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).

14

Most days I did the same things. Go out for eggs and coffee, walk aimlessly through the exquisite cobbled streets or down to the promenade to gaze at the East River, pushing each day a little further until I reached the park at Dumbo, where on Sundays you’d see the Puerto Rican wedding couples come to have their photos taken, the girls in enormous sculptural lime-green and fuchsia dresses that made everything else look tired and staid. Manhattan across the water, the glittering towers. I was working, but I didn’t have anything like enough to do, and the bad times came in the evenings, when I went back to my room, sat on the couch and watched the world outside me going on through glass, a light bulb at a time.

I wanted very much not to be where I was. In fact part of the trouble seemed to be that where I was wasn’t anywhere at all. My life felt empty and unreal and I was embarrassed about its thinness, the way one might be embarrassed about wearing a stained or threadbare piece of clothing. I felt like I was in danger of vanishing, though at the same time the feelings I had were so raw and overwhelming that I often wished I could find a way of losing myself altogether, perhaps for a few months, until the intensity diminished. If I could have put what I was feeling into words, the words would have been an infant’s wail: I don’t want to be alone. I want someone to want me. I’m lonely. I’m scared. I need to be loved, to be touched, to be held. It was the sensation of need that frightened me the most, as if I’d lifted the lid on an unappeasable abyss. I stopped eating very much and my hair fell out and lay noticeably on the wooden floor, adding to my disquiet.

I’d been lonely before, but never like this. Loneliness had waxed in childhood, and waned in the more social years that followed. I’d lived by myself since my mid-twenties, often in relationships but sometimes not. Mostly I liked the solitude, or, when I didn’t, felt fairly certain I’d sooner or later drift into another liaison, another love. The revelation of loneliness, the omnipresent, unanswerable feeling that I was in a state of lack, that I didn’t have what people were supposed to, and that this was down to some grave and no doubt externally unmistakable failing in my person: all this had quickened lately, the unwelcome consequence of being so summarily dismissed. I don’t suppose it was unrelated, either, to the fact that I was keeling towards the midpoint of my thirties, an age at which female aloneness is no longer socially sanctioned and carries with it a persistent whiff of strangeness, deviance and failure.

—p.14 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Most days I did the same things. Go out for eggs and coffee, walk aimlessly through the exquisite cobbled streets or down to the promenade to gaze at the East River, pushing each day a little further until I reached the park at Dumbo, where on Sundays you’d see the Puerto Rican wedding couples come to have their photos taken, the girls in enormous sculptural lime-green and fuchsia dresses that made everything else look tired and staid. Manhattan across the water, the glittering towers. I was working, but I didn’t have anything like enough to do, and the bad times came in the evenings, when I went back to my room, sat on the couch and watched the world outside me going on through glass, a light bulb at a time.

I wanted very much not to be where I was. In fact part of the trouble seemed to be that where I was wasn’t anywhere at all. My life felt empty and unreal and I was embarrassed about its thinness, the way one might be embarrassed about wearing a stained or threadbare piece of clothing. I felt like I was in danger of vanishing, though at the same time the feelings I had were so raw and overwhelming that I often wished I could find a way of losing myself altogether, perhaps for a few months, until the intensity diminished. If I could have put what I was feeling into words, the words would have been an infant’s wail: I don’t want to be alone. I want someone to want me. I’m lonely. I’m scared. I need to be loved, to be touched, to be held. It was the sensation of need that frightened me the most, as if I’d lifted the lid on an unappeasable abyss. I stopped eating very much and my hair fell out and lay noticeably on the wooden floor, adding to my disquiet.

I’d been lonely before, but never like this. Loneliness had waxed in childhood, and waned in the more social years that followed. I’d lived by myself since my mid-twenties, often in relationships but sometimes not. Mostly I liked the solitude, or, when I didn’t, felt fairly certain I’d sooner or later drift into another liaison, another love. The revelation of loneliness, the omnipresent, unanswerable feeling that I was in a state of lack, that I didn’t have what people were supposed to, and that this was down to some grave and no doubt externally unmistakable failing in my person: all this had quickened lately, the unwelcome consequence of being so summarily dismissed. I don’t suppose it was unrelated, either, to the fact that I was keeling towards the midpoint of my thirties, an age at which female aloneness is no longer socially sanctioned and carries with it a persistent whiff of strangeness, deviance and failure.

—p.14 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago
26

After Fromm-Reichmann’s death, other psychologists slowly began to turn their attention to the subject. In 1975, the social scientist Robert Weiss edited a seminal study, Loneliness: The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation. He too opened by acknowledging the subject’s neglect, noting wryly that loneliness is more often commented on by songwriters than social scientists. He felt that in addition to being unnerving in its own right – he writes of it as something that ‘possessed’ people, that is ‘peculiarly insistent’; ‘an almost eerie affliction of the spirits’ – loneliness inhibits empathy because it induces in its wake a kind of self-protective amnesia, so that when a person is no longer lonely they struggle to remember what the condition is like.

If they had earlier been lonely, they now have no access to the self that experienced the loneliness; furthermore, they very likely prefer that things remain that way. In consequence they are likely to respond to those who are currently lonely with absence of understanding and perhaps irritation.

—p.26 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

After Fromm-Reichmann’s death, other psychologists slowly began to turn their attention to the subject. In 1975, the social scientist Robert Weiss edited a seminal study, Loneliness: The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation. He too opened by acknowledging the subject’s neglect, noting wryly that loneliness is more often commented on by songwriters than social scientists. He felt that in addition to being unnerving in its own right – he writes of it as something that ‘possessed’ people, that is ‘peculiarly insistent’; ‘an almost eerie affliction of the spirits’ – loneliness inhibits empathy because it induces in its wake a kind of self-protective amnesia, so that when a person is no longer lonely they struggle to remember what the condition is like.

If they had earlier been lonely, they now have no access to the self that experienced the loneliness; furthermore, they very likely prefer that things remain that way. In consequence they are likely to respond to those who are currently lonely with absence of understanding and perhaps irritation.

—p.26 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago
61

[...] the desire to turn oneself into a multiple or machine is also a desire to be liberated from human feeling, human need, which is to say the need to be cherished or loved. ‘Machines have less problems. I’d like to be a machine, wouldn’t you?’ he told Time in 1963.

Andy Warhol

—p.61 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] the desire to turn oneself into a multiple or machine is also a desire to be liberated from human feeling, human need, which is to say the need to be cherished or loved. ‘Machines have less problems. I’d like to be a machine, wouldn’t you?’ he told Time in 1963.

Andy Warhol

—p.61 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago
64

Who needs a shrink? If he kept it on while people were talking it was just diverting enough to protect him from getting too involved, a process he described as being like magic. In fact, it was a buffer in more ways than one. Able to conjure or dismiss company at the touch of a button, he found that it made him stop caring so much about getting close to other people, the process he’d found so hurtful in the past.

This is a strange story, perhaps better understood as a parable, a way of articulating what it’s like to inhabit a particular kind of being. It’s about wanting and not wanting: about needing people to pour themselves out into you and then needing them to stop, to restore the boundaries of the self, to maintain separation and control. It’s about having a personality that both longs for and fears being subsumed into another ego; being swamped or flooded, ingesting or being infected by the mess and drama of someone else’s life, as if their words were literally agents of transmission.

This is the push and pull of intimacy, a process Warhol found much more manageable once he realised the mediating capacities of machines, their ability to fill up empty emotional space. That first TV set was both a surrogate for love and a panacea for love’s wounds, for the pain of rejection and abandonment. It provided an answer to the conundrum voiced in the very first lines of The Philosophy: ‘I need B because I can’t be alone. Except when I sleep. Then I can’t be with anyone’ – a double-edged loneliness, in which a fear of closeness pulls against a terror of solitude. The photographer Stephen Shore remembered being struck in the 1960s by the intimate role it played in Warhol’s life, ‘finding it stunning and poignant that he’s Andy Warhol, who’s just come from some all-night party or several of them, and has turned on the television and cried himself to sleep to a Priscilla Lane film, and his mother has come in and turned it off’.

Becoming a machine; hiding behind machines; employing machines as companions or managers of human communication and connection: Andy was as ever at the vanguard, the breaking wave of a change in culture, abandoning himself to what would soon become the driving obsession of our times. His attachment at once prefigures and establishes our own age of automation: our rapturous, narcissistic fixation with screens; the enormous devolution of our emotional and practical lives to technological apparatuses and contraptions of one kind or another.

—p.64 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Who needs a shrink? If he kept it on while people were talking it was just diverting enough to protect him from getting too involved, a process he described as being like magic. In fact, it was a buffer in more ways than one. Able to conjure or dismiss company at the touch of a button, he found that it made him stop caring so much about getting close to other people, the process he’d found so hurtful in the past.

This is a strange story, perhaps better understood as a parable, a way of articulating what it’s like to inhabit a particular kind of being. It’s about wanting and not wanting: about needing people to pour themselves out into you and then needing them to stop, to restore the boundaries of the self, to maintain separation and control. It’s about having a personality that both longs for and fears being subsumed into another ego; being swamped or flooded, ingesting or being infected by the mess and drama of someone else’s life, as if their words were literally agents of transmission.

This is the push and pull of intimacy, a process Warhol found much more manageable once he realised the mediating capacities of machines, their ability to fill up empty emotional space. That first TV set was both a surrogate for love and a panacea for love’s wounds, for the pain of rejection and abandonment. It provided an answer to the conundrum voiced in the very first lines of The Philosophy: ‘I need B because I can’t be alone. Except when I sleep. Then I can’t be with anyone’ – a double-edged loneliness, in which a fear of closeness pulls against a terror of solitude. The photographer Stephen Shore remembered being struck in the 1960s by the intimate role it played in Warhol’s life, ‘finding it stunning and poignant that he’s Andy Warhol, who’s just come from some all-night party or several of them, and has turned on the television and cried himself to sleep to a Priscilla Lane film, and his mother has come in and turned it off’.

Becoming a machine; hiding behind machines; employing machines as companions or managers of human communication and connection: Andy was as ever at the vanguard, the breaking wave of a change in culture, abandoning himself to what would soon become the driving obsession of our times. His attachment at once prefigures and establishes our own age of automation: our rapturous, narcissistic fixation with screens; the enormous devolution of our emotional and practical lives to technological apparatuses and contraptions of one kind or another.

—p.64 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago
261

I was not the only person to find the fruit affecting. In a monograph for Frieze about Zoe Leonard’s work, the critic Jenni Sorkin describes seeing the installation for the first time while wandering irritably around the Philadelphia Museum of Art some time around the beginning of the millennium. ‘From a distance,’ she writes, ‘it looked like detritus. Then I got closer and stopped being annoyed and instead became very sad and felt suddenly very alone – despair hit me like a truck. The sewn fruit was absurdly, inexplicably, intimate.’

Loss is a cousin of loneliness. They intersect and overlap, and so it’s not surprising that a work of mourning might invoke a feeling of aloneness, of separation. Mortality is lonely. Physical existence is lonely by its nature, stuck in a body that’s moving inexorably towards decay, shrinking, wastage and fracture. Then there’s the loneliness of bereavement, the loneliness of lost or damaged love, of missing one or many specific people, the loneliness of mourning.

All this, though, could be conveyed with dead fruit, with drying skins on a gallery floor. What makes Strange Fruit so deeply touching, so intensely painful, is the work of stitching, which makes legible another aspect of loneliness: its endless agonising hope. Loneliness as a desire for closeness, for joining up, joining in, joining together, for gathering what has otherwise been sundered, abandoned, broken or left in isolation. Loneliness as a longing for integration, for a sense of feeling whole.

—p.261 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I was not the only person to find the fruit affecting. In a monograph for Frieze about Zoe Leonard’s work, the critic Jenni Sorkin describes seeing the installation for the first time while wandering irritably around the Philadelphia Museum of Art some time around the beginning of the millennium. ‘From a distance,’ she writes, ‘it looked like detritus. Then I got closer and stopped being annoyed and instead became very sad and felt suddenly very alone – despair hit me like a truck. The sewn fruit was absurdly, inexplicably, intimate.’

Loss is a cousin of loneliness. They intersect and overlap, and so it’s not surprising that a work of mourning might invoke a feeling of aloneness, of separation. Mortality is lonely. Physical existence is lonely by its nature, stuck in a body that’s moving inexorably towards decay, shrinking, wastage and fracture. Then there’s the loneliness of bereavement, the loneliness of lost or damaged love, of missing one or many specific people, the loneliness of mourning.

All this, though, could be conveyed with dead fruit, with drying skins on a gallery floor. What makes Strange Fruit so deeply touching, so intensely painful, is the work of stitching, which makes legible another aspect of loneliness: its endless agonising hope. Loneliness as a desire for closeness, for joining up, joining in, joining together, for gathering what has otherwise been sundered, abandoned, broken or left in isolation. Loneliness as a longing for integration, for a sense of feeling whole.

—p.261 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago
279

Loneliness is not supposed to induce empathy, but like Wojnarowicz’s diaries and Klaus Nomi’s voice, that painting of Warhol was one of the things that most medicated my own feelings of loneliness, giving me a sense of the potential beauty present in a frank declaration that one is human and as such subject to need. So much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with feeling compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up scars as if they are literally repulsive. But why hide? What’s so shameful about wanting, about desire, about having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness? Why this need to constantly inhabit peak states, or to be comfortably sealed inside a unit of two, turned inward from the world at large?

—p.279 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Loneliness is not supposed to induce empathy, but like Wojnarowicz’s diaries and Klaus Nomi’s voice, that painting of Warhol was one of the things that most medicated my own feelings of loneliness, giving me a sense of the potential beauty present in a frank declaration that one is human and as such subject to need. So much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with feeling compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up scars as if they are literally repulsive. But why hide? What’s so shameful about wanting, about desire, about having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness? Why this need to constantly inhabit peak states, or to be comfortably sealed inside a unit of two, turned inward from the world at large?

—p.279 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago
280

There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to the emotions too, with a similarly homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feelings – depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage – are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails.

I don’t believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.

Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.

—p.280 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago

There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to the emotions too, with a similarly homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feelings – depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage – are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails.

I don’t believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.

Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.

—p.280 by Olivia Laing 8 months, 3 weeks ago