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).

5

[...] It was she who produced the white Vintage paperback volume of Wallace Stevens at some point in the drive and suggested that we take turns reading the stanzas of “Sea Surface Full of Clouds.” I was stunned by the poem. I am still stunned by the poem. After we had read around and gotten over the shock and novelty of the way the adjectives play over and transform the surface of the poem, and after we had read a few others by Stevens, and other books were produced and other poems read, the conversation moved on, but I got my hands on Marie’s Stevens and when we arrived in Carmel and got some more wine and watched the sun set over Carmel Bay in a light rain, I suggested we read the poem again, which we did, to humor me, I think, while the last light smoldered on the horizon. Then we tried to build a fire on the beach, but the rain turned into a lashing Pacific storm and we spent the night, quite wet, eight of us crammed into the car in the parking lot, laughing a lot—it was very sexy as I remember—and making jokes about cars and autoeroticism. I will start to feel like Kinbote, the lunatic annotator of other people’s poems with incidents from his own life in Nabokov’s Pale Fire, if I tell you the story of the lives of each of the people in the car. Marie, who returned to the Philippines and who, I know, had two children and whose spine was badly injured when she was struck by a car; Killpack, who did go to Vietnam and then army intelligence toward the end of the war and after that seemed to disappear from sight; another friend who was a classics major and later managed a café and wrote poems and died of cancer a couple of years ago; but I will resist except to say that the poem stays with me, in the way that songs we fall in love to stay with us, as a figure for that time and those people, and their different lives will always feel to me as if they are playing out in time the way the adjectives of experience play over the adamant nouns in Stevens’s poem: rosy chocolate and chophouse chocolate and musky chocolate, perplexed and tense and tranced machine.

ahhhh i love this

—p.5 Wallace Stevens in the World (3) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] It was she who produced the white Vintage paperback volume of Wallace Stevens at some point in the drive and suggested that we take turns reading the stanzas of “Sea Surface Full of Clouds.” I was stunned by the poem. I am still stunned by the poem. After we had read around and gotten over the shock and novelty of the way the adjectives play over and transform the surface of the poem, and after we had read a few others by Stevens, and other books were produced and other poems read, the conversation moved on, but I got my hands on Marie’s Stevens and when we arrived in Carmel and got some more wine and watched the sun set over Carmel Bay in a light rain, I suggested we read the poem again, which we did, to humor me, I think, while the last light smoldered on the horizon. Then we tried to build a fire on the beach, but the rain turned into a lashing Pacific storm and we spent the night, quite wet, eight of us crammed into the car in the parking lot, laughing a lot—it was very sexy as I remember—and making jokes about cars and autoeroticism. I will start to feel like Kinbote, the lunatic annotator of other people’s poems with incidents from his own life in Nabokov’s Pale Fire, if I tell you the story of the lives of each of the people in the car. Marie, who returned to the Philippines and who, I know, had two children and whose spine was badly injured when she was struck by a car; Killpack, who did go to Vietnam and then army intelligence toward the end of the war and after that seemed to disappear from sight; another friend who was a classics major and later managed a café and wrote poems and died of cancer a couple of years ago; but I will resist except to say that the poem stays with me, in the way that songs we fall in love to stay with us, as a figure for that time and those people, and their different lives will always feel to me as if they are playing out in time the way the adjectives of experience play over the adamant nouns in Stevens’s poem: rosy chocolate and chophouse chocolate and musky chocolate, perplexed and tense and tranced machine.

ahhhh i love this

—p.5 Wallace Stevens in the World (3) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
16

I suppose these stories are the equivalent of newspaper cartoons. They call for a quick, cynical laugh. Chekhov got very adept at writing them, and he must have learned a lot about condensing his material, since some of the papers paid more for short effective pieces than for longer ones. Later he was always advising young writers to cross out, even Maxim Gorky, and especially—here is a bit of Chekhov’s letter to Gorky—“to cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can. You have so many modifiers that the reader has trouble understanding and gets worn out. It is comprehensible when I write: ‘The man sat on the grass,’ because it is clear and does not detain one’s attention. On the other hand, it is difficult to figure out and hard on the brain if I write: ‘The tall, narrow-chested man of medium height and with a red beard sat down on the green grass that had already been trampled down by the pedestrians, sat down silently, looking around timidly and fearfully.’ The brain can’t grasp all of that at once, and art must be grasped at once, instantaneously.” His favorite sentence in the Russian language, he said, was one written by a classmate of his in grammar school. It went: “The sea is large.”

—p.16 Chekhov's Anger (14) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I suppose these stories are the equivalent of newspaper cartoons. They call for a quick, cynical laugh. Chekhov got very adept at writing them, and he must have learned a lot about condensing his material, since some of the papers paid more for short effective pieces than for longer ones. Later he was always advising young writers to cross out, even Maxim Gorky, and especially—here is a bit of Chekhov’s letter to Gorky—“to cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can. You have so many modifiers that the reader has trouble understanding and gets worn out. It is comprehensible when I write: ‘The man sat on the grass,’ because it is clear and does not detain one’s attention. On the other hand, it is difficult to figure out and hard on the brain if I write: ‘The tall, narrow-chested man of medium height and with a red beard sat down on the green grass that had already been trampled down by the pedestrians, sat down silently, looking around timidly and fearfully.’ The brain can’t grasp all of that at once, and art must be grasped at once, instantaneously.” His favorite sentence in the Russian language, he said, was one written by a classmate of his in grammar school. It went: “The sea is large.”

—p.16 Chekhov's Anger (14) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
27

[...] Summary can’t catch the bedraggled air of the two daring young sinners, who, three days after their defiance of convention, are already starting to feel that vague loneliness that overcomes people who have just done something that is supposed to solve all their problems. [...]

on chekhov's "neighbors"

—p.27 Chekhov's Anger (14) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] Summary can’t catch the bedraggled air of the two daring young sinners, who, three days after their defiance of convention, are already starting to feel that vague loneliness that overcomes people who have just done something that is supposed to solve all their problems. [...]

on chekhov's "neighbors"

—p.27 Chekhov's Anger (14) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
28

[...] One of the great moments in “Neighbors” occurs when Peter parts from Vlasich and Zina. “Riding into darkness, he looked back and saw Vlasich and Zina walking home along the path—he with long strides, she at his side with quick, jerky steps. They were conducting an animated conversation.” Peter’s loneliness is in that last sentence, and so is the splendid and perfect blindness of the lovers, who will get immense mileage, maybe even years, from conversation about their situation, followed by conversation about how they used to have conversation about their situation, followed by—what? Misery, some happiness, children perhaps, the final collapse of the porch, acrimony, bickering, recrimination, thickened waists, life.

—p.28 Chekhov's Anger (14) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] One of the great moments in “Neighbors” occurs when Peter parts from Vlasich and Zina. “Riding into darkness, he looked back and saw Vlasich and Zina walking home along the path—he with long strides, she at his side with quick, jerky steps. They were conducting an animated conversation.” Peter’s loneliness is in that last sentence, and so is the splendid and perfect blindness of the lovers, who will get immense mileage, maybe even years, from conversation about their situation, followed by conversation about how they used to have conversation about their situation, followed by—what? Misery, some happiness, children perhaps, the final collapse of the porch, acrimony, bickering, recrimination, thickened waists, life.

—p.28 Chekhov's Anger (14) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
54

He was born in New Rochelle, New York, born to some wealth—his father was a diamond merchant—and after George’s mother’s death when he was four, the father remarried and moved the family to San Francisco, where George grew up. He started college at Oregon State and was expelled within months for staying out all night with his girlfriend, Mary, who became his wife. The young couple took off for New York City, where they met other young poets and started a press (with George’s money) and where, at the age of twenty-four, he published his first book of poems, Discrete Series. It was 1934, the country was in the depths of the Depression, and—this is a story poets know—George and Mary got involved in tenants’-rights strikes in Brooklyn, took up political organizing, joined the Communist Party of America, which eventually sent George to work in the auto factories in Detroit. During those years he simply set poetry aside. When the U.S. joined the war in 1941, he was thirty-three years old, working in a critical war industry, and he didn’t have to go, but he enlisted, elected to be in the infantry, and fought his way across France until he was wounded in 1944, awarded a Purple Heart, and sent home, to a country that was not hospitable to the young radicals of the 1930s.

sick

—p.54 George Oppen: His Art (52) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

He was born in New Rochelle, New York, born to some wealth—his father was a diamond merchant—and after George’s mother’s death when he was four, the father remarried and moved the family to San Francisco, where George grew up. He started college at Oregon State and was expelled within months for staying out all night with his girlfriend, Mary, who became his wife. The young couple took off for New York City, where they met other young poets and started a press (with George’s money) and where, at the age of twenty-four, he published his first book of poems, Discrete Series. It was 1934, the country was in the depths of the Depression, and—this is a story poets know—George and Mary got involved in tenants’-rights strikes in Brooklyn, took up political organizing, joined the Communist Party of America, which eventually sent George to work in the auto factories in Detroit. During those years he simply set poetry aside. When the U.S. joined the war in 1941, he was thirty-three years old, working in a critical war industry, and he didn’t have to go, but he enlisted, elected to be in the infantry, and fought his way across France until he was wounded in 1944, awarded a Purple Heart, and sent home, to a country that was not hospitable to the young radicals of the 1930s.

sick

—p.54 George Oppen: His Art (52) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
55

[...] I first laid eyes on George at one of San Francisco’s mammoth group poetry readings. It may have been to honor the memory of Ezra Pound, who died in 1972. Gary Snyder read, I remember, and Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure. There were a couple of dozen poets, and in those tumultuous years, they all tended to dress florally. Suddenly on the stage appeared a taut, lean, grizzled man in a quiet dark suit, white shirt, and narrow black tie. Hard to convey how unexpected he looked. The person I was with, older than me, with different points of reference, turned to me and said, “Who is that guy? He looks like he’s been editing the Daily Worker for the last thirty years.” And then George read, for three or four minutes, poems that were so exact, concentrated, musical, and resonant that I found myself looking around, a little amazed, to see if other people were hearing what I was hearing.

lmao

—p.55 George Oppen: His Art (52) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] I first laid eyes on George at one of San Francisco’s mammoth group poetry readings. It may have been to honor the memory of Ezra Pound, who died in 1972. Gary Snyder read, I remember, and Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure. There were a couple of dozen poets, and in those tumultuous years, they all tended to dress florally. Suddenly on the stage appeared a taut, lean, grizzled man in a quiet dark suit, white shirt, and narrow black tie. Hard to convey how unexpected he looked. The person I was with, older than me, with different points of reference, turned to me and said, “Who is that guy? He looks like he’s been editing the Daily Worker for the last thirty years.” And then George read, for three or four minutes, poems that were so exact, concentrated, musical, and resonant that I found myself looking around, a little amazed, to see if other people were hearing what I was hearing.

lmao

—p.55 George Oppen: His Art (52) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
66

[...] The history of this century has taught us that, however inevitable a revolution may be and however just, what follows in its wake is the settling of scores, the rebuilding of ruined economies, the countermoves of more powerful states, a tug-of-war between revolutionary idealism and human nature that gets decided as often as not in prisons. Reading Cardenal’s later poetry, one wants to turn again to the no less adamant but more reflective tones of another poet whose country has suffered from its proximity to powerful and jealous states; the Polish writer Zbigniew Herbert is less tempted by the idea of apocalyptic transformation and it makes his tone seem saner and more focused, in these lines, for example, from a recent book:

My defenseless country will admit you invader

and give you a plot of earth under a willow—and peace

so those who come after us will learn again

the most difficult art—the forgiveness of sins.

But it’s a little tricky for an American writer these days to lecture a Nicaraguan writer on the forgiveness of sins.

—p.66 Ernesto Cardenal: A Nicaraguan Poet's Beginnings (60) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] The history of this century has taught us that, however inevitable a revolution may be and however just, what follows in its wake is the settling of scores, the rebuilding of ruined economies, the countermoves of more powerful states, a tug-of-war between revolutionary idealism and human nature that gets decided as often as not in prisons. Reading Cardenal’s later poetry, one wants to turn again to the no less adamant but more reflective tones of another poet whose country has suffered from its proximity to powerful and jealous states; the Polish writer Zbigniew Herbert is less tempted by the idea of apocalyptic transformation and it makes his tone seem saner and more focused, in these lines, for example, from a recent book:

My defenseless country will admit you invader

and give you a plot of earth under a willow—and peace

so those who come after us will learn again

the most difficult art—the forgiveness of sins.

But it’s a little tricky for an American writer these days to lecture a Nicaraguan writer on the forgiveness of sins.

—p.66 Ernesto Cardenal: A Nicaraguan Poet's Beginnings (60) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
70

The main consequence of the war so far has been the death of a very large number of innocent Iraqi civilians and the flight from their country of two and a half million others who could afford to leave. The country is in such chaos that it’s impossible to get an even remotely accurate count of the casualties, but the most conservative estimate is one hundred thousand people, and the count may be as high as half a million. These are civilian casualties. A significant part of that number has been children. That means—inside a head made slightly demented by the violence that is invisible to us here in the United States—that the average length of these dead Iraqi bodies must be no more than four feet, and so, taking the median casualty estimates, that would mean that, if you laid out the dead in a straight line, head to toe, along Interstate 80 on a cold spring afternoon like this one, they would reach from San Francisco to somewhere between Truckee and Reno. If the higher estimates are accurate, possibly to Salt Lake City. Swaddled mostly in black, dusted with new snow.

wow

—p.70 Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant (69) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The main consequence of the war so far has been the death of a very large number of innocent Iraqi civilians and the flight from their country of two and a half million others who could afford to leave. The country is in such chaos that it’s impossible to get an even remotely accurate count of the casualties, but the most conservative estimate is one hundred thousand people, and the count may be as high as half a million. These are civilian casualties. A significant part of that number has been children. That means—inside a head made slightly demented by the violence that is invisible to us here in the United States—that the average length of these dead Iraqi bodies must be no more than four feet, and so, taking the median casualty estimates, that would mean that, if you laid out the dead in a straight line, head to toe, along Interstate 80 on a cold spring afternoon like this one, they would reach from San Francisco to somewhere between Truckee and Reno. If the higher estimates are accurate, possibly to Salt Lake City. Swaddled mostly in black, dusted with new snow.

wow

—p.70 Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant (69) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
78

The truth is that we have no control for testing the proposition that literature or philosophy, or religion for that matter, has had any mitigating effect on the violence of human behavior. This is the only world we’ve had and it is an exceedingly violent one, made more violent in the last hundred years by the enormous inventiveness of human technology and the greater ability of nation states to mobilize vast populations for the purposes of war. We know that the human heart loves images of superior strength, loves especially the combination of superior physical strength with superior agility of mind and nobility or gracefulness of demeanor. It loves vengeance, though there is some hope in the fact that, through some scruple in our natures, it loves vengeance against those who have done harm to the innocent and the weak, and it constructs plots, just as nation-states construct ideological justifications for war, that allow for this moral gratification of the love of violence and vengeance. Would some better and more powerful act of imagination make the world any better than it has been? Is the world better than it would have been had there been no songs or stories that rebelled against the violence in our natures and mirrored it back to us in a way that might have made us, or some of us, hesitate? There isn’t a control for this experiment. We have no way of knowing.

—p.78 Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant (69) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The truth is that we have no control for testing the proposition that literature or philosophy, or religion for that matter, has had any mitigating effect on the violence of human behavior. This is the only world we’ve had and it is an exceedingly violent one, made more violent in the last hundred years by the enormous inventiveness of human technology and the greater ability of nation states to mobilize vast populations for the purposes of war. We know that the human heart loves images of superior strength, loves especially the combination of superior physical strength with superior agility of mind and nobility or gracefulness of demeanor. It loves vengeance, though there is some hope in the fact that, through some scruple in our natures, it loves vengeance against those who have done harm to the innocent and the weak, and it constructs plots, just as nation-states construct ideological justifications for war, that allow for this moral gratification of the love of violence and vengeance. Would some better and more powerful act of imagination make the world any better than it has been? Is the world better than it would have been had there been no songs or stories that rebelled against the violence in our natures and mirrored it back to us in a way that might have made us, or some of us, hesitate? There isn’t a control for this experiment. We have no way of knowing.

—p.78 Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant (69) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago
92

What the poem does, in fact, is one of the things art has the power to do. It refreshes our sense of ordinary life, and—in this case—our sense that there are lives other than our own and that people with hopes and dreams and desires are going about them as we are going about ours. Boris Eichenbaum, the Russian formalist critic, has said that “the function of art is to make the grass grass and the stone stone, by freeing us from the automatism of perception.” It may be that the small power of the literary arts to make some contribution to resisting the violence of princes, and of the human heart that princes like George Bush symbolize, lies here.

on a poem by Ko Un in Ten Thousand Lives

—p.92 Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant (69) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago

What the poem does, in fact, is one of the things art has the power to do. It refreshes our sense of ordinary life, and—in this case—our sense that there are lives other than our own and that people with hopes and dreams and desires are going about them as we are going about ours. Boris Eichenbaum, the Russian formalist critic, has said that “the function of art is to make the grass grass and the stone stone, by freeing us from the automatism of perception.” It may be that the small power of the literary arts to make some contribution to resisting the violence of princes, and of the human heart that princes like George Bush symbolize, lies here.

on a poem by Ko Un in Ten Thousand Lives

—p.92 Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant (69) by Robert Hass 10 months, 3 weeks ago