The Elementary Particles

À l'âge de quinze ans Annabelle faisait partie de ces très rares jeunes filles sur lesquelles tous les hommes s'arrêtent, sans distinction d'âge ni d'état; de ces jeunes filles dont le simple passage, le long de la rue commerçante d'une ville d'importance moyenne, accélère le rythme cardiaque des jeunes gens et des hommes d'âge mûr, fait pousser des grognements de regret aux vieillards. Elle prit rapidement conscience de ce silence qui accompagnait chacune de ses apparitions, dans un café ou dans une salle de cours, mais il lui fallut des années pour en comprendre pleinement la raison. Au CEG de Crécy-en-Brie, il était communément admis qu'elle «était avec» Michel; mais même sans cela, à vrai dire, aucun garçon n'aurait osé tenter quoi que ce soit avec elle. Tel est l'un des principaux inconvénients de l'extrême beauté chez les jeunes filles: seuls les dragueurs expérimentés, cyniques et sans scrupule se sentent à la hauteur; ce sont donc en général les êtres les plus vils qui obtiennent le trésor de leur virginité, et ceci constitue pour elles le premier stade d'une irrémédiable déchéance.

As a teenager, Michel believed that suffering conferred dignity on a person. Now he had to admit that he had been wrong. What conferred dignity on people was television.

Back in Paris they had happy moments together, like stills from a perfume ad (dashing hand in hand down the steps of Montmartre; or suddenly revealed in motionless embrace on the Pont des Arts by the lights of a bateau-mouche as it turned). There were the Sunday afternoon half-arguments, too, the moments of silence when bodies curl up beneath the sheets on the long shores of silence and apathy where life founders. Annabelle's studio was so dark they had to turn on the lights at four in the afternoon. They sometimes were sad, but mostly they were serious. Both of them knew that this would be their last human relationship, and this feeling lacerated every moment they spent together. They had a great respect and a profound sympathy for each other, and there were days when, caught up in some sudden magic, they knew moments of fresh air and glorious, bracing sunshine. For the most part, however, they could feel a gray shadow moving over them, on the earth that supported them, and in everything they could glimpse the end.

Contemporary consciousness is no longer equipped to deal with our mortality. Never in any other time, or any other civilization, have people thought so much or so contantly about aging. Each individual has a simple view of the future: a time will come when the sum of pleasures that life has left to offer is outweighed by the sum of pain (one can actually feel the meter ticking, and it ticks always in the same direction). This weighing up of pleasure and pain, which everyone is forced to make sooner or later, leads logically, at a certain age, to suicide.

Gewiss hat sich die westliche Welt über alle Maßen für Philosophie und Politik interessiert und sich in geradezu unsinniger Weise um philosophische und politische Fragen gestritten; gewiss hat die westliche Welt auch eine wahre Leidenschaft für Literatur und Kunst entwickelt; aber nichts in ihrer ganzen Geschichte hat eine solche Bedeutung gehabt wie das Bedürfnis nach rationaler Gewissheit. Diesem Bedürfnis nach rationaler Gewissheit hat die westliche Welt schließlich alles geopfert: ihre Religion, ihr Glück, ihre Hoffnungen und letztlich ihr Leben.

He doesn't know it yet, but the infinity of childhood is brief.

Humor won’t save you; it doesn’t really do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn’t matter how brave you are, or how reserved, or how much you’ve developed a sense of humor, you still end up with your heart broken. That’s when you stop laughing. In the end there’s just the cold, the silence and the loneliness. In the end there’s only death.

Irony won't save you from anything; humour doesn't do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn't matter how brave you are, or how reserved, or how much you've developed a sense of humour, you still end up with your heart broken. That's when you stop laughing.

It is interesting to note that the "sexual revolution" was sometimes portrayed as a communal utopia, whereas in fact it was simply another stage in the historical rise of individualism. As the lovely word "household" suggests, the couple and the family would be the last bastion of primitive communism in liberal society. The sexual revolution was to destroy these intermediary communities, the last to separate the individual from the market. The destruction continues to this day.

It's a curious idea to reproduce when you don't even like life.

Later Michel went up to the priest as he was packing away the tools of the trade. “I was very interested in what you were saying earlier…” The man of God smiled urbanely, then Michel began to talk about the Aspect experiments and the EPR paradox: how two particle, once united, are forever and inseparable whole, “which seems pretty much in keeping with what you were saying about one flesh.” The priest’s smile froze slightly. “What I’m trying to say, “Michel went on enthusiastically, “is that from an ontological point of view, the pair can be assigned a single vector in Hilbert space. Do you see what I mean?

L'humour ne sauve pas; l'humour ne sert en définitive à peu près à rien. On peut envisager les évènements de la vie avec humour pendant des années, parfois de très longues années, dans certains cas on peut adopter une attitude humoristique jusqu'à la fin; mais en définitive la vie vous brise le coeur. Quelles que soient les qualités de courage, de sang froid et d'humour qu'on a pu développer tout au long de sa vie, on finit toujours par avoir le coeur brisé. Alors on s'arrête de rire. Au bout du compte il n'y a plus que la solitude, le froid et le silence. Au bout du compte il n'y a plus que la mort.

Love binds, and it binds forever. Good binds while evil unravels. Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit.

People often say that the English are very cold fish, very reserved, that they have a way of looking at things – even tragedy – with a sense of irony. There’s some truth in it; it’s pretty stupid of them, though. Humor won’t save you; it doesn’t really do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn’t matter how brave you are, how reserved, or how much you’ve developed a sense of humor, you still end up with your heart broken. That’s when you stop laughing. In the end there’s just the cold, the silence and the loneliness. In the end, there’s only death.

Rumor had it that he was homosexual; in reality, in recent years, he was simply a garden-variety alcoholic.

Separation is another word for evil; it is also another word for deceit. All that exists is a magnificent interweaving, vast and reciprocal.

«Sophie, s'exclama à nouveau Bruno, sais-tu ce que Nietzsche a écrit de Shakespeare? "Ce que cet homme a dû souffrir pour éprouver un tel besoin de faire le pitre!..." Shakespeare m'a toujours paru un auteur surfait; mais c'est, en effet, un pitre considérable.» II s'interrompit, prit conscience avec surprise qu'il commençait réellement à souffrir. Les femmes, parfois, étaient tellement gentilles; elles répondaient à l'agressivité par la compréhension, au cynisme par la douceur. Quel homme se serait comporté ainsi?

Talking to morons like that is like pissing in a urinal full of cigarette butts, like shitting in a toilet full of Tampax: nothing gets flushed, and everything starts to stink.

Tenderness is a deeper instinct than seduction, which is why it is so hard to give up hope.

The only conclusion he could draw was that without points of reference, a man melts away.

There is no endless silence of infinite space, for in reality there is no space, no silence and no void.

The story of a life can be as long or as short as the teller wishes. Whether the life is tragic or enlightened, the classic gravestone inscription marking simply the dates of birth and death has, in its brevity, much to recommend it.

The terrible predicament of a beautiful girl is that only an experienced womanizer, someone cynical and without scruple, feels up to the challenge. More often than not, she will lose her virginity to some filthy lowlife in what proves to be the first step in an irrevocable decline.

The world outside had its own rules, and those rules were not human.

Thirty years later, Bruno was convinced that, taken in context, the episode could be summed up in one sentence: Caroline Yessayan's miniskirt was to blame for everything.

Thirty years later he could not come to any other conclusion: women were indisputably better than men. They were gentler, more affectionate, more loving and more compassionate, they were rarely violent, selfish, cruel or self-centred. Moreover, they were more rational, more intelligent and more hardworking.
What on earth were men for? Michael wondered as he watched sunlight play across the closed curtains. In earlier times, when bears were more common, perhaps masculinity served a particular function, but for centuries now, men served no useful purpose. For the most part, they assuaged their boredom playing squash, which was a lesser evil; but from time to time they felt the need to change history - which expressed itself in leading a revolution or starting a war somewhere. Aside from the senseless suffering they caused, revolutions and war destroyed the achievements of the past, forcing societies to build again. Without the notion of continuous progress, human evolution took random, irregular and violent turns for which men (with their predilection for risk and danger, their repulsive egotism, their volatile nature and their violent tendencies) were directly to blame. A society of women would be immeasurably superior, tracing a slow, unwavering progression, with no U-turns and no chaotic insecurity, towards a general happiness.

Unhappiness isn't at its most acute point until a realistic chance of happiness, sufficiently close, has been envisioned.

What the boy felt was something pure, something gentle, something that predates sex or sensual fulfillment. It was the simple desire to reach out and touch a loving body, to be held in loving arms. Tenderness is a deeper instinct than seduction, which is why it is so difficult to give up hope.

When we think about the present, we veer wildly between the belief in chance and the evidence in favour of determinism. When we think about the past, however, it seems obvious that everything happened in the way that it was intended.