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).

9

That we can even ask such a question suggests that having kids is no longer, as it was for previous generations, a necessary part of the good life. But it reveals something more besides: that as we deprive the earth of its capacities to sustain life, we are losing our own ability to see the point in it. Increasingly, we do not live as if life is worthwhile in itself—as if in the face of pain, disappointment and no credible promise of progress, the struggles it involves and the choices they demand are meaningful.

Some philosophers say that to ask “why be good?” is to betray a fundamental misunderstanding. If there is such a thing as doing the right thing—not right relative to some other goal, in the way that taking out the trash is the right thing to do in order to get rid of that smell in the kitchen, but right absolutely, in the way that keeping a friend’s confidence or standing up to injustice is the right thing to do—it’s the sort of thing one does for its own sake. To ask why one should do that which is obviously the right thing to do, to demand a further reason for it, is to admit that one no longer comprehends the possibility of such a thing as the right thing to do—one cannot tell right from wrong at all. To ask “why have children?” may not be so different. What, after all, is one asking for? A list of benefits?

The choice between the climate-moralizers and the leisure-maximizers, for all their apparent differences, is a false one. At heart they are the same: young people for whom child-rearing, once the expected outcome of adulthood, has become one possible project among many. Weighing the pros and cons, neither group can find a good enough reason to go through with it, and plenty of reasons to avoid it altogether. Even for many of us who want kids, starting a family is something we think we’ll get to eventually, once we’ve checked off enough of our personal and professional to-dos: education, a fulfilling and well-paid job, a few key professional accomplishments, an active social life, meeting “the right person,” adopting a rescue dog as a trial in co-parenting, terminating analysis. The interesting thing is not that there are fewer reasons to have children now than there were before—there has never been a shortage of reasons why it would be better not to—but that we’re asking why in the first place. The evident differences in the negative responses reflect mere variations in personal priorities.

—p.9 On Choosing Life (5) by The Point 5 months, 3 weeks ago

That we can even ask such a question suggests that having kids is no longer, as it was for previous generations, a necessary part of the good life. But it reveals something more besides: that as we deprive the earth of its capacities to sustain life, we are losing our own ability to see the point in it. Increasingly, we do not live as if life is worthwhile in itself—as if in the face of pain, disappointment and no credible promise of progress, the struggles it involves and the choices they demand are meaningful.

Some philosophers say that to ask “why be good?” is to betray a fundamental misunderstanding. If there is such a thing as doing the right thing—not right relative to some other goal, in the way that taking out the trash is the right thing to do in order to get rid of that smell in the kitchen, but right absolutely, in the way that keeping a friend’s confidence or standing up to injustice is the right thing to do—it’s the sort of thing one does for its own sake. To ask why one should do that which is obviously the right thing to do, to demand a further reason for it, is to admit that one no longer comprehends the possibility of such a thing as the right thing to do—one cannot tell right from wrong at all. To ask “why have children?” may not be so different. What, after all, is one asking for? A list of benefits?

The choice between the climate-moralizers and the leisure-maximizers, for all their apparent differences, is a false one. At heart they are the same: young people for whom child-rearing, once the expected outcome of adulthood, has become one possible project among many. Weighing the pros and cons, neither group can find a good enough reason to go through with it, and plenty of reasons to avoid it altogether. Even for many of us who want kids, starting a family is something we think we’ll get to eventually, once we’ve checked off enough of our personal and professional to-dos: education, a fulfilling and well-paid job, a few key professional accomplishments, an active social life, meeting “the right person,” adopting a rescue dog as a trial in co-parenting, terminating analysis. The interesting thing is not that there are fewer reasons to have children now than there were before—there has never been a shortage of reasons why it would be better not to—but that we’re asking why in the first place. The evident differences in the negative responses reflect mere variations in personal priorities.

—p.9 On Choosing Life (5) by The Point 5 months, 3 weeks ago
24

[...] Literature is at once close to home and strange: a world of fantasy and desire, of unwanted guests and uncanny returns. To understand liberalism through literature is to stop asking how it works, or trying to show that it doesn’t. It is, rather, to understand how we could organize our lives around an ideology that we renounce. To build a different system—or even to imagine it—we first have to ask: What is it that keeps us building this one?

—p.24 Bad Infinity (21) by James Duesterberg 5 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] Literature is at once close to home and strange: a world of fantasy and desire, of unwanted guests and uncanny returns. To understand liberalism through literature is to stop asking how it works, or trying to show that it doesn’t. It is, rather, to understand how we could organize our lives around an ideology that we renounce. To build a different system—or even to imagine it—we first have to ask: What is it that keeps us building this one?

—p.24 Bad Infinity (21) by James Duesterberg 5 months, 3 weeks ago
25

At the core of liberalism, Trilling emphasized, was a “primal act of imagination.” Behind all the conceptual infrastructure that made up the liberal world was a visionary desire. Our laws and customs might be the forms of our freedom, but they could not account for its content, for the value we attach to it. The purpose of a liberal society was to free individuals to follow their dreams: the pursuit of happiness, unleashed. But what dreams? By definition, a liberal framework cannot say.

This, according to Trilling, was the paradox at the heart of liberalism—a paradox that, while not fatal in itself, posed a mortal danger to the life of liberal societies. As liberalism progresses, it erects political, economic and social structures with a view to rational improvement, affirming the human capacity to build a better world. But the more power it gains—the more effectively it reshapes the world in its image—the more it loses sight of what exactly this power is for. “In the very interest of affirming its confidence in the power of the mind,” Trilling wrote, liberalism “inclines to constrict and make mechanical its conception of the nature of the mind.” Imagining itself as a human creation, liberalism creates a society of machines.

—p.25 Bad Infinity (21) by James Duesterberg 5 months, 3 weeks ago

At the core of liberalism, Trilling emphasized, was a “primal act of imagination.” Behind all the conceptual infrastructure that made up the liberal world was a visionary desire. Our laws and customs might be the forms of our freedom, but they could not account for its content, for the value we attach to it. The purpose of a liberal society was to free individuals to follow their dreams: the pursuit of happiness, unleashed. But what dreams? By definition, a liberal framework cannot say.

This, according to Trilling, was the paradox at the heart of liberalism—a paradox that, while not fatal in itself, posed a mortal danger to the life of liberal societies. As liberalism progresses, it erects political, economic and social structures with a view to rational improvement, affirming the human capacity to build a better world. But the more power it gains—the more effectively it reshapes the world in its image—the more it loses sight of what exactly this power is for. “In the very interest of affirming its confidence in the power of the mind,” Trilling wrote, liberalism “inclines to constrict and make mechanical its conception of the nature of the mind.” Imagining itself as a human creation, liberalism creates a society of machines.

—p.25 Bad Infinity (21) by James Duesterberg 5 months, 3 weeks ago
29

If the outward face of liberalism is idealism, the audacity of hope, its inner essence, Anderson argues, is failure: the experience of dreams deflated. Failure is not, as we might expect, secondary and historical, but primary and essential. The strangeness of Anderson’s argument—and the uniqueness, she argues, of liberalism—is that failure comes first. “Fundamentally,” she writes, “liberalism is prompted by enduring challenges.” Notice the phrasing: it is not that liberal optimism must confront challenges. Rather, it is prompted by them; the challenges are “constitutive.” Liberalism is a belief system that, while promoting a vision of progress to come, grows out of the experience of being “belated and disenchanted.”

Anderson returns often to a description of liberalism as a “lived relation to ideals.” She means that the ideals themselves are formed in the living; that, paradoxically, the life we imagine at once orients us in the world and follows from our experience. It is only in trying to live our ideals that we see what they mean, and in each case that she cites, the lesson is bleak. Her argument weaves through famous Victorian novels by Dickens and Trollope, as well as modernist works by writers like Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Ralph Ellison and Doris Lessing. Anderson wants us to notice how each of these books is driven by the experience of political failure: ideals deflated, projects unfinished or abandoned, civic ties corroded. It is in these disappointing experiences, Anderson argues, that something else is born: what she calls the “intractable energies of these moods of doubt, despair, and difficulty,” an energy “at once negative and utopian.”

hm interesting, idk how much i agree with this (isn't that def of liberalism too vague?) but it does pose a fascinating horizon

—p.29 Bad Infinity (21) by James Duesterberg 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If the outward face of liberalism is idealism, the audacity of hope, its inner essence, Anderson argues, is failure: the experience of dreams deflated. Failure is not, as we might expect, secondary and historical, but primary and essential. The strangeness of Anderson’s argument—and the uniqueness, she argues, of liberalism—is that failure comes first. “Fundamentally,” she writes, “liberalism is prompted by enduring challenges.” Notice the phrasing: it is not that liberal optimism must confront challenges. Rather, it is prompted by them; the challenges are “constitutive.” Liberalism is a belief system that, while promoting a vision of progress to come, grows out of the experience of being “belated and disenchanted.”

Anderson returns often to a description of liberalism as a “lived relation to ideals.” She means that the ideals themselves are formed in the living; that, paradoxically, the life we imagine at once orients us in the world and follows from our experience. It is only in trying to live our ideals that we see what they mean, and in each case that she cites, the lesson is bleak. Her argument weaves through famous Victorian novels by Dickens and Trollope, as well as modernist works by writers like Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Ralph Ellison and Doris Lessing. Anderson wants us to notice how each of these books is driven by the experience of political failure: ideals deflated, projects unfinished or abandoned, civic ties corroded. It is in these disappointing experiences, Anderson argues, that something else is born: what she calls the “intractable energies of these moods of doubt, despair, and difficulty,” an energy “at once negative and utopian.”

hm interesting, idk how much i agree with this (isn't that def of liberalism too vague?) but it does pose a fascinating horizon

—p.29 Bad Infinity (21) by James Duesterberg 5 months, 3 weeks ago
41

The to-do lists cannot communicate with each other. I have a five-year plan that nags me every day, but none of it overlaps with the daily task list. Fretting about my supposed long-term goals of completing my book proposal and my novel takes up so much mental energy that basic jobs—paying bills even if I do have the money, filing taxes, changing the sheets, giving the university some document or other—become herculean tasks. I pull at single strands of my hair constantly, unrelentingly, an old habit that fills the ever-expanding moments I spend not doing the things on the to-do lists. The days are remarkably dark; I never knew that I would spend days not seeing the sun. In the dark, it becomes impossible to focus on what is important, and I fret, seized by a nameless fear, a nothing-tightness, that hugs my chest at all times. This nameless fear becomes the subject of much amicable conversation in my New York world, so different from the hectic world of underfunded nonprofits for low-income housing development that I left behind in Bombay. My Bombay life offered little time for self-analysis, and even less indication that I was important, and therefore little time for anxiousness about whether how we spent our time justified our importance; but here, this nameless fear becomes not only a constant internal presence but also, as a perennial subject of conversation, a kind of social currency. The feeling is so omnipresent it would be odd, almost inconsiderate, not to have it, like showing up at a white elephant party with no gift.

—p.41 Treat Yourself (41) by Apoorva Tadepalli 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The to-do lists cannot communicate with each other. I have a five-year plan that nags me every day, but none of it overlaps with the daily task list. Fretting about my supposed long-term goals of completing my book proposal and my novel takes up so much mental energy that basic jobs—paying bills even if I do have the money, filing taxes, changing the sheets, giving the university some document or other—become herculean tasks. I pull at single strands of my hair constantly, unrelentingly, an old habit that fills the ever-expanding moments I spend not doing the things on the to-do lists. The days are remarkably dark; I never knew that I would spend days not seeing the sun. In the dark, it becomes impossible to focus on what is important, and I fret, seized by a nameless fear, a nothing-tightness, that hugs my chest at all times. This nameless fear becomes the subject of much amicable conversation in my New York world, so different from the hectic world of underfunded nonprofits for low-income housing development that I left behind in Bombay. My Bombay life offered little time for self-analysis, and even less indication that I was important, and therefore little time for anxiousness about whether how we spent our time justified our importance; but here, this nameless fear becomes not only a constant internal presence but also, as a perennial subject of conversation, a kind of social currency. The feeling is so omnipresent it would be odd, almost inconsiderate, not to have it, like showing up at a white elephant party with no gift.

—p.41 Treat Yourself (41) by Apoorva Tadepalli 5 months, 3 weeks ago
43

[...] I take to cocktails. These seem the most efficient self-care practice, at least until I switch to just whiskey (better value for money). After my seventh night in a row blacking out, I go to campus counseling.

I sit there in the office, filling out forms. I do not know what to do, how to be, here. I know only that I am anxious and do not know why. The therapist I am assigned tells me I have to take it slow, go easy on myself. One step at a time. Even if it’s something as small as getting up and moving your dishes from your desk to the sink, she says. That’s a feat too.

I take a deep breath and imagine getting up, just to move my dishes from my desk to the sink: just a minute, and then it will be over. I can do this, I think, and it will be a feat, an action of worth.

But I am not convinced that it should be—I am not convinced that getting out of bed should be a job I can say I accomplished, that going easy on myself is the best advice. Focusing on my own feelings about my life—the endless anxieties and provocations from the world—rather than about other things, seems to be distracting me, making me lose my ability to prioritize at all. I feel further than ever from being better.

—p.43 Treat Yourself (41) by Apoorva Tadepalli 5 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] I take to cocktails. These seem the most efficient self-care practice, at least until I switch to just whiskey (better value for money). After my seventh night in a row blacking out, I go to campus counseling.

I sit there in the office, filling out forms. I do not know what to do, how to be, here. I know only that I am anxious and do not know why. The therapist I am assigned tells me I have to take it slow, go easy on myself. One step at a time. Even if it’s something as small as getting up and moving your dishes from your desk to the sink, she says. That’s a feat too.

I take a deep breath and imagine getting up, just to move my dishes from my desk to the sink: just a minute, and then it will be over. I can do this, I think, and it will be a feat, an action of worth.

But I am not convinced that it should be—I am not convinced that getting out of bed should be a job I can say I accomplished, that going easy on myself is the best advice. Focusing on my own feelings about my life—the endless anxieties and provocations from the world—rather than about other things, seems to be distracting me, making me lose my ability to prioritize at all. I feel further than ever from being better.

—p.43 Treat Yourself (41) by Apoorva Tadepalli 5 months, 3 weeks ago
51

If the satisfaction of an old man drinking a glass of wine counts for nothing, then production and wealth are only hollow myths; they have meaning only if they are capable of being retrieved in individual and living joy. The saving of time and the conquest of leisure have no meaning if we are not moved by the laugh of a child at play.

from the ethics of ambiguity. relevant to N

—p.51 Treat Yourself (41) by Simone de Beauvoir 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If the satisfaction of an old man drinking a glass of wine counts for nothing, then production and wealth are only hollow myths; they have meaning only if they are capable of being retrieved in individual and living joy. The saving of time and the conquest of leisure have no meaning if we are not moved by the laugh of a child at play.

from the ethics of ambiguity. relevant to N

—p.51 Treat Yourself (41) by Simone de Beauvoir 5 months, 3 weeks ago
53

I want to look, really look, at the world—but I find I do not want to look at it as an explanation for what is wrong with me. I don’t want to be forgiven. I want unkindness, from myself and from the world, because it is unkindness that has to be reckoned with, that makes me feel awake. I want to be punished; I want the stimulation of struggle. But it seems in order to do this I have to consider that the world does not owe me anything. I want to look at the world because despite the fact that it is unkind, it is also interesting, and full, and endlessly entertaining.

I forget this, during my worst winter and my most unmotivated months; I forget that there are stories to be chased that have nothing to do with me. I ask my therapist to help me remember these stories, these reasons to get out of bed in the morning. I ask her to help me re-want to learn about the world again—about literature, and philosophy, and ideas that continue to exist and exhilarate no matter how much money I have or will ever have, no matter how overworked I am and will certainly continue to be forever. She says that I am focusing on other things because I do not want to talk about myself: about how the boy I loved that winter had disappeared, about why I am fighting with my mother or about the fact that I am drowning in job applications. I need to do something nice for myself, she says, over and over again.

—p.53 Treat Yourself (41) by Apoorva Tadepalli 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I want to look, really look, at the world—but I find I do not want to look at it as an explanation for what is wrong with me. I don’t want to be forgiven. I want unkindness, from myself and from the world, because it is unkindness that has to be reckoned with, that makes me feel awake. I want to be punished; I want the stimulation of struggle. But it seems in order to do this I have to consider that the world does not owe me anything. I want to look at the world because despite the fact that it is unkind, it is also interesting, and full, and endlessly entertaining.

I forget this, during my worst winter and my most unmotivated months; I forget that there are stories to be chased that have nothing to do with me. I ask my therapist to help me remember these stories, these reasons to get out of bed in the morning. I ask her to help me re-want to learn about the world again—about literature, and philosophy, and ideas that continue to exist and exhilarate no matter how much money I have or will ever have, no matter how overworked I am and will certainly continue to be forever. She says that I am focusing on other things because I do not want to talk about myself: about how the boy I loved that winter had disappeared, about why I am fighting with my mother or about the fact that I am drowning in job applications. I need to do something nice for myself, she says, over and over again.

—p.53 Treat Yourself (41) by Apoorva Tadepalli 5 months, 3 weeks ago
61

[...] The miscarriage plunged me, instead, into one in which the upcoming years loomed bland, empty, shapeless. I had just been awarded tenure, and it felt like my life was over: I couldn’t see a future, couldn’t see goals, bench points, markers of meaning. My husband said that I seemed dead for a while.

—p.61 Half a Person (59) by Agnes Callard 5 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] The miscarriage plunged me, instead, into one in which the upcoming years loomed bland, empty, shapeless. I had just been awarded tenure, and it felt like my life was over: I couldn’t see a future, couldn’t see goals, bench points, markers of meaning. My husband said that I seemed dead for a while.

—p.61 Half a Person (59) by Agnes Callard 5 months, 3 weeks ago
71

[...] the Republic is better read as a critique of the status quo than as a straightforward policy proposal. The fundamental claim is that collective well-being depends on the readiness of individuals to act for the common good. Nowadays we tend to see such actions in a moralistic frame that pitches saintly altruism against tawdry egoism, but for the pre-Christian Greeks altruism in the sense of impartiality between one’s own well-being and that of others was pretty much unthinkable: loosely stated, the main thesis of the Republic is that working for the common good is necessary for your own happiness. There are some contexts where it seems totally natural to consider your own well-being as bound up with that of others. Parenting seems like a prime example: when you change a diaper, you’re clearly acting for the sake of someone other than yourself, and so not being egoistic, but at the same time you’re not exactly being altruistic—the fact that it’s your own child means that you have those phantom-limb experiences where another being’s pleasures and pains become your own, so there’s a sense in which you’re relieving your own discomfort. Such expansion of the self can also occur between members of a team: esprit de corps literally means having the spirit of one body. If that spirit could be extended to the whole community, Plato thought, we could speak of a genuine body politic. Many have questioned whether it is possible to extend the notion of “one’s own” that far, but it seems obvious that patriotic feeling has sometimes led to acts of non-altruistic self-sacrifice. Whether such patriotism can be maintained in the absence of existential emergencies or local rivalries is another matter, but for Plato the more important question is whether it can be maintained in the presence of private family ties.

—p.71 Quiet Time (69) missing author 5 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] the Republic is better read as a critique of the status quo than as a straightforward policy proposal. The fundamental claim is that collective well-being depends on the readiness of individuals to act for the common good. Nowadays we tend to see such actions in a moralistic frame that pitches saintly altruism against tawdry egoism, but for the pre-Christian Greeks altruism in the sense of impartiality between one’s own well-being and that of others was pretty much unthinkable: loosely stated, the main thesis of the Republic is that working for the common good is necessary for your own happiness. There are some contexts where it seems totally natural to consider your own well-being as bound up with that of others. Parenting seems like a prime example: when you change a diaper, you’re clearly acting for the sake of someone other than yourself, and so not being egoistic, but at the same time you’re not exactly being altruistic—the fact that it’s your own child means that you have those phantom-limb experiences where another being’s pleasures and pains become your own, so there’s a sense in which you’re relieving your own discomfort. Such expansion of the self can also occur between members of a team: esprit de corps literally means having the spirit of one body. If that spirit could be extended to the whole community, Plato thought, we could speak of a genuine body politic. Many have questioned whether it is possible to extend the notion of “one’s own” that far, but it seems obvious that patriotic feeling has sometimes led to acts of non-altruistic self-sacrifice. Whether such patriotism can be maintained in the absence of existential emergencies or local rivalries is another matter, but for Plato the more important question is whether it can be maintained in the presence of private family ties.

—p.71 Quiet Time (69) missing author 5 months, 3 weeks ago