"It doesn’t usually happen that you lose yourself in a book, but it can happen. It’s much harder to lose yourself online, to lose yourself in the sense of losing consciousness of everything else out there in the world. You can lose yourself online in another way, by following one thing after another, moving from one program or platform or site to another so constantly that you lose your focus. But with a book, your focus can be so sharp, so deep, that you can lose yourself in the other, benign sense … lose yourself vertically rather than horizontally."
"Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers, and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world. But what happens to the people who became writers because yakking and tweeting and bragging felt to them like intolerably shallow forms of social engagement? What happens to the people who want to communicate in depth, individual to individual, in the quiet and permanence of the printed word, and who were shaped by their love of writers who wrote when publication still assured some kind of quality control and literary reputations were more than a matter of self-promotional decibel levels? As fewer and fewer readers are able to find their way, amid all the noise and disappointing books and phony reviews, to the work produced by the new generation of this kind of writer, Amazon is well on its way to making writers into the kind of prospectless workers whom its contractors employ in its warehouses, labouring harder for less and less, with no job security, because the warehouses are situated in places where they’re the only business hiring. And the more of the population that lives like those workers, the greater the downward pressure on book prices and the greater the squeeze on conventional booksellers, because when you’re not making much money you want your entertainment for free, and when your life is hard you want instant gratification (“Overnight free shipping!”)."
"I talked with a sex adviser who told me, when you have a couple where the guy’s impotent, the worst thing to do is to give him some bullshit like, “Don’t think about, just do it spontaneously.” This is where you kill him. He told me one way to do it is to tell them to imitate a purely externalized bureaucratic procedure. Like, you want to make love, okay, sit down with your partner and make a Stalinist plan."
"Benjamin, who wanted to “supersede the opposition between musicians and listeners,” would have loved a world where everyone screws and chops."
"The part of the cliché “you’re the author of your own life” that I agree with is its implication that our identities are fictions"