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).

21

[...] As Roland Barthes rightly says in his Camera Lucida, a book with which Austerlitz is in deep dialogue, photographs shock us because they so finally represent what has been. We look at most old photographs, and we think: 'That person is going to die, and is in fact now dead.' Barthes calls photographers 'agents of death', because they freeze the subject and the moment into finitude. [...]

—p.21 W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz (16) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] As Roland Barthes rightly says in his Camera Lucida, a book with which Austerlitz is in deep dialogue, photographs shock us because they so finally represent what has been. We look at most old photographs, and we think: 'That person is going to die, and is in fact now dead.' Barthes calls photographers 'agents of death', because they freeze the subject and the moment into finitude. [...]

—p.21 W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz (16) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
29

Works of fantasy or science fiction that also succeed in literary terms are hard to find, and are rightly to be treasured [...] And just as one is triumphantly sizing up this thin elite, one thinks correctively of that great fantasist Kafka, or even of Beckett, two writers who impress can be felt, perhaps surprisingly, on Kazuo Ishiugro's novel Never Let Me Go. And how about Borges, who so admired Wells? Or Gogol's 'The Nose'? Or The Double? Or Lord of the Flies? A genre that must make room for Kafka and Beckett and Dostoevsky is perhaps no longer a genre but merely a definition of writing successfully; in particular, a way of combining the fantastic and the realistic so that we can no longer separate them, and of making allegory earn its keep by becoming indistinguishable from narration itself.

love this

—p.29 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

Works of fantasy or science fiction that also succeed in literary terms are hard to find, and are rightly to be treasured [...] And just as one is triumphantly sizing up this thin elite, one thinks correctively of that great fantasist Kafka, or even of Beckett, two writers who impress can be felt, perhaps surprisingly, on Kazuo Ishiugro's novel Never Let Me Go. And how about Borges, who so admired Wells? Or Gogol's 'The Nose'? Or The Double? Or Lord of the Flies? A genre that must make room for Kafka and Beckett and Dostoevsky is perhaps no longer a genre but merely a definition of writing successfully; in particular, a way of combining the fantastic and the realistic so that we can no longer separate them, and of making allegory earn its keep by becoming indistinguishable from narration itself.

love this

—p.29 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
31

[...] her habit of addressing the reader as if the reader were the same as her--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--has a fragile pathos to it. She wants to be one of us, and in some way she assumes she is. The very dullness of these children, their lack of rebelliousness, even incuriousness, is what grounds the book's fantasy. They seem never to want to run away from their school, to throw over the commanded lives they must eventually lead. Full comprehension of who they are and why they were created makes them sad, but only resignedly so. This is the only reality they have ever known, and they are indeed creatures of habit. Ishiguro shakes this banality every so often, as the terribleness of what has been done emerges. [...]

this sets the stage for a note later on

—p.31 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] her habit of addressing the reader as if the reader were the same as her--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--has a fragile pathos to it. She wants to be one of us, and in some way she assumes she is. The very dullness of these children, their lack of rebelliousness, even incuriousness, is what grounds the book's fantasy. They seem never to want to run away from their school, to throw over the commanded lives they must eventually lead. Full comprehension of who they are and why they were created makes them sad, but only resignedly so. This is the only reality they have ever known, and they are indeed creatures of habit. Ishiguro shakes this banality every so often, as the terribleness of what has been done emerges. [...]

this sets the stage for a note later on

—p.31 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
32

[...] Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn't been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.

this is brutal

—p.32 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by Kazuo Ishiguro 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Madame was afraid of us. But she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders. We hadn't been ready for that. It had never occurred to us to wonder how we would feel, being seen like that, being the spiders.

this is brutal

—p.32 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by Kazuo Ishiguro 1 year, 2 months ago
34

[...] For it is most powerful when most allegorical, and its allegorical power has to do with its picture of ordinary human life as in fact a culture of death. That is to say, Ishiguro's book is at its best when, by asking us to consider the futility of cloned lives, it forces us to consider the futility of our own. This is the moment at which Kathy's appeal to us--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--becomes double-edged. For what if we are more like Tommy and Kathy than we at first imagined? The cloned children are being educated at school for lives of perfect pointlessness, pointless because they will die before they can grasp their adulthood. Everything they do is dipped in futility, because the great pool of death awaits them. They possess individuality, and seem to enjoy it (they fall in love, they have sex, they read George Eliot), but that individuality is a mirage, a parody of liberty. Their lives have been written in advance, they are prevented and followed, in the words of The Book of Common Prayer. Their freedom is a tiny hemmed thing, their lives a vast stitch-up.

We begin the novel horrified by their difference from us and end it thoughtful about their similarity to us. After all, heredity writes a great deal of our destiny for us; and death soon enough makes us orphans, even if we were fortunate enough, unlike the children of Hailsham, not to start life in such deprivation. Without a belief in God, without metaphysical pattern and leaning, why should our lives not indeed be sentences of a kind, death sentences? Even with God? Well, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it: the writing may well be on the wall anyway. To be assured of death at twenty-five or so, as the Hailsham children are, seems to rob life of all its savour and purpose. But why do we persist in the idea that to be assured of death at seventy and eighty or ninety returns to life all its savour and purpose? Why is sheer longevity, if it most certainly ends in the same way as sheer brevity, accorded meaning, while sheer brevity is thought to lack it? The culture of life is not such a grand thing when seen through these narrow windows.

A++

—p.34 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] For it is most powerful when most allegorical, and its allegorical power has to do with its picture of ordinary human life as in fact a culture of death. That is to say, Ishiguro's book is at its best when, by asking us to consider the futility of cloned lives, it forces us to consider the futility of our own. This is the moment at which Kathy's appeal to us--'I don't know how it was where you were, but at Hailsham . . .'--becomes double-edged. For what if we are more like Tommy and Kathy than we at first imagined? The cloned children are being educated at school for lives of perfect pointlessness, pointless because they will die before they can grasp their adulthood. Everything they do is dipped in futility, because the great pool of death awaits them. They possess individuality, and seem to enjoy it (they fall in love, they have sex, they read George Eliot), but that individuality is a mirage, a parody of liberty. Their lives have been written in advance, they are prevented and followed, in the words of The Book of Common Prayer. Their freedom is a tiny hemmed thing, their lives a vast stitch-up.

We begin the novel horrified by their difference from us and end it thoughtful about their similarity to us. After all, heredity writes a great deal of our destiny for us; and death soon enough makes us orphans, even if we were fortunate enough, unlike the children of Hailsham, not to start life in such deprivation. Without a belief in God, without metaphysical pattern and leaning, why should our lives not indeed be sentences of a kind, death sentences? Even with God? Well, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it: the writing may well be on the wall anyway. To be assured of death at twenty-five or so, as the Hailsham children are, seems to rob life of all its savour and purpose. But why do we persist in the idea that to be assured of death at seventy and eighty or ninety returns to life all its savour and purpose? Why is sheer longevity, if it most certainly ends in the same way as sheer brevity, accorded meaning, while sheer brevity is thought to lack it? The culture of life is not such a grand thing when seen through these narrow windows.

A++

—p.34 Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (28) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
43

[...] he could get an erection just thinking in passing about her and that on one occasion he had to claim that he was having a hamstring problem, sitting facing Boyle was when it had happened, sitting facing Boyle and saying Ow and massaging his Achilles tendon so he could sit there until it was decent to get up.

funny image

—p.43 Thinking: Norman Rush (37) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] he could get an erection just thinking in passing about her and that on one occasion he had to claim that he was having a hamstring problem, sitting facing Boyle was when it had happened, sitting facing Boyle and saying Ow and massaging his Achilles tendon so he could sit there until it was decent to get up.

funny image

—p.43 Thinking: Norman Rush (37) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
77

Wilson could see that it was psychologically credulous of Marx to believe that when the proletariat took over it would simply be on its best behaviour. What was the evidence for this? Why would the worker not want what the capitalist plutocrat had? [...]

[...]

But Rousseau's speculative theology of the fall of man only forces the very question that Wilson cannot face in Marx. If man was once good, in his state of nature, and is now bad, i his state of society, how exactly did he begin to corrupt. Did he become bad because human nature is corrupt, or because society corrupted his goodness? If the latter, what is the hope for a utopian restoration of man? How do we get back--or back and forward at once--to the ideal state of man? Likewise, did the revolution of 1917 go bad because corrupt huma nature cannot be trusted with revolutionary despotism, or because violent revolution is at its heart a corrupt idea? And if the answer to either question is yes, the question fudged by Rousseau returns: how do we reach utopia ; how do we--in Rousseau's terms--restore what has been lost?

on To The Finland Station, which seems very much worth reading

—p.77 Edmund Wilson (64) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

Wilson could see that it was psychologically credulous of Marx to believe that when the proletariat took over it would simply be on its best behaviour. What was the evidence for this? Why would the worker not want what the capitalist plutocrat had? [...]

[...]

But Rousseau's speculative theology of the fall of man only forces the very question that Wilson cannot face in Marx. If man was once good, in his state of nature, and is now bad, i his state of society, how exactly did he begin to corrupt. Did he become bad because human nature is corrupt, or because society corrupted his goodness? If the latter, what is the hope for a utopian restoration of man? How do we get back--or back and forward at once--to the ideal state of man? Likewise, did the revolution of 1917 go bad because corrupt huma nature cannot be trusted with revolutionary despotism, or because violent revolution is at its heart a corrupt idea? And if the answer to either question is yes, the question fudged by Rousseau returns: how do we reach utopia ; how do we--in Rousseau's terms--restore what has been lost?

on To The Finland Station, which seems very much worth reading

—p.77 Edmund Wilson (64) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
118

[...] He is now 'in a free state', but ends his tale like this: 'All that my freedom has brought me is the knowledge that I have a face and have a body, that I must feed this body and clothe this body for a certain number of years. Then it will be over.'

Santosh in Naipaul's In A Free State

—p.118 Wounder and Wounded (115) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] He is now 'in a free state', but ends his tale like this: 'All that my freedom has brought me is the knowledge that I have a face and have a body, that I must feed this body and clothe this body for a certain number of years. Then it will be over.'

Santosh in Naipaul's In A Free State

—p.118 Wounder and Wounded (115) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
134

[...] The King James has: 'And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.' Alter has: 'And God saw the Israelites, and God knew'. [...]

saving it cus it's a wonderful (and very Biblical) way of writing

—p.134 Robert Alter and the King James Bible (128) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] The King James has: 'And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.' Alter has: 'And God saw the Israelites, and God knew'. [...]

saving it cus it's a wonderful (and very Biblical) way of writing

—p.134 Robert Alter and the King James Bible (128) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago
140

[...] Abraham's gesture, of raising the eyes, though a formulaic one in biblical narrative, takes on here a great power of dread, as if Abraham can hardly bear to look upon the chosen site. Kierkegaard's inspired, appalled rewriting of this scene in Fear and Trembling emphasises its unspeakability. The tragic hero, he says, renounces himself in favour of expressing the universal. He gives up what is certain for what is more certain; he gives up the finite to attain the infinite; and so he can speak publicly about it, he can weep and orate, secure that at least someone will understand his action. But Abraham 'gives up the universal in order to grasp something still higher that is not the universal', because what he is obeying, what he is grasping for, is barbarously incomprehensible. So Abraham is utterly alone and cannot speak to anyone of what he is about to do, because no one would understand him.

on the scene in the Bible when Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac

really poetic passage

—p.140 Robert Alter and the King James Bible (128) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Abraham's gesture, of raising the eyes, though a formulaic one in biblical narrative, takes on here a great power of dread, as if Abraham can hardly bear to look upon the chosen site. Kierkegaard's inspired, appalled rewriting of this scene in Fear and Trembling emphasises its unspeakability. The tragic hero, he says, renounces himself in favour of expressing the universal. He gives up what is certain for what is more certain; he gives up the finite to attain the infinite; and so he can speak publicly about it, he can weep and orate, secure that at least someone will understand his action. But Abraham 'gives up the universal in order to grasp something still higher that is not the universal', because what he is obeying, what he is grasping for, is barbarously incomprehensible. So Abraham is utterly alone and cannot speak to anyone of what he is about to do, because no one would understand him.

on the scene in the Bible when Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac

really poetic passage

—p.140 Robert Alter and the King James Bible (128) by James Wood 1 year, 2 months ago