Economists in fiction: Noboru Wataya

Not to get too “Dear Diary”, but I am reading “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami, and, lo, the protagonist’s brother-in-law is an economist.

On academia:

“Noboru Wataya chose to remain in academe and become a scholar. He was no fool. He know what he was best suited for: not the real world of group action but a world that called for the disciplined and systematic use of knowledge, that prized the individual skills of the intellect.”

Noboru’s book, a perfect parody of economics books everywhere:

“Noboru Wataya published a big, thick book. It was an economics study full of technical jargon, and I couldn’t understand a thing he was trying to say in it… I couldn’t even tell whether this was because the contents were so difficult or the writing itself was bad… Two expressions he had coined, “sexual economics” and “excretory economics,” became the year’s buzzwords.”

Freakonomics, anyone? Fashionomics? Freedomnomics? The most delicious morsel of the lot is Noboru’s approach to public debate, what could be the credo and the damnation of positivist economics:

“But if you paid close attention to what he was saying or what he had written, you knew that his words lacked consistency. They reflected no single worldview based on profound conviction. His was a world that he had fabricated by combining several one-dimensional systems of thought. He could rearrange the combination in an instant, as needed. These were ingenious – even artistic – intellectual permutations and combinations. But to me they amounted to nothing more than a game. If there was any consistency to his opinions, it was the consistent lack of consistency, and if he had a worldview, it was a view that proclaimed his lack of a worldview. But these very absences were what constituted his intellectual assets. Consistency and an established worldview were excess baggage in the intellectual mobile warfare that flared up in the mass media’s tiny time segments, and it was his great advantage to be free of them.”

Welcome to our world.

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