Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail. I didn’t give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. Scenery was the last thing on my mind.
She put her hands on my shoulders and peered into my eyes. Deep within her own pupils a heavy, black liquid swirled in a strange whirlpool pattern. Those beautiful eyes of hers were looking inside me for a long, long time. Then she stretched to her full height and touched her cheek to mine. It was a marvelous, warm gesture that stopped my heart for a moment.
Relax your body, and the rest of you will lighten up.
What if I’ve forgotten the most important thing? What if somewhere inside me there is a dark limbo where all the truly important memories are heaped and slowly turning into mud?
In terms of everyday life, it made no practical difference to me whether the place was right wing or left wing or anything else.
The national flag does not fly at night.
I did not know why the flag had to be taken down at night. The nation continued to exist after dark, and plenty of people worked the whole night through—track construction crews and taxi drivers and bar hostesses and firemen and night watchmen: it seemed unfair to me that such people were denied the protection of the flag.
Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.
In July, somebody in the dorm had taken down Storm Trooper’s Amsterdam canal scene and put up a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge instead. He told me he wanted to know if Storm Trooper could masturbate to the Golden Gate Bridge. “He loved it,” I “reported” later, which prompted someone else to put up an iceberg. Each time the photo changed in his absence, Storm Trooper became upset. “Who-who-who the hell is doing this?” he asked.
My arm was not the one she needed, but the arm of someone else. My warmth was not what she needed, but the warmth of someone else. I felt almost guilty being me.
Urging others to read F. Scott Fitzgerald, if not a reactionary act, was not something one could do in 1968.
“It’s not that I don’t believe in contemporary literature… but I don’t want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short.”
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that. Haven’t you noticed, Watanabe? You and I are the only real ones in the dorm. The other guys are crap.”
He was both a spirit of amazing loftiness and an irredeemable man of the gutter.
I would have preferred not to spend the whole night with them, but you can’t worry about a midnight curfew while you’re seducing women…
There is absolutely nothing to be gained from sleeping with one strange woman after another. It just tires you out and makes you disgusted with yourself.
Something inside me had dropped away, and nothing came in to fill the cavern.
What I need now is to rest my nerves in a quiet place cut off from the world.
Let the wind change direction a little bit, and their cries turned to whispers.
What’s this thing that guys have for girls with long hair? Fascists, the whole bunch of them!
“Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment.”
“Life doesn’t require ideals. It requires standards of action.”
The short one walked up to the professor and said, with a degree of politeness, that they would like to use the second half of his period for political debate and hoped that he would cooperate, adding, “The world is full of problems far more urgent and relevant than Greek tragedy.” This was more an announcement than a request. The professor replied, “I rather doubt that the world has problems far more urgent and relevant than Greek tragedy, but you’re not going to listen to anything I have to say, so do what you like.”
When I went inside her, she dug her nails into my back, and as her orgasm approached she called out another man’s name exactly sixteen times. I concentrated on counting them as a way to delay my own orgasm. Then the two of us fell asleep.
That’s what distinguishes us from the outside world: most people go about their lives there unconscious of their deformities, while in this little world of ours the deformities themselves are a precondition.
And we live quietly so as not to hurt one another.
The world was at peace and filled with laughter as long as stories of Storm Trooper were being told.
“The dead will always be dead, but we have to go on living.”
I’m a far more flawed human being than you realize. My sickness is a lot worse than you think: it has far deeper roots.
“I see you’re from Tokyo… I went there once. Just once. They serve great pork.”
Yes, of course, I told myself, feeling sad: I was in the outside world now.
“Sometimes, when the world gets hard to live in, I come here for a vodka and tonic.”
“That’s how people live in the real world: forcing stuff on each other.”
“Fresh, simple, smells like life. Really good cucumbers. A far more sensible food than kiwifruit.”
How many Sundays—how many hundreds of Sundays like this—lay ahead of me? “Quiet, peaceful, and lonely,” I said aloud to myself. On Sundays, I didn’t wind my spring.
“That’s not hard work. It’s just manual labor… The ‘hard work’ I’m talking about is more self-directed and purposeful.”
“In any case… I’ve decided to make myself strong. As far as I can tell, that’s all I can do.”
“How much do you love me?” Midori asked. “Enough to melt all the tigers in the world to butter,” I said.
Despite your best efforts, people are going to be hurt when it’s time for them to be hurt.
As he stood to go, he took a folded five-thousand-yen note from his pocket and shoved it into the pocket of my shirt. “Here,” he said, “get yourself some healthy food. You look awful.” I said he had done more than enough for me and that I couldn’t accept money on top of everything else, but he refused to take it back. “It’s not money,” he said, “it’s my feelings. Don’t think about it too much, just take it.” All I could do was thank him and accept the money.