Psycho-Economics 101 and Norwegian Wood

I was reading my first Haruki Murakami novel recently – the events which led up to me purchasing the book were completely psycho-economic, but I’m gonna blog about that nevertheless.

Dan Brown’s latest Langdon caper, ‘The Lost Symbol’ was released last month, a substantial gap of about 6 years after ‘The Da Vinci Code’. I am more or less a compulsive buyer of books – even if I feel a book is gonna be crap, I might buy it if its a high-profile release or if the author has written a good one previously – in this case, Angels and Demons.

Thus, I set out to buy the ‘Symbol’, but there is something quite unsettling about purchasing a Rs.600 book when you know its bound to be shite. And thats how I turned to Psycho-Economics, a non-existent branch of pseudo-science which deals with the intriguing study of how I justify wrong decisions.

As per Psycho-Economics 101, if I’m gonna buy a bad book for Rs.600, I can nullify the effect by buying 3 guaranteed good ones for a further Rs.600. So for Rs.1200, I’m getting 4 books out of which 3 are good – and psychologically I’m prepared to pay Rs.1200 for 3 good books. So, as per our unique branch of pseudo-science, I’m getting the bad book for free.

And thus, I chose a thin little copy of Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, a paperback copy of the oft-recommended ‘Tipping Point’ and Haruki Murakami’s ‘Norwegian Wood’.

I loved Wood. It was the closest I had come to realizing all my pre-purchase expectations from a particular book, in recent days. Since ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norrell’ to be exact. Toru Watanabe’s tale of his student life in Japan, his first love Naoko and the vivacious Midori strikes all the right chords.

You love a book for several reasons. Generally, I suppose a story has to appeal to a particular emotion or maybe even to a whole gamut of them – a Wodehouse novel has me in splits while an Agatha Christie whodunit is pleasing to the little grey cells.  I loved Norwegian Wood for the atmosphere it created so effortlessly – a mixture of longing, angst and youthful promise.

Halfway through the book, I turned to the ever-reliable youtube for the Beatles’ track after which Murakami named his book – Naoko’s favourite song in the story.

And thus I read Murakami, heard John Lennon and thought of life. Bliss.


23 responses to “Psycho-Economics 101 and Norwegian Wood

  1. yowza, first comment. Found it interesting. I justify expenditures on random books by equating the cost to a silly buffet that costs the same and lasts less..btw, been thinking of reading murakami for a while now..i guess i’ll do this one..

  2. Murakami fans say NW is completely different in style to his other books. Maybe it might be better for you to start with “Hardboiled Wonderland…” as thats supposed to be vintage HM. I’m gonna read that next..

    I havent yet worked out whether Food > Books or the other way around, so your technique wont work for me 🙂

  3. Holy God! I think like a rabbit! I justify book expenditures the exact same way..

    Murakami is one of those few authors I had picked up in the book store, wandered all around the store with it, just before swapping it for a James Patterson a moment before checking out.

    While talking about that product placement thingie a while ago, had heard that he uses a lot of brand names in his books, tell me if that put you off..

  4. PS: For clarity, I meant the exact same way as Chipco of course..the food vs books way

  5. Ha – Picking up authors and swapping them for someone else is something I do often as well – done that at least 4 times to ‘Shantaram’ – yet to read it.

    No product placements in NW – Dont mind it that much anyway, unless it gets to Subhash Ghai levels..

  6. @FBB: r u saying i’m a rabbit?

  7. @ Chipco:
    Yes. Based on cognitive dissonance.
    1. You adore rabbits.
    2. Rabbits and humans, by their very nature, have a different cognitions.
    3. This cognitive dissonance makes you feel uncomfortable.
    4. Humans look for ways to reduced discomfort (see Stockholm Syndrome for an analogy).
    5. You adopt the cognition of a rabbit.
    6. Ergo, you are the rabbit.

    Note: The rabbit does not become you since he does not adore you (Sorry I had to break it to you that way…be strong…)

    But wait, you are also a camel…Hmm…How fascinating!

  8. @fehrzard: there are fundamental flaws in ur is entirely predicated upon the supposition that rabbits adore other rabbits..however, us, as humans (as u pointed out) have different cognitions to that of a rabbit..ergo, there is no manner in which we may accurately know or predict what rabbits on the other hand, seem to be familiar with what rabbits want or think..this leads me to the inevitable conclusion..u are a rabbit!!

  9. @ Chipco:
    I need to prove this wrong for your sake – You love rabbits. You call me a rabbit! 😐

    1. In my argument, being a rabbit does not necessarily imply adoration for other rabbits. (If there is a rabbit that hates other rabbits, he’ll be a ‘misanthropical rabbit’, that’s it)

    You effectively are saying that my argument is based on the inverse being true! It’s not!!
    Hope this makes it very clear –
    There can be rabbit haters who are rabbits; but there cannot be Rabbit lovers (to the extent you are) who are not rabbits.

    2. Different cognitions => We (Humans) do not feel the way they do.
    We (Humans) still know how they(rabbits) feel.

    e.g. You know Girl A loves Boy B. But that does not mean you feel like A!

    • Hrisheekesh Sabnis

      @FBB: A misanthropic rabbit will hate humans, not other rabbits! 😛 The closest term that could possible describe your idea is a “mis-leporinic” rabbit! 😀

  10. @fehrzard..

    ur honor, the prosecution calls the next witness: the testimony of the same fehrzard from a few days prior to the incidents that are now transpiring

    I quote “Holy God! I think like a rabbit!” (Patel, circa oct. 2009). If you, fehrzard, claim that we know they think, but dont think the way they think, then how do you know that you think like a rabbit?

    I quote you again “You know Girl A loves Boy B. But that does not mean you feel like A!” Would it not be fair to say that u shud only know tht rabbits think, and shud not be thinking like one??

    Now, to refute ur primary point, (I need to prove this wrong for your sake – You love rabbits. You call me a rabbit!)..for this too, I shall quote u..”In my argument, being a rabbit does not necessarily imply adoration for other rabbits. (If there is a rabbit that hates other rabbits, he’ll be a ‘misanthropical rabbit’, that’s it)” hence, u can be a rabbit, i can be a rabbit, and we can still hate each other 🙂

    i revert to my original stand..u r a rabbit! but i dont adore u

  11. @ Chipco:

    About the ‘think like a rabbit’ & ‘A, B’ comment. Agreed 😛
    So yes, I should only know what rabbits think, and should not be thinking like one.

    But this does not win you the argument.

    Let me invoke the concept Sabnis and KC so regularly call upon- that of vectors.
    A Rabbit’s cognition = Vector sum of his thoughts et al.
    One of the vectors (thoughts) of mine and a rabbit (you) happened to match, resulting in the “Holy..” comment. This does not imply that the vector sum of my thoughts = that of a rabbit’s.

    @ the ‘your sake’ comment
    While it is possible to have a rabbit that hates another, you love all rabbits, without discrimination.
    So you calling me a rabbit needs to be proved wrong for your (and my!) sake.

    @ Naga – We know 😛

    • Hrisheekesh Sabnis

      @FBB: Seriously man, WF?! A rabbit’s thoughts are referred to as “his thoughts” and all the mango people out there are just “it”?

  12. thoughts of a rabbit’s *
    (missed the apostrophe+s)

  13. @fehz:

    on thoughts: agreed, one who has thought like a rabbit once need not be a rabbit..but the point is, he shud not be knowing that he thot like a rabbit unless he knows what rabbits think like..and for that, he shud be a rabbit..or, he shud have expressed his thoughts, and been told by a rabbit that he thnks like one..


    fehz: when i see a carrot, I lose all othr notions of time or space

    me (a rabbit): thts what a rabbit wud say

    fehz: ah, yes! i have thought like a rabbit

    me: yes, u hav..but u r not a rabbit!!

    but what happend here is, u stated so urself..not possible!!

    i know wht ur next line of dfence will be..tht i had exprssd my thoughts, and tht u on reading them, realized tht u thot along th same lines..and me being a rabbit, led u to conclude tht u think like one..

    this argument is fine..but it brings one back to the initial assumption..tht i am a rabbit..if this is true, then agreed, u need not be a rabbit..but th manner in which u establishd me to be a rabbit is thru references to th cognitive abilities of a rabbit..this, i find difficult to of two assumptions underly ur arguments

    1. It is an unquestionable truth that I am a rabbit
    2. At some point or the other, some rabbit has revealed its manner of thinking to u

    on ‘ur sake ‘ comment: how wud u kno tht i love all rabbits? i assure u tht I’m selective in my appreciation of their demonsrated by my doubts towards u

  14. @ Who-else:

    Unrelated events, not dependent on each other.

    Chipco: I love rabbits!
    Me thinks: Hmm…so he loves rabbits
    Me argues the above 6 points (in which I only know that rabbits and humans do not think alike); nothing more
    Me proves : Chipco is a rabbit
    (No assumption of a rabbit having said anything to me about how she feels. All I know is that she doesn’t feel the way humans do.)

    Now I know you are a rabbit.
    You say “I blah blah”
    Me thinks: Ah! I blah blah too! I think like a rabbit. (No assumption that you are a rabbit, its already proved in my mind)

  15. u have left me with with but one last line of defence

    you are lying!

    (u know tht humans dont think like rabbits..u shudnt be knowint tht rabbits dont think like humans..unless one revealed it to u..hah!)

  16. Oh come on!

    I go back to an example I had stated earlier:

    Girl A loves Boy B.

    Girl A has not told this to Chipco.
    Chipco spots Girl A & Boy B in a pub.
    Chipco (to himself): Hmm…Me thinks Girl A likes Boy B.

    2 weeks later:
    Chipco spots them again, this time in a Church:
    Chipco (to his rabbit friend): Hmm…Me now thinks Girl A loves Boy B. No wait I am almost sure.

    Girl A tells you nothing. Yet you know…

    Rabbits tell me nothing. Yet I know…

  17. good god! how naive u r!!

    girl A is obviously a gold digger who is marrying boy A for his money..there is no love involved here..

    UNLESS: girl A has told u!!

  18. Aha! Gotcha 🙂 And has Girl A told you that?

    If not, you know how she feels without her having told you!

    Hah back at you!!

  19. heysoos!! tht was an cud be love / gold digger..i correct myself..

    i dont know how she feels..neither shud u 😐

    also, let me quote u again

    “I go back to an example I had stated earlier:

    Girl A loves Boy B.”

    u r starting ur argument with an assumption! what hav u to say now?? wud it not hav been better to say ‘Girl A may love Boy B’ and then proceed to establish tht she does without her having told u?

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