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).

6

It’s difficult to live here without developing an existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still. I spent most of my twenties in South Chicago, in an apartment across from a hellscape of coal-burning plants that ran on grandfather clauses and churned out smoke blacker than the night sky. To live there during the digital revolution was like existing in an anachronism. When I opened my windows in summer, soot blew in with the breeze; I swept piles of it off my floor, which left my hands blackened like a scullery maid’s. [...]

—p.6 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It’s difficult to live here without developing an existential dizziness, a sense that the rest of the world is moving while you remain still. I spent most of my twenties in South Chicago, in an apartment across from a hellscape of coal-burning plants that ran on grandfather clauses and churned out smoke blacker than the night sky. To live there during the digital revolution was like existing in an anachronism. When I opened my windows in summer, soot blew in with the breeze; I swept piles of it off my floor, which left my hands blackened like a scullery maid’s. [...]

—p.6 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
9

On Saturday nights, the camp hosts a concert, and my husband and I occasionally walk down to the Tabernacle to listen to whatever band has been bused in from Nashville. Neither of us are believers, but we enjoy the music. The bands favor gospel standards, a blend of highlands ballads and Gaither-style revivalism. The older generation here includes a contingent of retired missionaries. Many of them are widows, women who spent their youth carrying the gospel to the Philippines or the interior of Ecuador, and after the service, they smile faintly at me as they pass by our pew, perhaps sensing a family resemblance. Occasionally, one of them will grip my forearm and say, “Tell me who you are.” The response to this question is “I’m Colleen’s daughter.” Or, if that fails to register: “I’m Paul and Marilyn’s granddaughter.” It is unnerving to identify oneself in this way. My husband once noted that it harkens back to the origins of surnames, to the clans of feudal times who identified villagers by patronymic epithets. John’s son became Johnson, et cetera. To do so now is to see all the things that constitute a modern identity—all your quirks and accomplishments—rendered obsolete.

—p.9 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

On Saturday nights, the camp hosts a concert, and my husband and I occasionally walk down to the Tabernacle to listen to whatever band has been bused in from Nashville. Neither of us are believers, but we enjoy the music. The bands favor gospel standards, a blend of highlands ballads and Gaither-style revivalism. The older generation here includes a contingent of retired missionaries. Many of them are widows, women who spent their youth carrying the gospel to the Philippines or the interior of Ecuador, and after the service, they smile faintly at me as they pass by our pew, perhaps sensing a family resemblance. Occasionally, one of them will grip my forearm and say, “Tell me who you are.” The response to this question is “I’m Colleen’s daughter.” Or, if that fails to register: “I’m Paul and Marilyn’s granddaughter.” It is unnerving to identify oneself in this way. My husband once noted that it harkens back to the origins of surnames, to the clans of feudal times who identified villagers by patronymic epithets. John’s son became Johnson, et cetera. To do so now is to see all the things that constitute a modern identity—all your quirks and accomplishments—rendered obsolete.

—p.9 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
10

Many of our friends who grew up here now live in Brooklyn, where they are at work on “book-length narratives.” Another contingent has moved to the Bay Area and made a fortune there. Every year or so, these West Coasters travel back to Michigan and call us up for dinner or drinks, occasions they use to educate us on the inner workings of the tech industry. They refer to the companies they work for in the first person plural, a habit of the rest of the country I have yet to acculturate to. Occasionally, they lapse into the utopian, speaking of robotics ordinances and brain-computer interfaces and the mystical, labyrinthine channels of capital, conveying it all with the fervency of pioneers on a civilizing mission. Being lectured quickly becomes dull, and so my husband and I, to amuse ourselves, will sometimes play the rube: “So what, exactly, is a venture capitalist?” we’ll say. Or “Gosh, it sounds like science fiction.” I suppose we could tell them the truth—that nothing they’re proclaiming is news; that the boom and bustle of the coastal cities, like the smoke from those California wildfires, liberally wafts over the rest of the country. But that seems a bit rude. We are, after all, midwesterners.

—p.10 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Many of our friends who grew up here now live in Brooklyn, where they are at work on “book-length narratives.” Another contingent has moved to the Bay Area and made a fortune there. Every year or so, these West Coasters travel back to Michigan and call us up for dinner or drinks, occasions they use to educate us on the inner workings of the tech industry. They refer to the companies they work for in the first person plural, a habit of the rest of the country I have yet to acculturate to. Occasionally, they lapse into the utopian, speaking of robotics ordinances and brain-computer interfaces and the mystical, labyrinthine channels of capital, conveying it all with the fervency of pioneers on a civilizing mission. Being lectured quickly becomes dull, and so my husband and I, to amuse ourselves, will sometimes play the rube: “So what, exactly, is a venture capitalist?” we’ll say. Or “Gosh, it sounds like science fiction.” I suppose we could tell them the truth—that nothing they’re proclaiming is news; that the boom and bustle of the coastal cities, like the smoke from those California wildfires, liberally wafts over the rest of the country. But that seems a bit rude. We are, after all, midwesterners.

—p.10 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
15

Madison was utopia for a certain kind of midwesterner: the Baptist boy who grew up reading Wittgenstein, the farm lass who secretly dreamed about the girl next door. It should have been such a place for me as well. Instead, I came to find the live bluegrass outside the co-op insufferable. I developed a physical allergy to NPR. [...]

Over time, I came to dread the parties and potlucks. Most of the people we knew had spent time on the coasts, or had come from there, or were frequently traveling from one to the other, and the conversation was always about what was happening elsewhere: what people were listening to in Williamsburg, or what everyone was wearing at Coachella. A sizeable portion of the evening was devoted to the plots of premium TV dramas. Occasionally, there were long arguments about actual ideas, but they always crumbled into semantics. “What do you mean by duty?” someone would say. Or: “It all depends on your definition of morality”. At the end of these nights, I would get into the car with the first throb of a migraine, saying that we didn’t have any business discussing anything until we could, all of us, articulate a coherent ideology. It seemed to me then that we suffered from the fundamental delusion that we had elevated ourselves above the rubble of hinterland ignorance—that fair trade coffee and Orange You Glad It’s Vegan? cake had somehow redeemed us of our sins. All of us had, like the man in the parable, built our houses on sand.

—p.15 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Madison was utopia for a certain kind of midwesterner: the Baptist boy who grew up reading Wittgenstein, the farm lass who secretly dreamed about the girl next door. It should have been such a place for me as well. Instead, I came to find the live bluegrass outside the co-op insufferable. I developed a physical allergy to NPR. [...]

Over time, I came to dread the parties and potlucks. Most of the people we knew had spent time on the coasts, or had come from there, or were frequently traveling from one to the other, and the conversation was always about what was happening elsewhere: what people were listening to in Williamsburg, or what everyone was wearing at Coachella. A sizeable portion of the evening was devoted to the plots of premium TV dramas. Occasionally, there were long arguments about actual ideas, but they always crumbled into semantics. “What do you mean by duty?” someone would say. Or: “It all depends on your definition of morality”. At the end of these nights, I would get into the car with the first throb of a migraine, saying that we didn’t have any business discussing anything until we could, all of us, articulate a coherent ideology. It seemed to me then that we suffered from the fundamental delusion that we had elevated ourselves above the rubble of hinterland ignorance—that fair trade coffee and Orange You Glad It’s Vegan? cake had somehow redeemed us of our sins. All of us had, like the man in the parable, built our houses on sand.

—p.15 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
17

[...] There was something beautiful in how the pastor laid his hands over the congregant’s face, covering her hand with his own, something beautiful in the bewildered look on the congregant’s face when she emerged from the water. Although I no longer espouse this faith, it’s hard to deny the mark it has left on me. It is a conviction that lies beneath the doctrine and theology, a kind of bone-marrow knowledge that the Lord is coming; that he has always been coming, which is the same as saying that he will never come; that each of us must find a way to live with this absence and our own, earthly limitations.

—p.17 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] There was something beautiful in how the pastor laid his hands over the congregant’s face, covering her hand with his own, something beautiful in the bewildered look on the congregant’s face when she emerged from the water. Although I no longer espouse this faith, it’s hard to deny the mark it has left on me. It is a conviction that lies beneath the doctrine and theology, a kind of bone-marrow knowledge that the Lord is coming; that he has always been coming, which is the same as saying that he will never come; that each of us must find a way to live with this absence and our own, earthly limitations.

—p.17 Dispatch from Flyover Country (3) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
53

[...] Like the thirtysomethings of that film, the residents of Tarbox are too old by the time the country splits apart to join the psychedelic bandwagon, too settled to develop anything like a political imagination. Instead, they use sex as a kind of spiritual salve, a way of keeping their fear of death at bay. “The book is, of course, not about sex as such,” Updike said in one interview. “It’s about sex as the emergent religion, as the only thing left.”

of Updike's Couples

—p.53 On Reading Updike (48) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] Like the thirtysomethings of that film, the residents of Tarbox are too old by the time the country splits apart to join the psychedelic bandwagon, too settled to develop anything like a political imagination. Instead, they use sex as a kind of spiritual salve, a way of keeping their fear of death at bay. “The book is, of course, not about sex as such,” Updike said in one interview. “It’s about sex as the emergent religion, as the only thing left.”

of Updike's Couples

—p.53 On Reading Updike (48) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
65

One of the writers remarks that the best advice he ever got about character development was to ask oneself: What is the lie this character harbors about himself? “All of us have a lie that we hinge our entire lives on,” he says.

[...]

There is a long moment of silence, and then the woman who has been diagnosed with cancer speaks. “You probably know what it is, though,” she says to the other woman. Then she gestures broadly, including the entire table. “All of us probably know, implicitly, what our lie is. Just think about it.”

—p.65 Contemporaries (57) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

One of the writers remarks that the best advice he ever got about character development was to ask oneself: What is the lie this character harbors about himself? “All of us have a lie that we hinge our entire lives on,” he says.

[...]

There is a long moment of silence, and then the woman who has been diagnosed with cancer speaks. “You probably know what it is, though,” she says to the other woman. Then she gestures broadly, including the entire table. “All of us probably know, implicitly, what our lie is. Just think about it.”

—p.65 Contemporaries (57) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
110

It is difficult, in a place like Detroit, to avoid thinking about the past. The city is still associated with an industry that peaked in the middle of the last century and has since succumbed to all the familiar culprits of urban decline—globalization, automation, disinvestment, and a host of racist public policies. Perhaps it was destined from the start to collapse beneath the weight of the metaphorical import placed on its shoulders. During the Depression and throughout the years leading up to World War II, the city stood as a symbol of national strength, a thrumming life force pumping blood into the economy—associations that persist in the city’s epithets (the “arsenal of democracy”) and its industries’ ad campaigns (the “Heartbeat of America”). For decades, the auto industry boasted the highest-paid blue-collar jobs in America, making Detroit a magnet for working people from all over the country.

Among the first waves of migrants was my great-grandfather, who in the twenties abandoned his family’s tobacco farm in southern Kentucky to build Model Ts for the wage of five dollars a day. His son, my grandfather, grew up on Warren Avenue during the Depression, shoveling coal for nickels to help with his family’s expenses. These men, father and son, remained lucid and hale well into my adolescence. Between the two of them, plus a coterie of uncles who had given their best years to Chrysler, my childhood was steeped in nostalgia for the city’s glory years. Hardly a family holiday went by when my siblings and I were not made to remain at the table after the food had been cleared to listen to their recollections of the city. “They used to call us the Paris of the Midwest,” my grandfather would say. These were men who spoke of Henry Ford as a demigod, and for whom work, with all its attendant Protestant virtues, was a kind of religion. Their stories expressed a longing for a time when the country still relied on the brawn of men like themselves who had, despite coming from humble origins and not going to college, managed to lift their families into the middle class. But they were also meant for us children, the beneficiaries of all that hard work, whom they perhaps feared were growing up a little too comfortably in suburban exile.

—p.110 Midwestworld (106) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It is difficult, in a place like Detroit, to avoid thinking about the past. The city is still associated with an industry that peaked in the middle of the last century and has since succumbed to all the familiar culprits of urban decline—globalization, automation, disinvestment, and a host of racist public policies. Perhaps it was destined from the start to collapse beneath the weight of the metaphorical import placed on its shoulders. During the Depression and throughout the years leading up to World War II, the city stood as a symbol of national strength, a thrumming life force pumping blood into the economy—associations that persist in the city’s epithets (the “arsenal of democracy”) and its industries’ ad campaigns (the “Heartbeat of America”). For decades, the auto industry boasted the highest-paid blue-collar jobs in America, making Detroit a magnet for working people from all over the country.

Among the first waves of migrants was my great-grandfather, who in the twenties abandoned his family’s tobacco farm in southern Kentucky to build Model Ts for the wage of five dollars a day. His son, my grandfather, grew up on Warren Avenue during the Depression, shoveling coal for nickels to help with his family’s expenses. These men, father and son, remained lucid and hale well into my adolescence. Between the two of them, plus a coterie of uncles who had given their best years to Chrysler, my childhood was steeped in nostalgia for the city’s glory years. Hardly a family holiday went by when my siblings and I were not made to remain at the table after the food had been cleared to listen to their recollections of the city. “They used to call us the Paris of the Midwest,” my grandfather would say. These were men who spoke of Henry Ford as a demigod, and for whom work, with all its attendant Protestant virtues, was a kind of religion. Their stories expressed a longing for a time when the country still relied on the brawn of men like themselves who had, despite coming from humble origins and not going to college, managed to lift their families into the middle class. But they were also meant for us children, the beneficiaries of all that hard work, whom they perhaps feared were growing up a little too comfortably in suburban exile.

—p.110 Midwestworld (106) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
115

Here in Michigan, it’s hard not to sense that something fundamental shifted, or perhaps snapped, during the recession—not necessarily at its nadir, but during the years that followed, when the news touted the “recovery” of the market while people throughout the state continued to lose their homes and their jobs. Any lingering belief that Detroit stood as a symbol of the nation—that its prosperity and the rest of the country’s were intertwined—was shattered in 2013 when the city declared bankruptcy the same week the Dow Jones and the S&P closed at record highs. The city had been through hard times before; but if the crisis had a particularly demoralizing effect this time around it was because it undermined, in a way that even the Great Depression had not, the populist myths that have long animated the region. There is an uneasiness here, a needling suspicion that the fruits of the economy do not correspond to the exertions of the nation’s labor force; that prosperity, once envisioned by Diego Rivera as an endless collaborative assembly line stretching into the future, is now a closed loop that ordinary people are locked out of. From such desperation, the natural tendency to reflect can evolve into a misguided effort to restore.

—p.115 Midwestworld (106) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Here in Michigan, it’s hard not to sense that something fundamental shifted, or perhaps snapped, during the recession—not necessarily at its nadir, but during the years that followed, when the news touted the “recovery” of the market while people throughout the state continued to lose their homes and their jobs. Any lingering belief that Detroit stood as a symbol of the nation—that its prosperity and the rest of the country’s were intertwined—was shattered in 2013 when the city declared bankruptcy the same week the Dow Jones and the S&P closed at record highs. The city had been through hard times before; but if the crisis had a particularly demoralizing effect this time around it was because it undermined, in a way that even the Great Depression had not, the populist myths that have long animated the region. There is an uneasiness here, a needling suspicion that the fruits of the economy do not correspond to the exertions of the nation’s labor force; that prosperity, once envisioned by Diego Rivera as an endless collaborative assembly line stretching into the future, is now a closed loop that ordinary people are locked out of. From such desperation, the natural tendency to reflect can evolve into a misguided effort to restore.

—p.115 Midwestworld (106) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago
119

All writers have a chronic foible, a problem that tends to surface, again and again, in criticism of their work. Ever since I began writing, the adjective most frequently ascribed to my prose has been “subtle.” When I wrote fiction, it was employed primarily as a compliment, though I suppose even then the term was double-edged. “One of the strengths of your writing is its subtlety.” Thus began so many workshop transitions from praise to critique that hinged on the doubtful merit of that gift. My classmates were vocal about the many problems lurking in my stories: the character’s motivation was not clear; the backstory should be addressed, not alluded to; the conclusion was too cryptic. At the time, I dismissed this as obtuseness. People wanted things spelled out. They weren’t reading closely. But when I go back now and read those stories, it’s clear that they were right. The clues I thought I had left for the reader are mere shadows, ghosts. There is almost nothing to hang on to.

There comes a point when a reproach is repeated so often it seems less a critique of your craft than an indictment of your character. For a long time, I worried what it said about me that my writing was subtle. I believed I was creating intellectual tension; I’d wanted to seduce the reader. But readers saw these tactics as cagey, as though I were ashamed of my ideas and trying to hide them behind a veil. For a while, everything I wrote seemed to hazard misinterpretation, inviting accusations of chicanery, purposelessness, or bad faith.

—p.119 On Subtlety (118) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago

All writers have a chronic foible, a problem that tends to surface, again and again, in criticism of their work. Ever since I began writing, the adjective most frequently ascribed to my prose has been “subtle.” When I wrote fiction, it was employed primarily as a compliment, though I suppose even then the term was double-edged. “One of the strengths of your writing is its subtlety.” Thus began so many workshop transitions from praise to critique that hinged on the doubtful merit of that gift. My classmates were vocal about the many problems lurking in my stories: the character’s motivation was not clear; the backstory should be addressed, not alluded to; the conclusion was too cryptic. At the time, I dismissed this as obtuseness. People wanted things spelled out. They weren’t reading closely. But when I go back now and read those stories, it’s clear that they were right. The clues I thought I had left for the reader are mere shadows, ghosts. There is almost nothing to hang on to.

There comes a point when a reproach is repeated so often it seems less a critique of your craft than an indictment of your character. For a long time, I worried what it said about me that my writing was subtle. I believed I was creating intellectual tension; I’d wanted to seduce the reader. But readers saw these tactics as cagey, as though I were ashamed of my ideas and trying to hide them behind a veil. For a while, everything I wrote seemed to hazard misinterpretation, inviting accusations of chicanery, purposelessness, or bad faith.

—p.119 On Subtlety (118) by Meghan O'Gieblyn 7 months, 2 weeks ago