I'm interested in memory because it's a filter through which we see our lives, and because it's foggy and obscure, the opportunities for self-deception are there. In the end, as a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.
When I was younger, I didn't read that much. I was more interested in film and music. Now I'm curious. I want to know what it's all about.
When you become a parent, or a teacher, you turn into a manager of this whole system. You become the person controlling the bubble of innocence around a child, regulating it.
There was another life that i might have had, but i am having this one...
After all, what can we gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished.
The truth is, Japan is headed for crisis. We are in the hands of greedy businessmen and weak politicians. Such people will see to it poverty grows every day.
What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took?
We may now understand better, too, why my father was so fond of the story of the butler who failed to panic on discovering a tiger under the dining table; it was because he knew instinctively that somewhere in this story lay the kernel of what true ‘dignity' is.
Why would somebody just read a novel when they can see it on TV or in the cinema? I really have to think of the things fiction can do that film can't and play to the strengths of the novel. With a novel, you can get right inside somebody's head.
Where once we fought for land and God, we now fought to avenge fallen comrades, themselves slaughtered in vengeance. Where could it end? Babes growing to men knowing only days of war.
I had the sense when I looked back over my life I would actually see a mess of decisions, a few of which I had thought about, some of which I had sort of stumbled on and many that I had no control over whatsoever.
The best things, he always used to say, are put together of a night and vanish with the morning. What people call the floating world, Ono, was a world Gisaburo knew how to value.
And one has a right, perhaps, to feel a satisfaction those content to serve mediocre employers will never know – the satisfaction of being able to say with some reason that one's efforts, in however modest a way, comprise a contribution to the course of history.
Then Tommy said: So there's definitely nothing. No deferral, nothing like that.
I for one will never doubt that a desire to see ‘justice in this world' lay at the heart of all his actions.
I don't have a deep link with England like, say, Jonathan Coe or Hanif Kureishi might demonstrate. For me, it is like a mythical place.
All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.
You're much the senior in years, Master Axl, but in matters of blood, it may be I'm the elder and you the youth. I've seen dark hatred as bottomless as the sea on the faces of old women and tender children, and some days felt such hatred myself.
We all live inside bodies that will deteriorate. But when you look at human beings, they're capable of very decent things: love, loyalty. When time is running out, they don't care about possessions or status. They want to put things right if they've done wrong.
Continentals are unable to be butlers because they are as a breed incapable of the emotional restraint which only the English race is capable of. Continentals.
Perhaps one day, all these conflicts will end, and it won't be because of great statesmen or churches or organisations like this one. It'll be because people have changed. They'll be like you, Puffin. More a mixture. So why not become a mongrel? It's healthy.
There was surely nothing to indicate at the time that such evidently small incidents would render whole dreams forever irredeemable.
I had been plunged into a different world. I found myself spending half my time answering weird questions on book tours in the Midwest. People would stand up and explain to me the situation in their office and ask me whether they should resign or not.
We're the only ones who care now. The likes of you and me, Ono, when we look back over our lives and see they were flawed, we're the only ones who care now.
As with a wound on one's own body, it is possible to develop an intimacy with the most disturbing of things.
Everything suddenly felt perfect: an hour set aside, stretching ahead of us, and there wasn't a better way to spend it. I had to really hold myself back from giggling stupidly, or jumping up and down on the pavement like a little kid.
I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.
Because maybe, in a way, we didn't leave it behind nearly as much as we might once have thought. Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and no matter how much we despised ourselves for it--unable quite to let each other go.
If we'd understood that back then-who knows?-maybe we'd have kept a tighter hold of one another.
Year after year goes by, and nothing gets better. All we do is argue and debate and procrastinate. Any decent idea is amended to ineffectuality by the time it's gone half-way through the various committees it's obliged to pass through. The few people qualified to know what's what are talked to a standstill by ignorant people all around them.
But you play that passage like it's the -memory- of love. You're so young, yet you know desertion, abandonment. That's why you play that third movement the way you do. Most cellists, they play it with joy. But for you, it's not about joy, it's about the memory of a joyful time that's gone for ever.
If disappointments do come, you will carry on still. You will say, just as he does, I am so lucky.
Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and—no matter how much we despised ourselves for it—unable quite to let each other go.
I want my words to survive translation. I know when I write a book now I will have to go and spend three days being intensely interrogated by journalists in Denmark or wherever. That fact, I believe, informs the way I write - with those Danish journalists leaning over my shoulder.
When people are getting poorer, and children are growing more hungry and sick all around you, it is simply not enough for an artist to hide away somewhere, perfecting pictures of courtesans.
You've got to enjoy yourself. The evening's the best part of the day. You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.
If I'm alone at home, I get increasingly restless, bothered by the idea that I'm missing some crucial encounter out there somewhere. But if I'm left by myself in someone else's place, I often find myself a nice sense of peace engulfing me. I love sinking into an unfamiliar sofa with whatever book happens to be lying nearby.
The evening's the best part of the day. You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.
Harry has a lot of ideas about changes to this and that, but really, no one in the village wants upheaval, even if it might benefit them. People here want to be left alone to lead their quiet little lives. They don't want to be bothered with this issue and that issue.
Don't you wonder sometimes, what might have happened if you tried?
For however one may come in later years to reassess one's achievements, it is always a consolation to know that one's life has contained a moment or two or real satisfaction.
It's nonsense to believe people go on loving each other regardless of what happens.
Even though I spent the first five years of my life in Nagasaki, going to Japan can be really difficult. Even if they know I've been brought up in the West, they still expect me to understand all the subtleties of their culture, and if I get it wrong, it matters much more than if a British person gets it wrong. I find it intimidating.
What interests me is the surprising enormous extent to which most people accept the fate that's been given to them, and find some dignity.
Our life together's like a tale with a happy end, no matter what turns it took in the way.
For their kind do not know what it is to risk everything in the endeavor to rise above the mediocre.
He chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted! All those years, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can't even say I made my own mistakes. Really -one has to ask- what dignity is there in that?
Don't keep looking back all the time, you're bound to get depressed. And all right, you can't do your job as well as you used to. But it's the same for all of us, see? We've all got to put our feet up at some point... you've got to keep looking forward.
Memory, I realize, can be an unreliable thing; often it is heavily coloured by the circumstances in which one remembers.