An entire life spent reading would have fulfilled my every desire; I already knew that at the age of seven. The texture of the world is painful, inadequate; unalterable, or so it seems to me. Really, I believe that an entire life spent reading would have suited me best. Such a life has not been granted me...
Life is painful and disappointing. It is useless, therefore, to write new realistic novels. We generally know where we stand in relation to reality and don’t care to know any more.
People often say that the English are very cold fish, very reserved, that they have a way of looking at things – even tragedy – with a sense of irony. There’s some truth in it; it’s pretty stupid of them, though. Humor won’t save you; it doesn’t really do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn’t matter how brave you are, how reserved, or how much you’ve developed a sense of humor, you still end up with your heart broken. That’s when you stop laughing. In the end there’s just the cold, the silence and the loneliness. In the end, there’s only death.
Maybe I should have gone into politics. If you were a political activist, election season brought moments of intensity, whichever side you were on, and meanwhile here I was inarguably withering away
You too, you took an interest in the world. That was long ago. I want you to cast your mind back to then. The domain of the rules was no longer enough for you; you were unable to love any longer in the domain of the rules; so you had to enter into the domain of the struggle. I ask you to go back to that precise moment. It was long ago, no? Cast your mind back: the water was cold. You are far from the edge, now. Oh yes! How far from the edge you are! You long believed in the existence of another shore; such is no longer the case. You go on swimming, though, and every movement you make brings you closer to drowning. You are suffocating, your lungs are on fire. The water seems colder and colder to you, more and more galling. You aren't that young anymore. Now you are going to die. Don't worry. I am here. I won't let you sink. Go on with your reading.
It is in our relations with other people that we gain a sense of ourselves; it's that, pretty much, that makes relations with other people unbearable.
When you got right down to it, my dick was the one organ that hadn’t presented itself to my consciousness through pain, only pleasure. Modest but robust, it had always served me faithfully. Or, you could argue, I had served it – if so, its yoke had been easy. It never gave me orders. It sometimes encouraged me to get out more, but it encouraged me humbly, without bitterness or anger. This past evening, I knew, it had interceded on Myriam’s behalf. It had always enjoyed good relations with Myriam, Myriam had always treated it with affection and respect, and this had given me an enormous amount of pleasure. And sources of pleasure were hard to come by. In the end, my dick was all I had.
The metaphysical mutation that gave rise to materialism and modern science in turn spawned two great trends: rationalism and individualism. Huxley’s mistake was in having poorly evaluated the balance of power between these two. Specifically, he underestimated the growth of individualism brought about by an increased consciousness of death. Individualism gives rise to freedom, the sense of self, the need to distinguish oneself and to be superior to others. A rational society like the one he describes in Brave New World can defuse the struggle. Economic rivalry—a metaphor for mastery over space—has no more reason to exist in a society of plenty, where the economy is strictly regulated. Sexual rivalry—a metaphor for mastery over time through reproduction—has no more reason to exist in a society where the connection between sex and procreation has been broken. But Huxley forgets about individualism. He doesn’t understand that sex, even stripped of its link with reproduction, still exists—not as a pleasure principle, but as a form of narcissistic differentiation. The same is true of the desire for wealth. Why has the Swedish model of social democracy never triumphed over liberalism? Why has it never been applied to sexual satisfaction? Because the metaphysical mutation brought about by modern science leads to individuation, vanity, malice and desire. Any philosopher, not just Buddhist or Christian, but any philosopher worthy of the name, knows that, in itself, desire—unlike pleasure—is a source of suffering, pain and hatred.
That's precisely what's so extraordinary about you, you enjoy giving pleasure. Offering your body as an object of pleasure, giving pleasure unselfishly: that's what Westerners don't know how to do any more. They've completely lost the sense of giving. Try as they might, they no longer feel sex as something natural. Not only are they ashamed of their own bodies, which aren't up to porn standards, but for the same reasons they no longer feel truly attracted to the body of the other. It's impossible to make love without a certain abandon, without accepting, at least temporarily, the state of being in a state of dependency, of weakness. Sentimental adulation and sexual obsession have the same roots, both proceed from some degree of selflessness; it's not a domain in which you can find fulfilment without losing yourself. We have become cold, rational, acutely conscious of our individual existence and our rights; more than anything, we want to avoid alienation and dependence; on top of that we're obsessed with health and hygiene: these are hardly ideal conditions in which to make love.
In societies like ours sex truly represents a second system of differentiation, completely independent of money; and as a system of differentiation it functions mercilessly. The effects of these two systems are, furthermore, strictly equivalent. Just like unrestrained economic liberalism produces phenomena of absolute pauperization. Some men make love every day; others five of six times in their life, or never. Some make love with dozens of women; others with none. It's what's known as 'the law of the market.
The past is always beautiful. So, for that matter, is the future. Only the present hurts, and we carry it around like an abscess of suffering, our compassion between two infinities of happiness and peace.
Olga was nice, Olga was nice and loving, Olga loved him, he repeated to himself with a growing sadness as he also realised that nothing would ever happen between them again, life sometimes offers you a chance he thought, but when you are too cowardly or too indecisive to seize it life takes the cards away; there is a moment for doing things and entering a possible happiness, and this moment lasts a few days, a few weeks or even a few months, but it only happens once and one time only, and if you want to return to it later it's quite simply impossible. There's no more place for enthusiasm, belief and faith, and there remains just gentle resignation, a sad and reciprocal pity, the useless but correct sensation that something could have happened, that you just simply showed yourself unworthy of this gift you had been offered.
He trusted that I would have a very pleasant stay: it was so peaceful, and the meals were delicious. As he said it, I realized that he was expressing not just a belief, but a hope, because he was one of those people, and you don't see them every day, who take an instinctive pleasure in the happiness of their fellow men – that he was, in other words, a nice guy.
Maybe my dissertation really had been as brilliant as he claimed, the truth was I remember almost nothing about it; the intellectual leaps I made when I was young were a distant memory to me, and now I was surrounded by a kind of aura, when really my only goal in life was to do a little reading and get in bed at four in the afternoon with a carton of cigarettes and a bottle; and yet, at the same time, I had to admit, I was going to die if I kept that up – I was going to die fast, unhappy and alone. And did I really want to die fast, unhappy and alone? In the end, only kind of.
It is possible to construct a history which is logically consistent. It cannot be said to be true; simply that it can be sustained without contradiction. Under a given set of experimental conditions, a finite number of possible histories can be recreated using Griffiths’s method; these are called Griffiths’s Consistent Histories. In these, the world behaves as though composed of separate objects, each having fixed, intrinsic properties. However, the number of consistent histories that can be created from a single set of data is generally greater than one. As a being you are self-aware, and this consciousness allows you to hypothesize that the story you’ve created from a given set of memories is a consistent history, justified by a single narrative voice. As a unique individual, having existed for a particular period and been subjected to an ontology of objects and properties, you can assert this with absolute certainty, and so automatically assume that it is a Griffiths’s history. You make this hypothesis about real life, rather than about the domain of dreams.
Nevertheless, some free time remains. What’s to be done? How do you use your time? In dedicating yourself to helping people? But basically other people don’t interest you. Listening to records? That used to be a solution, but as the years go by you have to say that music moves you less and less. Taken in its widest sense, a spot of do-it-yourself can be a way out. But the fact is that nothing can halt the ever-increasing recurrence of those moments when your total isolation, the sensation of an all-consuming emptiness, the foreboding that your existence is nearing a painful and definitive end all combine to plunge you into a state of real suffering.
Contemporary consciousness is no longer equipped to deal with our mortality. Never in any other time, or any other civilization, have people thought so much or so contantly about aging. Each individual has a simple view of the future: a time will come when the sum of pleasures that life has left to offer is outweighed by the sum of pain (one can actually feel the meter ticking, and it ticks always in the same direction). This weighing up of pleasure and pain, which everyone is forced to make sooner or later, leads logically, at a certain age, to suicide.
Love binds, and it binds forever. Good binds while evil unravels. Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit.
For myself, I wouldn't have lifted a finger to own a Rolex, a pair of Nikes or a BMW Z3; in fact, I had never succeeded in identifying the slightest difference between designer goods and non-designer goods. In the eyes of the world, I was clearly wrong. I was aware of this: I was in a minority, and consequently in the wrong. There had to be a difference between Yves Saint-Laurent shirts and other shirts, between Gucci moccasins and Andre moccasins. I was alone in not perceiving this difference; it was an infirmity which I could not cite as grounds for condemning the world. Does one ask a blind man to set himself up as an expert on post-impressionist painting? Through my blindness, however involuntary, I set myself apart from a living human reality powerful enough to incite both devotion and crime. These youths, through their half-savage instincts, undoubtedly discerned the presence of beauty; their desire was laudable, and perfectly in keeping with social norms; it was merely a question of rectifying the inappropriate way in which it was expressed.
I maintained a tactical silence. When you maintain a tactical silence and look people right in the eye, as if drinking in their words, they talk. People like to be listened to, as every researcher knows--every researcher, every writer, every spy.
To love a book is, above all, to love its author: we want to meet him again, we want to spend our days with him.
The story of a life can be as long or as short as the teller wishes. Whether the life is tragic or enlightened, the classic gravestone inscription marking simply the dates of birth and death has, in its brevity, much to recommend it.
People like to be listened to, as every researcher knows – every researcher, every writer, every spy.
Two years before, when the riots started, the media had had a field day, but now people discussed them less and less. ... ...in fact the media's attitude had changed over the last few months. No one talked about violence in the banlieues or race riots anymore. That was all passed over in silence.
The Enlightened One, if he had meditated on it, would not necessarily have rejected a technical solution.
As I finished my rice, I sketched out the plot of a pornographic adventure film called The Massage Room. Sirien, a young girl from northern Thailand, falls hopelessly in love with Bob, an American student who winds up in the massage parlor by accident, dragged there by his buddies after a fatefully boozy evening. Bob doesn't touch her, he's happy just to look at her with his lovely, pale-blue eyes and tell her about his hometown - in North Carolina, or somewhere like that. They see each other several more times, whenever Sirien isn't working, but, sadly, Bob must leave to finish his senior year at Yale. Ellipsis. Sirien waits expectantly while continuing to satisfy the needs of her numerous clients. Though pure at heart, she fervently jerks off and sucks paunchy, mustached Frenchmen (supporting role for Gerard Jugnot), corpulent, bald Germans (supporting role for some German actor). Finally, Bob returns and tries to free her from her hell - but the Chinese mafia doesn't see things in quite the same light. Bob persuades the American ambassador and the president of some humanitarian organization opposed to the exploitation of young girls to intervene (supporting role for Jane Fonda). What with the Chinese mafia (hint at the Triads) and the collusion of Thai generals (political angle, appeal to democratic values), there would be a lot of fight scenes and chase sequences through the streets of Bangkok. At the end of the day, Bob carries her off. But in the penultimate scene, Sirien gives, for the first time, an honest account of the extent of her sexual experience. All the cocks she has sucked as a humble massage parlor employee, she has sucked in the anticipation, in the hope of sucking Bob's cock, into which all the others were subsumed - well, I'd have to work on the dialogue. Cross fade between the two rivers (the Chao Phraya, the Delaware). Closing credits. For the European market, I already had line in mind, along the lines of If you liked The Music Room, you'll love The Massage Room.
I think she is going to find you too old... Yes that was it, the moment she said it I knew it was true, and the revelation caused me no surprise, it was like the echo of a dull, not unexpected shock. The age difference was the last taboo, the final limit, all the stronger for the fact that it remained the last and had replaced all the others. In the modern world you could be a swinger, bi, trans, zoo into S&M, but it was forbidden to be old.
He was a kind of éminence grise, a political leader, in a clandestine movement. Everyone knows there are girls who go for that kind of thing. There are girls who go for Huysmanists, for that matter. I once met a girl -- a pretty, attractive girl -- who told me she fantasized about Jean-François Copé. It took me several days to get over it. Really, with girls today, all bets are off.
They were really willing to pay to avoid any trouble. No doubt they had overestimated the ability of academics to make a nuisance of themselves. It had been years since an academic title gained you access to major media.... Even if all the university professors in France had risen up in protest, almost nobody would have noticed, but apparently they hadn't found that out in Saudi Arabia. They still believed, deep down, in the power of the intellectual elite. It was almost touching.
Your only chance of survival, if you are severely smitten, lies in hiding this fact from the woman you love, of feigning a casual detachment under all circumstances. What sadness there is in this simple observation! What an accusation against man! Love makes you weak, and the weaker of the two is oppressed, tortured, and finally killed by the other, who in his or her turn oppresses, tortures, and kills without having evil intentions, without even getting pleasure from it, with complete indifference; that's what men, normally, call love.