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Volume 32, 2015

Making and Un-Making Modern Japan

Carl Cassegard
Pages 17-35

Naturalized Modernity and the Resistance it Evokes
Sociological Theory Meets Murakami Haruki

Shock has often been viewed as emblematic of modernity. Paradigmatic in this respect are the theories of Benjamin and Simmel. However, an equally important experience in modern societies is that of naturalization. This article attempts to investigate the implications of this experience for the theory of modernity through a discussion of contemporary Japanese literature, in particular the works of Murakami Haruki. I argue that just as the focus on shock enabled Benjamin and Simmel to illuminate the interconnectedness of a particular constellation of themes—the heightened consciousness or intellectualism of modernity, the destruction of aura or disenchantment, and the resulting spleen or Blasiertheit—so the focus on naturalization will contribute to an understanding of how themes such as the sense of complexity or ‘obscurity’, the phenomenon of ‘re-enchantment’ or ‘post-secularity’, and the increasing role of ‘non-social’ spheres in late modernity are interrelated.

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