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).

by far the best essay in the book; about the process of writing for Franzen and his despair about the American novel (which began in Yaddo in 1991)

he started his first book (The Twenty-Seventh City) at 22, finished it at 28; afterward, he felt like he had failed in his goal of engaging with the culture (see note 156)

Franzen, J. (2003). Why Bother?. In Franzen, J. How to Be Alone. Picador, pp. 55-97

61

[...] I'd already realized that the money, the hype, the limo ride to a Vogue shoot weren't simply fringe benefits. They were the main prize, the consolation for no longer mattering to a culture.

on publishing his debut novel

—p.61 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago

[...] I'd already realized that the money, the hype, the limo ride to a Vogue shoot weren't simply fringe benefits. They were the main prize, the consolation for no longer mattering to a culture.

on publishing his debut novel

—p.61 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago
66

[...] We live in a tyranny of the literal. [...]

when it comes to cultural references

—p.66 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago

[...] We live in a tyranny of the literal. [...]

when it comes to cultural references

—p.66 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago
69

[...] The American writer today faces a cultural totalitarianism analogous to the political totalitarianism with which two generations of Eastern bloc writers had to contend. To ignore it is to court nostalgia. To engage with it, however, is to risk writing fiction that makes the same point over and over: technological consumerism is an infernal machine, technological consumerism is an infernal machine ...

—p.69 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago

[...] The American writer today faces a cultural totalitarianism analogous to the political totalitarianism with which two generations of Eastern bloc writers had to contend. To ignore it is to court nostalgia. To engage with it, however, is to risk writing fiction that makes the same point over and over: technological consumerism is an infernal machine, technological consumerism is an infernal machine ...

—p.69 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago

written as a series of documents: letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents

72

Even harder to admit is how depressed I was. As the social stigma of depression dwindles, the aesthetic stigma increases. It’s not just that depression has become fashionable to the point of banality. It’s the sense that we live in a reductively binary culture: you’re either healthy or you’re sick, you either function or you don’t. And if that flattening of the field of possibilities is precisely what’s depressing you, you’re inclined to resist participating in the flattening by calling yourself depressed. You decide that it’s the world that’s sick, and that the resistance of refusing to function in such a world is healthy. You embrace what clinicians call “depressive realism.” It’s what the chorus in Oedipus Rex sings: “Alas, ye generations of men, how mere a shadow do I count your life! Where, where is the mortal who wins more of happiness than just the seeming, and, after the semblance, a falling away?” You are, after all, just protoplasm, and some day you’ll be dead. The invitation to leave your depression behind, whether through medication or therapy or effort of will, seems like an invitation to turn your back on all your dark insights into the corruption and infantilism and self-delusion of the brave new McWorld. And these insights are the sole legacy of the social novelist who desires to represent the world not simply in its detail but in its essence, to shine light on the morally blind eye of the virtual whirlwind, and who believes that human beings deserve better than the future of attractively priced electronic panderings that is even now being conspired for them. Instead of saying I am depressed, you want to say I am right.

—p.72 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago

Even harder to admit is how depressed I was. As the social stigma of depression dwindles, the aesthetic stigma increases. It’s not just that depression has become fashionable to the point of banality. It’s the sense that we live in a reductively binary culture: you’re either healthy or you’re sick, you either function or you don’t. And if that flattening of the field of possibilities is precisely what’s depressing you, you’re inclined to resist participating in the flattening by calling yourself depressed. You decide that it’s the world that’s sick, and that the resistance of refusing to function in such a world is healthy. You embrace what clinicians call “depressive realism.” It’s what the chorus in Oedipus Rex sings: “Alas, ye generations of men, how mere a shadow do I count your life! Where, where is the mortal who wins more of happiness than just the seeming, and, after the semblance, a falling away?” You are, after all, just protoplasm, and some day you’ll be dead. The invitation to leave your depression behind, whether through medication or therapy or effort of will, seems like an invitation to turn your back on all your dark insights into the corruption and infantilism and self-delusion of the brave new McWorld. And these insights are the sole legacy of the social novelist who desires to represent the world not simply in its detail but in its essence, to shine light on the morally blind eye of the virtual whirlwind, and who believes that human beings deserve better than the future of attractively priced electronic panderings that is even now being conspired for them. Instead of saying I am depressed, you want to say I am right.

—p.72 by Jonathan Franzen 1 year, 8 months ago
82

[...] "[...] And strong works of fiction are what refuse to give easy answers to the conflict, to paint things as black and white, good guys versus bad guys. They’re everything that pop psychology is not."

—p.82 by Shirley Brice Heath 1 year, 8 months ago

[...] "[...] And strong works of fiction are what refuse to give easy answers to the conflict, to paint things as black and white, good guys versus bad guys. They’re everything that pop psychology is not."

—p.82 by Shirley Brice Heath 1 year, 8 months ago

(noun) deceitfulness; untrustworthiness

87

perfidiously happy-faced

—p.87 by Jonathan Franzen
notable
1 year, 10 months ago

perfidiously happy-faced

—p.87 by Jonathan Franzen
notable
1 year, 10 months ago

outside of a novel

87

to speak extranovelistically

—p.87 by Jonathan Franzen
notable
1 year, 10 months ago

to speak extranovelistically

—p.87 by Jonathan Franzen
notable
1 year, 10 months ago
95

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.

—p.95 by Don DeLillo 1 year, 8 months ago

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.

—p.95 by Don DeLillo 1 year, 8 months ago