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Issue 21, 2015

The Wild

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News

  • Key unlocks the door

  • VUWSA to join #teamredpeak?

  • We fucking love science

  • Politics Society launches at Vic

  • Reminder: Get home safe

  • University remains cool in the face of global warming

  • Eye on Exec

  • Features

  • nzusa

    The Good, the Bad, the Bad, the Ugly, the Ugly, the Ugly, and the Ugly

    From abusive texts, to festering realpolitik, to Don Brash, here is the story of NZUSA’s current predicament.

    by

  • ecologists

    Ants and the Art of Land Rover Maintenance

    I was introduced to a number of biology lecturers, but at the time, they were only known to me by the animal they studied—“the deer guy”, “the rhino guy”, “the tropical fish guy” and so forth, like some zoological Justice League.

    by

  • pitcairns

    A Beautiful Place (to Lose Your Faith in Humanity)

    When it comes to New Zealand we’re pretty myopic, often relegating any islands that aren’t “North” or “South” to a kind of quaint cousin status.

    by

  • no man's sky

    When Plato Met Frank Herbert

    In 100 trillion or so years, when the universe will run out of free hydrogen and no new stars are formed, you may have finished exploring No Man’s Sky.

    by

  • nzusa

    The Good, the Bad, the Bad, the Ugly, the Ugly, the Ugly, and the Ugly

    From abusive texts, to festering realpolitik, to Don Brash, here is the story of NZUSA’s current predicament.

    by

  • ecologists

    Ants and the Art of Land Rover Maintenance

    I was introduced to a number of biology lecturers, but at the time, they were only known to me by the animal they studied—“the deer guy”, “the rhino guy”, “the tropical fish guy” and so forth, like some zoological Justice League.

    by

  • pitcairns

    A Beautiful Place (to Lose Your Faith in Humanity)

    When it comes to New Zealand we’re pretty myopic, often relegating any islands that aren’t “North” or “South” to a kind of quaint cousin status.

    by

  • no man's sky

    When Plato Met Frank Herbert

    In 100 trillion or so years, when the universe will run out of free hydrogen and no new stars are formed, you may have finished exploring No Man’s Sky.

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • The NZ Flag Referendum as Art

    The NZ Flag Referendum is the latest work of art produced by the country of New Zealand. While advertised as a collaborative piece inclusive to members of the public, the piece has been heavily edited behind closed doors by a panel headed by Auckland-based artist John Key. Key, who largely works in performance pieces, rose to prominence for his piece Haha I’m Prime Minister Now, noted for its overly long running time (2008–present). Since then he has raised controversy in the art world—an earlier audiovisual piece resulted in him being sued by Eminem, and his latest performance art piece I Looove Ponytails received strongly negative reviews and accusations of him being a “creep”.

    Even before its completion, Key has received public backlash for his current project. As part of Haha I’m Prime Minister Now, Key was able to gain access to taxpayer funds (a surprising achievement for an artist of questionable talent), of which an approximate $25 million is being set aside for the NZ Flag piece. Audiences have reacted to this with both anger and confusion, though he assures us that NZ Flag will be “worth billions”, garnering further confusion. Further critiques include the edited choices lacking artistic merit, and the project’s questionable necessity and role as a distraction mechanism from Key’s other failed pieces like No You Kids Can’t Have Lunch and its sequel No More Refugees Either.

    Undeterred, Key has continued to go headstrong with The NZ Flag Referendum. The piece is constantly evolving, though the final piece aims to be a rectangular image that will be printed onto various bits of cloth, tourist souvenirs and iron-on patches plastered to the backpacks of white adolescent males on gap years. The piece is now at the stage of four final options.

    The visual result of Key’s piece makes it clear why it has been heavily critiqued for its lack of artistic substance. The piece shows a lazy response to cultural identity, have a dull colour palette and are generally boring, raising questions about the artist’s sense of taste. While Key aims to once again bring the piece to public collaboration (a vote will be held for one of the four designs), his position as head artist has let his fern fetish take over. Three of the four flags feature ferns, and the second and fourth are just indecisive re-colourings of one another. This was likely to have been done as the colour scheme of flag 4 is clearly uglier than flag 2, enabling flag 2 to appear more attractive in comparison. Key has publicly stated that flag 2, the tackiest of the four, is his favourite.

    A response to Key’s piece, which has proven to be more popular with audiences, is Red Peak by Wellington-based Aaron Dustin. Although he had a very easy act to follow, Red Peak has definite merits. In a simple geometric gesture, Dustin subtly references Māori mythology and the special “first to the light” geography of New Zealand. Although the title of Dustin’s piece may bring up thoughts of one’s menstrual cycle, the minimalist, well-composed flag simply looks cooler than any of Key’s preferred pieces. However, so does pretty much anything else.

    Although there is a strong public call for Key to collaborate with Dustin, it is unlikely that this will happen, because “paperwork”. Key’s four fave flags are set to be voted on in November this year. While a Dustin-Key collaboration may not be seen, it is believed that Key was “very impressed” by Australian artist Tony Abbott’s recent piece I Looove Onions, and has not said no to a potential collaboration with the neighbouring lizard creature.

    by

  • Until Dawn

    ★★★★½

    I may have mentioned it once before, but it bears repeating—horror and mental illness is a dangerous mix. Then again, it’s difficult to dislike something if you’ve haven’t experienced it before.

    Until Dawn is the first horror game I have actively chosen to purchase and play. I could easily have said “nope, I don’t like horror games, I could have a heart attack or a shit-ton of nightmares, playing this is a bad idea.” I could have spent the $95 this game cost on Mighty Ape on a load of fun, but relatively less scary, indie games on Steam. Hell, if I’d never acquired a PS4, I would barely be thinking about the game at all.

    But I did, didn’t I? I bought the game, and played it to completion. The fact that this review even exists at all is testament to that.

    I say this because Until Dawn is a game all about choice. The core mechanic of the game is the “butterfly effect”—the idea that every choice you make has a consequence in terms of the story. It takes inspiration from the so-called “interactive drama” games that David Cage is known for, complete with quick time events, but by all accounts Until Dawn does this far better and can actually back up its promises. Every time I made a decision, I was wondering if I’d made the right choice, or if other choices I’d made had significantly affected my play-through to that point. It’s clearly a game designed to be played multiple times, because a single run will haunt you and make you wonder what you could have done differently.

    The horror genre is a perfect fit for this kind of gameplay, and Until Dawn unashamedly revels in every horror movie trope you can think of. The story is a rather typical setup from the early 2000s: an octet of horny teenager stereotypes gather at a ski lodge in the Canadian wilderness a year after a horrific tragedy to drink, fuck and hopefully not get horribly murdered. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t say too much else, but there’s Ouija boards, Native American spiritual mumbo-jumbo, masked psychopaths (or so we think), an abandoned mental institution, mythical beasts and (oh yeah) lots of blood and guts. The writers clearly had their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, and watching all the clichés unfold gives the game an element of cheesey fun that just wouldn’t be there if they took it too seriously. It helps that the actors delivered great performances, especially towards the latter half when the shit goes down.

    This is not to say that it isn’t scary just because we’ve seen all before. There are a few cheap jump scares, as to be expected, but there are genuinely scary moments throughout the game, and the atmosphere is one that is perfectly uneasy. The core mechanic throws both red herrings and genuinely dangerous situations at the characters, all of whom can die at any moment because of your decisions. There are many moments where you can, in fact, choose to do nothing and it will end up being the best thing you can do. You have to be careful not to call the bluff every time, because you might just end up seeing Hayden Panettiere’s head bouncing across the screen as a result. Some decisions can be made easier if you know your horror really well, so you can maybe not investigate that weird noise this time.

    There have been some complaints by other critics about the compulsory moments of motion control where you have to keep your controller perfectly still in order to progress—some say it’s almost impossible. For the most part I had no trouble with it as I have fairly steady hands, but there was one moment right at the end of the game when I missed the prompt, moved the controller slightly and ended up with a dead character. It was frustrating, but it was almost entirely my fault. Your mileage may vary, however.

    In addition, the game looks amazing for a PS4 exclusive. The lighting effects are top-notch, as they need to be when you’re exploring the dark hallways for clues, and the environments and character models are well-rendered. Some of the walking and facial animations unfortunately dip into the uncanny valley, with the walking controls sometimes feeling stiff and awkward as a result. You aren’t playing this for the controls, however, and these may just be minor distractions.

    Now that you know what I think, it’s time to decide. Should you make an effort and buy Until Dawn, or should you save the money for food next week? Make your choice, but be quick—there’s something behind you…

    by

  • Eat your greens and buy your music

    I love music. I appreciate the labour that goes into it, the immense talent it demands, and the grind that goes into maybe one day being heard by an audience larger than your immediate family.

    So with this being said, it’s impossible to ignore the effects that the ever-changing industry are having on the pockets of our creatives who are already struggling. New Zealand musicians have never had an easy run of it, but these days it’s not even an economically viable full-time gig for most, with coffee jobs paying for studio time and tours barely garnering a return. When did we decide that music should come for free? That someone’s passion isn’t even worth $16.99 at The Warehouse? Well buckle up kids, because I am about the guilt the fuck out of you and hopefully convince you to throw a couple dollars at the your humble musician.

    There can be no denying that we’re blessed to have so many music streaming services at our fingertips, most of which can be accessed for free. There’s Spotify free if you can tolerate the ads, 8Tracks if you enjoy having other people creating millennial-friendly playlists, Pandora if you like to live dangerously, Apple Music if you’re a fan of the high-profile curators, YouTube if data usage isn’t a problem, and SoundCloud for all the budding DJs. As a result, CD sales have only continued to plummet and even the resurgence of vinyl hasn’t been enough to bring things back to where they once were (oh, and P.S., digital downloads are also dying a slow, painful death).

    “But I thought those companies paid the artists?” I hear you hootin’ and hollerin’… well, it’s not quite so simple. What artists get out of each service varies. Apple Music have promised royalties, but thus far only followed through with about 60 per cent of them (hands up who else agrees that Tay-tay’s are the first to go out each month!), Spotify have an equation more complex than a Level 3 calculus exam, and SoundCloud have recently found themselves embroiled in a number of lawsuits for not paying anyone ever (dicks). Yes, one could argue that this kind of thievery is nothing new, that we’ve been doing it for years, but did anyone really own enough blank cassettes to do any real damage? I for one existed for three happy years on one side of a cassette containing a mashup of the Spice Girls, Boyzone, Green Day and commercial breaks (never was very quick on the old “stop” button). The struggle is real, and not even in some ironic first world problem wayit’s a real life shit storm.

    So in light of the aforementioned corner we’ve backed our most talented into, how do we go about changing it? God knows we students won’t be sacrificing our hard earned government dollars on a weekly trip down to Slow Boat Records or JB Hi-Fi anytime soon, so what options are we left with? Well, I offer two proposals. The first operates in a similar way to an ideal welfare state wherein we support our most vulnerable first. Before you go searching for that new Kiwi artist’s album online, sacrifice a couple bottles of Fat Bird and hit up the Flying Out online store instead. Tossing up between a new Kanye album and some nobody’s EP? Pick the nobody first, and continue to do so every damn time.

    My second highly researched one-man-select-committee option suggests taking a more experiential approach by making an effort to get along to more live shows. If you can afford to spend $500 on three days sinking piss and doing lines at R&V, then you can afford $20 to scoot on down to Meow on a Thursday night and catch some sweet tunes. Sure, these solutions aren’t perfect, but until you can show me a better alternative I think we should agree the give them a crack.

    On a happier note, it seems we’ve reached a bit of a crossroads regarding music ownership, and I have a totally psychic feeling that the tides are about to turn. The rate of change is slowing and the people with real influence are finally starting to put the pressure on. But until then, let your fellow student and music lover leave you with thisstop being such a tight arse and go buy your mum a CD to put aside for Christmas (I hear Sol3 Mio have a fresh one in the pipeline).

    by

  • Carly Rae Jepson—E•MO•TION

    ★★★

    After years of radio silence Carly Rae Jepsen is back. She slipped into success with what could have been a one-hit-wonder, before disappearing as quickly as she appeared. An apparent 200 songs were written in preparation for her third album, and now three years after Kiss, it’s here. 

    E•MO•TION is an aptly named pop album, begging to be felt rather than just listened to. Each song is either a declaration of affection or the crooning of a relationship ending, holding similar lyrical content to her previous album. All share an obvious ‘80s inspiration and a production that adds a welcome consistency. 

    Each track has a unique factor, which stops them from all sounding too similar without the need for several contrasting genres racing through the album. Despite being an obviously emotionally charged album, it’s ironically lacking a full range of emotionswith danceable production being prioritised over Carly getting aggressive with some synthesisers. 

    The album opens with the powerful “Run Away With Me”, a song that demands to be sung full force in the shower. It starts with a gasp of saxophone, and then through the first verse builds into a chorus that explodes with intense emotion, making it the most memorable track. The sax is infectious and a head-bop at minimum is recommended with every listen. 

    Lead single “I Really Like You” comes across as a modern version of her smash hit “Call Me Maybe” from 2012, which most recognise by name alone. There is a little disappointment that she hasn’t branched far from her successful roots, but it remains a catchy and enjoyable tune.

    Jepsen also demonstrates the ability to release less intense, more intimate songs with “All That”. The slow-tempo ballad has an emotional intensity, best danced to at 3am with a glass of wine in hand. 

    Closing track “When I Needed You” discusses the mixed thought process of Me-versus-You in the needs of a relationship that has ended. It is perhaps one of the weaker songs on the album, with forgettable verses and a lack of any final crescendo that can often bring an album together. There is however enough strength throughout the start and middle of the album to contrast this.

    E•MO•TION is dipped in heartbreak, but sprinkled with a sense of fun. It brings emotional polar opposites together to form a sensational pop album that could be the soundtrack to either a just-got-dumped dance party, or the first night in with a lover.

    by

  • The Story Behind: Dreadlocks Story

    Linda Ainouche is a researcher, anthropologist, writer, and director/producer. Her recently-released documentary Dreadlocks Story reveals the hidden spiritual links between Jamaican Rastas and Indian Sadhus. Salient caught up with Ainouche to talk about her film and the processes behind making a transcontinental documentary.

    Ainouche is a woman of many talents. She teaches, she writes, she travels, and she makes films. What was the origin story behind such an adventurous spirit? “My parents are both from different cultures,” she explains. “I was exposed to cross-cultural connections from the way we lived and the way we travelled the world.” Ainouche is adamant that that becoming an anthropologist (her first love) was inevitable. “I was born into this field… it was almost like second nature, being surrounded by a mosaic of cultures all the time.”

    I ask how she made the transition from writer to documentarian. Ainouche began in academia, and she says that communicating at a university level was “easy” but a little limiting. “Writing was approachable and accessible (you just need a computer and some brilliant ideas!)”, but the calling of film-making proved too strong to resist. “I found that the documentary genre allows me to ‘shoot’ the reality as it is,” she explains, before crediting the medium with giving her the “unique opportunity to break down barriers, which allows for a direct connection with people in their environment.”

    When brainstorming topics for the project that would eventually become Dreadlocks Story, Ainouche found herself drawn back to Hindu and Rasta cultures. Ainouche spent several years in India, completing a PhD on Jainism—“one of the oldest and least-known religions in the world”—and travelling the country extensively. While on a trip to Jamaica, she was struck by the Indian influences in Rastafari culture, and even more struck that so few people had also made the link. That was her lightbulb moment. “Putting it all together, it became clear to me that I had to do a documentary on the links between Rastafari and Hinduism.” As an expert on both subjects, she felt a responsibility to use her know-how to expose the “ignorance on Indian enslavement to the Caribbean Basin,” and to shed light on the “misconceptions, injustices, and judgements” that continue to follow both Hindu and Rasta cultures.

    Dreadlocks Story took a year to complete. It was shot in France, India, Jamaica and the US, and Ainouche used local crews in each location. Assembling the pieces sounds like a Herculean task, but Ainouche’s response was surprisingly relaxed. “I’m used to improvising and being spontaneous,” she said, explaining that her years of field work fostered an ability to “adapt to what I find, who I meet, where I go.” “It isn’t so much about being easy going,” she clarifies, “but being willing to adjust to different realities on the ground.”

    When on the ground, Ainouche wanted to keep the aesthetic as natural as possible. Part of this was to honour the documentary’s topic—“part of the Sadhu and Rasta life is ‘living with nature’, without judgement, letting things ‘go with the flow’, not consuming or creating anything fake and not interfering with the way nature goes”—but Ainouche was also mindful of letting her subjects be themselves. “My goal was always to let people talk about themselves and what they wanted in front of the camera, in a very natural way,” she explains. “There are no good or wrong answers, it was more important to capture how people expressed themselves—some were singing, some laughed, some didn’t even answer the question asked but started telling a story!” For Ainouche, these natural touches only add to the authenticity of the film. “That’s what combines improvisation with the use of the camera to unveil truth, or highlight subjects hidden behind crude reality. It’s ‘direct’ cinema, without a narrator’s voice over.” To ensure that they felt autonomous, she also let them choose where they wanted to be filmed. “I figured out how I could make people comfortable… it’s not by forcing them answer exactly, like on a test or exam. It takes skill to tell a story from a variety of unexpected answers.” Aside from small challenges—like suffering a mosquito attack in the Jamaican Blue Mountains—the filmmaking process has been extremely rewarding. The highlights have been meeting a range of incredible people and presenting a finished piece of work. “The most rewarding thing was to go from having an idea, to making it, to getting support and getting great feedback.”

    I ask about the title of the film—Dreadlocks—and bring up its trending status in popular culture.

    From Vogue’s “Black hair” controversy to the Kylie Jenner/Amandla Stenberg exchange, to the Rachel Dolezal situation, to Giuliana Rancic’s shade on Zendaya (and her thoughtful response) and finally, Miley Cyrus’ VMA blonde locs, dreadlocks have been a driving force behind discussions of cultural appropriation in the 2015 media landscape. Afrocentric hairstyles have a rich history, but their anti-racist origin are still relevant today in terms of discrimination against Afro hair and other types of hair that are deemed “ethnic”. I asked Ainouche what role “hair” played in the film. “Dreadlocks are often misunderstood,” she begins. “The ‘main character’ is ‘dreadlocks’, and over the course of the film we do learn something about its history in Jamaica.” She points out their multi-faceted history—“they represent the tenacity against the worst atrocious systems (slavery and colonialism) that human beings had to face. If it was not for British Colonial rule, Hindu culture, and a myriad of other global factors, dreadlocks might have never existed and been worn by Rastas”—but articulates their uplifting quality. “From the unique, and often terrible, circumstances in Rastafari culture, a beautiful form of self-expression evolved.” Ainouche also emphasises that Dreadlocks Story covers a lot of different ground. “The film is really about the history of Indian culture in Jamaican society, and the influence of the different practical aspects of Hinduism on the emerging Rastafari movement.” I wanted to know if Ainouche had a particular goal in mind for the project. “My hope is that it’ll be seen by as many people as possible, so there can be a better global understanding of this history.”

    Although filmmaking and academia are different beasts, they have one thing in common—entrenched sexism. Things are improving, and Ainouche is making an impact on the forefront of both fields. “The world is sexist!” she exclaims, “that’s a naturally depressing fact.” Yet she’s optimistic about the future, arguing that “women have and always will be hard workers, no matter how sidelined we are by these various industries. We will continue to be great contributors to culture wherever we are in the world.”

    I ask what’s next on her radar and she assures me that she’s never idle. “I’m always thinking of new and exciting projects to work on, but I’m a ‘live in the moment person’ so I am currently focused on getting Dreadlocks Story out in the world and making sure people have the chance to see it!”

    by

  • How to dress like a grown-up

    Soon we will be fully-fledged Adults, released into the Real World, where drinking $9 wine at 10am, relying on cereal as a staple dietary component, and chatting up first-years in Estab will all become rampantly socially unacceptable. We will be forced to accept our fates as Functioning Members of Society, stop expecting our parents to pay our phone bills, cease participation in Mojito Mondays and get Proper Jobs, using the extortionately-priced pieces of paper we struggled through three-plus years of all-nighters and excessive quantities of coffee to obtain.

    Tips for camouflaging as a Grown-Up:

    1. Knit the hair of your 87 cats into a matching sweater, scarf and mittens combo, spray yourself with the scent of mothballs and carry a packet of Werther’s Originals at all times. Ensure that you keep photographs of aforementioned cats on hand to impress the girls at the bridge club with.
    2. Pair your Nike Roshes with a Country Road mum top and puffer vest, exclusively wear tasteful shades of beige and off-white, loudly brag about your quinoa Bircher muesli recipe, and the energy efficiency of your solar-powered blender. Never be seen without a soy matcha latte and yoga mat in hand.
    3. Avoid wearing a longline bra instead of a shirt with five-inch platform sneakers and violet lipstick to meet your landlady, boy-thing’s parents or potential employer. Also maybe do not stick rhinestones to your face, be seen in wedge-heeled glitter jelly shoes, a tiara, pink faux fur, or carry a Hello Kitty backpack in any context whatsoever.
    4. If you are at the supermarket and realise you’re wearing a near-identical outfit to that of a tutu-clad toddler, with the addition of platforms instead of fairy wings, you’re probably not doing great.
    5. Dress only in lingerie, fur coats and stiletto heels, tottering about with a martini in hand and Lana Del Rey playing softly in the background, whilst toting one of your dozen Prada handbags and pushing your elderly husband’s wheelchair.
    6. Pair your Ralph Lauren polo with a Ralph Lauren cap and boat shoes, incessantly talk about golf, your tennis scores and the economy. Occasionally pop into the office to alternate between playing computer solitaire and staring at a wall all day (looking at you Commerce students).
    7. Dress for the job you aspire to, wear Victoria’s Secret Angel wings and a Swarovski crystal-encrusted bustier to the law firm.
    8. Never, ever change out of your graduation robes or cap, perpetually flaunt your academic prowess for the remainder of your fragile human existence. Your flesh prison becomes your CV, you are a walking advertisement for yourself. (You may, however, begin to smell.)

    by

  • Haruki Murakami—Wind/Pinball

    Murakami is both media-shy and simultaneously verging on over-exposed. His fiction is variously described as surrealist, mystical, fatalistic, and melancholic. These are adjectives that I agree with using, but find that by distilling his work into four words, it smoothes out the complex minutiae that recur throughout his oeuvre. I haven’t read all of his work, as I wasn’t introduced to him until late in my university career. I couldn’t indulge in the binge-reading escapades I might have entertained had I been a high schooler when I first read him. The kind of addictive tingles that flooded over me as I read Norwegian Wood have not been replicated since. It was a type of first time, and those are eternally unable to be re-created.

    Murakami’s stories are full of unexplained malaise, unexplained mystical or supernatural occurrences; there are often cats, and sometimes they talk; there is often jazz, beer, cigarettes, and food—as both fuel and ritual. The characters within his worlds often exist in somewhat disconnected worlds; worlds that are both very corporeal, with plenty of sex and bodily functions, but perhaps most distinct about these characters is their emotional and social isolation. There is forever a longing that flows out of his characters.

    Last month, Murakami’s earliest works were translated into English for, largely, the first time. Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 are the first two books of what is referred to as “The Rat Trilogy”. With A Wild Sheep Chase concluding the series, each story follows the fortunes and misadventure of the same nameless narrator, and his friend “the Rat”. They were first published in 1979, 1980, and 1982 respectively, and while A Wild Sheep Chase has been published in English since 1989, the first two stories’ translations were not widely available until now, at Murakami’s insistence.

    Wind/Pinball: Two Novels combines the two stories, and in a somewhat appropriate twist, are printed in different orientations—a surreal book experience. These are Murakami’s first stories; they were the product of an epiphany that, myth has it, occurred during a baseball match. It was 1978 at Jingu Stadium, and Murakami was watching the game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp, when an American, Dave Hilton stepped up to bat. The moment he hit a double, the story goes, Murakami realised he could write a novel, and began doing so that very night. This epiphany is the basis for the introduction to the two novels, as he contextualises this period in his late twenties.

    The stories of the unnamed narrator, and his friend the Rat, find them drinking at J’s bar, frequently; beers and cigarettes fill the cracks of the stories. There are beautiful musings that occur in the same beat as a distinctly real image of drinking beer or playing pinball. The anonymity of the narrator seems like an explorative venture in ascertaining who is telling the story; Murakami seems to be enacting a question around the act of narratives.

    In the first book, the unnamed narrator is 21 and returning from college for summer, he listens to the radio, drinks, thinks about the girls he has slept with, and pursues a relationship with a girl who doesn’t remember meeting him.

    By the next book, the same character has moved to Tokyo to start a translating company, where he finds himself living with twins while the Rat didn’t make the move—we still hear his stories, and the unnamed narrator begins to become obsessed with the days he spent with the Rat playing pinball at J’s bar.

    In all honesty, the story didn’t seem to stick—as I read through the brief chapters and then the following novel, I felt like I slipped through it, never finding a footing or something to grab hold of. You can see the beginning of so much in this book.

    It seems perhaps Murakami is opening up—the beginning of the year saw his website engage with fans through the Agony Uncle persona, which allowed fans to ask of Murakami their biggest and smallest fascinations about him and his work, or simply seek his advice. He recently created a virtual tour of his desk, where you can see the many hundreds of records that don his wall, the very particular pencils he uses, and the baseball bobble head he prides—it’s a guide to Murakami organised really neatly.

    The introduction to Wind/Pinball meditates on his reluctance to translate these into English—he explains his feelings of discomfort that they aren’t as sophisticated as his later work, he is embarrassed by them; they’re his first. In this way, both the introduction, and the stories themselves, reveal a glimpse behind the curtain of someone who has so avoided the media.

    Definitely worth a read for all those Murakami fans out there: it’s not his best, nor does it need to be.

    Translated by: Ted Goossen
    Publisher: Random House

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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