chapter  4
26 Pages

Conflict and Habit: A Social Cognitive Neuroscience Approach to the Self

MATTHEW D. LIEBERMAN AND NAOMI I. EISENBERGER

But that’s how biographies are. I mean, who’s going to read about the peaceful life and times of a nobody employed at the Kawasaki Municipal Library?

—Haruki Murakami (1994), Dance, Dance, Dance

Novelist Haruki Murakami’s claim is hardly contentious. We all prefer to read a biography full of unexpected events, tragic downfalls, and hard-won victories. They take us on a journey through which we hope to glean the character of the individual and perhaps some insight into human nature more generally. It is not that the simple life of the librarian has any fewer events filling the days or years but rather that those events follow an expected repetitive pattern with little variation over time. Indeed, there are no more hours in the day for a head of state than for Murakami’s librarian, just more memorable ones.