I’m reading along (I’ve read no further than the end of this week’s section)
I’ll catch up soon (I haven’t yet finished last week’s section)
I’m reading ahead (I’ve read beyond the end of this week’s section)
I’ve read this book already but I’m here for discussion
I have no intention of catching up or the club has already finished, but I’m using the forums as reference
Anybody should feel free to add to the vocab sheet. Read the guidelines on the first sheet- even if a word is not yet included you can use the spreadsheet as a tool to get help.
Please follow these rules to avoid inadvertent ネタバレ. If you’re unsure whether something should have a spoiler tag, err on the side of using one.
Any potential spoiler for the current week’s reading need only be covered by a spoiler tag. Predictions and conjecture made by somebody who has not read ahead still falls into this category.
Any potential spoilers for external sources need to be covered by a spoiler tag and include a label (outside of the spoiler tag) of what might be spoiled. These include but are not limited to: other book club picks, other books, games, movies, anime, etc. I recommend also tagging the severity of the spoiler (for example, I may still look at minor spoilers for something that I don’t intend to read soon).
Any information from later in the book than the current week’s reading need to be hidden by spoiler tags and labeled as such.
Feel free to use these questions as a framework or a starting point for responses. I also encourage people to post their own discussion questions!
What sentence/passage gave you the most difficulty? Feel free to request some help, or if you figured it out on your own break it down for the rest of us!
What was your favorite new vocab word from this week’s reading?
Was there any passage that you found particularly intriguing? Did it resonate with you (either positively or negatively)? Was it surprising? Offer any insight or new perspective? Was it just beautifully written?
It strikes me as a bit strange that people keep going on about 自分の遺伝子を残したい in Murata books. It’s not something I ever hear in real life, wanting to propagate your genes and having kids because of that, as opposed to (I don’t know) having so much love to give that you want a bigger family or whatever. Explicitly saying that you want to spread your genes sounds weirdly darwinist to me…? Is it actually more common than I think, is it more common in Japan than the west, or is it Murataesque?
So anyway, it looks like they’re going to Chiba. It makes no sense to me that the protagonist is down with that, considering her earlier opposition to the project. This is what I’ve been struggling with so far with this book: I just don’t understand the characters, their motivations and the norms/values of this universe. In previous Murata books the characters could do the craziest stuff and I’d get why, but with this book it doesn’t click for me.
I’m not reading the book, so I have zero context as to what exactly you are referring to, but I guess I can share my opinion anyways? (If not, please ignore! I won’t be offended)
I’m German, with a solid background in natural sciences. For me, that statement is the most straightforward and obvious thing. I mean, I don’t think people say this directly (and many might not even consciously be aware of it), but I believe that it’s there in our subconscious (or lizard brain, if you want) and drives a lot of our behaviour and decisions (for some people more, for some people less). And it works! I mean, unwanted pregnancies are a thing, and that’s just proof that the gene-spreading (and, in the grand scheme of things, ensuring that the human race continues to exist) won over the rational thought of not wanting children.
I think that Darwinism goes much deeper than most people are aware. And I don’t consider Darwinism to be a bad thing tbh…
At least in my “bubble”, it’s a pretty normal thought, I’d say. But like I said, I think that there are also a lot of people who never consciously reflected on this.
At the risk of going off-topic here… but I once read a different explanation. Slightly different context, though. This was about the ‘biological clock’ and the notion that as women age, they undergo some sort of hormonal shift that makes them desperate to have babies. The article made the point that there is no evidence that there is ‘a natural instinct to have babies’. Rather, there is a natural instinct to have sex. And for most of human existence, sex led to babies. The babies were an evolutionarily advantageous side-effect of the desire to have sex, not an instinctive goal in its own right. And now that we have a wide range of birth-control options, we can still enjoy the natural urge to have sex, without necessarily getting the babies. I don’t have much of a background in the natural sciences (only the usual high school stuff), but instinctively this explanation kind of makes sense to me. There are loads of people with no desire to have babies; are they evolutionary aberrations? Or is the notion that it is only natural to want to spread your genes a social construct?
There’s also the difference between having the thought (whether consciously or subconsciously) and actually saying it out loud. To my mind it’s a bit of a strange thing to say out loud, because it implies that you think your genes are such great material they deserve to be spread “Why do you want to have children?” “Why, to spread my smashing genes, of course!”
I think I may not have chosen the correct word. What I mean is that talk of genes when it comes to having babies sometimes makes me feel a bit iffy. It can encourage an essentialist mindset, as if ‘having good genes’ is the be all and end all of a happy or successful life. And eugenicist notions are also just around the corner. Weird example, but a friend of mine is undergoing IVF to have a baby by herself, and she showed me the potential sperm donors she could choose from. The depth and breadth of information you could get about these men was astounding, right down to pictures of their handwriting! It felt weird looking at all of those entries and making all sorts of suppositions about these men (and the potentially resulting baby) based on what we are invited to imagine are genetically coded traits. It felt like we were dehumanising those men (who, I am fully aware, consent to being treated like prize stallions, I guess )
Bit of a wall of text there, sorry! It’s a very interesting topic, so I couldn’t resist I like to think this is what Murata wants anyway, that we have these conversations
In Hungary we had politicians stating that the biggest thing you can leave behind in the world is a copy of yourself, a child (not exactly these words, you can imagine, but I can’t find the exact quote now). So you should have as much as you can.
For me this sounds very narcissistic, that you don’t see the child as an individual, but the “copy” (well not the exact copy) of you…