I am writing to reach you—even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are. I am writing to go back to the time, at the rest stop in Virginia, when you stared, horror-struck, at the taxidermy buck hanging over the soda machine by the rest rooms, your face darkened by its antlers. In the car, you kept shaking your head. I don’t understand why they would do that. Can’t they see it’s a corpse? A corpse should move on, not stay forever like that.
I am thinking, only now, about that buck’s head, its black glass eyes. How perhaps it was not the grotesque that shook you but that the taxidermy embodied a death that won’t finish, a death that dies perpetually as we walk past it to relieve ourselves. The war you lived through is long gone, but its ricochets have become taxidermy, enclosed by your own familiar flesh.
The campaign touched a nerve, outrage ensued. But, beneath its calculated edginess, Fiverr’s message is pretty conventional: Hard work equals success; laziness is wrong.
But here’s the thing: For most of human existence, the idea that idleness was a serious problem would have been unintelligible. If Fiverr’s message creeps us out, looking back at a time before being a “doer” became our measurement of human value might offer some insight into what a real alternative might look like if automation brings an age when there’s not enough work to go around.
Curiosity, in Murakami’s supremely enjoyable, philosophical and pitch-perfect new collection of short stories – his first for more than a decade – is what motivates many of his characters. Their curiosity becomes ours and propels each narrative onwards. But curiosity is shown to be complicated. Is it healthy, necessary, wise? Or does it kill the cat?