It Barely Crossed His Mind

The narrator in “It Barely Crossed His Mind” (CUA Primer, 52–53), an excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore, is looking through his friend Oshima’s bookshelf when he finds a book describing the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS-officer who was placed in charge of managing the logistics for carrying out the mass extermination of people that we now call the Holocaust. The narrator reads in the book about the way that Eichmann thought a lot about details and efficiency but neglected thinking in terms of morality. The narrator concludes that “where there’s no power to imagine, no responsibility can arise.” This reminded me of your comments about what would be missing from a world without desire and imagination. Are there areas today where we are in danger from a lack of thinking in moral terms? How can the power to imagine enable us to think and act in good ways? How we help cultivate this ability in ourselves and in others?

Photo: “Panel from the Tower of Faces, Permanent Exhibition” (at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC) by Matthew and Heather is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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