"I can only paint shadows, and is it not in their very nature to be weightless?"
"Beneath this welcoming veneer lies, unchanged, a harsh and dour reali"I can only paint shadows, and is it not in their very nature to be weightless?"
"Beneath this welcoming veneer lies, unchanged, a harsh and dour reality, the reality I saw before most of its present cosmetics had been applied -- and foreigners who had stayed in Peking two or three years before me had seen it in the raw."
"ghastly diplomatic ghetto."
"There is quite a stock of these touching and funny anecdotes; it would be amusing to collect them."
"Here, since the travelers know nothing, nothing surprises them."
"Who can guarantee that one of these days they will not convert this mystical place into a Monument to Sino-Albanian Friendship, a Permanent Exhibition of Imperialist Atrocities, a Coney Island of the Class Struggle?"
"Some practices that were in vogue during the Cultural Revolution have been discouraged: speed contests in reciting the "Quotations" (some champions could give them not only in the right order, but also backward) and Quotation Calisthenics (where movements followed not a tune, but quotations from Chairman Mao: bend the arm on this phrase, flex the legs on that one, and so on) are out of favor now."
"Air travel in China is full of unexpected charms, but if one is in a hurry, better take the train. The charm of air travel -- apart from the apple or the banana (sometimes both) that one gets during the flight -- is that one never knows when one will depart of when one will arrive, or even where one will land. The element of surprise, nay adventure, give back to air travel some of its former romance."
"In the same way, this insignificant granitic phallus receives all its enormous significance from the blasphemous stupidity of its location."
"The vast boulevards call to mind the false airports which cargo-cult devotees in New Guinea hack out of the jungle in the hope that this will persuade their gods to send planes full of treasure: one is sometimes tempted to believe that the building of the Autobahns, now used only by a few dismal cyclists or donkey carts, might similarly be part of a magic ritual, as if miles of macadam might generate the sudden appearance of hordes of hooting, stinking, triumphant cars -- simultaneously the nightmare of the consumer society and dream of the socialist one."
"the city has been destroyed not under the pressure of existing traffic, but in prevision of traffic yet to come."
"The hotel for foreigners in Tientsin is worth the journey. This monstrous and gloomy construction, a relic of the imperialist era, is usually empty; an army of idle servants yawns and naps along the corridors."
"So there I went: a small factory with about a hundred workmen sculpting billiard balls, polishing seashells, and gluing fake ostrich feathers on plastic objects, making out of a bewildering variety of sickening materials huge quantities of trinkets depicting "Chairman Mao surrounded by peasants, soldiers and workers," "Souvenirs of Yenan," and "Greetings from Shaoshan."
"In the nightmare of its endless corridors, the weight of its triple velvet curtains, the perpetual gloom of its vast lounges filled with gray-covered furniture, I could feel almost physically the permanent presence of the man whom Osip Mandelstam (paying for it with his life) called "the hillman in the Kremlin the wide-chested Ossete."
"This museum has been twinned. There are two identical sections, completely and entirely alike in all respects. All the objects to be seen have been made in two sets, so that more visitors can be accommodated at the same time."
"For instance, the duck pond is not an ordinary duck pond but "the duck pond where Chairman Mao used to swim when he was a boy"; the meadow that appears to the ordinary visitor to be a common pasture is "the pasture to which Chairman Mao led the cows." And so on."
"Instead of our death-ghettoes, our corpse quarters, here the whole earth is a vast and welcoming cemetery."
"This is a good example of Chinese pragmatism: rather than have to write and rewrite the history of the party, according to purges and successive crises (as the Russians do), better not write it at all."
"As always, in China, individual thoughtfulness and subtlety victoriously counterbalance the stupidity and obscurantism of the system."
"Their conversations are suspect: they talk about gastronomy and fashions! ... these maneuvers go on until the day when Chen lays open their evil ways in a striking wall inscription entitled "What Is Concealed by Candy and Cigarettes."
"After the man-as-small-cog-in-the-machine (Lei Feng), here we have the man-as-match."
"Existentialism is an expression of the corrupt decadence and despairing pessimism of the monopolistic-bourgeois class in the imperialist period."
"such splendid orderliness"
"In cities one can still distinguish between four-pocket men in jeeps, four-pocket men in black limousines with curtains, and four-pocket men who have black limousines with curtains and a jeep in front."
"the outer darkness."
"The Peoples Daily may well give you the solution to a certain problem, but it also gives the opposite solution to the same problem at a different time."
"their denials are contradicted by reality."
"fat cows and lean cows follow each other in a seasonal rhythm."
"Sometimes a copy can be located in a Chinese bookshop, but then it is kept in a special glass case, locked of course, offered to the curious public somewhat like a two-headed calf pickled in formaldehyde and shown off in a glass bottle... Bookshops have completely changed their interior layout: they are now set up like pharmacies, with a counter between the customers and the shelves. On those shelves, which only attendants can reach, only a few dozen titles are displayed, and since the shop must appear to be full with even that scant choice, books are put flat on the shelves, in lines, with the same title endlessly repeated, like sardine cans or tins of peas in a supermarket."
"As for the writer, he is sitting on a melting iceberg; he is merely an anachronism, a hangover from the bourgeois age, as surely doomed as the hippopotamus." -- George Orwell
"In this field, I have assembled a long, dismaying, mind-boggling collection of anecdotes."
"We scrutinize slides of innumerable microscopes and simulate polite interest in the unintelligible swarming patterns."
"marked the twilight"
"(Note that since the beginning of the Revolution in Education students are not called "students" (xuesheng) anymore, but "studiers" (xueyuan), on the model of butcher, baker, candlestickmaker."
"...and the Papaoshan cemetery (which appears to be abandoned) still bears the marks of that violence. Many steles are pushed over and broken, some painted rod or smeared with tar, and pieces of stone are lying about on the ground."
"Dictionary of idees recues: applying Flaubert's method, one could compile and enormous volume of the expressions that make up the wooden language of Maoist ideology. The people's struggles are always "fearless" and "victorious." The Albanian, Vietnamese, etc., masses are always "heroic"; the Rumanians, Zambians, etc., are always "fraternal." In his public appearances, Mao always shows a "pink and radiant face," and the sigh of him invariable fills onlookers with "feelings of shining love and boundless enthusiasm." The Chinese Communist Party is, of course, "great, glorious, and infallible"; the class enemy, "ever watchful," must be exposed "without pity." The adversary's designs, always "shameful," must be opposed "resolutely"; his crimes are "odious and unforgivable." The successes of "building-up" of socialism are "prodigious," "immense," "always greater" (in case of failure, one speaks only of "new" or "growing" success)."
"The Red Guards were indignant that "red" could be used to mean "stop" in traffic-control procedures, and during the Cultural Revolution they suggested that signals be inverted; according to them, the revolutionary traffic should stop on the green, and proceed forward on the red."
"Still, under this too-perfect mimicry of a quiet provincial parish fifty years ago -- with paper flowers and painted plaster Sacred Hearts -- there lurks something murky, something perhaps even rather horrible."
"an acquired, deliberate ugliness, which becomes in some way shrill."
"Chou is the only member of China's ruling clique who has never taken advantage of his position to have his poems published. Think about it: it shows uncommon strength of character."
"Exoticism is not dead. At the turn of the century, during his dreamy Asiatic dilly-dallying, Pierre Loti was entranced by the sight of pale blobs, exquisitely fringed with purple, in the dark arch of a yamen; they turned out to be a string of cut-off human hands; the little girls, or boys, whom be bought here and there to while away the speen of an Oriental night amused him with their chatter of lovebirds and their painted faces reminiscent of dwarfs painted on folding screens."
I had no idea what was going on throughout this whole book. But it was vivid in its futuristic worlds.
"The eyes were vat-grown sea-green Nikon transpI had no idea what was going on throughout this whole book. But it was vivid in its futuristic worlds.
"The eyes were vat-grown sea-green Nikon transplants."
"A gardener, a thing like a large metal crab, was tending the bamboo."
"Summer in the Sprawl, the mall crowds swaying like wind-blown grass, a field of flesh shot through with sudden eddies of need and gratification."
"An enormous pile of old magazines had cascaded into the open area, flesh of lost summers staring blindly up as he followed her back through a narrow canyon of impacted scrap."
"'I'm the Finn,' said the Finn, and made a warning face at Case."
"Foam barricades. Lobby's getting juicy."
"Travel was a meat thing."
"At first glance it resembled the kind of graffiti student operators sometimes left at the junctions of grid lines, faint glyphs of colored light that shimmered against the confused outlines of a dozen arts faculties."
"The light from the rooftop vanished, leaning him with mismatched afterimages of muzzle-flash, monster, and white beam."
"Black iron deer rusted in the gardens of the Seraglio."
"They don't have climate, just weather."
"On his way back to the lobby, his cigarettes forgotten, he had to walk the length of the ranked phones. Each rang in turn, but only once, as he passed."
"Twenty minutes, then gravity came down on him like a great soft hand with bones of ancient stone."
"Sleep wouldn't come. When it did, it brought dreams that were like neatly edited segments of memory."
"The sky outside hinted at the start of a recorded dawn."
"Ice clinked against the side of a glass. Someone giggled. Someone else asked a whispered questions in Japanese."
"Where's the meat puppet?"
"He still had his anger. That was like being rolled in some alley and waking to discover your wallet still in your pocket, untouched."
"Black fur boiled at the borders of his vision."
"We have sealed ourselves away behind our money, growing inward, generating a seamless universe of self."
"The low, vaulted hallway was lined with dozens of museum cases, archaic-looking glass-fronted boxes made of brown wood. They looked awkward there, against the organic curves of the hallway's walls, as though they'd been brought in and set up in a line for some forgotten purpose."
"Like when you're young, you figure you're unique."
"Straylight reminded Case of deserted early morning shopping centers he'd known as a teenager, low-density places where the small hours brought a fitful stillness, a kind of numb expectancy, a tension that left you watching insects swarm around caged bulbs about the entrance of darkened shops."
"Playgrounds hung in space, castles hermetically sealed, the rarest rots of old Europa, dead men sealed in little boxes, magic out of China..."
"The doorway was low, narrow, doorless, and deep."
Very dated, very rambling, but not without its charm.
"when the mountains seem to a pilot to be wallowing in slim like exploded cannon on the decks ofVery dated, very rambling, but not without its charm.
"when the mountains seem to a pilot to be wallowing in slim like exploded cannon on the decks of an antique man-o'-war."
"You think the meadow empty, and suddenly bang! there are thirty sheep in your wheels."
"I was already nibbling the bitter pulp of night flight."
"Over the pools of water I could see great palms of wind running."
"As for the peasant, so for the pilot, dawn and twilight become events of consequence."
"When you saw a foul storm you said to yourself, 'Here is a foul storm.'"
"People extoll their contempt for death. But I would not give a fig for anybody's contempt for death."
"Time had to pass before men forgot what it was made of."
"Every machine will gradually take on this patina and lose its identity in its function."
"invisible ditches of air."
"the flight continues horizontal and rectilinear."
"I was in the wings of a theatre cluttered up with bits of scenery."
"I was a man who, carrying a pile of plates, had slipped on a waxed floor and let his scaffolding of porcelain crash."
"Still nothing pathetic to report."
"Then the wind's hand brushed the picture away."
"The marvel of marvels was that there on the rounded back of the planet, between this magnetic sheet and those stars, a human consciousness was present in which as in a mirror that rain could be reflected."
"...a silence like a trap, in which I fell asleep."
"Somewhere there was a park dark with firs and linden-trees and an old house that I loved."
"Here everything was in a state of decay, but adorably so, like and old oak covered with moss and split in places with age, like a wooden bench on which generations of lovers had come to sit and which had grown sacred."
"For the first time since I was born it seemed to me that my life was my own and that I was responsible for it."
"I got into my harness, snapped my emergency lamps to my belt along with my altimeter and my pencils."
"The wireless astonished them less than the telephone since the mystery of the telephone resided in the very fact of the wire."
"But I knew them well, my barbarians."
"...it was as if men were rigging an invisible ship."
"...the day is a voyage towards the goal of evening."
"We were crossing the great dark valley of a fairy-tale, the Valley of Ordeal."
"Just the same, I did not like the sinister glitter of a one-eyed grog-shop."
"My weariness wrapped me round like a multiple presence."
"We moved in a maze of uncertainty. Yet what space, what air between movements!"
"Life has taught that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction."
"The sleeping cars were empty. The first-class carriages were empty. They put me in mind of the luxurious hotels on the Riviera that open in winter for a single guest, the last representative of an extinct fauna."...more
I listened to this as an audio-book. Maybe listening to it warped my perspective, but the whole thing seemed like a tedious exercise in language ratheI listened to this as an audio-book. Maybe listening to it warped my perspective, but the whole thing seemed like a tedious exercise in language rather than a novel. DeLillo is so good a dialogue, but the dialogue in this book seemed totally useless; communication between useless people of whom the reader has no investment. White Noise is an amazing book, Mao II was also strong. This book, on the other hand was bizarre for seemingly no reason whatsoever. ...more
I think I would have liked this better if I hadn't listened to Toni Morrison herself reading it for my audiobook. She reads with some SERIOUS gravitasI think I would have liked this better if I hadn't listened to Toni Morrison herself reading it for my audiobook. She reads with some SERIOUS gravitas and it seemed to me that her audio rendering exaggerated the scenes that her written language had already filled out and created to perfection in that hauntingly sparse, deadpan way. ...more