Hello, it's Atsuhiko Nakata. Let's get started with the lecture! Extreme Literature. "Momo"! "For the adults". Momo is a famous book by Michael Ende which well-known as a fantasy novel for children. I got a lot of requests for this. Many wanted this in my Extreme Literature series. A lot of you wanted this. I bet you must have at least heard of the title. Some of you might have watched this as play as a student. The play for this did well for so long. Although it was popular for very long, the work itself isn't that old. It was published in 1974. Considering that I was born in 1982, it's not really an old literature. This book was written by a German author, Michael Ende. He was born in Germany and later migrated to Italy. I said "for adults" earlier regarding this book. Having read it, I'd like to say that it doesn't seem to be children's literature. I couldn't remember much about Momo so I decided to read it once more. I had to anyway, because if I don't upload an Extreme Literature video people will comment that I'm crazy over self-development and business. They'd tell me to stop thinking only about money and to upload literature videos. So I read Momo once more to show I'm not like that. I think now's the right time to read it. I simply enjoyed it as a fantasy novel when I was younger. Now that I'm an adult, it really hits home. That's because the biggest theme can't be fully understood unless you're an adult. It's really fun. The theme that was mostly used in books about human relationships and business is permeated deeply in Momo. Let's take some time to recall what that is and think about what true happiness and true adult life are. Let's begin with the setting. The book begins with "Once upon a time". There used to be an amphitheater as old as ancient remains in a country village a bit away from the metropolis of a nation. It sounds like the Colosseum. So there was a very old amphitheater where no one, even tourists, visited. There are remnants of castle sites in Japan as well. Many tourists visit the Osaka Castle and Nagoya Castle but they don't visit remnants of castle sites. So the village must be like that when you apply it to Japan. The story begins with a girl wearing ragged clothes who lives alone in this place. A girl wearing ragged clothes. Perhaps her age would be between 8 to 12 years old only. A small girl in tattered clothes. The villagers were worried for this girl. "Is she okay? Maybe she escaped from home." "Where are her parents? Does she even eat?" She was like a juvenile vagrant. But for some reason, her eyes had a mysterious power. When the villagers ask for her name, she says it's Momo. When they ask her why she ended up living in an old amphitheater she simply says that she likes it for some reason. Everyone thinks that she should be sent to a care center. They aren't confident to take care of her. But Momo does not want to be sent to care. She's been there already. It was a place with iron bars. She does not want to go back and likes the amphitheater. She wants to live here. How pitiful that she escaped the previous facility. The people weren't sure that they should send her to care anymore. It wasn't a big city so the villagers were not that well off. But the poor people decide to join together to help Momo by giving her clothes and food. Momo, who got various help from the people, had one powerful strength. The power to listen. She was not extraordinary but she was a girl who listened to the others very well. The power to listen is actually very important in business. It's the strongest move you can take in relationships. I told you several times in my business book videos that the power to listen touches the others' hearts. And this girl has that power. All she has is the power to listen but that changes the villagers. As many adults wanted to consult about their concerns to Momo more and more people want to talk to Momo. There are various people. They got hurt at work or in relationships. These people go to Momo and talk. "This happened to me recently and I'm struggling. Don't you think it's outrageous?" Momo does not answer but she listens seriously from beginning to end. The people saw that she listens genuinely and wishes to talk to her again. Whenever they speak about their problems to Momo they strangely felt a lot better. People who degraded themselves felt worthy after talking to Momo. People who were in bad terms talked to Momo ended up apologizing to each other after talking to the girl. Momo becomes a central member of the village due to her power to listen to the point that there is a saying, "Go to Momo." Fun, isn't it? You may be wondering what the book is about. The core theme of the book gets revealed in the second part. The first part only talks about who the characters are. Interestingly, the book's author, Michael Ende, uses the story-in-a-story literary device from time to time. There are parts that show another book within the book as if you're reading the book inside the book. In other words, as we read the book there are times when its characters talk about a book inside the narrative. It becomes like the Matryoshka doll. We get confused about what we're reading. In part one, there are two such moments. So even while reading, we get confused as to what we're reading and who Momo actually is. But the power to listen isn't the only theme about Momo. The others get revealed after. The biggest theme in Momo is about time. "Time has the biggest value in the life of people." This is the biggest theme. You may think that money is the most valuable even though you did hear the saying, time is gold. There's even a business book that says those with a lot of time are the new rich while those who earn a lot of money are the old rich. I'm sorry for suddenly bringing that up. Anyway, everyone wants to become wealthy and won't listen. So a lot of great people emphasize the importance of time. This children's novel conveys that as a core message. Do you see why this book won't be fully understood by children? Children would have a hard time understanding it because they have a tremendous amount of time. Meanwhile, adults don't have much time. Some kids are busy going to academies for their studies but young elementary students who are asked to read children's novels mostly have a lot of time available. Recall those days in our childhood when we were bored due to a lot of time. "Don't you wanna play?" We would ride bicycles with our friends and spend time in an empty playground. Comparing the time when days felt like forever, how does it feel as an adult? "It's already the end of the year?" "No way!" It's as if we greeted a happy new year yesterday. Time flies fast. 30 seconds feel like 1 second. A decade has passed like a second. We finally realize the importance of time as an adult. Being busy may seem great only for a short while. We later worry whether we'd die this way. We thought being able to eat and live is all that we need but now it feels like we're lacking sleep. That's the theme of this book. But before that, we'll talk about the characters. Don't be disappointed just yet. It'll be easier to read if you're familiar with this map. Anyway, Momo is very charming. There are special friends of Momo. Her best friends are Beppo and Gigi. They are very contrastive. Both of them like Momo very much, and so does she them. Of course, there are other kids too and Momo enjoyed roleplaying with those children as well. But Beppo and Gigi were adults. Beppo is actually an elder. An elderly man with white hair. He's a street sweeper. But he's not just a street sweeper. He puts in genuine effort. Beppo says that his job is to clean. "When it comes to cleaning, Momo," "the task seems difficult if you think you should clean the whole area." "You should rather give your best for each sweep." "If you focus on each sweep instead, the task gets easier." "You should give your genuine effort for each sweep." "I really enjoy sweeping, Momo." "Whenever I focus on each sweep and feel how much I love this job" "I see that I'm done sweeping." This is Beppo's character. He's very laid-back because of this way of thinking. Because of such personality, whenever someone asks him a question he would think until the next day before giving an answer. So most people find him weird. It goes like this. "Beppo, what did you have for breakfast?" And the next day he says, "Bread." "Bread? What do you mean?" This is how slow his pace is. But you can tell that, although he's not much of a talker, he gives genuine effort in everything he does. He's simply cherishing every little thing. So Momo does not think of him as a freak. Beppo is a sincere street sweeper. Although treated like a freak, Beppo also has one great power. One common thing he and Momo shares is that they're vagrants. It's just like how Momo has the power to listen although her identity isn't clear. Beppo is laid-back and slow, and gives answers back a day after. People tell him to reply faster but his gift is focusing on one thing sincerely and loving it. Next, Gigi. Gigi is the complete opposite of Beppo. He's a great talker. He mostly guides tourists. Sometimes, there'd be tourists who visit the amphitheater. When they simply decide to take a picture and leave, thinking that there's nothing else to see, Gigi comes and guides them around. He's a great talker. "Don't you think it's a waste to merely take a picture?" "This amphitheater has a high historical value!" "Really? I didn't see it in the guide book though." "Don't you think more value lies in something that's not recorded?" "Hear me out, everyone." "There was once a ridiculous fight in this site." He would make up stories. He's a strange guide who only lies. He's a tour guide who is a great talker and worker, unlike Beppo. He would make up fun stories about history for his audience and flip his hat to collect their money. People criticize him for faking himself as a tour guide who lies to tourists in their first visit for money. But Gigi says, "You call me a liar. Then what do you call a historian?" "Have they seen what happened 1,000 years ago?" "Those facts can be debunked after some research." "Sometimes, they do get debunked on whether there was a fight in a certain place 1,000 years ago." "The same thing can be applied here." "Historians speak like they saw it with their own eyes, but they didn't." "What I say may be true." "Hence, I'm also a historian like them." "Those historians are also frauds like me." This is his character. With this gift, he does various things. His dream is to become a superstar. "With my gift of speaking, I'll become a successful entertainer." "Watch me. My gift of speaking will become my wings for success." "I'm just in my training period." He always says this. However, Gigi and Beppo are close. Gigi does not rush Beppo to speak faster while Beppo does not tell Gigi to stop lying. Beppo and Gigi, despite their opposite qualities, understand each other the most. Beppo and Gigi are Momo's closest friends. Beppo and Gigi, the best friends, gathered in the old amphitheater. They had nothing to envy about. After Momo came, the atmosphere of the village got brighter as many problems were solved. But these three people did not know the darkness that was going to engulf the whole village. This is where part two begins. Part one is a happy story. It shows the colorfulness of the village by showing the roles of Momo, who has the power to listen, Beppo, who is meticulous, and Gigi, who is great at speaking. But this is right before the beginning of part two. They did not expect the arrival of the Men in Grey. In part two, they see a lot of dark clouds. The antagonists, the Men in Grey, enter the narrative. The Men in Grey hold the main theme of this book, Momo. It's about time, like I mentioned earlier. For adults, time flies really quick. We say that we're lacking time but we get busier. The Chinese character for "busy" is a combination of "mind" and "loss". Hence, it means to lose the mind. We fall into the busy cycle even if we know this. So, the Men in Grey arrive at the village. Meanwhile, there was a barber named Fusi in the village. Fusi really loves his job and he often talks with his customers. As he trimmed their hair, he would ask how they're doing and talk about many things. He is a good man. He took care of his sick mother and also had someone he loved. He would meet the woman he loves and also take good care of his parrot. But one day, a small concern grows inside Fusi's mind. Anyone could have that concern. "Am I alright this way?" Don't we sometimes feel this way even when things are going really well? "Am I alright the way I am?" It's a vague anxiety. Such anxiety suddenly takes place in Fusi's mind. He is already 42 years old as a barber and he is doing fine. He's looking after his mother and pet well and also has someone he wants to marry with. But this also meant that the same cycle occurred each day. "Am I just gonna die this way? What am I gonna leave by then?" "Of course, I do enjoy being a barber and talking to the customers." "But maybe I could have become richer, lived in a huge place" "and gain a life that everybody would envy." "I don't know how but maybe I should have chased a bigger dream." "Am I alright the way I am now?" "But I am too busy with life that I cannot pursue a dream." "I no longer have the time to waste for my dream." As he thinks about that, the Men in Grey comes. This part is interesting. The Men in Grey approaches him inside a grey car. Their faces are grey and look lifeless. They wear a grey suit and grey suitcase. They smoke grey cigars. What's going on? You won't wish grey-faced people to approach you. The grey-faced people are dangerous. They gladly come up greet Fusi. Fusi asks, "How can I help you?" "Did you make a reservation?" He finds them unfamiliar. "We're not here to get our hair trimmed." "Then what are you here for?" "Don't you wish you had more time?" "I do, sometimes. I'm spending time each day doing the same things." "It must be exhausting." "I have to take care of my mother and my parrot." "I also have to meet my girlfriend. But I'm busy with work the whole day." "Are you satisfied with your life right now?" They ask. "No, but there is nothing else I can do." "Your life can change if you leave it up to us." "What do you mean?" "We have a bank." "A bank? You found the wrong person. I have no money to deposit." "It's a time bank, not a money bank." So it's a time bank! The Men in Grey are from Timesavings Bank. This is the beginning of a fantasy! Part one was just about happy, peaceful lives. Now, we have a time bank. They come from a bank that returns interest if you deposit your time. The man's name is "XYQ". "I'm XYQ." He's a very important character. This isn't expected in a narrative like Momo. It's not even a novel of Shinichi Hoshi. We had Momo, Beppo, Gigi, and now XYQ. "I'm XYQ." "You may feel lack you need more time." "I already did a research on where you spend your time, Fusi." "You're now 42 years old. Considering that people live until seventy or eighty on average," "it's highly likely that you only got 30 years left to live." "Despite that, all you're doing everyday is taking care of your mother, parrot, girlfriend, and customers." "You only have 2 billion seconds left." "Imagine how much seconds you're wasting each day." "You use 2 hours for your mother, 2 hours for your girlfriend." "You also talk for 1 and a half hour with each customer." "Don't you see how much time you're wasting on useless things?" "Why do you think it's useless? Watch your words." "My mother, parrot, girlfriend, and customers are all important to me!" "They are definitely not important." "You can still trim their hairs without talking to them." "You can send your mother to a nursing home and visit her just once a week." "No one spends that much time on their mother." "Do you really have to meet your girlfriend that often?" "You can just give her the minimum number of call needed." "And for the parrot, give it away to someone else!" "You don't have much time left." "Time is definite. If you deposit your saved time to our bank," "we'll return it with additional interest 5 to 10 years later." "This is what Timesavings Bank does." "You'll give me back more time?" "Amazing. I'll save some time then." "You must. Now that you've decided to deposit your saved time to our bank," "you're headed towards a new life." "Congratulations, Fusi. You're a very lucky person." "How should I deposit the time? Is there a contract?" "We don't need one because it's time, not money." "You should get lots of reservations instead of talking to customers" "in order to trim their hair quick and send them away." "Just by saving the time you've consumed all along, they get deposited to our bank automatically." "Alright." From that day on, Fusi begins to cut hairs without saying a word. "Thank you. Here's your receipt." "Mother, I found this nursing home." He also sends his mother away. "Please take good care of my mother." The same goes for his parrot. "Thank you for taking him." Also his girlfriend. "Alright, I'll call you just once a week then." He saves time for everything. He tightens his schedule than before. But there was something strange. He was saving time but he did not feel relaxed. He continues to receive customers and do his tasks. He does them quick, in the most effective way. He cannot feel whether he is saving time but he definitely starts to become anxious. And that anxiety gradually spreads all over the village. Everyone in the village begin to save time due to the advice of the Men in Grey. Strangely, their memories about the Men in Grey fade away. Resultantly, they feel certain that it is they who wanted to make things work effectively and quick. It is the children who notice the change in the adults. The adults used to read them books and play with them but now they say they don't have time for that. Instead, they worked a lot and gave their earnings to their children. "Here, go watch a movie." "Here, buy yourself some games." "Use this to buy toys." They gave the kids money. The children wanted the adults to read them books. But the parents merely give them money so that they could buy toys. Something was changing. Everyone sped up their work and believed that they will have more time if they work effectively. This makes the adults who hung out with Momo feel uncomfortable. The adults who used to visit Momo to talk about their concerns stops visiting her. The children used to play together in the amphitheater but they start playing with their new toys at home. There are no longer children in the streets. Momo finds it strange. One day, she finds an unfamiliar doll in the amphitheater. It is a huge doll that looks like a female mannequin. She thinks that someone forgot and left it by mistake but she recalls that she has never seen someone playing with it. Suddenly, the doll begins to talk. "I'm Bibi Girl." That's its name. "I'm Bibi Girl." "I want to own many more things." "What is this? It's scary!" "I'm Bibi Girl." But Momo has the power to listen. She decides to take care of the doll as well. But whatever Momo says, the doll only replies with "I'm Bibi Girl. Everyone will envy you if you have me." "I want to own many more things." Only those three lines. They cannot make a conversation. By the time Momo thought she doesn't get along well with the doll, the Men in Grey approached her. "Do you want to know how to play with it?" "I'm BLW." Another name! He is another agent. It seems the Men each has a different name. The names sound like product numbers. "I'm BLW. How about you?" "I'm Momo." "I'll teach you how to play with that doll." "You shouldn't take care of it, talk to it or try to do roleplay together." "Listen to the doll. She wants to own many more things." "That's right. Bibi Girl needs a lot of additional accessories." "There are various designs of dresses, skirts, and t-shirts just for Bibi Girl." "Like this. Isn't it pretty?" "I'll give you this. Do you want this one as well?" "You'll have fun as you dress her." "Yes, people find joy the more they own things." "No, thank you." "I see, you must be worried you might get sick of dressing the doll." "I prepared a luxury bag for you just in case you'd become sick of dressing the doll." "It's a luxury bag of a very small size." "You can show it off to the others." "I'll give you a rare accessory as well. How is it?" "I don't like this doll." "I see you're worried you might get sick of Bibi Girl." "Then how about Bibi Boy?" "He's the boyfriend of Bibi Girl. He also has various t-shirt designs available." "There are many more. Almost everything is available." "So try collecting their accessories." "If you get sick, you can consider the Bibi Family and many other accessories and additional characters." "So compete with your friends in collecting them and show them off." "This is Bibi Girl. Isn't it fascinating?" "I don't need it." BLW then thinks, 'What a strange girl.' 'Her eyes are so clear that it feels like I'll fall into them!' 'I want to talk about my concerns to her!' Momo's power to listen affected him. 'What do you do?' 'Who are you? Tell it to me.' The power to listen worked on BLW, one of the Men in Grey, as well. He feels the urge to tell everything. Then he ends up telling the truth. As BLW begins to talk, a voice deep inside him echoes around the theater. "We shall use the" "deposited time of the humans." The voice resounds. "The time deposited cannot be returned." "We are tricking them in order to use their time because humans have enough time." "But they don't notice it." "If we take their time, humans get busy." "Their time becomes ours." "Oh no, I said it…!" "Did you hear what I said?" "No, I didn't hear anything." "She heard it. I can tell by her expression." "I told her the truth." The change that happened in the village was caused due to the Men in Grey. The villagers believed that making everything more effective in order to get a lot of things and money would make them happier. They didn't realize that that would lose them time. They also did not know that time is the most valuable thing in life. This is the truth. After realizing that he told the truth to Momo, BLW runs away. "What's happening to me? I think I just told her everything in my head." Then Momo shares the scary thing she heard to Beppo and Gigi. She tells them that the Men in Grey are stealing time from the villagers by lying. Beppo shudders in fear. But Gigi is a great speaker. "Let's tell this to everybody." "The Men in Grey do not want the people to know this." And according to what Momo heard, that was true. "The humans must not know our true intentions." "They must believe that they are the ones who willingly chose to become busy." "So we should do it secretively." "They must not find out that they're losing time." After listening to Momo, Gigi thinks that revealing the truth to the people would be attacking the Men in Grey's weakness. Then Beppo says, "What if Momo gets put in danger?" "You're a really good man, but what we need right now is speed." "We have no time to relax." "Everyone's so busy that they no longer come to Momo." "I'll tell them the truth. They'll all listen to me." "Right, let's do a protest!" "The children say that the adults no longer play with them." "Then those children would listen to me." "If I tell the children, the others will gather." "Next, we do a protest to show that the adults are getting their time stolen." "We should show them that they should wake up because their previous time is being stolen." "A few children won't work" "but I may be able to gather 1,000 children." "Then the adults would soon realize the truth." "Let's try it! Momo, you'll join me, right?" So Momo and Beppo end up joining Gigi's protest. They go on a protest march in the street holding up signs together with the other children. But this plan fails miserably. The adults were too busy to even notice that there is a protest going on. They were too focused on trimming hairs in the shortest time possible. Even the pub where elderlies gathered changed. It processed things quick as the younger generation took over. The village, which used to be slow and poor, turned into a lively and quickly-changing village. So no matter what the children did, the adults were not able to notice them. The discouraged party gather in the amphitheater again. Beppo feels sad that they failed. Gigi also says, "It failed…" "But it was fun, wasn't it?" "Things may be different tomorrow." "I'll leave since I have something else to do." Gigi has a lot of part-time jobs. "I better go, too." Beppo says as well. "Beppo!" "Beppo, you never used to go back at this time of the day." "There's something I have to do…" "Plus, I got more street sweeping work to do these days." Beppo and Gigi were also becoming busier. "Oh, I see. Let's all say our goodbyes then." The children also go back to their homes discouraged. They were disappointed that the adults did not listen to them. Momo is left alone in the amphitheater. Suddenly, a slow turtle comes in. A huge turtle approaches her in a slow pace. It seems that it wants to tell Momo something. Momo looks at the turtle's shell. Unbelievably, she sees a text appear on it. "Follow me." "Follow me?" "Follow me?!" "Is it an electronic notice board?" "No way!" Momo irresistibly follows the turtle. She follows it outside the amphitheater and towards the metropolis. Meanwhile, Beppo is sweeping the streets. "I feel exhausted today, for some reason." "Why do I feel pressured these days?" "I feel like I should clean faster." After work, Beppo dozes off out of exhaustion. He realizes this and quickly wakes up to go home. Suddenly, he hears something. He sees grey men doing a trial over a dumping ground. Beppo sneaks a look into the Men in Grey's trial. "Do you realize what you have done, BLW?" They ask. BLW is the man who spilled the truth to Momo. So it is a trial about that man. "You do know how important it is to keep secrets in Timesavings Bank, right?" BLW says that he does. "Despite that, you told everything to a girl named Momo." "However, I don't think she would be of a problem. She's just a little girl after all." "Don't talk back at me." "BLW, we must never tell our secrets!" "Do you know what's gonna happen when they find out what we do?" "What was the girl's name again?" "She's Momo." "I heard that Momo isn't an easy target." "She's very popular as many people go to her." "She listens to their stories and communicates with them." "Don't you see what's gonna happen if such a girl finds out?" "I'm sorry." "Do you admit your guilt?" "Yes, I do." "Good." "We have all chosen beforehand the punishment for this crime." "And you admitted your guilt." "There is just one punishment." "BLW." "We'll confiscate your cigar." "Please, not that!" "Take it away." They say they will confiscate his cigar. The Men in Grey always smoke cigars. And they're taking it away from him. BLW falls in great despair. "Please show me mercy!" But his cigar gets confiscated. "My cigar…!" The other Men in Grey holding BLW must be smoking their cigars. "We have cigars, but you don't!" The other people watching are also smoking cigars. "His cigar is getting confiscated." Once his cigar gets confiscated, BLW's body gradually disappears. And he's gone. Beppo was watching all of this. "That man's cigar got confiscated and…" "Momo is in danger!" Beppo goes to Momo. "The Men in Grey are very dangerous!" He tells Gigi that Momo is in great trouble. But Gigi replies, "Don't worry. Stop overreacting! I'm keeping it a secret." "Damn, you're fast! That's great." "Speed isn't the problem right now!" "Momo is in danger!" Then he goes to Momo. However… She isn't there anymore. [Next episode – Momo vs Timesavings Bank]
"Is there a way to fight against the Men in Grey?" "Yes." "What is it?" "They have a secret." "The cigars that they smoke" "are made up of the time flower." "It's made up of flower?" A web community, PROGRESS. [Atsuhiko Nakata's online community, 3,700 members, 980 yen a month]
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