Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

81

The lecture halls, the editorships, the endowed chairs that might have been occupied 50 years ago by academics and intellectuals of a more traditional stripe are now occupied--and have been for decades--by insurgents who gained sway beginning in the 1960s and who, ever since then, have been teaching a kind of literary theory variously called post-modernist or post-structuralist or deconstructionist.

What literary theorists--post-structuralists, anyway--are teaching, might be fascinating and encouraging to people who aspire to be critics, but must be just a bit unsettling to people who would like to become authors. One of the founding documents of post-structuralism is "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes!

And I am not here to explain post-structuralism, or to argue with it, but I will say that if I were a would-be author studying literature, one hundred years ago, from professors who were willing to grand that authors actually created, understood, and controlled the meaning of their own wor, I'd feel more encouraged than I would studying it from post-structuralists.

Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that I'd feel more sanguine writing certain types of fiction than others.

the mention of Barthes here is awkward because he is assuming that his audience doesn't really know anything about the work other than maybe having heard of the title, which really doesn't capture Barthes' argument that well; it's a bit of a strawman

in any case, this does sort of explain why he writes the way he does

—p.81 Gresham College Lecture (67) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

The lecture halls, the editorships, the endowed chairs that might have been occupied 50 years ago by academics and intellectuals of a more traditional stripe are now occupied--and have been for decades--by insurgents who gained sway beginning in the 1960s and who, ever since then, have been teaching a kind of literary theory variously called post-modernist or post-structuralist or deconstructionist.

What literary theorists--post-structuralists, anyway--are teaching, might be fascinating and encouraging to people who aspire to be critics, but must be just a bit unsettling to people who would like to become authors. One of the founding documents of post-structuralism is "The Death of the Author" by Roland Barthes!

And I am not here to explain post-structuralism, or to argue with it, but I will say that if I were a would-be author studying literature, one hundred years ago, from professors who were willing to grand that authors actually created, understood, and controlled the meaning of their own wor, I'd feel more encouraged than I would studying it from post-structuralists.

Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that I'd feel more sanguine writing certain types of fiction than others.

the mention of Barthes here is awkward because he is assuming that his audience doesn't really know anything about the work other than maybe having heard of the title, which really doesn't capture Barthes' argument that well; it's a bit of a strawman

in any case, this does sort of explain why he writes the way he does

—p.81 Gresham College Lecture (67) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
105

[...] modern information technology is to totalitarianism what crosses are to vampires. Skeptics might say it's just a coincidence that glasnost and perestroika came just after the photocopier, the fax, and the personal computer invaded Russia, but I thnk there's a connection, and if you read WIRED, you probably do too. After all, how could any country whose power structure was based on controlling the flow of information survive in an era of direct-dial phones and ubiquitous fax machines?

—p.105 In the Kingdom of Mao Bell (selected excerpts) (103) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] modern information technology is to totalitarianism what crosses are to vampires. Skeptics might say it's just a coincidence that glasnost and perestroika came just after the photocopier, the fax, and the personal computer invaded Russia, but I thnk there's a connection, and if you read WIRED, you probably do too. After all, how could any country whose power structure was based on controlling the flow of information survive in an era of direct-dial phones and ubiquitous fax machines?

—p.105 In the Kingdom of Mao Bell (selected excerpts) (103) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
105

I was carrying an issue of WIRED [...] In one corner were three characters in Hanzi [...] I'd heard that they formed the Chinese word for "network."

Whenever I showed the magazine to a Chinese person they were baffled. "It means network, doesn't it?" I said [...]

"Yes," they said, "this is the term used by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution for the network of spies and informers that they spread across every village and neighborhood to snare enemies of the regime."

lol

—p.105 In the Kingdom of Mao Bell (selected excerpts) (103) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

I was carrying an issue of WIRED [...] In one corner were three characters in Hanzi [...] I'd heard that they formed the Chinese word for "network."

Whenever I showed the magazine to a Chinese person they were baffled. "It means network, doesn't it?" I said [...]

"Yes," they said, "this is the term used by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution for the network of spies and informers that they spread across every village and neighborhood to snare enemies of the regime."

lol

—p.105 In the Kingdom of Mao Bell (selected excerpts) (103) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
153

[...] The business is as close to being a pure meritocracy as anything ever gets in the real world, and it's only because these guys know they are good that they have the confidence to call themselves cable trash.

about the cable-laying business

the unintentional irony of extolling the virtues of this quasi-meritocracy juxtaposed with the implication that all of its members are male

—p.153 Mother Earth, Mother Board (120) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] The business is as close to being a pure meritocracy as anything ever gets in the real world, and it's only because these guys know they are good that they have the confidence to call themselves cable trash.

about the cable-laying business

the unintentional irony of extolling the virtues of this quasi-meritocracy juxtaposed with the implication that all of its members are male

—p.153 Mother Earth, Mother Board (120) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
186

[...] In any event, this library was burned out by the Romans when they were adding Egypt to their empire. Or maybe it wasn't. It's inherently difficult to get reliable information about an event that consisted of the destruction of all recorded information.

lol

—p.186 Mother Earth, Mother Board (120) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] In any event, this library was burned out by the Romans when they were adding Egypt to their empire. Or maybe it wasn't. It's inherently difficult to get reliable information about an event that consisted of the destruction of all recorded information.

lol

—p.186 Mother Earth, Mother Board (120) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
254

Fiction that's not considered good unless it has interesting ideas in it. You can write a minimalist short story that's set in a trailer park or a Connecticut suburb that might be considered a literary masterpiece or well-regarded by literary types, but science fiction people wouldn't find it very interesting unless it had somewhere in it a cool idea that made them say, "That's interesting. I never thought of that before." If it's got that, then science fiction people will embrace it and bring it into the big-tent view of science fiction. That's really the role that science fiction has com to play in literature right now. In arty lit, it's become uncool to try to come to grips with ideas per se.

god he's such a snob about "ideas" as if technological ideas are superior to, say, ideas about what it means to be human

though he does love DFW so at least there's that

(right after this, the interviewer disagrees with him citing Don DeLillo as an example)

—p.254 The Salon Interview (238) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

Fiction that's not considered good unless it has interesting ideas in it. You can write a minimalist short story that's set in a trailer park or a Connecticut suburb that might be considered a literary masterpiece or well-regarded by literary types, but science fiction people wouldn't find it very interesting unless it had somewhere in it a cool idea that made them say, "That's interesting. I never thought of that before." If it's got that, then science fiction people will embrace it and bring it into the big-tent view of science fiction. That's really the role that science fiction has com to play in literature right now. In arty lit, it's become uncool to try to come to grips with ideas per se.

god he's such a snob about "ideas" as if technological ideas are superior to, say, ideas about what it means to be human

though he does love DFW so at least there's that

(right after this, the interviewer disagrees with him citing Don DeLillo as an example)

—p.254 The Salon Interview (238) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
261

Damasio is arguing that one of the innate faculties of our brain is that we can envision a wide range of possible scenarios and then sort through them very quickly not by logic but through a kind of process of the emotions. [...]

referring to Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist who happens to be a friend of his, who claims that what we think of as "reason" and what we think of as "emotion" are more linked than we'd think

—p.261 The Salon Interview (238) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

Damasio is arguing that one of the innate faculties of our brain is that we can envision a wide range of possible scenarios and then sort through them very quickly not by logic but through a kind of process of the emotions. [...]

referring to Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist who happens to be a friend of his, who claims that what we think of as "reason" and what we think of as "emotion" are more linked than we'd think

—p.261 The Salon Interview (238) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
284

[...] DFW could write high-powered prose better than just about anyone but he well knew the value of mixing it with informal day-to-day English, and, though he was especially good at it, it's worth keeping in mind that he was hardly the first great English writer to do so. For every Milton who kept it all on an elevated plane there was a Shakespeare who knew how to sock us in the chops with some well-timed plain talk (among reviewers with humanities degrees, it also seems compulsory to make some remark--or, just as well, to go on at some length--on "post-modernism," a topic of zero interest to most actual readers).

on the criticisms of DFW's style of mixing high-end vocab with pop culture references and slang

—p.284 Everything and More Foreword (271) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] DFW could write high-powered prose better than just about anyone but he well knew the value of mixing it with informal day-to-day English, and, though he was especially good at it, it's worth keeping in mind that he was hardly the first great English writer to do so. For every Milton who kept it all on an elevated plane there was a Shakespeare who knew how to sock us in the chops with some well-timed plain talk (among reviewers with humanities degrees, it also seems compulsory to make some remark--or, just as well, to go on at some length--on "post-modernism," a topic of zero interest to most actual readers).

on the criticisms of DFW's style of mixing high-end vocab with pop culture references and slang

—p.284 Everything and More Foreword (271) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago
285

[...] DFW's writing reflects an attitude that is lovely: a touching, and for the most part well-founded, belief that you can explain anything with words if you work hard enough and show your readers sufficient respect. [...]

As an explanation for milder allergic reactions--and, having proselytized DFW's writing to many friends over the years, I've seen a few--some readers posit (often vaguely and fretfully) that there is some archness or smart-assery in DFW's literary style. This, to me anyway, is an unsupportable conclusion, given the obvious love that DFW brings to what he's writing about, and his explicitly stated opposition to irony-as-lifestyle in his essay E Unibus Pluram. Why do people see it when it's not there? It's something to do with the fact that his conspicuous verbal talent and wordplay create a nagging sense among some readers that there's a joke here that they're not getting or that they are somehow being made fools of by an agile knave. Which DFW was not.

[...]

So in reading Everything and More, cleverness or verbal pyrotechnics or archness are not the emotional tone that comes through to me, but a kind of open-soulness and desire to connect that were touching before, and heartbreaking after, David Foster Wallace succumbed, at the age of 46 to a cruel and incurable disease. Because of this we will not have the opportunity to enjoy and profit from many other explanations that it was in his power to supply on diverse topics, lofty and mundane, and so we must content ourselves with what he did leave behind--an impossibility given the pleasure and the insight he gave us in Everything and More, and his obvious ability to have provided much more, had fortune treated him with as much consideration as he did his readers.

something that i'd like to capture in my from-first-principles posts!

also, the "in his power" could be a sly reference to his undergraduate thesis in philosophy :D

—p.285 Everything and More Foreword (271) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] DFW's writing reflects an attitude that is lovely: a touching, and for the most part well-founded, belief that you can explain anything with words if you work hard enough and show your readers sufficient respect. [...]

As an explanation for milder allergic reactions--and, having proselytized DFW's writing to many friends over the years, I've seen a few--some readers posit (often vaguely and fretfully) that there is some archness or smart-assery in DFW's literary style. This, to me anyway, is an unsupportable conclusion, given the obvious love that DFW brings to what he's writing about, and his explicitly stated opposition to irony-as-lifestyle in his essay E Unibus Pluram. Why do people see it when it's not there? It's something to do with the fact that his conspicuous verbal talent and wordplay create a nagging sense among some readers that there's a joke here that they're not getting or that they are somehow being made fools of by an agile knave. Which DFW was not.

[...]

So in reading Everything and More, cleverness or verbal pyrotechnics or archness are not the emotional tone that comes through to me, but a kind of open-soulness and desire to connect that were touching before, and heartbreaking after, David Foster Wallace succumbed, at the age of 46 to a cruel and incurable disease. Because of this we will not have the opportunity to enjoy and profit from many other explanations that it was in his power to supply on diverse topics, lofty and mundane, and so we must content ourselves with what he did leave behind--an impossibility given the pleasure and the insight he gave us in Everything and More, and his obvious ability to have provided much more, had fortune treated him with as much consideration as he did his readers.

something that i'd like to capture in my from-first-principles posts!

also, the "in his power" could be a sly reference to his undergraduate thesis in philosophy :D

—p.285 Everything and More Foreword (271) by Neal Stephenson 1 year, 5 months ago