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My Quantified Ass

December 16th, 2012

Haruki Murakami in his debut book “Hear the Wind Sing”, chapter 23:

The third girl I slept with used to call my penis my raison d’être.


I once tried to write a novella on people’s raisons d’être. It never got off the ground, but for a while there I kept thinking about people’s reasons for doing anything at all, which put me in a strange frame of mind. I was habitually reducing everything to numbers. For eight months, I was a driven man. I’d board a train and first thing count the passengers in the car. I’d add up all the steps in in staircases. If I had a spare second, I’d take my pulse. According to my records at the time, between August 15, 1969, and April 3 of the following year, I attended three hundred fifty-eight classes, had sex fifty-four times, smoked six thousand, nine hundred and twenty-one cigarettes.

All the time, it seems I seriously believed that putting a numerical value on everything would enable me to transmit something to others. And as long as I had something to transmit, my existence would be assured. But, of course, no one showed the slightest interest in the number of cigarettes I smoked or the number of steps I climbed, or the size of my penis. Hence I lost sight of my own raison d’être, leaving me the odd man out.