Stream Big Playlists of Music from Haruki Murakami’s Personal Vinyl Collection and His Strange Literary Worlds

Haruki Murakami readers, or even those of us who've just read about his novels, know to expect certain things from his books: cats, ears, wells, strange parallel realities, and above all music. And not just any music, but highly deliberate selections from the Western classical, pop, and jazz canons, all no doubt pulled straight from the shelves of the writer's vast personal record library. That personal library may well have grown a few records vaster today, given that it's Murakami's 69th birthday. To mark the occasion, we've rounded up a few hit playlists of music from the Norwegian WoodThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and 1Q84 author's work as well as his life.

At the top of the post we have a Youtube playlist of songs from the artists featured in Murakami's non-fiction Portrait in Jazz books, still, like most of his essayistic writing, untranslated into English. We originally highlighted it in a post on his formidable love of that most American of all musical traditions, which got him running a jazz bar in Tokyo years before he became a novelist. Just above, you'll find a 96-song Spotify playlist of the songs featured in his novels, featuring jazz recordings by the likes of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Thelonious Monk, the classical compositions of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn, and pop numbers from the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Hall and Oates, and Michael Jackson.

Finally, you can close out this musical Murakami birthday with the Spotify playlist above of music from his own vinyl collection — though at 3,350 songs in total, it will probably extend the celebration beyond a day. Even that listening experience surely represents only a fraction of what Murakami keeps on his shelves, all of it offering potential material for his next inexplicably gripping story. And though the English-speaking world still awaits its translation of Murakami's latest novel Killing Commendatore, which came out in Japan last year, you can hear the music it name-checks in the Youtube playlist below. Something about the mix — Richard Strauss, Sheryl Crow, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Duran Duran — suggests we're in for another Murakamian reading experience indeed:

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Notations: John Cage Publishes a Book of Graphic Musical Scores, Featuring Visualizations of Works by Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, The Beatles & More (1969)

If you know just one piece by avant-garde composer and all-around oracle of indeterminacy John Cage, you know 1952's 4'33", which consists, for that length of time, of no deliberately played sounds at all. You'd think that if any piece could be played without a score, Cage's signature composition could, but he did make sure to write one, and we featured it here on Open Culture a few years ago. Look at that score, of sorts, and you'll sense that Cage had an interest not just in unconventional music, but in equally unconventional ways of notating that music. Hence the Notations project, Cage's 1969 book collecting pieces of scores by 269 different composers and accompanying them with short texts.

Assembling the book from materials archived at the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Cage did include a page of one of his own scores, though not that of 4'33" but of Music of Changes, a piano piece he'd composed the year before it for his friend David Tudor.




Tudor, a pianist as well as a composer of experimental music in his own right, also gets a page in Notations from his 1958 work Solo for Piano (Cage) for Indeterminacy. Lest this sound like a too-neat structure of reciprocity, rest assured that in the composition of the book's text, as Cage explains in the book's introduction, indeterminacy ruled, with "a process employing I-Ching chance operations" dictating the number of words to be written, about which scores, and in what size and typeface as well.

Notations, which also includes scores from the Beatles, Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, Charles Ives (from whose archive Cage picked a blank piece of song paper), Gyorgy Ligeti, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Steve Reich, Igor Stravinsky, Toru Takemitsu, and many others, inspired a more recent follow-up project called Notations 21, which you can learn about in the video just below. A collaboration between musicologist and composer Theresa Sauer and designer Mike Perry, that 2009 book collects more than a hundred pieces of creative notation from some of the composers featured in Cage's original, but also many who weren't composing or indeed even alive in his day.

Notations 21 stands as a testament to Cage's enduring influence as not just a composer but as the promoter of a worldview all about harnessing the forces of chance to enrich our lives, and to put us in a clearer frame of mind to see what comes next. "Musical notation is one of the most amazing picture-language inventions of the human animal," Ross Lee Finney writes in the text of the original Notations. "It didn’t come into being of a moment but is the result of centuries of experimentation. It has never been quite satisfactory for the composer’s purposes and therefore the experiment continues.”

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How to Download Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House Now as a Free Audiobook?: Check Out Audible’s 30-Day Free Trial

Despite cease and desist orders issued by the president's lawyers, Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is now out and it's the #1 bestselling book on Amazon. If you want a print copy, you'll have to wait 2-4 weeks. But there are some more immediate options: You can instantly snag a copy in Kindle format (price $14.99). Or download it as an audio book essentially for free.

If you start a 30 day free trial with Audible.com, you can download two free audio books of your choice. At the end of 30 days, you can decide whether you want to become an Audible subscriber or not. (I definitely recommend the service and use it every day.) No matter what you decide, you get to keep the two free audiobooks. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House can be one of them. It runs 12 hours.

To sign up for Audible's free trial program here, follow the prompts/instructions on this page.

NB: Audible is an Amazon.com subsidiary, and we're a member of their affiliate program. Also, this post is not an endorsement of the book. (We haven't read it yet.) It's simply an fyi on how you can "read" a bestselling book that's in short supply.

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Introducing the Librarian Action Figure: The Caped Crusader Who Fights Against Anti-Intellectualism, Ignorance & Censorship Everywhere

We've featured action figures that pay tribute to some cultural icons like Edvard Munch, Vincent Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo. But now comes a new action figure that honors a less appreciated cultural force--all of the great librarians, those crusaders for the printed and electronic word, who "keep it all organized for us and let us know about the best of it." Standing almost four inches tall and made of hard vinyl, the librarian action figure is based on Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. She has "a removable cape that symbolizes how much of a hero a librarian really is." The action figure should come in handy in your own fights again anti-intellectualism, censorship and ignorance. Enjoy!

via Boing Boing

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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The David Bowie Book Club Gets Launched by His Son: Read One of Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books Every Month


Cast as the star of 1976's The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie traveled to New Mexico for the shoot, meeting with director Nicolas Roeg soon upon arrival. "I took with me hundreds and hundreds of books," Bowie said to The Face magazine a few years later. "And I had these cabinets" — a modernized Jacobean traveling library — "and they were rather like the boxes that amplifiers get packed up in, and I was going through all these books and they were pouring out all over the floor — there were just mountains of books. And Nick was sitting there watching me and he said, 'Your great problem, David, is that you don't read enough.'"

Due to Bowie's hyper-serious state of mind in those days, he went on to recall, "it didn't occur to me at the time that it was a joke." Though he changed his ways of thinking and even dropped the traveling library, Bowie seems to have maintained his formidable reading habits for the rest of his life. (In 1987, he even posed for one of the American Library Association's "READ" posters.) A few years ago we featured his Top 100 Book List, whose variety encompasses everything from The Outsider to Sexual Personae to A Confederacy of Dunces.




"My dad was a beast of a reader," Bowie's son Duncan Jones, an avid Twitter user, tweeted last week. "One of his true loves was Peter Ackroyd’s sojourns into the history of Britain & its cities. I’ve been feeling a building sense of duty to go on the same literary marathon in tribute to dad." And so Jones' informal David Bowie book club begins with Ackroyd's 1985 postmodern novel Hawksmoor, which tells the parallel stories of an early 18th-century London architect and a late 20th-century London detective and which Joyce Carol Oates called "a witty and macabre work of the imagination, intricately plotted, obsessive in its much-reiterated concerns with mankind's fallen nature."

Jones calls the book "an amuse cerveau before we get into the heavy stuff," the "heavy stuff" presumably including other such Bowie picks as White NoiseA Clockwork Orange and Last Exit to Brooklyn. If you'd like to participate in the Jones-led discussion of Hawksmoor on his Twitter page, you've got until the first of February to get it read. If you feel like you don't read enough, consider this the Bowiest possible way to fulfill a new year's resolution to do more of it.

Note: Separately you can also check out The Bowie Book Club Podcast where two friends spend a month reading a book on Bowie's list. Find those episodes here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Invisible Cities Illustrated: Artist Illustrates Each and Every City in Italo Calvino’s Classic Novel

If you want to read a book about cities, you still can't do much better than a slim, plotless work of fiction by Italo Calvino wherein the explorer Marco Polo tells the emperor Kublai Khan of what he's seen in his travels across the world. Originally published in Italian in 1972, Invisible Cities has inspired generations of readers, hailing from all across the world themselves, to think in entirely new ways not just about cities but about travel, place, perception, reality, myth, and literature itself. Though very much a work concerned with what's seen only in the imagination, the book has also inspired artists to try their hand at rendering the 55 fictitious cities Polo describes within.

A few years ago we featured "Seeing Calvino," a joint effort by artists Matt Kish, Leighton Connor, Joe Kuth to illustrate, among other elements of the Calvino canon, each and every one of Invisible Cities' fantastical, often impossible collections of structures, lives, and, ideas. More recently, the Peru-based architect and artist Karina Puente has, with her Invisible Cities Project, put herself to work on a similar endeavor. Each of Puente's intricate renderings takes about a week to produce, and as she tells Archdaily, "they are not only drawn – I use different types of paper and draw on each one before cutting them out with exacto knives. All the drawings are composed of layers of paper which are cut out and glued."




At the top we have Puente's city of Dorotea where, bearing in mind the rules of its infrastructural division by gates, drawbridges, and canals and those of the marriages between the trading families that reside there, "you can then work from these facts until you learn everything you wish about the city in the past, present, and future." In the middle is Isaura, a city built on a deep subterranean lake whose gods, "according to some people, live in the depths," and to others live in the associated buckets, pump handles, windmill blades, pipes, and every other built element of this "city that moves entirely upward."

Just above you can see Zobeide, laid out according to a series of dreams of "a woman running at night through an unknown city," pursued but never found, altered to conform to each dream until new arrivals "could not understand what drew these people to Zobeide, this ugly city, this trap." While at first Polo's descriptions of the cities all across Khan's empire may strike readers as completely fantastical, they'll soon hear echoes of the places they live in in these metaphorical metropolises. And if they take a look at Puente's illustrations as they read, they'll see them as well.

Visit Puente's Invisible Cities Project here.

via Archdaily

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Mark Twain on Why “Travel is Fatal to Prejudice, Bigotry and Narrow-Mindedness, and Many of Our People Need It Sorely on These Accounts” (1869)

Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons

Humanity has come up with many negative stereotypes of Americans, some of them not entirely groundless: the widely held belief, for example, that Americans don't get out much. I admit the truth of that one as an American myself — albeit an American who now lives in Asia — because I certainly did drag my feet on getting a passport and getting out there in the world at first. Perhaps I can take comfort in the fact that no less a colossus of American letters began his international travels even later than I did, though when he did get around to it, he got even more out of it: not only The Innocents Abroad, one of the best-loved travel books of all time, but an insight into what makes travel so vital a pursuit in the first place.

The travels Mark Twain recounts in the book began in 1867 on the chartered vessel Quaker City, which took him and a group of his countrymen through Europe and the Holy Land, an itinerary including a stop at the 1867 Paris Exhibition and journeys through the Papal States to Rome and through the Black Sea to Odessa, all followable on a hypertext map at the University of Virginia's Mark Twain in His Times page. "In his account Mark Twain assumes two alternate roles," says the Library of America, "at times the no-nonsense American who refuses to automatically venerate the famous sights of the Old World (preferring Lake Tahoe to Lake Como), or at times the put-upon simpleton, a gullible victim of flatterers and 'frauds,' and an awe-struck admirer of Russian royalty."




Whether you read The Innocents Abroad in the Library of America's edition or in one of a variety of free formats downloadable from Project Gutenberg, you'll eventually come to Twain's justification for the entire project: not the writing project with its handsome remuneration and name-making popularity, but the project of travel itself. Though many elements of the Old World experience, as well as prolonged exposure to his fellow Americans, put his formidable complaining ability to the test, the "breezy, shrewd, and comical manipulator of English idioms and America’s mythologies about itself and its relation to the past" (as the Library of America describes him) ultimately admits that

I have no fault to find with the manner in which our excursion was conducted. Its programme was faithfully carried out—a thing which surprised me, for great enterprises usually promise vastly more than they perform. It would be well if such an excursion could be gotten up every year and the system regularly inaugurated. Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Distinctly Twainian words, of course, but many other writers have since also tried to express the uniquely mind-expanding properties of spending time outside your homeland. As Rudyard Kipling memorably put it to his own countrymen, a few decades after The Innocents Abroad, in "The English Flag," "What should they know of England who only England know?"

Or as one writer friend of mine, well-known for the globalized nature of his books and well as of his own identity, once said, "If Americans don't travel, we're like a man who lives in a hovel assuming everyone else lives in a worse hovel." But it always comes back to Twain, who knew that "nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people" — and who also knew that nobody quite realized "what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad." We can all think of much worse reasons to head across the ocean than that.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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