So what made you write your first novel, Whatever, about a computer programmer and his sexually frustrated friend?
I hadn’t seen any novel make the statement that entering the workforce was like entering the grave. That from then on, nothing happens and you have to pretend to be interested in your work. And, furthermore, that some people have a sex life and others don’t just because some are more attractive than others. I wanted to acknowledge that if people don’t have a sex life, it’s not for some moral reason, it’s just because they’re ugly. Once you’ve said it, it sounds obvious, but I wanted to say it.
I like to discern an unstated, but illustrated, argument in a novel. I mean, I like to become aware of an embodied view of a particular moral-slash-philosophical problem or circumstance. With my novels, I want readers to argue about my argument, at least in their heads. While writing I am very conscious of it.
Card Players, by Paul Cezanne, c. 1893.
A hit, a very palpable hit.
—William Shakespeare, c. 1600
Children’s Games, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1560.
The gods play games with men as balls.
—Plautus, c. 200 BC
Sport is the bloom and glow of a perfect health.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1838
There are few things that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker. The upper class knows very little about it. It is enough to make one ashamed of one’s species.
—Mark Twain, 1877
Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game - and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.
—Jacques Barzun, 1954
Football game in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Florence, by Joannes Stradanus, c. 1567.
The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.
—Danny Blanchflower, 1985
I do love cricket - it is so very English.
—Sarah Bernhardt, c. 1908
Today it is not the city but rather the camp that is the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the west.
-George Agamben (1998)
It is a Ghost Trap, woven by priest in Sikkim or Tibet
a crossframe on which a thousand threads of differing color
are strung, a spiritual tennis racket
in which then I look I see aethereal lightwaves radiate
bright energy passing round on the threads as for billions of years
the thread-bands magically changing hues one transformed to another as if
were an image of the Universe in miniature
conscious sentient part of the interrelated machine
making waves outward in Time to the Beholder
displaying its own image in miniature once for all
repeated minutely downward with endless variations throughout all of itself
it being all the same in every part
The unit of survival is organism plus the environment.
The city historically constructed is no longer lived and is no longer understood practically. It is only an object of cultural consumption for tourists, for aestheticism, avid for spectacles and the picturesque. Even for those who seek to understand it with warmth, it is gone. Yet, the urban remains in a state of dispersed and alienated actuality, as kernel and virtuality. What the eyes and analysis perceive on the ground can at best pass for the shadow of the future object in the light of a rising sun. It is impossible to envisage the reconstitution of the old city, only the construction of a new one on new foundations, on another scale and in other conditions, in another society. The prescription is: there cannot be a going back (toward the traditional city), nor a headlong flight, towards a colossal and shapeless agglomeration. In other words, for what concerns the city the object of science is not given. The past, the present, the possible cannot be separated. What is being studied is a virtual object, which thought studies, which calls for new approaches.