HIGH-RISE – JG BALLARD

1. Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months. (p.7)

2. He unpacked his record collection and played himself into his new life, (…) (p.9)

3. At first Laing found something alienating about the concrete landscape of the project – an architecture designed for war, on the unconscious level if no other. (p.10)

4. His slim face topped by a centre parting – always an indication to Laing of some odd character strain – (…) (p.11)

5. It was difficult to imagine any kind of domestic reality, as if the Steeles were a part of secret agents unconvincingly trying to establish a martial role. (p.19)

6. Residents were barging in and out of each other’s apartments, shouting down the staircases like children refusing to go to bed. (p.32)

7. Uneasily, he thought: careful, Laing, or some stockbroker’s wife will unman you as expertly as she de-stones a pair of avocados. (p.33)

8. A cloudless sky, as dull as the air over a cold vat, lay across the concrete walls and embankments of the development project. (p.34)

9. Abruptly, the illusion of normalcy began to give way. (p.43)

10. (…) – in his mind’s eye he could already see a long, sixty-second zoom, slowly moving from the whole building in frame to a close up of a single apartment, one cell in this nightmare termitary. (p.52)

11. A psychotic would have a ball here, Wilder reflected. (p.52)

12. Laing smiled patiently, as if this remark in doubtful taste was all he expected of Wilder. His sharp eyes were deliberately vague, and remained closed to any probing. (p.55)

13. Restraining his temper, Wilder hunched heavily in the darkness over the table. He was tempted more than once to plunge his fist into the soup. (p.57)

14. With his powerful physique he knew that he could put to flight any three residents of the high-rise, these under-exercised and over-weight account executives and corporation lawyers egged on into this well-bred violence by their pushy wives. (p.63)

15. (…) united only by their sense of impotence, (…) (p.65)

16. The carpets in the silent corridors were thick enough to insulate them from hell itself. (p.65)

17. The erosion of everything continued, a slow psychological avalanche that was carrying them downwards. (p.74)

18. At night the dark bands stretched across the face of the high-rise like dead strata in a fading brain. (p.75)

19. Many of the cars had not been moved for weeks – windscreens broken by falling bottles, cabins filled with garbage, they sat on flattening tyres, surrounded by a sea of rubbish that spread outwards around the building like an enlarging stain. (p.76)

20. The sense of a renascent barbarism hung among the overturned chairs and straggling palms, (…) (p.79)

21. The five years of his marriage to Anne had given him a new set of prejudices. (p.80)

22. Her face was immaculately made up, but an expression of extreme hostility came through the rouge and powder, a gaze as hard as pain. (p.82)

23. In another twenty minutes he would leave the apartment and make his killing drop down the shafts of the high-rise, murder descending. (p.85)

24. In the future, violence would clearly become a valuable form of social cement. (p.92)

25. Not for the first time Laing reflected that he and his neighbours were eager for trouble as the most effective means of enlarging their sex lives. (p.97)

26. (…) – the typical assumption of a martyred older sister forced during her childhood to look after a much younger brother. (p.98)

27. (…) only three floors below with her twilight husband, (…) (p.105)

28. He needed an outbreak of violence to provide a pretext to rescue her. (p.105)

29. Together they formed the elements of a mysterious domestic universe. (p.107)

30. The sweat on Laing’s body, like the plaque that coated his teeth, surrounded him in a envelope of dirt and body odour, but the stench gave him confidence, the feeling that he had dominated the terrain with the products of his own body. (p.107)

31. ‘Perhaps they resent never having had a chance to become perverse…’ (p.109)

32. At times Royal seemed to be uncannily aware of the confused image of his natural father that hovered in the attics of Wilder’s mind, glimpsed always in the high windows of his nursery. (p.115)

33. The correct combat costume was stockbroker’s pin-stripe, briefcase and homburg. (p.118)

34. The door was open, and Wilder had the sudden notion that she was trying to hide her small body in the oven – perhaps cook herself, the ultimate sacrifice for her family. (p.118)

35. The previous night he had enjoyed pushing around a terrified woman who remonstrated with his for relieving himself on her bathroom floor. (p.120)

36. The last supermarket cashier – the wife of a cameraman on the 3rd floor – sat stoically at her check-out point, presiding like a doomed Britannia over a sea of debris. (p.121)

37. (…) they too will soon be copulating freely among the sweetmeats. (p.127)

38. Like their garbage, the excrement of the residents higher up the building had a markedly different odour. (p.131)

39. At the same time he felt that he was watching the opening act of a stylized opera or ballet, in which a restaurant is reduced to a single table and the doomed hero is taunted by a chorus of waiters, before being despatched to his death. (p.141)

40. Let the psychotics take over. (p.143)

41. Although he had forgotten the exact moment, the hands of this broken watch contained the one point of finite time left to him, like a fossil cast on to a beach, crystallizing for ever a brief sequence of events within a vanished ocean. (p.145)

42. By now what violence there was had become totally stylized, spasms of cold and random aggression concealed within a set of polite conventions. (p.146)

43. Laing pondered this – sometimes he found it difficult not to believe that they were living in a future that had already taken place, and was now exhausted. (p.147)

44. His sister’s face was as greasy as a wax lemon. (p.148)

45. If she was dying there was little he could do, apart from giving her a terminal gram of morphine and hiding her body before Steele could mutilate it. Dressing up corpses and setting them in a grotesque tableaux was a favourite pastime of the dentists. His imagination, repressed by all the years of reconstructing his patient’s mouths, came alive particularly when he was playing with the dead. The previous day Laing had blundered into an apartment and found him painting a bizarre cosmetic mask on the face of a dead account-executive, dressing the body like an over-blown drag-queen in a voluminous silk nightdress. Given time, and a continuing supply of subjects, the dentist would repopulate the entire high-rise. (p.150)

46. Her suede jacket was unbuttoned to reveal a pair of grimy breasts, but her hair was elaborately wound into a mass of rollers, as if she were preparing parts of her body for some formal gala to which the rest of herself had not been invited. (p.157)

47. The fresh smell of her body surprised him – the higher up the apartment building he moved the cleaner were the women. (p.159)

48. First she would try to kill, but failing this give him food and her body, breast-feed him back to a state of childishness and even, perhaps, feel affection for him. Then, the moment he was asleep, cut his throat. The synopsis of the ideal marriage. (p.160)

49. It was late afternoon when Wilder woke. Cold air moved through the empty room, flicking at a newspaper on the floor. The apartment was without shadows. Wilder listened to the wind moving down the ventilation shafts. The screaming of the gulls had ended, as if the birds had gone away for ever. Wilder sat on the floor in a corner of the living-room, an apex of this untenanted cube. Feeling the pressure of his back against the wall, he could almost believe that he was the first and last occupant of this apartment building. (p.164)

50. Tangled together where they had been flung, they lay about like the tenants of a crowded beach visited by a sudden holocaust. (p.170)

51. The silhouette of the large dog on the spit resembled the flying figure of a mutilated man, soaring with immense energy across the night sky, embers glowing with the fire of jewels in his skin. (p.173)

Advertisements

About this entry