E-reader highlights for 2020

For my own reference more than anything, and presented without context, all of the text I highlighted in the e-books I read in 2020. Odd formatting from PDFs, accidental highlighting of extra words, and other quirks along those lines have not been corrected.

After all, the weird, perhaps more so than any other mode of literature, invites fresh perspectives and is open to multiple interpretations. What’s weird for you isn’t necessarily what’s weird for me.

Year’s Best Weird Fiction (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight at location 374-374 | Added on Wednesday, 1 January 2020 23:28:53

Fall deepened and thickened and the air above and over our heads grew cold, but the gold and red leaves and the earth itself were still hot to the touch, as though the trees were drawing up and throwing off some unseen underground fire.

The News (Alain de Botton)

  • Your Highlight on page 8 | location 112-113 | Added on Sunday, 26 January 2020 21:42:38

To consult the news is to raise a seashell to our ears and to be overpowered by the roar of humanity.

The News (Alain de Botton)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 221-222 | Added on Sunday, 26 January 2020 21:51:16

are institutionally committed to implying that it is inevitably better to have a shaky and partial grasp of a subject this minute than to wait for a more secure and comprehensive understanding somewhere down the line.

A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)

  • Your Bookmark on page 146 | location 2234 | Added on Sunday, 2 February 2020 21:55:56

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A Wizard of Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin)

  • Your Highlight on page 17 | location 255-256 | Added on Sunday, 2 February 2020 22:36:07

and wondered what was the good of having power if you were too wise to use it,

Gratitude (Oliver Sacks)

  • Your Highlight on page 13 | location 190-191 | Added on Sunday, 22 March 2020 21:42:30

I had been given not a remission, but an intermission, a time to deepen friendships, to see patients, to write, and to travel back to my homeland,

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)

  • Your Highlight on page 12 | location 175-176 | Added on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 20:36:30

It’s as if God had not designed reality with a line that was heavily scored but just dotted it with a faint outline.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)

  • Your Highlight on page 36 | location 550-551 | Added on Friday, 27 March 2020 22:27:39

If we are special, we are only special in the way that everyone feels themselves to be, like every mother is for her child. Certainly not for the rest of nature.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)

  • Your Highlight on page 36 | location 551-553 | Added on Friday, 27 March 2020 22:28:01

Within the immense ocean of galaxies and stars we are in a remote corner; amid the infinite arabesques of forms that constitute reality, we are merely a flourish among innumerably many such flourishes.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)

  • Your Highlight on page 40 | location 610-612 | Added on Friday, 27 March 2020 22:35:34

We have a hundred billion neurons in our brains, as many as there are stars in a galaxy, with an even more astronomical number of links and potential combinations through which they can interact. We are not conscious of all of this. “We” are the process formed by this entire intricacy, not just by the little of it of which we are conscious.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)

  • Your Highlight on page 43 | location 657-659 | Added on Friday, 27 March 2020 22:44:26

This strange, multicolored, and astonishing world that we explore—where space is granular, time does not exist, and things are nowhere—is not something that estranges us from our true selves, for this is only what our natural curiosity reveals to us about the place of our dwelling.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (Carlo Rovelli)

  • Your Highlight on page 43 | location 659-661 | Added on Friday, 27 March 2020 22:44:49

We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering or when we are experiencing intense joy, we are being nothing other than what we can’t help but be: a part of our world.

Conscious (Annaka Harris)

  • Your Highlight on page 2 | location 30-31 | Added on Saturday, 28 March 2020 20:12:54

being on the earth doesn’t separate us from the rest of the universe; indeed, we are and have always been in outer space.

The Perennial Philosophy (Aldous Huxley)

  • Your Highlight on page 17 | location 248-250 | Added on Tuesday, 7 April 2020 19:55:33

Liberation cannot be achieved except by the perception of the identity of the individual spirit with the universal Spirit. It can be achieved neither by Yoga (physical training), nor by Sankhya (speculative philosophy), nor by the practice of religious ceremonies, nor by mere learning.…

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 7 | location 107-107 | Added on Wednesday, 15 April 2020 22:38:17

Welive in a meaning-rupture because we are human and the universe is not.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 11 | location 161-164 | Added on Wednesday, 15 April 2020 22:45:50

there is something about religion that is more completely centered oncontemplating the rupture—perhaps it is because no end product (canvas,performance, or text) is expected or construed as the central point of theadventure. With religion, the point of the exercise is enlightenment; it is toteach us to live, well and wide awake, in our strange place between mean-ing and meaninglessness.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 23 | location 350-351 | Added on Friday, 17 April 2020 23:00:08

“This worldorder, the same for all, no one of gods or men has made, but it always wasand is and shall be: an ever living fire, kindling in measures and going outin measures.”

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 42 | location 638-640 | Added on Saturday, 18 April 2020 13:11:12

What is fascinating is that Plato’ssolution is both logical and transcendent. Here one does not use logic toconquer chaos. Rather, one uses logic because the logic itself is beauty, istruth. Plato offers the amazing idea that contemplation of the way thingsreally are is, in itself, a purifying process that can bring human beings intothe only divinity there is.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 53 | location 811-813 | Added on Saturday, 18 April 2020 20:08:32

Theexperience of doubt in a heterogeneous, cosmopolitan world is a bit likebeing lost in a forest, unendingly beckoned by a thousand possible routes.At every juncture, with every step, one is confronted with alternative paths,so that the second-guessing becomes more infuriating even than the fact ofbeing lost.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 55 | location 840-841 | Added on Saturday, 18 April 2020 20:16:44

We are the stuff of the universe, momentarilysentient, but aside from that little piece of weirdness, we are already home.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 61 | location 935-936 | Added on Sunday, 19 April 2020 17:34:12

What is more, urged Epicurus, life is full of sweetness. We might as wellenjoy it; we might as well really make an art of appreciating pleasure.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 63 | location 956-958 | Added on Sunday, 19 April 2020 17:37:15

such notionsare not of much use if one simply understands the ideas. They have to bestudied until they are fully integrated and accepted in one’s whole being—as with the Cynics, the pursuit of these ideas required devotion.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 64 | location 970-972 | Added on Sunday, 19 April 2020 17:38:52

Exercise thyself in these and kindred precepts day and night, both by thyselfand with him who is like thee; then never, either in waking or in dream, willyou be disturbed, but will live as a God among people. For people lose allappearance of mortality by living in the midst of immortal blessings.^^

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 117 | location 1786-1787 | Added on Tuesday, 21 April 2020 16:59:15

Yet this realism did notblind him to wonder: we see, with beauty in mind, a world that may nothave been designed with beauty in mind. Indeed,

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 17 | location 253-256 | Added on Friday, 24 April 2020 14:50:26

According to convention, I am not simply what I am doing now. I am also what I have done, and my conventionally edited version of my past is made to seem almost more the real “me” than what I am at this moment. For what I am seems so fleeting and intangible, but what I was is fixed and final. It is the firm basis for predictions of what I will be in the future, and so it comes about that I am more closely identified with what no longer exists than with what actually is!

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 31 | location 461-464 | Added on Friday, 24 April 2020 19:50:38

For it is really impossible to appreciate what is meant by the Tao without becoming, in a rather special sense, stupid. So long as the conscious intellect is frantically trying to clutch the world in its net of abstractions, and to insist that life be bound and fitted to its rigid categories, the mood of Taoism will remain incomprehensible; and the intellect will wear itself out.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 201 | location 3079-3083 | Added on Friday, 8 May 2020 23:24:36

“Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a sys-tem, let this first be established, that I am a part of the whole which is gov-erned by nature; next, I am in a manner intimately related to the partswhich are of the same kind with myself” We are all one. The result of thisrealization would be not only our own inner calm, but also an attitude ofpatience and generosity toward other people, even fools. “Men exist for the sake of one another,” counseled the emperor, “Teach them then or bearwith them.”

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 208 | location 3176-3176 | Added on Saturday, 9 May 2020 22:27:17

All drivellers.Well then, man: do what nature now requires. Set

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 208 | location 3176-3178 | Added on Saturday, 9 May 2020 22:27:36

Set thyself in motion, if it isin thy power, and do not look about thee to see if any one will observe it;nor yet expect Plato’s Republic: but be content if the smallest thing goes onwell, and consider such an event to be no small matter.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page xiv | location 137-137 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:17:55

We’re all just waiting, that’s what I believe.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page xv | location 152-155 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:20:15

“Research . . . reveals a staggering finding: contemplating the future could be the brain’s default mode of operation. But this is not wasteful daydreaming or, as the phrase goes, a case of ‘wishing our lives away.’ Mental time-travel into the future matters. . . . It affects our judgments, our emotional states and the decisions we make.”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 5 | location 223-226 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:25:37

But waiting, much more often than not, entails many other characteristics than gloominess, the dour, the hopeless, and the boring. Waiting can quite often be OK. Waiting can even be fun. Waiting can sometimes be something to look forward to. Waiting, when you come to think of it, can be a very sympathetic characteristic in another person that you know well. It can show their capacity for kindness and for thoughtfulness and it can even demonstrate their affection.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 10 | location 290-291 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:33:21

there may be two ways of contemplating waiting. You can focus on the situation or you can focus on the experience. The

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 10 | location 290-291 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:33:33

there may be two ways of contemplating waiting. You can focus on the situation or you can focus on the experience.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 14 | location 337-338 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:37:50

of waiting for these individuals may be quite a different thing. Their

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 14 | location 338-340 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:38:02

Claudia Hammond, in Time Warped, has an even stranger formulation for the experience of queuing. She explains “people at the back of a queue are more likely to see time as moving towards them, while people at the front see themselves as moving through time.”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 349-350 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 17:38:58

“waiting entails the emotional experience of a situation that involves staying where you are until a particular time or event or until the arrival of a particular person—or both.”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 31 | location 544-547 | Added on Saturday, 16 May 2020 18:00:58

Research has suggested that while you are waiting for something usually stimulating or sometimes enjoyable to happen—before it happens, I mean—there can be a dopamine release. This dopamine release is pleasurable and seems to act as a little gift to the brain for the waiting. Expectation, you could say, is followed by a reward.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 49 | location 783-785 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 21:41:49

dopamine “can be linked to . . . emotional states, such as grandiosity, elation, and even euphoria . . . [but that it is] also associated with emotional detachment and social isolation”?

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 53 | location 842-845 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 21:47:09

Waiting is an experience that’s firmly rooted within the animal body—it’s not just rooted in the situations relating to time (like queuing, for example) in which the body is situated. Waiting, or a waiting that is effective, a waiting that doesn’t spill over into the opposite extremes of dread and fear or of exuberance, is based on just the right measure within the brain of either serotonin or dopamine.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 63 | location 931-933 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 22:45:35

Strangely enough in the case of the vervets, that practice doesn’t seem to depend on the specific partner, baby, or friend. It’s provided by the community in which the creature lives and by its expectations and habits. This

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 65 | location 963-965 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 22:49:15

decrease in anxiety firmly to beneficial levels of serotonin. It’s easy to see how this capacity to wait, this minimizing of anxiety, benefits the group. The stability that affiliative grooming and its resulting serotonin enables seems to create a very safe world in which the little vervet can function.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Note on page 65 | location 965 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 22:50:43

If social ties are what help patience how to deal with no socialising

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 76 | location 1103-1103 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 23:06:21

an act of powerful waiting. Tracy

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 75 | location 1103-1103 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 23:06:30

Louise and Spencer stayed married until his death, for more than 40 years, an act of powerful waiting.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Note on page 76 | location 1103 | Added on Monday, 18 May 2020 23:07:28

Im not sure i buy this as waiting

is there a difference between waiting and enduring

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 97 | location 1401-1401 | Added on Tuesday, 19 May 2020 23:15:48

“misery is when no more waiting is possible.”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 122 | location 1701-1702 | Added on Tuesday, 19 May 2020 23:36:35

Pausing looks to the resumption of activity and is a period of waiting that takes place within, and sometimes at the beginning of some longer activity.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 125 | location 1743-1745 | Added on Thursday, 21 May 2020 08:29:45

The opioid blocker Naltrex, he concluded, may reduce the amount of pleasure that listeners get from actually listening to their favorite song, but they still enjoy just as much being paused, waiting to hear their favorite song, all thanks to the dopamine release.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 129 | location 1809-1811 | Added on Thursday, 21 May 2020 08:36:24

Claudia Hammond does have a lot to say about how the experience of felt time can entail the sense of the deceleration of time. She relates this particularly to dread, but perhaps it works as well with dread’s opposite, strong pleasure.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 130 | location 1816-1817 | Added on Thursday, 21 May 2020 08:37:01

Suspense makes the body clock run more slowly, or at least we perceive time to run more slowly. If the suspense entails something dangerous, then dread or fear seems to be responsible for the deceleration

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 183 | location 2474-2475 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:04:28

The situation of waiting tells you zero about the experience of waiting.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 194 | location 2622-2624 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:17:54

the skeptical and ever pessimistic Estragon? Or is it just me? The play is also very popular because it appeals, dare I say it, to an adolescent strain in many of us that sees the world as something where you wait without expectation and in which waiting without hope is the dominant characterizer

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 195 | location 2645-2647 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:20:00

Waiting for Godot was composed in a period during which waiting without hope seemed to be understood as the defining characteristic of what it was to be human. It was a period that played on easy alienation and existential waiting.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 199 | location 2693-2694 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:24:38

Heidegger seems to believe that this sort of waiting and the boredom that it may engender helps us to understand our genuine selves

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 200 | location 2710-2712 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:26:48

Self-awareness is encouraged by waiting and boredom, Sartre believes, in much the same way as it was for Heidegger. There follows, he maintained, a gap between the self-knowledge waiting and boredom can produce

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 200 | location 2710-2712 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:26:54

Self-awareness is encouraged by waiting and boredom, Sartre believes, in much the same way as it was for Heidegger. There follows, he maintained, a gap between the self-knowledge waiting and boredom can produce and that which is lost when we are merely acting our roles.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 211 | location 2851-2852 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:38:49

Dread, waiting in fear for something bad to happen, is said to be exacerbated by the amount of time spent waiting.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 211 | location 2857-2858 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:39:22

dread I mean, seems to have served Tess Christian very well.6 Psychologists

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 211 | location 2858-2859 | Added on Saturday, 23 May 2020 23:39:27

Psychologists believe they can demonstrate that most individuals will chose more pain sooner, rather than a drawn-out easier process of pain

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 215 | location 2923-2924 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:09:22

columnist and Barnard College sociologist, Elizabeth Bernstein.13 “But if you’ve worried, you’ve done a lot of the psychological work already, no matter the outcome,”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 216 | location 2927-2929 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:10:04

turns out there is a way to ‘wait well,’ researchers say. People who feel anxious or pessimistic or who ruminate while awaiting news fare better than others when it finally arrives, the researchers say. (There really is hope for me.) Such people are more prepared for bad news and more excited about good news.”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 216 | location 2934-2935 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:10:47

“people can wait in such a way as to ease their distress during the waiting period. Second, people could wait in such a way as to ease the pain of bad news or enhance the thrill of good news.”

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 217 | location 2940-2943 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:11:32

“Participants who suffered through a waiting period marked,” Sweeny explains, “by anxiety, rumination, and pessimism responded more productively to bad news and more joyfully to good news, as copared with participants who suffered little during the wait.”14

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 217 | location 2949-2950 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:12:18

The aim is to turn dread and waiting to your own advantage, whether it is through eloquent complaint or working-class humor.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 239 | location 3220-3222 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:44:41

solitary and disgusting side of boredom acts as a vigorous enemy of waiting. It takes away the pairing, and what remains is a restless solitude.8 That’s

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 240 | location 3242-3246 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:47:13

Maybe they are, but that’s not really the point of their laments. Their worlds embody the permanent extinction of engagement (a personal connection with the world around), their worlds enforce the extinction of curiosity (how can you be curious when you are completely unable to explore?), and the extinction of interest (which is impossible on Jean-Do’s Sundays).9 None of these solitaries seem to exemplify the experience of waiting—it’s boredom or depression or just being on your own.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 241 | location 3249-3251 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:47:30

Boredom wants you to move on. Its simplest correlate is escape. Waiting, on the other hand, offers its adaptive advantage from a person’s staying and from their focus on something that in the future will arrive. Boredom is really an enemy of waiting. Boredom is the enemy of staying put.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 250 | location 3363-3365 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:54:18

thought of as an emotion in its own right? Staying and arrival, both at the heart of the definition of waiting, also help us to understand how waiting could assume the status of an emotion in its own right.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 250 | location 3364-3365 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:54:24

Staying and arrival, both at the heart of the definition of waiting, also help us to understand how waiting could assume the status of an emotion in its own right.

Hold On (Toohey, Peter)

  • Your Highlight on page 252 | location 3383-3385 | Added on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 20:56:09

Waiting, as an experience within the brain, seems to have a limited range that’s defined especially by the presence of serotonin and dopamine and by their focus on staying and arrival.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 269 | location 4122-4123 | Added on Saturday, 30 May 2020 20:58:37

great teachers of Zen have urged keeping oneself in a constant stateof unknowing, and they have excelled in generating an attitude of question-ing that is sustained and vivid in its wonder, yet blank and unhopeful inrelation to answers.

The Strange Bird (Jeff VanderMeer)

  • Your Highlight on page 44 | location 665-666 | Added on Friday, 5 June 2020 22:13:07

Because they felt they had the right. Because the situation was extreme and the world was dying. So they had gone on doing the same things that had destroyed the world, to save it.

The Strange Bird (Jeff VanderMeer)

  • Your Highlight on page 79 | location 1204-1207 | Added on Saturday, 6 June 2020 23:10:27

Yet what did it matter. For what are bodies? Where do they end and where do they begin? And why must they be constant? Why must they be strong? So much was leaving her, but of the winnowing, the Strange Bird sang for joy. She sang for joy. Not because she had not suffered or been reduced. But because she was finally free and the world could not be saved, but nor would it be destroyed.

Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Highlight on page 4 | location 56-58 | Added on Sunday, 7 June 2020 23:49:18

In the context of the Negro problem neither whites nor blacks, for excellent reasons of their own, have the faintest desire to look back; but I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.

Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Highlight on page 5 | location 71-72 | Added on Sunday, 7 June 2020 23:50:54

This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.

Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Highlight on page 9 | location 126-128 | Added on Sunday, 7 June 2020 23:57:37

In overlooking, denying, evading his complexity— which is nothing more than the disquieting complexity of ourselves—^we are diminished and we perish; only within this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness, can we find at once ourselves and the power that will free us from ourselves.

Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Bookmark on page 12 | location 177 | Added on Monday, 8 June 2020 00:05:00

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Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Highlight on page 12 | location 184-186 | Added on Monday, 8 June 2020 00:07:24

It is the peculiar triumph of society—and its loss— that it is able to convince those people to whom it has given inferior status of the reaUty of this decree; it has the force and the weapons to translate its dictum into fact, so that the allegedly inferior are actually made so, insofar as the societal reaUties are concerned.

Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 220-221 | Added on Monday, 8 June 2020 00:12:50

But our humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what is infini tely more difficult—that is, accept it.

Notes of a native son (Baldwin, James, 1924-1987)

  • Your Bookmark on page 26 | location 385 | Added on Monday, 8 June 2020 09:14:13

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Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 292 | location 4475-4477 | Added on Thursday, 11 June 2020 19:11:24

There is cer-tainly no point in trying to return to the level of the naive and derivativebelief once it has been left, since a condition of being at such a level is thatone should not know one is there; when a man comes to know that, the glass of his naive beliefs is broken.

The Soul of an Octopus (Sy Montgomery)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 224-225 | Added on Friday, 26 June 2020 23:49:28

animals “are not brethren, they are not underlings” but beings “gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”

The Soul of an Octopus (Sy Montgomery)

  • Your Highlight on page 53 | location 801-803 | Added on Saturday, 27 June 2020 19:14:33

Jennifer Mather and Roland Anderson. Jennifer, a psychologist at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, is one of the world’s leading researchers on octopus intelligence;

Dead Astronauts (Jeff VanderMeer)

  • Your Highlight on page 32 | location 488-488 | Added on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 00:15:25

Caught in mid-flight or huddled in corners. The runneling

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 42 | location 641-642 | Added on Sunday, 19 July 2020 22:20:56

what the culture of Taoism and Zen proposes is that one might become the kind of person who, without intending it, is a source of marvelous accidents.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 57 | location 872-875 | Added on Monday, 20 July 2020 20:05:50

To say, then, that the world of facts and events is maya is to say that facts and events are terms of measurement rather than realities of nature. We must, however, expand the concept of measurement to include setting bounds of all kinds, whether by descriptive classification or selective screening. It will thus be easy to see that facts and events are as abstract as lines of latitude or as feet and inches.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 59 | location 894-894 | Added on Monday, 20 July 2020 20:08:06

is said to have begun at the moment of parturition,

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 73 | location 1110-1114 | Added on Tuesday, 21 July 2020 23:44:16

To the restless temperament of the West, sitting meditation may seem to be an unpleasant discipline, because we do not seem to be able to sit “just to sit” without qualms of conscience, without feeling that we ought to be doing something more important to justify our existence. To propitiate this restless conscience, sitting meditation must therefore be regarded as an exercise, a discipline with an ulterior motive. Yet at that very point it ceases to be meditation (dhyana) in the Buddhist sense, for where there is purpose, where there is seeking and grasping for results, there is no dhyana.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 92 | location 1409-1410 | Added on Saturday, 25 July 2020 20:29:27

each single form, just as it is, is the void and that, further, the uniqueness of each form arises from the fact that it exists in relation to every other form

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 155 | location 2371-2373 | Added on Sunday, 2 August 2020 22:31:32

The unnatural awkwardness of a certain type of self-consciousness comes into being when we are aware of conflict or contrast between the idea of ourselves, on the one hand, and the immediate, concrete feeling of ourselves, on the other.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 188 | location 2873-2874 | Added on Friday, 7 August 2020 22:09:17

From the Buddhist point of view, reality itself has no meaning since it is not a sign, pointing to something beyond itself.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

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does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

  • Your Highlight on page 193 | location 2955-2956 | Added on Friday, 7 August 2020 22:24:27

It does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.

The Art of Simple Living (Shunmyo Masuno)

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Humans are not capable of thinking while we are moving.

The Art of Simple Living (Shunmyo Masuno)

  • Your Note on page 27 | location 407 | Added on Tuesday, 11 August 2020 21:12:29

This is counter to a lot of writing on the value of walking and thinking…

Dreaming the end of the world : apocalypse as a rite of passage (Hill, Michael Ortiz)

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opposite: the fear and the actuality of the uncontrollable. Just as we have insisted with Messianic fervor that the New Age required the unconditional surrender of the enemy, so also, apparently, does it require the unconditional surrender of that vast field of unpredictability and otherness called nature.

Dreaming the end of the world : apocalypse as a rite of passage (Hill, Michael Ortiz)

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community from what might emerge from that abyss. The dream at the end of the world hearkens back to a mythical landscape where the realm of wilderness, wildness, maternal darkness, underworld and death was defeated so that the logos of the new urban order could reign supreme.

Dreaming the end of the world : apocalypse as a rite of passage (Hill, Michael Ortiz)

  • Your Highlight on page 38 | location 571-573 | Added on Wednesday, 12 August 2020 23:26:19

The dream at the end of the world hearkens back to a mythical landscape where the realm of wilderness, wildness, maternal darkness, underworld and death was defeated so that the logos of the new urban order could reign supreme.

Dreaming the end of the world : apocalypse as a rite of passage (Hill, Michael Ortiz)

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In the “developed” world, much of what has become the fabric of post-traditional, consumerist society can be read for its subtext as a desperate scrambling to protect the naked psyche. From this perspective, there is a common root to taking refuge in drugs or alcohol, say, with taking refuge in the fundamentalist mind-set where religious, political or ideological absolutes cocoon one from the uncertainty of living in this era.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

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The art is most difficult for those who have developed the sensitive intellect to such a point that they cannot help making predictions about the future, and so must be kept in a constant whirl of activity to forestall them.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

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If life comes, this is life. If death comes, this is death. There is no reason for your being under their control. Don’t put any hope in them. This life and death are the life of the Buddha. If you try to throw them away in denial, you lose the life of the Buddha.3

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

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no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.

The Way of Zen (Alan W. Watts)

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Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.

Dreaming the end of the world : apocalypse as a rite of passage (Hill, Michael Ortiz)

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let nothing be called natural In an age of bloody confusion

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

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people wouldnever be superstitious if the world was orderly, or if they were always lucky,”but being frequently driven into straits where rules are useless, and beingoften kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear,” people “are conse-quently, for the most part, very prone to credulity.” Here’s

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

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==========
Team Human (Unknown)

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socially fulfilled people need less money, experience less shame, behave less predictably, and act more autonomously.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Survival of the fittest is a convenient way to justify the cutthroat ethos of a competitive marketplace, political landscape, and culture. But this perspective misconstrues the theories of Darwin as well as his successors. By viewing evolution though a strictly competitive lens, we miss the bigger story of our own social development and have trouble understanding humanity as one big, interconnected team.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Humans are defined not by our superior hunting ability so much as by our capacity to communicate, trust, and share.

Team Human (Unknown)

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What makes humans special is that we can also bind time. We don’t need to experience everything for ourselves over the course of a single lifetime. Instead, we benefit from the experiences of our predecessors, who can tell us what they’ve learned.

Team Human (Unknown)

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When we can’t see ourselves as part of an enduring organism, we focus instead on our individual mortality. We engage in futile gestures of permanence, from acquiring wealth to controlling other people.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Those competing individuals never find true autonomy, however, because they lack the social fabric in which to exercise it.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Gone are the collaborative urges that characterize embodied social interaction. In their place comes another bastardized Darwinian ideal: a battle for survival of the fittest meme.

Team Human (Unknown)

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To be truly social starts to feel like a restraint—like the yoke of political correctness, or a compromising tolerance of those whose very existence weakens our stock.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Instead of compensating for the utilitarian quality of workers’ lives, education becomes an extension of it. Where learning was the purpose—the figure—in the original model of public education, now it is the ground, or merely the means through which workers are prepared for their jobs.

Team Human (Unknown)

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The primary purpose of the internet had changed from supporting a knowledge economy to growing an attention economy.

Team Human (Unknown)

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We forget that those notations are an approximation of music, a compromised way of documenting an embodied expression of human emotion and artistry as a system of symbols so that it can be re-created by someone else.

Team Human (Unknown)

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instead of determining the investment required to insulate oneself from the world, we can look instead at how much of our time, energy, and money we need to invest in the world so that it doesn’t become a place we need to insulate ourselves from in the first place.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Things in nature grow to a certain point and then stop.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Commercial work with a central figure, rising tension, and a satisfying resolution succeeds because it plays to our fears of uncertainty, boredom, and ambiguity—fears generated by the market values driving our society in the first place.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Our renaissance potentially brings us from a world of objects to one of connections and patterns. The world can be understood as a fractal, where each piece reflects the whole. Nothing can be isolated or externalized since it’s always part of the larger system.

Team Human (Unknown)

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The other person’s position—even a heinous one—still derives from some human sensibility, however distorted by time, greed, war, or oppression. To find that core humanity, resonate with it, and retrieve its essential truth, we have to be willing to listen to our adversaries as if they were human.

Team Human (Unknown)

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Money, debt, jobs, slavery, countries, race, corporatism, stock markets, brands, religions, government, and taxes are all human inventions. We made them up, but we now act as if they’re unchangeable laws.

Team Human (Unknown)

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We mistakenly treat the future as something to prepare for.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

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==========
The Tangled Tree (David Quammen)

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“The kingdoms are man’s classification,” he added, and their meaning derives only from the fact that we humans choose to recognize them, purely for our convenience in organizing biological knowledge. This is similar to what he had said about plant communities: that the communities, as distinct from individual plants or populations of this species or that, have a “low degree of reality” in the tangible world.

The Tangled Tree (David Quammen)

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AM Gold 2020 – 100 Songs from 100 Artists in 2020

Back when I was a music journalist, I used to put painstaking care into narrowing down year-end lists, agonizing over the order, wondering whether the albums I chose were destined to be long-lived or were just reflective of their moment, and how that should affect their placement in a list that was both about the music and about the year.

Now that my approach to music has shifted from critic to advocate, I feel like a lot of that effort was misplaced. Sure, it’s a little bit interesting to talk about what music will last and what won’t, but also, music isn’t something that lends itself to ranking. It isn’t objective. How you receive it is based on so many things outside of the music itself, and assigning metrics or rankings to that reflects as much about the critic as the writer.

I’ve been much happier, then, putting together these more sprawling lists, where the selection criteria is only whether the music resonated with me this year, and the sorting is strictly alphabetical, no hierarchy implied. For me, it’s nice to listen back to these songs and remember the moments and moods they conjure up.

For sure, there are themes I can pick up in the selections. Given that the aim of The A.M. is by and large creating a sense of calm and uplift, the songs are quite mellow. This year more than most, ambient and new age music has knitted itself even more firmly into the show’s fabric, along with contemporary classical and other experimental moods. There’s less straightforward singer-songwriter structures than ever, which maybe reflects a year that was also lacking in any straightforward narratives, some sort of search for sounds that were more immersive and more surprising. But there are plenty of examples on the list to counter that point, too–a year is full of different needs and different settings, after all.

It’s a fairly diverse list in terms of musical genres, but a fairly consistent one in terms of mood. In a way I tend to feel the songs that make their way onto The AM are all approaching the same point, but from different angles, all fleshing out different aspects of the same overall experience. Maybe that’s overly grand, but considering the hold music has held over me for the better part of 37 years, I think I can be forgiven for a little overstatement.

I’ll leave this off on a grander note still, with a thought that’s been nagging at me since long before the pandemic and that has only felt more true in the past few months. I think it was Alan Watts who I first heard say that life is more like a song than a story. You might rush through a story to get to the ending–as much as there’s joy in the telling of it, there’s also a sense in which the point of the story is finding out what happens. That isn’t true in a song. Rushing it doesn’t get you to the point more quickly, it misses the point entirely. The value of the song is in the unfolding of it. It’s a thing to be experienced, not understood.

I love that parallel, and I think it’s a really instructive one, too. Part of the reason I enjoy listening to music, and to this music in particular, is how easy it is to get lost in it. This has been a year packed with anxieties, but for the most part, anxieties are rooted in the past and the future. We worry about what we’ve done, and what’s going to happen, and one of the easiest ways to find a moment of calm is to return to the present, at least for a bit. Music helps me to do that, because it is something that can only be experienced in the now. It’s like a sort of training wheels for mindfulness. When I’m too scattered to bring myself into the present, I can put on headphones, put on one of these songs, and for a few minutes at least, everything else dissolves away.

Anyway, without further ado, here are 100 songs from 100 artists that made 2020 a little more tolerable:

Light Being – @10thxLetter
https://10thletter.bandcamp.com/album/primitive-shapes
One of the more uplifting moments on the Atlanta producer’s 2020 full-length, an album that distorts deep grooves through a fractured sci-fi lens.
1/100

Gravity – @AdrianYounge, @AliShaheed, Roy Ayers
https://royayers.bandcamp.com/album/roy-ayers-jid002
Consider this an endorsement of the whole Jazz is Dead series. Picking a single track from a project that excels so consistently isn’t easy, but Ayers’ warmth feels especially necessary right now.
2/100

Suite Pour L’invisible – Ana Roxanne
https://anaroxanne.bandcamp.com/album/because-of-a-flower-2
Melancholy and meditative, Ana Roxanne’s songs don’t build so much as they billow, slowly expanding like smoke filling a room. Ambient, ethereal, and utterly lovely.
3/100

Feeling Light – @theanaloggirl
https://theanaloggirl.bandcamp.com/album/awe
Like “I Feel Love” spun through a Cocteau Twins dream-pop filter, this breathy anthem blends swooning sounds and a touch of icy anxiety to capture a very 2020 sort of mood.
4/100

Neon Skyline – @andyshauf https://andyshauf.bandcamp.com/album/the-neon-skyline
The title track to Shauf’s latest is a sublime example of his meticulous pop. Polished melodies, tasteful horns, just a hint of Thin Lizzy swagger; it’s invitingly loose, without a single detail out of place.
5/100

The Sound Where My Head Was – @Badgeepoque
https://badgeepoque.bandcamp.com/album/self-help
Max Turnbull’s jazz-funk odyssey has yet to take a misstep. The textured clavinet here that sets the stage for a voyage into the mystic before the band steps in to swing into the stratosphere.
6/100

Ritual – @baechulgi
https://baechulgi.bandcamp.com/album/mobius
Chill beats for inward journeys, a gorgeous intersection of new age ambiance and lo-fi hip-hop that pulls you in deeper with every too-short listen.
7/100

Clarion – @BenLukasBoysen
https://benlukasboysen.bandcamp.com/album/mirage-2
Maybe the most transcendent musical experience of the year, Boysen’s Mirage layers organic sounds behind layers of textured processing, creating something at once otherworldly and undeniably, achingly human.
8/100

The Fool – Brigid Dawson & the Mothers Network
https://brigiddawson.bandcamp.com/
What you get when you give the most melodic moments of Thee Oh Sees more room to breathe and let them soak in spacious arrangements. The loping cadence of The Fool’s bass line is pure joy.
9/100

Stretched to Our Thoughts – @BuildingsFood_
https://buildingsandfood.bandcamp.com/album/up-down-strange-charm
What seems almost like a music-box melody on the surface keeps revealing new depths on each re-listen. A collection of electroacoustic rabbit holes, best explored with headphones cranked and eyes closed.
10/100

Yawn – @BullionNess
https://bullion.bandcamp.com/album/heaven-is-over
Joyfully inventive pop that updates the wonder and creativity of artists like XTC and Eno’s early solo work for the new millennium. Warbly and offbeat in all the best ways.
11/100

Gabor’s Path – Causa Sui (on @El_Paraiso_Rec)
https://album.link/i/1533904147
The hat-tip to jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo came as a surprise from a group known for soaring psych jams. Szabordelico is still headier than its namesake, but the melody and groove do the Gabor proud.
12/100

Ancient Future – Captures
https://capturesofficial.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-future-ep
Globally minded electronica that integrates samples of the Chinese ghuzeng into a quietly propulsive sonic palate, ebbing and flowing like the tides.
13/100

Light in Yr Eye (I Loosened Up on You) – Cedric Noel
https://cedricnoelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/nothing-forever-everything
Nothing Forever, Everything is a bear-hug of an album, where even the saddest songs come across like invitations to uplift. Noel is an incredibly welcoming performer, effortlessly drawing you in.
14/100

Plant Care – Chris Mazuera & tender spring (on @memoir_music
https://memoirlabel.bandcamp.com/album/staying-in
Staying inside is more an obligation than a choice these days, but there’s beauty to be found in indoors, too, and Plant Care is as nurturing as the title implies.
15/100

One Second to Toe the Line – Cindy Lee (on @w25threcords)
https://cindylee.bandcamp.com/album/whats-tonight-to-eternity
Romantic in the way Gloria Swanson’s final walk in Sunset Blvd is romantic. Karen Carpenter raised on the VU’s iciest moments. The ghost of an abandoned echo plate. Haunted and beautiful.
16/100

Weeping Birch – @ebaynetflix
https://dandeacon.bandcamp.com/album/mystic-familiar
Not so much a song as a bursting forth of ecstasy. Dan Deacon’s art-pop has always grasped for the sublime, but Weeping Birch (and Mystic Familiar more broadly) might be the closest he’s come to actually capturing it.
17/100

Yesterday Is Gone – @danagavanski
https://danagavanskifth.bandcamp.com/album/yesterday-is-gone
2020 needed an ode to letting go of the past, and Gavanski’s title track rings with quiet stoicism, its complex emotions buttressed by the stable, reassuring structure of a classic pop song.
18/100

Love-Lore 3 – @deerhoof
https://deerhoof.bandcamp.com/album/love-lore
In the midst of a discordant, whiplash-inducing tour of the 20th century avant-garde, Deerhoof pause for three minutes of sweetness that are more defiantly progressive than even the harshest noise around them.
19/100

It Was Me – @deradoorian
https://deradoorian.bandcamp.com/album/find-the-sun
In the spiritual journey of Find the Sun, It Was Me is when the illusion of easy answers is torn away. The roiling instrumentals and stoic vocals capture the tension of the moment, the fear and freedom of belief in nothing.
20/100

Blissful Dream Interpretation Melody – @DISCOVERYZONE3
https://discoveryzone1.bandcamp.com/album/remote-control
At once kitschy and utterly sincere, Discovery Zone thrives in contradiction. Updating psych-synth pioneer Bruce Haack for a new millennium, it’s laser-guided retro-futurism for the crystal set.
21/100

Humble in Heart – Dmitry Evgrafov (on @FatCatRecords)
https://dmitry-evgrafov.bandcamp.com/album/surrender
The modern classical composer’s most collaborative work to date, the buoyant and affecting “Humble in Heart” proves the soul-affirming value of shedding the need for complete control.
22/100

Sunshine in 1929 – @domeniquedumont
https://domeniquedumont.bandcamp.com/album/people-on-sunday
A new score for a Weimar-era silent, Dumont’s playful, nostalgic People on Sunday is an escape into utopian realms. I can’t get over how much joy the ballooning bass in this song brings me.
23/100

Order and Class – Ecotype
https://ecotype.bandcamp.com/album/field-study
Wandering synths, ethereal flutes, and lazy guitars drift by like fleeting thoughts on an autumn stroll. Order and Class is an assemblage of enticing tangents, with production spacious enough to follow every turn.
24/100

Hipps – @El_Michels
https://elmichelsaffair.bandcamp.com/album/adult-themes
Three minutes of head-bobbing triumph that provide the high point on a fictional movie soundtrack reverse engineered from a crate-digger’s dreams. Impossible not to strut while listening to this.
25/100

Flesh Or Blood – @enattendantana
https://enattendantana.bandcamp.com/album/juillet
A jangle-pop gem from the early days of 2020 that gathers speed with its teenage-riot-in-miniature guitar riff then takes flight with the aid of an unexpected trumpet line.
26/100

Section I – @erikhallmusic
https://erikhall.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-18-musicians-steve-reich
Recorded in 2019, this recreation of Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians reads like a lockdown project: transposing a collaborative performance into an act of solitary zen, crafting complexity one gorgeous line at a time.
27/100

It Is What It Is – @UhhFiver
https://youvechangedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/you-wanted-country-vol-1
Fiver’s You Wanted Country? opens with an existentialist ballad and ends with a potent dose of Western psychedelia. It’s at once a tribute and critique, reaching for what the genre could and should be, but rarely is.
28/100

One, Two and Three Eyes – Florida BC
https://floridabc.bandcamp.com/releases
Clinton St. John roots his songs in folk and blues, but the power comes from somewhere else. Somewhere old and awesome and unknowable, like the kind of old-time religion whose name you weren’t meant to speak.
29/100

Häxsabbaten – @thegarrysband
http://thegarrys.bandcamp.com
Eerie as they are, doom-wop surfers The Garrys aren’t the obvious choice to score one of the creepiest silents ever filmed. The pairing turns out inspired, a moody instant classic for misty midnights and full moons.
30/100

Living Like I Know I’m Gonna Die – @genevieveartadi
https://genevieveartadi.bandcamp.com/album/dizzy-strange-summer
A memento mori draped in slick future r&b, Artadi’s existentialist anthem casts mortality and cosmic insignificance as sources of liberation. If “the future is a guess,” we can make it our own.
31/100

I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron & @MakayaMcCraven
https://xlrecordings.com/buy/gilscottheron-werenewagainareimaginingbymakayamccraven
Callahan may have written the line, and the arrangement is McCraven’s, but Scott-Heron gives it gravity through hard-won experience: “No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.”
32/100

Theophany – Grapefruit (on @moonglyph)
https://moonglyph.bandcamp.com/album/light-fronds
Portland’s Charlie Salas-Humara finds the sound of dawn cresting the horizon in tape loops, guitar squiggles and pulsing synth. You can almost hear the plants shaking off their morning dew.
33/100

Sansevieria – Green-House
https://green-house.bandcamp.com/album/six-songs-for-invisible-gardens
2020 was the kind of year where a little gentleness went a long way. A spiritual successor to Mort Garson’s Plantasia, Olive Ardizoni’s Green-House nurtures the soul with only the softest of gossamer soundscapes.
34/100

Valley Spiral – Gunn-Truscinski Duo (@SteveGunnMusic)
https://threelobed.bandcamp.com/album/soundkeeper
A rhyzomatic melody twists and folds in on itself like a labyrinth—the contemplative path, not the mythical maze. Truscinski paces out the steps, gently reminding that the only way out is through
35/100

Mountain Song – @HabibiTheBand
https://habibitheband.bandcamp.com/album/anywhere-but-here
Anywhere But Here is the kind of album that makes it hard to single out a highlight, but Mountain Song nicely splits the difference between Habibi’s bubble-gum pop, garage rock, and moody psychedelia tendencies.
36/100

Pattern Thinker – @HaikuSalut
https://howdoesitfeeltobeloved.bandcamp.com/album/pattern-thinker
Effervescent electronics cascade around twinkling pianos and gently glitched drums. Ten minutes of bliss, providing an energetic and soothing score to the charmingly titled silent film “4 and 20 Fit Girls.”
37/100

Precipice – @HectorPlimmer
https://stampthewax.bandcamp.com/album/isolation-therapy
In the early days of the lockdown, @stampthewax gave artists three days to write songs for a fundraiser compilation. Plimmer’s percussive Precipice beautifully captures that moment’s eerie mix of urgency and uncertainty.
38/100

Still City – @_hermitess_
https://hermitess.bandcamp.com/album/tower
The wintry woods of her debut were an obvious home for a Hermitess, but the Tower EP finds ample room for magic in the city. Synthetic sounds and urban imagery connect Crighton’s timeless folk to thoroughly modern anxieties
39/100

Air Curvatures – @BeachEnsemble
https://memoirlabel.bandcamp.com/album/end-of-the-atlas
The gentle creak of Air Curvatures’ central sample is more than a percussive flourish. It’s the sound of the song breathing, so tactile you feel it in your sinews, as satisfying as a deep stretch before sleeping.
40/100

Spirit Refinement Exploder – @inventionsmusic
https://inventions.bandcamp.com/album/continuous-portrait
With members of Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky, it’s no shock Inventions excel at atmosphere and grandeur. What’s maybe more unexpected is their consistent playfulness, and the airy uplift it adds.
41/100

Sweet Path – Janko Nilovic & the Soul Surfers (on @BROCRECORDZ)
https://brocrecordz.bandcamp.com/album/maze-of-sounds
A Russian soul combo and a master of ’70s library music make for one of 2020’s unlikeliest pairings, but Sweet Path’s laid-back groove is up there with any of Nilovic’s classics.
42/100

A Dog’s Age – @futuremyth
https://jeffreysilverstein.bandcamp.com/album/you-become-the-mountain
From the first few notes, even just from the tone of it, you can feel this is something special. A track (and an album) suffused with calm, care, and reassurance.
43/100

Our Place – @JosephShabason ft @isthisthomas
https://josephshabason.bandcamp.com/track/our-place-ft-thom-gill
More pastoral perfection. Shabason gives the song its pulse, while Gill’s guitars glisten like sunlight on the surface of a pond. Too good to just be a one-off; here’s hoping the duo have more on the way.
44/100

Part I • I’ve got that trans-dimensional feeling again – @joyfultalk
https://joyfultalk.bandcamp.com/album/a-separation-of-being
The album art depicting Jay Crocker’s novel notation tells the story better than any write-up. Synths and strings loop and whirl, building a beautiful machine one gear at a time.
45/100

In Light – @juliannabarwick ft. @iamjonsi
https://juliannabarwick.bandcamp.com/album/healing-is-a-miracle
Healing is a Miracle is a hymnal for the everyday wonders we often overlook. With “In Light,” it’s the endless promise of new dawns and new beginnings, the immence potential of Now.
46/100

Öresund – Kanaan (on @El_Paraiso_Rec)
https://elparaisorecords.com/releases/kanaan-double-sun
A relentless assault of endless, fuzz-soaked guitars and pummeling drums. The loudest thing on this list by a wide margin, ideal for when you need to drown out the world and invite in the cosmos.
47/100

The Kindness of Strangers – @karav3lo https://open.spotify.com/album/2ZEFDHctJo8RKQVfEASi7S
Distilling the spirit of a Hawaiian vacation, not through tiki kitsch (well, maybe a little), but in the contentedness that comes from being surrounded by sunlight, sand, and breaking waves without another care.
48/100

Wake-up – @kellyleeowens
https://kellyleeowens.bandcamp.com/album/inner-song
Owens ends an album of introspection with a call to action, eventually stripping it down to a two-word a cappella refrain, gentle but urgent, a whispered plea to break free from the destructive sleepwalk of modern life.
49/100

Ivory Tower – @dylankf
https://heart.bandcamp.com/album/finds-you-well
Khotin’s 2020 EP came ready-made with the gauzy texture of a cassette you’ve worn out and re-dubbed a dozen times already. Beats from a half-remembered summer, recollected through the hangovers of the intervening years.
50/100

Time (You and I) – @Khruangbin
https://khruangbin.bandcamp.com/album/mordechai
Time’s taut funk-pop and jump-rope melody shows how flexible their sound has become. In 5 years, they’ve gone from inward-facing psych to irresistible Tom Tom Club grooves, without sacrificing their singular voice.
51/100

Circles – Kibrom Birhane
https://kibrombirhaneflyingcarpetrecords.bandcamp.com/album/circles
Deep grooves from Birhane & co., a compelling fusion of Ethio- and spiritual jazz traditions. Recorded live off the floor, and you can sense the push and pull as the players feel out the sonic space.
52/100

Lately In Another Time – Loving
https://loving.bandcamp.com/album/if-i-am-only-my-thoughts-2
Loving’s 2nd LP repeats the miracle of the first, another collection of perfectly assembled folk-pop with a slight psychedelic lilt. The Clientele & Bibio are touchpoints but this is its own kind of vernal loveliness.
53/100

Aurelius Dye – Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt Duo
https://elparaisorecords.com/releases/martin-rude-jakob-sk-tt-duo-discipline-assent
Building from a tentative shuffle to a motorik chug before dissolving in a shimmer of reverb, “Aurelius Dye” captures the strengths of the duo’s dynamics (and caps off a stellar year for @El_Paraiso_Rec).
54/100

Pine Trees – @marylattimore
https://marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com/album/silver-ladders
A gateway into the wilderness of Silver Ladders. Crisp needles of sound underlain by deep, almost subliminal synth (via Neal Halstead). Comforting but slightly foreboding, like a stroll at the start of a Grimm fairy tale.
55/100

For Lise – @matchessound
https://matchess.bandcamp.com/track/for-lise
Droning synths and offset strings gather an eerie momentum, like a midnight drive through unfamiliar terrain, or the slow-dawning inevitability of a bad dream. Released in @MexicanSummer‘s fabulous Looking Glass series.
56/100

July 23rd – Matthew Cardinal
https://matthewcardinal.bandcamp.com/
Each of the electronic improvisations on Cardinal’s Asterisms is tied to a time, and July 23rd carries the warmth of a midsummer daydream in its collage of synths and airy effects. Beautiful and brimming with life.
57/100

Contingencia – @mintfieldband
https://mintfield.bandcamp.com/album/sentimiento-mundial
Good and crunchy dream pop from Mexico City. Breathy vocals and sideways guitars set the mood, but it’s that absolutely relentless bassline and its motorik momentum that drags this one into the spotlight.
58/100

Few Layers for Smith – Misha Panfilov Sound Combo
https://mpsc.bandcamp.com/album/days-as-echoes
Imagine Steve Reich composing game show themes, a slow accumulation of Wurlitzer loops, ’70s jazz flute, and toe-tapping grooves into the sunniest of sunny day jams.
59/100

Sunflower – @MonsterRally
https://monsterrally.bandcamp.com/album/castaways-vol-1
Monster Rally’s strange alchemy turns kitsch into gold. Swooning strings, easy-listening, exotica, and other bargain-bin finds get fused with big, head-bobbing beats, revealing hidden depths & unknown pleasures.
60/100

Bless Me – Moses Sumney
https://mosessumney.bandcamp.com/album/gr-2
Grae’s lineup features a murderer’s row of players, producers and even literary figures, and brilliant as the music is, it feels almost superfluous next to the ecstatic highs and aching beauty of That Voice.
61/100

Sanctuary – @netrvnner
https://netrvnner.bandcamp.com/album/of-might-and-magic
Netrvnner’s first EP of 2020 set aside synthwave’s neon future for a magical fantasyland, crackling with ethereal energy rather than dystopian electricity.
(His second EP of 2020 came out today. It is also great.)
62/100

GODS DIRTY WORK – @nick_hakim
https://nickhakim.bandcamp.com/album/will-this-make-me-good
Hakim’s multi-tracked vocals have a whispered intimacy, like you’re inside his head, listening to his thoughts echo above the kind of deep psych-soul groove you hope never has to end.
63/100

All Melody – @nilsfrahm
https://nilsfrahm.bandcamp.com/album/tripping-with-nils-frahm
Frahm’s music is patient, but it’s also restless, evolving from moment to moment in captivating ways. By the time the climax arrives a dozen minutes in with its percussive synths and processed vocals, you’re already soaring.
64/100

Fish – @nojoy
https://nojoy.bandcamp.com/album/motherhood
An imaginative fusion of production-heavy genres from shoegaze to industrial that, aside from its own mastery, incidentally proves Enya has been as essential to the evolution of dream pop as anything on 4AD.
65/100

Rivers That You Cannot See – @North_Americans
https://northamericanszone.bandcamp.com/album/roped-in-2
Ambient-folk drone poetry that reveals itself like stars in the night sky. Ribbons of pedal steel shimmer and drift like northern lights; melodic pinpoints becoming more intricate the harder you stare.
66/100

Skull – @oracogan
https://oracogan.bandcamp.com/album/bells-in-the-ruins
Between the dreamlike “Sleeping” and propulsive prog-folk of “Skull,” Cogan managed to open her latest album with two of the year’s most captivating songs. Kinetic and eerie, like a ship cutting through thick west coast fog.
67/100

Do You Have ESP – @OCAheaven
https://orangecrateart.bandcamp.com/album/radial-transverse-velocity
Imagining a paradox-inducing world where Brian Wilson was raised on a steady diet of MBV, Malmo, Sweden’s Orange Crate Art sculpts dense sonic collages from lysergic ’60s sounds and waves of shoegaze distortion.
68/100

Eyeballs – @peeldreamzine
https://peeldreammagazine.bandcamp.com/album/agitprop-alterna
Agitprop Alterna and sister EP Moral Panics filled 2020 with oscillating anthems, blending pop instincts with vacuum-cleaner guitars and motorik grooves, updating Stereolab’s space-age bachelor pad for the new millennium.
69/100

Stop and Listen – @BroPeterick
https://peterbroderick1.bandcamp.com/album/blackberry
Doomsayers have more gravity, but sometimes wisdom is better served by whimsy. Broderick’s optimism and humour belie the musical and philosophical depth of a song that simply urges us to pay attention to what matters.
70/100

El Delirio – Petite Amie
https://soundcloud.com/petiteamie/el-delirio
Warbly indie-pop to warm you on a winter’s eve. Something in the easygoing guitars feels coastal, a sound steeped in sunshine and boundless horizons. A promising early release from a band that’s only three singles in.
71/100

Morning Plants – Puma & the Dolphin
https://invisible-inc.bandcamp.com/album/indoor-routine
Puma’s Nikko Names describes the album as coming from “a monotone period of my life which I have overlaid with colour” and I can’t think of a better description of the role music has played for me in 2020.
72/100

Evrlong – @rafwilcot
https://rafwilcot.bandcamp.com/album/cinnabar-bouquet
Omnivorous, experimental folk pop that brims with soul and overflows with the joy of musical creation. Refuses to abide by expectations, instead opting to follow its tangents to their fullest expression.
73/100

Flashflood – @oh__rhoda and @dillanwitherow
https://shhsecretsongs.bandcamp.com/album/snowgarden
Despite the title, “Flashflood” isn’t so much a torrential outpouring as a gentle brook, its soft stream of guitar harmonics and gentle melodic loops still somehow just as able to sweep you away.
74/100

Sudden Awareness of Now – @rivalconsoles
https://rivalconsoles.bandcamp.com/album/articulation
For all its varied textures and sonic flourishes, “Sudden Awareness” clings to its simple melodic theme like a mantra, repeating it until the very act of repetition becomes a means of seeking ecstasy.
75/100

Morning Light – @RoseCityBand
https://rosecityband.bandcamp.com/album/summerlong
The stoned-out bliss of Moon Duo is shockingly well-suited to country music. “Morning Light” is what bar bands everywhere would sound like if there were justice in the world, a two-chord stomper brimming with joy.
76/100

Never Met – Sam Prekop
https://samprekop.bandcamp.com/album/comma
“Never Met” is about as melodically straightforward as it gets but the range of sonic textures Prekop coaxes from his synths is something else. An exercise in timbre, with the confidence of a musician 25 years into his career.
77/100

Wenig Worte für ein Ende – @SANKTOTTEN
https://sankt-otten.bandcamp.com/album/lieder-f-r-geometrische-stunden
Plenty of bands draw influence from German innovators like Neu! and Kraftwerk, but Sankt Otten is one of very few to feel like their peers. Sentimental and robotic; the latest permutation of the man-machine.
78/100

Uncomfortable – @SaultGlobal https://saultglobal.bandcamp.com/album/untitled-rise
SAULT released two double-albums of fearless soul in 2020. “Uncomfortable” is one of the smoothest moments on either, but no less confrontational for it, the plainspoken delivery all the more heartbreakingly direct.
79/100

Joy – Scott Hardware
https://scotthardware.bandcamp.com/album/engel
One of the first songs I fell in love with in 2020, and one that still overwhelms with the sheer force of its emotion. Hardware trips over his own words, tumbling forward through four minutes of joyous catharsis.
80/100

Antifa Fuchsia – Secret Drum Band
https://secretdrumband.bandcamp.com/album/chuva
Based on improvisations recorded during a far-right rally and antifa counter-protest, the opener to Secret Drum Band’s latest is stoic and steadfast. Anxious synths moan underneath, but the beat goes on.
81/100

Osouji – Shabason, Krgovich & Harris (@Ideefixerecords)
https://shabasonkrgovichharris.bandcamp.com/album/philadelphia
Krgovich sings of “seeing things that have been hid, and considering them.” It’s a mission statement for an album of quiet observation & soft melody, an antidote to 2020’s information overload.
82/100

Utangátta – @SHELFNUNNY (on @HushHushRecords)
https://hushhushrecords.bandcamp.com/album/utang-tta
Named for an Icelandic term for hopeless dreams, the gentle, ambient-influenced beats of Utangátta manage a sort of musical Rorschach effect, comforting, melancholy or hopeful, depending on your view.
83/100

Marble Falls – Shmu (on @macadamtwister)
https://requiempouruntwister.bandcamp.com/album/pure-bliss
Nimble dream pop from one-man-band Sam Chown. The album borders on prog at times, but Vinyl Williams’ production gives it a softer sheen, a glimmering gem of jangling guitars and gently flanged bass.
84/100

Pray – @suunsband
https://suuns.bandcamp.com/album/fiction-ep
That SUUNS’ apocalyptic art-pop feels more of-the-moment each year is probably not a great sign. The industrial throb of “PRAY” plays like a hymn from a tomorrow we don’t want to visit, and one that’s closer than we think.
85/100

Peaceful Groove – @teendaze
https://teendaze.bandcamp.com/album/reality-refresh-3
A highlight of the four-part Reality Refresh series, “Peaceful Groove” offers easy listening escapism, a soundtrack to the imagined journeys that took the place of 2020s cancelled holidays and postponed adventures.
86/100

Please Don’t Hold Me Hostage for Who I Am, For Who I Was – @ThanyaIyerMusic
https://thanyaiyer.bandcamp.com/album/kind
Joyous, freewheeling, playful, caring—none of them quite capture the ebullience of KIND. It’s a journey of self-care and self-discovery stitched into a jazzy folk opus.
87/100

Of two – Thomas Gray & Liam Ebbs
https://analogueattic.bandcamp.com/album/recollection-of-everything-beautiful
This Sydney duo’s meticulously arranged electronics are intricate without being cluttered. “Of two” floats weightlessly with a warm nostalgia, like dust drifting in a patch of sunlight.
88/100

Olde Feelings – @TONSTARTSS
https://tonstartssbandht.bandcamp.com/track/olde-feelings
No one else sounds quite like the psychedelic riff-rock of the White bros. Cavernous reverb, eerie harmonies and monstrous guitars that play like the climax to a folk-horror flick, when the unknowable truth finally dawns.
89/100

Bliss – @TraffikIsland
https://traffikisland.bandcamp.com/album/sweat-kollectas-peanut-butter-traffik-jam
Echoing early 2000s folktronics (think Parsley Sound or Lemon Jelly) in its unselfconscious pursuit of happiness. Delivers what it promises, and what more could you ask for?
90/100

Born to Lose – @YouSGirls
https://usgirls.ffm.to/heavylight/
Blending 70s art rock & 60s girl group soul with anger, poetry, and sharp pop instincts, Remy’s latest is an inspired fusion; the stormy reggae pulse and vibraphone meltdown of “Born to Lose” its most intoxicating moment.
91/100

L’Essor Du Roraima – Vague Imaginaires
https://vagueimaginaires.bandcamp.com/album/l-le-dor
Field recordings and minimal synths blend the boundaries of the natural and the imagined. A soundtrack to misty lagoons and meditative moods, melding inner and outer states with its ambient pulse.
92/100

Something Sacred – White Poppy
https://whitepoppy.bandcamp.com/album/paradise-gardens
Lush west-coast dream pop that glows like overexposed film, laced through with ribbons of light, erasing the mundane world and reveling in its inner brilliance.
93/100

Here I Am Existing – @samirawinter
https://daydreamingwinter.bandcamp.com/album/endless-space-between-you-i
A half-time bridge midway through “Here I Am Existing” untethers itself from the jangling pop of the rest of the song, and soars through an endless sky, a moment of pure, weightless bliss.
94/100

Goat Lore – @TrinketTrance
https://theworldnextdoor.bandcamp.com/album/find-your-face-in-it
Despite being instrumental, Goat Lore and the album around it feel steeped in folklore, pastoral landscapes bristling with arcane energy, each rock and stone a potential gateway to worlds equally sinister and inviting.
95/100

High Pines – @_Yppah_
https://yppah.bandcamp.com/album/sunset-in-the-deep-end
Shading the halcyon bliss of early ’90s electronics with the darker sonic palettes of shoegaze and post-rock, Yppah’s first release for new imprint Future Archive Recordings is densely textured and richly nuanced.
96/100

1024 – @yuyuyvr
https://onloop.bandcamp.com/album/moxie-presents-vol-5
Chirping synths, swirling bass and skittering drums gradually coalesce, pulled together by gravity into an eerie groove. Sounds for wandering empty streets on moonlit nights. Can’t wait for next month’s full-length debut.
97/100

Semula – @yvesjarvis
https://yvesjarvis.bandcamp.com/album/sundry-rock-song-stock
Jarvis resists his most restless tendencies on his newest release, luxuriating in each idea instead of skipping to the next impulse. The result is songs like the gorgeous “Semula” finding equilibrium between alive and lived in.
98/100

Transatlantic – @zacharygray and Ian Urbina
https://thisiszacharygray.bandcamp.com/album/under-a-red-sky-inspired-by-the-outlaw-ocean-a-book-by-ian-urbina
Part of Ian Urbina’s Outlaw Ocean Music Project, “Transatlantic” is a midnight cruise through unknown waters, its tranquil surface hinting at the inky depths awaiting in the albums more sinister moments.
99/100

Brokenhead – @zoongideewin
https://zoongideewinmusic.bandcamp.com/album/bleached-wavves
A perfect shoegaze instrumental and a highlight of one of 2020s best debuts. Viscous waves of distortion wail above a tumble of drums and thick, churning guitars. Flawless production and mood-setting.
100/100

PS: A few more entries that weren’t available on Spotify, but that’s maybe all the more reason to celebrate them:

Past lists:

A Decade of AM Gold:
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7H1TQJEJMWKbqq646ibQ19?si=3GDBhqkXR8esoqaJcUB06g

2019:
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/46VApFjmIAYrIq3eh0rpjh?si=hnzXr0JXQoyc1iki-EHAIw

2018:
https://theam.ca/post/181375268706/am-gold-2018

2017:
http://theam.ca/post/168553490751/am-gold-2017

2016
http://theam.ca/…/in-the-spirit-of-year-end-wrap-ups-ive-put

2015:
http://theam.ca/…/am-gold-2015-100-tracks-from-2015-because…

2014:
http://theam.ca/post/106872632836/december-29-playlist