I was born in Munich, and my father was stationed in Salzburg. For the first three years of my life, I lived in Austria back when the American Army was still in Austria. I grew up subsequently in posts around the country around veterans.
When it was reported to General Washington that the army was frequently indulging in swearing, he immediately sent out the following order: The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing - a vice little known heretofore in the American army - is growing into fashion. Let the men and officers reflect "that we can not hope for the blessing of heaven on our army if we insult it by our impiety and folly."
As a matter of fact, that was a bit of a problem for me at the beginning of my career - the problem of identification. In The Conversation I played a character who was gay, so nobody recognised me from American Graffiti. When I did Apocalypse Now, after Star Wars, I played an intelligence officer of the American army. George Lucas saw the footage I had done and didn't recognise me until halfway through the scene.
We have great information. They're going to welcome us. It'll be like the American Army going through the streets of Paris. They're sitting there ready to form a new government. The people will be so happy with their freedoms that we'll probably back ourselves out of there within a month or two.
The spring of 1942 was given over to a very impassioned, strategic debate about where we should first attack in counterpunching against the Germans and Italians. The British argued very persuasively on the part of Winston Churchill, prime minister, that this was a very green American Army, green soldiers, green commanders.
The point is, that the function of the novel seems to be changing; it has become an outpost of journalism; we read novels for information about areas of life we don't know - Nigeria, South Africa, the American army, a coal-mining village, coteries in Chelsea, etc. We read to find out what is going on. One novel in five hundred or a thousand has the quality a novel should have to make it a novel - the quality of philosophy.
The world came so close to self-destruction during my lifetime. I was serving in the American Army, in the Pacific, at the time they bombed Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, and I felt there something like a foretaste of the end of the world.
I did not destroy the 43 volumes of my diary, which report on all these events and the share I had in them; but of my own accord I handed them voluntarily to the officers of the American Army who arrested me.