“We might as well resign ourselves to the fact that we’re not going anywhere soon. All I’m saying is that there are emergency measures you can take if you have urgent business.”
“please remember: things are not what they seem.”
“And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. I’ve had that experience myself. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.”
“There is always, as I said, only one reality,” the driver repeated slowly, as if underlining an important passage in a book.
“As far as I can tell, you don’t cut corners. You’re very modest when it comes to the act of writing. And why? Because you like to write. I value that in you. It’s the single most important quality for somebody who wants to be a writer.”
All he needed to satisfy him was his Mont Blanc pen, his blue ink, and standard manuscript sheets, each page lined with four hundred empty squares ready to accept four hundred characters.
I can wait another minute. The greater the rush, the more care one should take with the job.
If only her breasts were a little bigger, she thought with a twinge, she might have been truly perfect. A partial frown. But hell, you’ve gotta work with what you’ve got.
“In this whole, wide world, the only thing that treats me so kindly is math.”
“When I’m writing a story, I use words to transform the surrounding scene into something more natural for me. In other words, I reconstruct it. That way, I can confirm without a doubt that this person known as ‘me’ exists in the world.”
“Look, nobody’s asking you how many kids you’ve got. Do I look like a census taker? Keep the details to yourself. All I’m asking is whether you can get it up when you’re in bed with a woman. Nothing else.”
“… everybody feels safe belonging not to the excluded minority but to the excluding majority. You think, Oh, I’m glad that’s not me. It’s basically the same in all periods in all societies. If you belong to the majority, you can avoid thinking about lots of troubling things.”
“Maybe I can look at it this way—the problem is not with me but with the world around me. It’s not that my consciousness or mind has given rise to some abnormality, but rather that some kind of incomprehensible power has caused the world around me to change.”
And so she carried this hypothesis forward:
It’s not me but the world that’s deranged.
Yes, that settles it.
“Establishment, antiestablishment: I didn’t care. Ultimately, it was just a clash of organizations, and I simply didn’t trust any kind of organization, big or small.”
“I’m sure you realize that there are plenty of people who are looking for exactly that kind of brain death. It makes life a lot easier. You don’t have to think about difficult things, just shut up and do what your superiors tell you to do.”
“There’s nothing odd about me. I’m just honest about my own feelings.”
“Everybody needs some kind of fantasy to go on living, don’t you think?”
“Forget about counting calories… Once you develop a knack for choosing the proper ingredients and eating in moderation, you don’t have to pay attention to numbers.”
“I am quite aware that your actions have been prompted by your pure feelings, and I understand perfectly well that, for that very reason, you do not wish to receive money for what you have done. But pure, unadulterated feelings are dangerous in their own way. It is no easy feat for a flesh-and-blood human being to go on living with such feelings. That is why it is necessary for you to fasten your feelings to the earth—firmly, like attaching an anchor to a balloon. The money is for that. To prevent you from feeling that you can do anything you want as long as it’s the right thing and your feelings are pure.”
“I’m a very ordinary human being. I just happen to like reading books. Especially history books.”
“Yes, it may sound irresponsible of me, but ‘I have no idea’ is the gist of this story. You throw a stone into a deep pond. Splash. The sound is big, and it reverberates throughout the surrounding area. What comes out of the pond after that? All we can do is stare at the pond, holding our breath.”
“Our prospects are not very bright, I would say. But there’s no turning back now, is there?”
If, as the dowager had said, we are nothing but gene carriers, why do so many of us have to lead such strangely shaped lives? Wouldn’t our genetic purpose—to transmit DNA—be served just as well if we lived simple lives, not bothering our heads with a lot of extraneous thoughts, devoted entirely to preserving life and procreating? Did it benefit the genes in any way for us to lead such intricately warped, even bizarre, lives?
“Married sex is something else… It’s charged to a separate account.”
“You don’t understand a woman’s feelings, do you? And you call yourself a novelist!”
The concept of duty always made Tengo cringe. He had lived his life thus far skillfully avoiding any position that entailed responsibility, and to do so, he was prepared to endure most forms of deprivation.
“Robbing people of their actual history is the same as robbing them of part of themselves. It’s a crime.”
Tengo simply did as she directed, hardly thinking, making neither choices nor judgments. She demanded only two things of him: good erections and well-timed ejaculations. “Don’t come yet,” she would command. “Hold on a little longer.” And he would pour all his energy into holding on. “Okay, now! Come now!” she would whisper by his ear, and he would let go at precisely that point with as intense an ejaculation as he could manage. Then she would praise him, caressing his cheek: “Oh, Tengo! You’re wonderful!” Tengo had an innate knack for precision in all realms, including correct punctuation and discovering the simplest possible formula necessary to solve a math problem.
“It’s like the Tibetan Wheel of the Passions. As the wheel turns, the values and feelings on the outer rim rise and fall, shining or sinking into darkness. But true love stays fastened to the axle and doesn’t move.”