Walker.  I remember in class that we talked about Johnnie Walker and how he is the mascot for an American Whiskey brand, but why in this book is he this cruel character that is killing cats and collecting their souls to make a flute??  I do not understand the connection.  I get that Murakami liked western culture and I suppose this is apart of western culture, but why is this grim reaper type character modeled after the mascot for an american whiskey brand?


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Persephone
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Honestly I don't have a solid answer for you, at first I thought maybe he was hinting that alcohol would kill you or some cliche like that, but that would be out of character for murakami I feel, there's definitely something deeper... This situation is similar to the Colonel Sanders one, why is this pimp choosing to appear as a fried chicken mascot? Maybe to hint at indulgence? I feel like this book is going to wrap up nicely, so hopefully we get some answers...


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wildsalmon
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@persephone I'm not so sure about the book wrapping up nicely, I'm getting the feeling that the book functions as one big koan and we'll be left with questions for a while until that "a-ha" moment. There seems to be some sort of hint at a conncetion to alcohol and excess, but without fully understanding Nakata, I'm not sure if much of anything will make sense. He, as a piece of Wester culture, could function like the McDonald's in the Second Bakery Attack, but everything feels like that "eel = knife = Johnnie Walker" connection, where things just almost don't fit.


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xwing37
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I had all of the same questions as you. I'm hoping we get set answers as we progress through rest of the book. Johnnie Walker is clearly there to represent something and I can't quite put my finger on it. I thought at first maybe he was there to represent that alcohol is bad but that's way to simple. I've also kind of been thinking that maybe he represents consequence. He have Nakata an ultimatum and he either had to stab Johnnie Walker or the cats would continue dying. But this still doesn't sit right with me. I just really hope that we figure it out by the end of the book and we aren't left with a cliffhanger.


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MSAR
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@snowyeti I believe that Johnnie walker could be the physical impersonation of what American's are believed to be to Nakata or to Japanese people as a whole. The cruel way american's won influence over Japan and what they did to have Japan under their influence bubble. Johnnie walker's way of killing cats its quite cruel yet silent maybe signifying the effects of the wests intentions or the consequences of capitalism and what it does to people. It gets rid of their individuality and labels them as numbers. Please let me know what you think. 


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Steve Chisnell
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Through most all of this, Johnny Walker has indicated that his behavior is symbolic. Col Sanders repeats most of this: "I'm a metaphor!" And yet each of these American icons seem to be on different "sides" of whatever cosmic conflict is happening here. 

In both cases, they appear to require human action to accomplish some of their work. 

In both cases, they seem bound by a set of rules/principles which they are either incapable of violating or absolutely unwilling to. 

The "easiest" place to start: Every time you think in terms of "two" or "difference" in interpreting the novel, erase that idea of opposition as a foundation. This is not an author of dualism/oppositions but one who wishes to heal "dukkha." 

A step into a longer explanation:  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/japanese-zen/

A more scientific (?)/Western explanation:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686635/  

There is always more to say than we have time for. But this might assist a bit. Remember that our theme here is less a statement of closure and more a re-framing of question. 

 

🙂

 


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savhoisington
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@salmon I really agree with this point. I think this could have been a really smart way of beginning to teach us more about Nakata and the way he thinks. You are right that without knowing more about Nakatas way of thinking, this scene with Johnny Walker is not going to clear up at all. By us being almost in the dark over what these connections are, in a way it might help us better understand Nakata, because he states that making connections is very difficult for him. "eel = knife = Johnnie Walker" does not necessarily make sense to us, but as we mentioned in class last week, certain poetry is designed to open or broaden the way we think/ process things, so maybe Murakami is intending to do something similar


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savhoisington
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@persephone I have just reached the part where Colonel Sanders is introduced and I didn't even consider the connection to Johnny Walker as being a sort of 'mascot' for the America. Im excited to read more today, but I remember on pg. 260, they call it just a "big coincidence" but I feel like we have all come to realize that there really aren't any coincidences so I agree that we will probably better understand the connections soon


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SnowyYeti
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@msar This is a good interpretation and I like the way that you put this.  Your explanation makes sense to the timeline of the book especially.  The middle of WW2, Japan and the USA are on different sides of the fight and terrible terrible things happened on both sides so this does make sense.  But then how does this fit into the whole point of this novel?  Also I just did a bit more digging, and Johnnie Walker whiskey was originally created in Scotland... I couldn't find a ton of information on where it is most popular but we definitely know it is popular in the USA.  But if Murakami wanted  to have a direct link to the USA and alcohol, the persons name could have been Jack Daniels or something but he picked Johnnie Walker, a scottish whiskey...


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