Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

26

Your landlord allowed you to live on his land, to use a small portion of it to grow maize and vegetables and to graze cattle. He allowed you to raise your family there. Customarily, he and his neighbours would build a little farm school in which your children could complete their first three or four years of schooling. If somebody fell gravely ill, you got a child to run to the big house and the farmer would take the sick one to the doctor.

In exchange, he asked for your family’s labour: yours, your wife’s, your children’s. That was the deal.

True, each district had its customs, its set of unwritten rules. If your employer breached what was considered reasonable, there were ways of making his life hard. But still, the white man’s judgement counted a great deal. He could, for instance, until recent times, pull your kid out of school to work on the farm. He could restrict the number of cattle you could graze to a minimum and thus deplete your family of its assets and its wealth. For the relationship to work, something human had to pass between you and the white man, something generous.

When apartheid ended in 1994, some two million black South African labour tenants were living under the proprietorship of 50,000 or so white farmers. What was to become of their relationship now that apartheid was over? For everyone to cast ballots in the same election, each vote counting as much as the next, and then to return home to a world of conqueror and conquered – the dissonance was too jarring. The Mitchells were new, but they had stepped into the drama of an endgame.

the elision in the "something generous" line is remarkable - the implication is that the landlord has no reason to be generous, and yet it's the only way for the relationship to be humane ...

—p.26 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Your landlord allowed you to live on his land, to use a small portion of it to grow maize and vegetables and to graze cattle. He allowed you to raise your family there. Customarily, he and his neighbours would build a little farm school in which your children could complete their first three or four years of schooling. If somebody fell gravely ill, you got a child to run to the big house and the farmer would take the sick one to the doctor.

In exchange, he asked for your family’s labour: yours, your wife’s, your children’s. That was the deal.

True, each district had its customs, its set of unwritten rules. If your employer breached what was considered reasonable, there were ways of making his life hard. But still, the white man’s judgement counted a great deal. He could, for instance, until recent times, pull your kid out of school to work on the farm. He could restrict the number of cattle you could graze to a minimum and thus deplete your family of its assets and its wealth. For the relationship to work, something human had to pass between you and the white man, something generous.

When apartheid ended in 1994, some two million black South African labour tenants were living under the proprietorship of 50,000 or so white farmers. What was to become of their relationship now that apartheid was over? For everyone to cast ballots in the same election, each vote counting as much as the next, and then to return home to a world of conqueror and conquered – the dissonance was too jarring. The Mitchells were new, but they had stepped into the drama of an endgame.

the elision in the "something generous" line is remarkable - the implication is that the landlord has no reason to be generous, and yet it's the only way for the relationship to be humane ...

—p.26 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
29

It was the darkness inside him that allowed me into his story. He could not blow his son’s killers to pieces. And the police had arrested nobody. When I came along he saw an opportunity. He would expose a little of himself to me and I would expose his enemy to the world. ‘I have done no wrong,’ he told me several times, ‘so even if you are working for the CIA, I have nothing to worry about.’

He had a lot to worry about. To climb out of the ditch of vengeance into which he had fallen, to gain enough height to see the tale I was bound to tell, was an imaginative journey he could not take. These notes I jotted down – about his living room, his shotgun, about the absence of his wife – were to be enlisted into the story of his terrible relationship with his tenants. However carefully I might write, however alive I might be to historical forces beyond his control, the fact remains that in putting Arthur Mitchell on the page I was asking whether he was responsible for his son’s death.

—p.29 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

It was the darkness inside him that allowed me into his story. He could not blow his son’s killers to pieces. And the police had arrested nobody. When I came along he saw an opportunity. He would expose a little of himself to me and I would expose his enemy to the world. ‘I have done no wrong,’ he told me several times, ‘so even if you are working for the CIA, I have nothing to worry about.’

He had a lot to worry about. To climb out of the ditch of vengeance into which he had fallen, to gain enough height to see the tale I was bound to tell, was an imaginative journey he could not take. These notes I jotted down – about his living room, his shotgun, about the absence of his wife – were to be enlisted into the story of his terrible relationship with his tenants. However carefully I might write, however alive I might be to historical forces beyond his control, the fact remains that in putting Arthur Mitchell on the page I was asking whether he was responsible for his son’s death.

—p.29 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
29

Mitchell started from the beginning. He spoke of the building rule and of the collection of names. He said, too, that each family was restricted to keeping five head of cattle.

Mashabana rose once more and said that he did not accept Mitchell’s rules. He would keep as many cattle as he pleased. From the Cube family came murmurs of encouragement. There and then, through the police interpreter, Mitchell told Mashabana to pack his bags and leave. If he remained any longer on this land where he had been born, Mitchell told him, he would be trespassing.

Mashabana turned and walked away while the others remained grim and silent. Three weeks later, the young blond man who had witnessed these scenes at his father’s side was dead.

this poor soul really believes in the inalienability of property rights huh

—p.29 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Mitchell started from the beginning. He spoke of the building rule and of the collection of names. He said, too, that each family was restricted to keeping five head of cattle.

Mashabana rose once more and said that he did not accept Mitchell’s rules. He would keep as many cattle as he pleased. From the Cube family came murmurs of encouragement. There and then, through the police interpreter, Mitchell told Mashabana to pack his bags and leave. If he remained any longer on this land where he had been born, Mitchell told him, he would be trespassing.

Mashabana turned and walked away while the others remained grim and silent. Three weeks later, the young blond man who had witnessed these scenes at his father’s side was dead.

this poor soul really believes in the inalienability of property rights huh

—p.29 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
31

In the mid-1990s, South Africa’s new democratically elected parliament passed several statutes that offered black people on white-owned farmland security of tenure. In response, many white farmers began destroying the fixed structures on their land.

‘When an old man dies,’ the owner of a large commercial farm about fifty kilometres from Normandale told me, ‘we bust up his house so that nobody else can move in. His children must live elsewhere. If they make a claim on the land, we go to court to contest it and we usually win because we can work the law better than they can. A generation from now, there will be no black people on the land. We are mechanizing. What labour we need we will employ by the day; it is easy to recruit from the slums.’

In the last decade of the twentieth century, almost a million black South Africans left their homes on white-owned land. They filled up the rural slums and shacklands from which farmers now recruited their labour.

jeez. chilling

—p.31 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

In the mid-1990s, South Africa’s new democratically elected parliament passed several statutes that offered black people on white-owned farmland security of tenure. In response, many white farmers began destroying the fixed structures on their land.

‘When an old man dies,’ the owner of a large commercial farm about fifty kilometres from Normandale told me, ‘we bust up his house so that nobody else can move in. His children must live elsewhere. If they make a claim on the land, we go to court to contest it and we usually win because we can work the law better than they can. A generation from now, there will be no black people on the land. We are mechanizing. What labour we need we will employ by the day; it is easy to recruit from the slums.’

In the last decade of the twentieth century, almost a million black South Africans left their homes on white-owned land. They filled up the rural slums and shacklands from which farmers now recruited their labour.

jeez. chilling

—p.31 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
33

Mitchell bought Normandale because it was wedged between his vegetable farm and his cattle farm and it was no longer controlled by a white proprietor. He told me that he bought the place in order to keep the tenants confined to Langeni and to prevent new black families from moving onto the land.

‘If they and their people are free to roam all over Normandale, farming will become impossible for me,’ he said. ‘Their cattle will mix with mine and bring diseases. The land will soon be teeming with strangers come to live here; they will break the fences and steal from me. I cannot afford to have a squatter camp on my doorstep.’

whew boy

—p.33 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Mitchell bought Normandale because it was wedged between his vegetable farm and his cattle farm and it was no longer controlled by a white proprietor. He told me that he bought the place in order to keep the tenants confined to Langeni and to prevent new black families from moving onto the land.

‘If they and their people are free to roam all over Normandale, farming will become impossible for me,’ he said. ‘Their cattle will mix with mine and bring diseases. The land will soon be teeming with strangers come to live here; they will break the fences and steal from me. I cannot afford to have a squatter camp on my doorstep.’

whew boy

—p.33 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
34

‘He was trying to force them off the land,’ the old man told me. ‘If they cannot collect firewood from Normandale, they have no means to light their stoves. If they cannot walk through his land to the river, they have no access to water. They have been on that land five generations. They have nowhere else to go.’

‘What did you make of the Cubes?’ I asked the old man. ‘Were they good people? Bad people?’

‘Just people,’ he replied. ‘Ordinary folk.’

‘They gunned down a young man in cold blood,’ I said. ‘Do ordinary folk do that?’

I had been working with the old man for several months and had grown to like him very much. He had a gentle way about him; he was gracious and kind. But now he looked at me coldly, with the unpleasant, estranged look a black person sometimes gives a white person.

‘If I had been living there five generations,’ he said, ‘and a new landlord told me in broken Zulu that he wanted to interview my family before I could build a hut on my own land, I would also have killed him.’

fuck this kills me

—p.34 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

‘He was trying to force them off the land,’ the old man told me. ‘If they cannot collect firewood from Normandale, they have no means to light their stoves. If they cannot walk through his land to the river, they have no access to water. They have been on that land five generations. They have nowhere else to go.’

‘What did you make of the Cubes?’ I asked the old man. ‘Were they good people? Bad people?’

‘Just people,’ he replied. ‘Ordinary folk.’

‘They gunned down a young man in cold blood,’ I said. ‘Do ordinary folk do that?’

I had been working with the old man for several months and had grown to like him very much. He had a gentle way about him; he was gracious and kind. But now he looked at me coldly, with the unpleasant, estranged look a black person sometimes gives a white person.

‘If I had been living there five generations,’ he said, ‘and a new landlord told me in broken Zulu that he wanted to interview my family before I could build a hut on my own land, I would also have killed him.’

fuck this kills me

—p.34 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
37

I asked after Arthur Mitchell.

‘He and his wife live in Perth,’ I was told. ‘With their daughters.’

‘How are they?’ I asked.

A long silence.

‘Nobody here has been in touch with them for years.’

The silence continued another moment or two, the distance between these people and Arthur Mitchell filling the room.

‘Who farms there now?’ I asked.

—p.37 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I asked after Arthur Mitchell.

‘He and his wife live in Perth,’ I was told. ‘With their daughters.’

‘How are they?’ I asked.

A long silence.

‘Nobody here has been in touch with them for years.’

The silence continued another moment or two, the distance between these people and Arthur Mitchell filling the room.

‘Who farms there now?’ I asked.

—p.37 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
41

For the following three hours, he told his story, a string of minutely remembered incidents strung across the length of a century, each about a white landlord, and what he had and had not done. All of Normandale’s landlords had been cruel, he said. Mr Player had paid wages in kind, not in money, and so the family could buy nothing. They built their home from the clay in the river and they paid for the tin roof with their children’s labour.

Mr Steyn was better, Baba Cube said. He paid some of the wages in money. But when he bought Normandale in 1969 he pulled Baba Cube out of school to work on the farm. Had the Cubes resisted, Baba Cube said, Steyn would have evicted them.

‘I do not read and write,’ Baba Cube said. ‘It is the twenty-first century. What can you do in this century if you cannot read and write?’

But the worst landlord of all was the last, Mr Mitchell.

‘His aim was to chase us away,’ Baba Cube said. ‘To abide by his rules was to have no water, no firewood, to watch your cattle being taken off to the pound. He wanted us gone.’

christ

—p.41 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago

For the following three hours, he told his story, a string of minutely remembered incidents strung across the length of a century, each about a white landlord, and what he had and had not done. All of Normandale’s landlords had been cruel, he said. Mr Player had paid wages in kind, not in money, and so the family could buy nothing. They built their home from the clay in the river and they paid for the tin roof with their children’s labour.

Mr Steyn was better, Baba Cube said. He paid some of the wages in money. But when he bought Normandale in 1969 he pulled Baba Cube out of school to work on the farm. Had the Cubes resisted, Baba Cube said, Steyn would have evicted them.

‘I do not read and write,’ Baba Cube said. ‘It is the twenty-first century. What can you do in this century if you cannot read and write?’

But the worst landlord of all was the last, Mr Mitchell.

‘His aim was to chase us away,’ Baba Cube said. ‘To abide by his rules was to have no water, no firewood, to watch your cattle being taken off to the pound. He wanted us gone.’

christ

—p.41 The Defeated (23) by Jonny Steinberg 11 months, 3 weeks ago
47

It never gets dark in Times Square. Sometimes I’d wake at two or three or four and watch waves of neon pass through my room. During these unwanted apertures of the night, I’d get out of bed and yank the useless curtain open. Outside, there was a Jumbotron, a giant electronic screen cycling perpetually through six or seven ads. One had gunfire, and one expelled a cold blue pulse of light, insistent as a metronome. Sometimes I’d count windows and sometimes I’d count buildings, though I never reached the end of either.

intro paragraph. i like

—p.47 The Magic Box (45) by Olivia Laing 11 months, 3 weeks ago

It never gets dark in Times Square. Sometimes I’d wake at two or three or four and watch waves of neon pass through my room. During these unwanted apertures of the night, I’d get out of bed and yank the useless curtain open. Outside, there was a Jumbotron, a giant electronic screen cycling perpetually through six or seven ads. One had gunfire, and one expelled a cold blue pulse of light, insistent as a metronome. Sometimes I’d count windows and sometimes I’d count buildings, though I never reached the end of either.

intro paragraph. i like

—p.47 The Magic Box (45) by Olivia Laing 11 months, 3 weeks ago
50

In the mid-1960s all three kids either ran away to or were dumped on their mother, who was living in Manhattan, in a tiny apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Dolores was emotionally warmer than her former husband, but she was also erratic and struggled with the burden of raising her by now troubled children. At fifteen, David was turning ten-dollar tricks in Times Square, and by seventeen had left home entirely. He almost starved while living on the street. Later he’d remember his gums bleeding each time he smoked a cigarette. He never got enough sleep, either. Sometimes he’d spend the night on the roof of buildings, curled against the heating vents, and in the morning would wake covered in soot, his eyes and mouth and nose filled with a choking black dust.

—p.50 The Magic Box (45) by Olivia Laing 11 months, 3 weeks ago

In the mid-1960s all three kids either ran away to or were dumped on their mother, who was living in Manhattan, in a tiny apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Dolores was emotionally warmer than her former husband, but she was also erratic and struggled with the burden of raising her by now troubled children. At fifteen, David was turning ten-dollar tricks in Times Square, and by seventeen had left home entirely. He almost starved while living on the street. Later he’d remember his gums bleeding each time he smoked a cigarette. He never got enough sleep, either. Sometimes he’d spend the night on the roof of buildings, curled against the heating vents, and in the morning would wake covered in soot, his eyes and mouth and nose filled with a choking black dust.

—p.50 The Magic Box (45) by Olivia Laing 11 months, 3 weeks ago