His eyes measured the little chamber. How two people could survive in so small a space was as difficult to grasp as the conventions in contract bridge. Perhaps there was some simple key that would solve the problem, and he would have the subject of another book.
Real war was the thousands of Chinese refugees dying of cholera in the sealed stockades at Pootung, and the bloody heads of Communist soldiers mounted on pikes along the Bund. In a real war no one knew which side he was on, and there were no flags or commentators or winners. In a real war there were no enemies.
Science and technology multiple around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute.
After the commonplaces of everyday life, with their muffled dramas, all my organic expertise for dealing with physical injury had long been blunted or forgotten. The crash was the only real experience I had been through for years.
After being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.
My brief stay at the hospital had already convinced me that the medical profession was an open door to anyone nursing a grudge against the human race.
I wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit and force it to look in the mirror.
Along with our passivity, we're entering a profoundly masochistic phase everyone is a victim these days, of parents, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, even love itself. And how much we enjoy it. Our happiest moments are spent trying to think up new varieties of victimhood...
Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the Internet would have: entire relationships flourish, friendships prospertheres a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry, not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet.
People, particularly over-moralistic Americans, have often seen me as a pessimist and humourless to boot, yet I think I have an almost maniacal sense of humour. The problem is that it's rather deadpan.
Some people didn't like the novel, it is in some ways extremely bleak. But if you are dealing with the kind of subjects I am trying to demystify the delusions we have about ourselves, to get a more accurate fix on human nature then people are unsettled. And the easiest way to deal with that is to say it's weird or it's cold.
In wartime Shanghai I saw so many horrors... Civilised life is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is, we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.
Dal went on shocking the bourgeoisie till the end. The others, Ernst, Magritte, were all accepted into the critical fold as serious painters. Only Dal held out till the end. He just didn't give a damn.
The cine-camera and television set allow us to perceive slow motion. The concept of anything other than real time had never occurred to anybody until the first slow-motion movies were shown, and this radically altered people's perceptions of nature.
Given that external reality is a fiction, the writer's role is almost superfluous. He does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there.