Cover of The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer (First Scribner Paperback Fiction edition 1997)
As my hands were cuffed behind my back, and I had a zet at the footwear of my arresting officers, I couldn’t help hailing Nietzsche’s dictum, what does not kill me makes me stronger. One could add that what doesn’t kill you can be extremely uncomfortable and can give you a very nasty cold. I sneezed with no hands and discharged some nose marrow across the short distance between my nostrils and the gleaming footwear of the detective in charge of the operation, where it spread-eagled and made itself at home.
The trouble with Nietzche—who in any case never prescribed instructions regarding conduct while being hand-cuffed on chilly floors in undignified circumstances—is that you can never be sure when he’s doing some levity or not.
The Metropolitan Police had the same problem with me. They were hugely unconvinced by my responses to their questioning.
— from The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer, named by Granta Magazine as one of the best British novelists under 40 in 1994
“You go to bed, wrap up warm, and drink a bottle of scotch. Technically it’s meant to be half a bottle, but I wanted to make absolutely sure. I cancelled all calls, put the Don’t-Disturb docket on the latch – and I was sleeping like a baby well before ten.”
– John Self, protagonist of Martin Amis’ novel, Money on his so-called “miracle flu cure” [See: Martin Amis, Money]
“While many programs bolster self-esteem and promote good cheer — it can be fun, after all, to pelt the boss with paint — most take place away from the office and all the frustrations and power struggles that go with it. As a result, critics say, they tend to create an artificial, almost vacation-like atmosphere that has little relevance in the real corporate world.”
— From Motivational Missteps by Abby Ellin in the New York Times Management Reader: Hot Ideas and Best Practices from the New World of Business
Rushdie at 2008 dinner honoring writer Amos Oz (David Shankbone/Wikipedia)
“There are other reasons, too, for proposing the novel as the crucial art form of what I can no longer avoid calling the post-modern age. For one thing, literature is the art least subject to external control, because it is made in private. The act of making it requires only one person, one pen, one room, some paper. (Even the room is not absolutely essential). Literature is the most low-technology of the art forms. It requires neither a stage nor a screen. It calls for no interpreters, no actors, producers, camera crews, costumiers, musicians. It does not even require the traditional apparatus of publishing, as the long running success of samizdat literature demonstrates. The [Michel] Foucault essay [What is an author?] suggests that literature is as much at risk from the enveloping, smothering forces of the market economy, which reduces books to mere products. The danger is real, and I do not want to seem to be minimizing it. But the truth is that of all the forms, literature can still be the most free. The more money a piece of work costs, the easier it is to control. Film, the most expensive of art forms, is also the least subversive. This is why, although Carlos Fuentes cites the work of film-makers like [Luis] Buñuel, [Ingmar] Bergman, and [Federico] Fellini as instances of successful secular revolts into the territory of the sacred, I continue to believe in the greater possibilities of the novel. Its singularity is its best protection.”
— From “Is Nothing Sacred?” written by Salman Rushdie and delivered by Harold Pinter as part of the Herbert Read Memorial Lecture at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in February 1990 and published by Granta both as a pamphlet that carried the same title and in its 31st issue.