Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shoveling Snow

"I got sent to Hokkaido on assignment. As work goes, it wasn't terribly exciting, but I wasn't in a position to choose. And anyway, with the jobs that come my way, there's generally very little difference. For better or worse, the further from the midrange of things you go, the less relative qualities matter. The same holds for wavelengths: Pass a certain point and you can hardly tell which of two adjacent notes is higher in pitch, until finally you not only can't distinguish them, you can't hear them at all.

"The assignment was a piece called 'Good Eating in Hakodate' for a women's magazine. A photographer and I were to visit a few restaurants. I'd write the story up, he'd supply the photos, for a total of five pages. Well, somebody's got to write these things. And the same can be said for collecting garbage and shoveling snow. It doesn't matter whether you like it or not--a job's a job.

"For three and a half years, I'd been making this kind of contribution to society. Shoveling snow. You know, cultural snow."
That's an excerpt from Haruki Murakami's Dance Dance Dance, published in an English translation 1995. It's one of his darker books, and one my favorites. It's the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, but I read it first.

I thought of it when I realized that I'd lost my ego in my daily work writing news for a fashion website. I no longer cared about others editing my work or correcting it; it didn't belong to me anyway. I was just taking out the garbage. Shoveling menswear retail industry snow.

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