- As a teenager you are at the last stage in your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.
- And I decided that if motherhood turned a "young American beauty" into that unhappy woman, then motherhood wasn't for me, either. That youthful, emotional decision (ill-formed and made for the wrong reasons) kept me from too much early sexual experimentation, and probably turned me into a bit of a tease. I'd "neck" but only go so far, because . . . well, I because I was going to be a writer, "free and unhampered." At the very least. I wasn't going to get pregnant in my teens.
- I'd always, you see, even in my early teens, had these problems — problems of suddenly waking up in the middle of the night and having this horrifying vision that life is completely meaningless. You know — just thinking about something like the depths of space, and realizing it's got to come to an end somewhere, but apparently it doesn't, and then suddenly getting this terrible feeling that maybe life is a total delusion. G. K. Chesterton once said that in his teens he saw hell, and I really think I did too. I went through extreme depressions, glooms. There was one occasion on which I decided actually to commit suicide. I'd got into this state — I was working as a lab assistant at the school, and what would happen was that I'd make tremendous efforts to push myself up to a level of optimism. I'd do it in the evenings by reading poetry, thinking, writing in my journals, then I'd go back to the school the next day and blaaahhh, right down to the bottom again. This was the feeling of The Mind Parasites — there's something that waits until you've got lots of energy and just sucks you dry like a vampire. This sudden feeling that God was making fun of me made me feel one day, "For God's sake, let's not have any more of this nonsense. I'm damned if I'll be played about with like this. Let me kill myself." And immediately I felt this, I felt a curious sense of inner strength. So I went off to night school quite determined that what I was going to do was to take down the bottle of potassium cyanide from the reagent shelves and drink it. I knew that cyanide burns a hole in the bottom of the stomach and kills you within seconds. Well, I went into the classroom quite determined. There was a group gathered around the professor at the desk. I went over to the reagent shelves, I took down the bottle of potassium cyanide, I uncorked it, and as I started raising this to my lips I suddenly had an extremely clear vision of myself in a few seconds' time with an agonizing pain in the pit of my stomach, and at the same time I suddenly turned into two people. I don't mean that literally, but I mean that there was I, and there beside me was this silly, bloody little idiot called Colin Wilson who was in a state of self-pity and about to kill himself, and I didn't give a damn whether the fool killed himself or not. The trouble was, if he killed himself he'd kill me too. And quite suddenly a terrific sense of overwhelming happiness came over me. I corked up the bottle, put it on the shelf, and for the next few days was in total control of my emotions and everything else. I realized suddenly that you can achieve these states of control, provided that you put yourself in a crisis situation. And that's why throughout The Outsider I keep saying the outsider's salvation lies in extremes.
- When I was in my teens, I invented a term to describe them. I call it 'holiday consciousness' . . . because I often experienced this sense of optimism and wide-awakeness when setting out on a journey or a holiday. It was always the feeling that the world is self-evidently complex and beautiful, and that life is so obviously good that man's boredom and defeat is an absurdity . . . And then I used to ask: Why do mean forget this so easily? And the answer seemed obvious: because the human will is so flabby and weak. Instead of being self-controlled, self-driven creatures, most men are little more than leaves on a stream, they drift along hoping for the best. I once wrote that men are like grandfather clocks driven by watchsprings.