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Stranger Than We Can Imagine

I wanted to make some notes to myself on John Higgs’ Stranger Than We Can Imagine. I’ve gotten pretty used to using my Kindle to highlight the important bits of what I’ve been reading, so having to return a physical book to a library feels like more of a loss these days, and I want to at least capture the arc of its argument for myself.

Going mostly from memory, with chapter titles as prompts:

  1. Relativity: Deleting the omphalos
    The “omphalos” is a pillar or anchor for a culture, something so central that it works as a reference point for everything else. Relativity established that in physics, there is no such thing as an objective frame of reference, location, movement, etc, can all be defined only in reference to arbitrary points. This is a major blow to the idea of an objective, understandable universe, as in a very real way, nothing can be described purely objectively.
  2. Modernism: The shock of the new
    At the same time that physics is erasing the omphalos of objectivity, Modernism in art is tackling something similar. Cubism is erasing the objectivity of the author by compressing multiple perspectives onto a single canvas. Duchamp (or probably Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven) are provoking fights over whether anything can objectively be called art. Joyce and Eliot are creating literature that embodies multiple perspectives in single works, in multifaceted, unpredictable ways. As with physics, the single, fixed perspective is seen as inadequate to describe/portray reality.
  3. War: Hoist that rag
    The horrors of the first world war shatter the illusion that the leadership of empires know what they’re doing. While democratization was already in process and would still proceed in fits and starts, this is a death knell for the idea of monarchy (a single, hereditary line of leadership) as omphalos, as well as illustrating the danger of nationalism subsuming individual identities.
  4. Individualism: Do what thou wilt
    With so many anchor points already removed, what’s left? Individualism. Like Descartes arriving at the self as the only objective truth, figures like Ayn Rand and Alistair Crowley preach the gospel of individualism. In that world view, culture has no fixed truth, just the interests of every person as a world unto themselves.
  5. The Id: Under the paving stones, the beach
    But even the foundation of individualism is flawed, as psychoanalysis shows that we don’t even know ourselves. We are dominated by impulses that are necessarily invisible to us, and that don’t obey the laws of civilization. Surrealists tried to tap into this for artistic purposes, despots manipulated society’s id into acts of genocide; without the omphalos of older times to act as ego, the id runs unchecked.
  6. Uncertainty: We search for new omphalos, but in vain. In math, it’s proven that no system of logic can be complete, provable, and internally consistent. In physics, there are limits to what we can know built into the structure of reality. There is randomness inherent in the universe. Complete, objective knowledge is fundamentally impossible.
  7. Science Fiction: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away
    I think the argument here was that sci-fi is a reflection of a society’s aspirations, and the sci-fi of the 20th century was obsessed with individualism, and especially Campbelll’s monomyth: a special, chosen figure on a hero’s journey. The cultural dominance of Star Wsrs shows the resonance of this idea. On the other hand, by the early 20th century, different visions of storytelling, more reflective of multiple perspectives, are rising, and maybe a sign that individualism’s rule is waning.
  8. Nihilism: I stick my neck out for nobody
    The quote is from Casablanca, seen as a metaphor for America in WWII, going from self-interested isolationism to the realization that there are things worth fighting for. The chapter is more on existentialism than nihilism, but in any case, a reaction to the idea that everything is meaningless. Not by denying it, but by embracing the freedom to make our own meanings, to revel in the absurdity of it all.
  9. Space: We came in peace for all mankind
    A conflicted portrait of the space race, and the figures involved, like von Braun and his willingness to commit atrocities if it meant advancing a rocket program, or the Crowley-aligned fanaticism of Jack Parsons, not to mention the government’s portrayal of the space race as a humanitarian cause despite its obvious military motivations. But: the view from space also helped erase some individualist ideas by showing the connectedness and frailty of our planet. “In the twentieth century mankind went to the moon and in doing so they discovered the earth.”
  10. Sex: Nineteen sixty-three (which was rather late for me)
    This is the point where I really started to lose the thread of the book as a single narrative of the 20th century and not just a list of interesting things that happened. It talks about birth control, sexuality in literature, feminism, the acceptance of sex as a part of life, the objectification that was still rampant in a lot of so-called progressive movements… too many themes for me to reduce to a single through-line.
  11. Teenagers: Wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom
    Mostly on rock ‘n’ roll and the hedonism it inspired, the Keith Richards quote “we had to do what we wanted to do”. An interesting insight on how “the day the music died” cleared the way for a new generation to move the music forward without the baggage of elder statesmen. The main idea seems to be on how the teenage stage involves an embrae of individualism to an extent that can seem unhealthy, but is necessary to become a functioning adult, part of an argument that the 20th century may represent just such a teenage period for humanity.
  12. Chaos: A butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo
    Chaos theory is discovered, showing that small discrepancies lead to massive changes. Fractals are discovered, showing that infinite complexity can exist within simple formulas. Strange attractors mean that systems gravitate towards certain stable states, but what can make them flip is unpredictable. The question emerges: if all that is true, then why does order dominate? Why does the environment seem to self-regulate? The Gaia hypothesis emerges, seeing the world a s a single entity, not conscious, but able through its many complex systems to sustain itself. A view of the earth that’s also reflected in the complex, conflicting beliefs of modern paganism, and that runs counter to the omphalos of Christianity.
  13. Growth: Today’s investor does not profit from yesterday’s growth
    A whole lot going on in this chapter. The ideal of unfettered economic growth and its consequences for the environment. Corporations as exempt from the cycle of life and death that is supposed to keep a check on unfettered growth, something more like a cancer. The belief that, for the sake of economic growth, everything must be owned, including rainwater in Bolivia. Neoliberalism and its ties to excessive individualism of the Randian sort. “Ideology beat science. Individualism beat environmentalism.”
  14. Postmodernism: I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here
    The ultimate relativity of everything, after all omphalos have been destroyed. But the chapter also has a pretty cynical view of postmodernism, citing the Sokal hoax as essentially an excuse for everyone to admit that, even if it has a core of truth, most of post-modernism is gibberish. The worry is that in throwing out postmodernism, we lose the insights that led to it; it’s an attempt to grapple with the relativity of everything that was demonstrated in science, art, and culture.
  15. Network: A planet of individuals
    If the 20th century was our teenage period, or a period of deconstruction from our previous (false) omphalos, with an overadjustment into id and individualism, what comes next? The power of the network. Everything is still fragmented and individual, but the network provides context. There’s a poorly defined but promising sort of collectivity involved. “The network is a beheaded deity. It is a communion. There is no need for an omphalos any more. Hold tight.”

Given that it was published in 2016, I wonder if Higgs’ optimism about the network still holds. Enthusiasm for the utopian internet was already waning by that point, but it’s almost nonexistent in 2021.

Still, I like the main thrust of the book, the 20th century as a period of decentering, and finding out what happens when what we thought was core to our society is no longer generally accepted. The teenage century seems like a pretty accurate description, and while a lot of traits established in teenagerhood do tend to live on in the adult, they’re hopefully moderated and channeled in productive ways. It’s a way to look at that century more optimistically, even if there’s a strong risk we won’t outgrow it before it’s too late.

Kindle Highlights: Aug. and Sept. 2021

Presented without context; snippets that seemed worth highlighting over the past two months. Kindle doesn’t detect individual authors or texts from Instapaper’s auto-exported digests, so unfortunately a lot of these are essentially unattributed.

  • Your Highlight at location 251-253 | Added on Monday, 2 August 2021 21:47:40

The enduring obsession with social relevance reflects our collective obsession with escaping the non-being of those that lived and died before us, for only the famous dead retain a modicum of relevance in our minds, and only public esteem can break the spell of total anonymity that haunts us all.

The Invention of Nature (Andrea Wulf)

  • Your Highlight on page 197 | location 3011-3018 | Added on Wednesday, 4 August 2021 22:21:15

Wordsworth wrote in The Excursion (1814): For was it meant That we should pore, and dwindle as we pore, For ever dimly pore on things minute, On solitary objects, still beheld In disconnection dead and spiritless, And still dividing and dividing still Break down all grandeur …

Instapaper: Friday, Aug. 6th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 125-126 | Added on Saturday, 7 August 2021 21:49:43

(My personal algorithm for new ideas appears to include: think about nonsense for longer than most others are prepared to tolerate.)

Instapaper: Friday, Aug. 6th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 166-166 | Added on Saturday, 7 August 2021 21:50:03

new word becomes a new lens for understanding the world.

Instapaper: Friday, Aug. 6th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 183-183 | Added on Saturday, 7 August 2021 21:50:42

New words are addresses to previously unused embeddings in concept space.

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 88 | location 1349-1350 | Added on Wednesday, 11 August 2021 22:55:05

Biofuels are considered “renewable” because every year that we renew the world’s agriculture, we get the option of taking a portion of the harvest, mutilating it, and then setting it on fire.

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 92 | location 1408-1416 | Added on Wednesday, 11 August 2021 22:56:07

My friend Brian quit smoking a few years ago, which was quite a feat because he had been addicted for decades. At age sixteen, he smoked after school with his friends, and a pack of cigarettes would last him about a week. While at community college, he got a part-time job and so upped his habit to about two packs a week. After graduating, he got a full-time job on a construction site, and soon thereafter he was smoking a pack a day. When I want to minimize the significance of cigarettes in Brian’s life, I emphasize that the percentage of his salary that he devoted to the purchase of cigarettes decreased dramatically during the twenty years that passed. When I want to maximize the significance of cigarettes in Brian’s life, I emphasize that the total number of cigarettes he smoked each week increased by a factor of seven over that same time period. Both of these statements are factually correct, but when they are presented in isolation, they tend to give different impressions of Brian’s habit. To fully understand the role that cigarettes played in Brian’s life over those formative years, it is best to understand both trends.

The Invention of Nature (Andrea Wulf)

  • Your Highlight on page 219 | location 3349-3351 | Added on Saturday, 14 August 2021 13:12:37

With few political rights and a general suppression of liberal ideas, Prussia’s middle classes had turned inwards and into the private sphere. Music, literature and art were dominated by expressions of feelings rather than revolutionary sentiment.

Instapaper: Tuesday, Aug. 10th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 1184-1185 | Added on Saturday, 14 August 2021 20:09:41

there is another coexisting world, one in which thoughtful, intricate and uplifting things are being created at an unprecedented pace. Indeed, there is a surplus of extraordinary objects that illustrate and celebrate the full range of human ingenuity.

Instapaper: Tuesday, Aug. 10th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 1216-1218 | Added on Saturday, 14 August 2021 20:13:23

have a choice: either to judge the world as embittered critics who find little beauty in new things or to feel a tingle of elation at the seemingly infinite cultural improvisations that humans keep spinning out like silk. The latter seems far more appealing to me.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 4 | location 55-57 | Added on Sunday, 15 August 2021 18:23:03

Drugs like acid or ecstasy might loosen up the mind to a certain degree, but they neglect the other, more lucidly existential parts of human subjectivity (our capacity to reason, our political agency), leaving them to rot and atrophy. In this sense, the problem with drugs, Fisher argues, is that they “are like an escape kit without an instruction manual”.9

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 10 | location 148-151 | Added on Sunday, 15 August 2021 22:12:27

This was to suggest that, whilst Mensch’s cynicism was superficial, the implications of her critique remained deeply troubling. To what extent is our desire for postcapitalism always-already captured and neutralised by capitalism itself? How are we supposed to combat the “intensification of desire for consumer goods, funded by credit”?21 Should we even try?

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 223-227 | Added on Sunday, 15 August 2021 22:21:33

The consciousness in question is not a consciousness of an already-existing state of affairs. Rather, consciousness-raising is productive. It creates a new subject — a we that is both the agent of struggle and what is struggled for. At the same time, consciousness-raising intervenes in the ‘object’, the world itself, which is now no longer apprehended as some static opacity, the nature of which is already decided, but as something that can be transformed.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 17 | location 257-259 | Added on Sunday, 15 August 2021 22:24:38

Whereas Fisher may have rejected the Nineties announcement that “we are all middle class now”, our television screens continue to announce this reality silently and without fanfare nonetheless. The message, though implicit, is familiar: there is no alternative

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 23 | location 352-352 | Added on Tuesday, 17 August 2021 19:44:15

“frenzied stasis”.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 46 | location 700-704 | Added on Tuesday, 17 August 2021 21:44:11

The concept of postcapitalism is something developed out of capitalism. It develops from capitalism and moves beyond capitalism. Therefore, we’re not required to imagine a sheer alterity, a pure outside. That’s one of the emphases of postcapitalism. We can begin with, work with, the pleasures of capitalism, as well as its oppressions. So, we’re not necessarily trapped in this Louise Mensch world where if we have iPhones, we can’t want postcapitalism. Although I don’t think we’d want iPhones in postcapitalism…

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 50 | location 753-755 | Added on Tuesday, 17 August 2021 21:48:54

While it affords the pleasures of recognition, of capture, of intellectually subduing that one last thing, it offers no relief or exit to a place beyond. If we want to cultivate new habits of thinking for a postcapitalist politics, it seems there is work to be done to loosen the structure of feeling that cannot live with uncertainty or move beyond hopelessness.15

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 51 | location 781-784 | Added on Tuesday, 17 August 2021 23:06:23

the idea there is, then: that power itself is pathological. To hold power is to inherently be oppressive, therefore it’s better to be wounded; it’s better to be the wounded, the abject, because you’re not actually holding power, which is oppressive. This becomes the name for a kind of impossible desire in lots of ways. Who are these appeals aimed at? What is a political project which doesn’t aim at capturing power or building power in some way?

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 18th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 136-138 | Added on Wednesday, 18 August 2021 22:54:58

The era of rapid climate change has begun. Both a rapid escalation of consequences, and a rapid escalation of solutions. Time has run out for anything but radical change.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 18th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 310-312 | Added on Thursday, 19 August 2021 20:50:27

(1999), and Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Future (2011). But whether business-banal or cyber-gnostic, the classic pop-futurist canon presupposes an audience who wants to disrupt industries while preserving the status quo.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 18th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 346-347 | Added on Thursday, 19 August 2021 20:54:43

unlock their potential—the collaborative gameplay itself. Unlike a linear book, interactive card decks and collective storytelling projects may best embody the strange, mutable, participatory ways the actual future unfolds.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 18th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 346-347 | Added on Thursday, 19 August 2021 20:54:49

Unlike a linear book, interactive card decks and collective storytelling projects may best embody the strange, mutable, participatory ways the actual future unfolds.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 85 | location 1296-1298 | Added on Thursday, 19 August 2021 22:52:00

most imaginable societies, some level of repression is required in order for people to produce anything. But then surplus repression is the additional social repression on top of that, beyond necessity. Beyond quasi-biological necessity, there is also cultural and social pressure.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 85 | location 1296-1298 | Added on Thursday, 19 August 2021 22:52:07

most imaginable societies, some level of repression is required in order for people to produce anything. But then surplus repression is the additional social repression on top of that, beyond necessity. Beyond quasi-biological necessity, there is also cultural and social pressure.

Instapaper: Friday, Aug. 20th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 368-369 | Added on Sunday, 22 August 2021 22:01:04

Any society in which people meddle in other people’s business is not a good society, and a state in which the government ‘knows more about you than you know about yourself,’ is a state that must be overthrown.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 110-112 | Added on Wednesday, 25 August 2021 23:02:46

He notes that for all the advantages of a poker face, humans are uniquely bad at it – no other species blushes, no other primate has whites in its eyes to allow others to see where it’s looking. It’s like we became more transparent so that we could be more trusted.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 129-130 | Added on Wednesday, 25 August 2021 23:04:57

hundred years ago G.K. Chesterton observed that we picture cavemen as stupid thugs dragging their clubs, but the one thing we actually know about them, was that they were artists.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 142-143 | Added on Wednesday, 25 August 2021 23:07:01

Far from being blood thirsty killers with a thin veneer of civilisation, humans have a deep aversion to killing in even the most desperate of situations.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 191-194 | Added on Wednesday, 25 August 2021 23:12:22

what about violent situations like Kitty’s? They were unstudiable until Marie Lindegaard had the bright idea of using CCTV footage of real incidents to evaluate bystander behaviour in violent situations. In these high stakes situations bystanders intervene 9 times out of 10, with the rate of intervention rising if there are more bystanders.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 244-245 | Added on Wednesday, 25 August 2021 23:18:49

Probably people banded together because civilisations are strong, and safety is appealing.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 957-959 | Added on Thursday, 26 August 2021 08:08:35

Nature is always the same, and its virtue and power of acting are everywhere one and the same, i.e., the laws and rules of nature, according to which all things happen, and change from one form to another, are always and everywhere the same. So the way of understanding the nature of anything, of whatever kind, must also be the same, viz. through the universal laws and rules of nature.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 998-999 | Added on Thursday, 26 August 2021 08:12:22

“We are driven about in many ways by external causes, and … like waves on the sea, driven by contrary winds, we toss about, not knowing our outcome and fate”

Instapaper: Wednesday, Aug. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 1025-1029 | Added on Thursday, 26 August 2021 08:19:06

We see that all bodies and their states follow necessarily from the essence of matter and the universal laws of physics; and we see that all ideas, including all the properties of minds, follow necessarily from the essence of thought and its universal laws. This insight can only weaken the power that the passions have over us. We are no longer hopeful or fearful of what shall come to pass, and no longer anxious or despondent over our possessions. We regard all things with equanimity, and we are not inordinately and irrationally affected in different ways by past, present or future events. The result is self-control and a calmness of mind.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 93 | location 1419-1420 | Added on Friday, 27 August 2021 23:24:53

Some of you will have seen it. The Machines of Loving Grace thing, where he mocks the commune thing quite heavily. 23 It’s probably justified as well…

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Note on page 93 | location 1420 | Added on Friday, 27 August 2021 23:25:15

Synchronicity…

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 104 | location 1581-1584 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 08:19:57

can’t understand any bit of a system without understanding the whole system, and the whole system is not a thing — it’s a set of relations. This is why immediacy is such a problem. Immediacy is inherently ideological, and ideologically mystifying. Because the totality is not given in immediacy!

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 104 | location 1581-1584 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 08:20:14

You can’t understand any bit of a system without understanding the whole system, and the whole system is not a thing — it’s a set of relations. This is why immediacy is such a problem. Immediacy is inherently ideological, and ideologically mystifying. Because the totality is not given in immediacy!

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 104 | location 1593-1595 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 08:32:04

Part of the problem of the old idea of objective truth, you could say, was its idea that consciousness has no effect on the truth. That might well be true of the state of a black hole or something like that, but it can’t possibly be true of social relations. I’m in those social relations!

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 105 | location 1606-1608 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 08:36:53

It’s a direct inversion of Thatcher! “There’s no such thing as society. There are only individuals and their families”. It’s the other way round! There’s no such thing as the individual. But the individual is immediately given. And that’s part of the problem of immediacy.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 111 | location 1696-1698 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 08:48:35

That’s what I mean [when I say] capital is the driver! Capital is purposiveness without purpose. Endless driving… There’s no final purpose to it. There’s no end point to it, in itself, which I think brings us very close to the core theme of this module, in a way. Because you could say that makes it flat with the structure of desire in itself.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 118 | location 1802-1804 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 08:59:07

also seems to be, in the world today, like some sort of fairy-tale where there’s some magical golden machine in a room over there that can make anything you want. It’s just there, but you don’t have the time to go there. You can have this machine that is the most wondrous thing imaginable but, if you don’t have the time to use it, it might as well not be there. And that’s where we are at.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 128 | location 1950-1953 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 09:17:07

“Reification is, then, the necessary, immediate reality of every person living in capitalist society. It can be overcome only by constant and constantly renewed efforts to disrupt the reified structure of existence by concretely relating to the concretely manifested contradictions of the total development, by becoming conscious of the immanent meanings of these contradictions for

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 128 | location 1950-1953 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 09:17:15

“Reification is, then, the necessary, immediate reality of every person living in capitalist society. It can be overcome only by constant and constantly renewed efforts to disrupt the reified structure of existence by concretely relating to the concretely manifested contradictions of the total development, by becoming conscious of the immanent meanings of these contradictions for the total development”.

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 140 | location 2138-2141 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 17:08:55

Our healing is not in the storm or in the whirlwind, it is not in monarchies, or aristocracies, or democracies, but will be revealed by the still small voice that speaks to the conscience and the heart, prompting us to a wider and wiser humanity. —James Russell Lowell (1884)

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 72 | location 1093-1097 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 17:24:41

This extreme imbalance in energy consumption inspires a simple sort of algebra: if all the fuel and electricity in use today were redistributed equally to each of the seven-plus billion people on planet Earth, each person’s energy use could be equal to the average consumed by people living in Switzerland during the 1960s. I’ve seen pictures of Switzerland that were taken in the sixties, and you know what? It doesn’t look so bad. People standing around in train stations wearing thick wool coats or sitting at small tables drinking from tiny coffee cups.

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 72 | location 1100-1101 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 17:26:34

there is no magical technology coming to save us from ourselves. Curbing consumption will be the ultimate trial of the twenty-first century. Using less and sharing more is the biggest challenge our generation will ever face.

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 136 | location 2079-2082 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 17:37:47

According to that same report, analyses from more than 150 different countries determined six factors that form the social foundations of the cross-cultural concept of happiness: social support, freedom to make life choices, generosity, absence of corruption in government, healthy life expectancy, and per capita income. It goes without saying that most of these factors can be maintained, or even improved, while reducing fossil fuel use.

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 137 | location 2087-2091 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 17:38:40

It’s no use pretending that conserving resources isn’t at direct odds with the industries that helped to write our Story of More and that increasing consumption over the last fifty years wasn’t tightly coupled to the pursuit of more profit, more income, more wealth. It’s time to look around and ask ourselves if this coupling is truly the only way to build a civilization, because the assumption that it is may represent the greatest threat of all. Each one of us must privately ask ourselves when and where we can consume less instead of more, for it is unlikely

The Story of More (Hope Jahren)

  • Your Highlight on page 137 | location 2087-2091 | Added on Saturday, 28 August 2021 17:38:49

It’s no use pretending that conserving resources isn’t at direct odds with the industries that helped to write our Story of More and that increasing consumption over the last fifty years wasn’t tightly coupled to the pursuit of more profit, more income, more wealth. It’s time to look around and ask ourselves if this coupling is truly the only way to build a civilization, because the assumption that it is may represent the greatest threat of all. Each one of us must privately ask ourselves when and where we can consume less instead of more, for it is unlikely that business and industry will ever ask on our behalf.

Instapaper: Sunday, Aug. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 46-48 | Added on Sunday, 29 August 2021 19:20:27

‘The digital order deobjectifies the world by rendering it information,’ he writes. ‘It’s not objects but information that rules the living world. We no longer inhabit heaven and earth, but the Cloud and Google Earth. The world is becoming progressively untouchable, foggy and ghostly.’

Instapaper: Sunday, Aug. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 69-71 | Added on Sunday, 29 August 2021 19:23:31

didn’t need to wait for a pandemic to describe how we are voluntarily tied to our laptops, how we exploit ourselves in the neoliberal home-office mode, how this makes us feel creative, smart and connected while we cover up our feelings of precarity with swipes and likes; he did that more than a decade

Instapaper: Sunday, Aug. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 69-71 | Added on Sunday, 29 August 2021 19:23:36

Han didn’t need to wait for a pandemic to describe how we are voluntarily tied to our laptops, how we exploit ourselves in the neoliberal home-office mode, how this makes us feel creative, smart and connected while we cover up our feelings of precarity with swipes and likes; he did that more than a decade ago.

[SOC FIS] postcapitalist desire (Zamzar)

  • Your Highlight on page 138 | location 2103-2106 | Added on Tuesday, 31 August 2021 21:15:53

And one of the things he picks up on and one of the things I wanted to look at in this module is the development of resentment as the driving force of reaction in the period since the Seventies. Because resentment, in a way, is a form of anti-solidarity, is a form of anti-consciousness.4 Because resentment is, to me, I’m not getting something that somebody else should get, not that we should all get more, which you could say is the basis of class consciousness.

Instapaper: Thursday, Sep. 2nd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 45-46 | Added on Thursday, 2 September 2021 22:31:58

That’s what the media has become: someone Googling for you.

Instapaper: Thursday, Sep. 2nd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 109-111 | Added on Thursday, 2 September 2021 22:36:37

The Great Supply Chain Disruption is a central element of the extraordinary uncertainty that continues to frame economic prospects worldwide. If the shortages persist well into next year, that could advance rising prices on a range of commodities.

Instapaper: Thursday, Sep. 2nd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 127-128 | Added on Thursday, 2 September 2021 22:38:01

The world has gained a painful lesson in how interconnected economies are across vast distances, with delay and shortages in any one place rippling out nearly everywhere.

Instapaper: Thursday, Sep. 2nd (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 128 | Added on Thursday, 2 September 2021 22:39:57

Making invisible processes visible. That alan watts quote about only being aware of your body when something is wrong

Instapaper: Thursday, Sep. 2nd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 373-374 | Added on Thursday, 2 September 2021 22:47:58

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

Instapaper: Tuesday, Sep. 7th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 73-77 | Added on Tuesday, 7 September 2021 22:47:58

Two – We have a cultural tendency to think in terms of clearly defined conclusions such as “the end,” “game over,” or “happily ever after.” This way of making sense of events is a poor fit for ongoing crises like climate change. There is a tendency to search for and think in terms of a definitive looming stopping point, as it helps give a clear sense of “how much time we have left;” however, arguments over how many pages we have left tend to distract us from recognizing the role we play in determining what words get written on those pages.

Instapaper: Tuesday, Sep. 7th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 236-237 | Added on Sunday, 12 September 2021 21:13:28

The challenge of doomers is not a loss of faith in science, but a loss of faith in a society’s ability to respond to that science.

Instapaper: Tuesday, Sep. 7th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 260-261 | Added on Sunday, 12 September 2021 21:15:27

“I do not believe that things will turn out well, but the idea that they might is of decisive importance.” – Max Horkheimer

Trick Mirror (Jia Tolentino)

  • Your Bookmark on page 173 | location 2645 | Added on Sunday, 26 September 2021 22:21:51

==========
Instapaper: Wednesday, Sep. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 40-42 | Added on Thursday, 30 September 2021 22:05:59

researching Elisée Reclus, the French anarchist geographer. “Man is nature taking consciousness of itself”, Reclus believed; the liberation of humanity and the earth went hand in hand.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Sep. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 90-93 | Added on Thursday, 30 September 2021 22:16:29

He has written l’Histoire scélérate, Scoundrel History. It shuts people’s mouths and severs their connection to the dreams, sweat, and aspirations of those who struggled before us. Scoundrel History insists on the difference between now and then, the arbitrariness of the new, the fatalism of birth, of rocks, vegetation, and rivers. In the name of science he lashes those who embraced a world more vast than his vanity.

Instapaper: Wednesday, Sep. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 196-196 | Added on Thursday, 30 September 2021 22:27:56

“To understand the future, we study the past”, she said. “We know the past best by the future it dreams.”

“I’m not what I appear to be”

Here’s how New Scientist’s article on the COP26 summit opens:

The man charged with leading a successful climate change summit in five weeks’ time insists he is no environmentalist – but is now convinced of the urgency of tackling global warming.

“I’m a normal person, right, I’m not someone who’s some great climate warrior coming into this,” says Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 meeting, who took up the job in February 2020. “But it has given me a real appreciation and understanding of why it is so vital that we get this right.”

And here’s how the same article quotes Boris Johnson, trying to give his views on the climate crisis a friendlier spin:

“I am not one of those environmentalists who takes a moral pleasure in excoriating humanity for its excess”

I’m sure both of them are telling the truth, that neither considers themselves to be an environmentalist, despite agreeing that climate collapse is a serious, existential crisis that demands action at the highest levels. And making that clear in their public statements is a way of appealing to those who are still skeptical, or too politically partisan to accept that message from people who are sufficiently unlike them to easily write off their views.

But like the people who run for office while insisting they aren’t politicians, there’s something obviously incongruent in someone advocating for the seriousness of climate change while loudly denying that they are an environmentalist. In the same breath, they’re agreeing with the environmental movement’s assessment of reality, while holding onto the idea that the people who arrived at that assessment are kooks, extremists, abnormal people who are best kept at a distance. “They may be right,” this line of thinking goes, “but they’re still nags, scolds, interested only in propping up their own egos by making you feel bad.”

There’s a lot of judgment in those statements, especially in Johnson’s imagined moral sadist, getting off on their sense of superiority. An armchair analysis would lead me to guess previous environmental criticism made him feel guilty, and his response was to assume the intent was to hurt him, personally–because we have a human tendency to assume things are personal, and to assume the worst of those who hurt us. Even if that’s off the mark, the statement itself still shows an imagined category of person, the environmentalist who has chosen the cause because they enjoy making other people feel bad, and Johnson’s need to refute that self-created label.

Ultimately that’s what I think those statements and all the ones like it are about: a need to escape the labels we put on others. In order to understand the world, we need to categorize it, and our understanding of other people is no exception. It is impossible for us to understand the full complexity of even a single other individual, let alone the hundreds or thousands of people we interact with on a regular basis. If we needed to face the entirety of another person every time we dealt with them, we would simply freeze, so instead we create categories: environmentalists are like this, politicians are like that, feminists are like this, and so on. There may be part of us that recognizes these types are constructions and that no one in each group will exactly fit our stereotype, but we still assume it’s true in aggregate: no environmentalist is exactly like x, but collectively they probably come pretty close.

To whatever extent we need to generalize with others, though, we absolutely abhor being the subject of generalizations. So when we find that we’re saying something or taking some action that would peg us as a member of a particular group, we’ll take pains to explain we aren’t actually one of them, despite the superficial similarities. That Platonic ideal we hold of all the categories we create is too simple and too other to capture the complexity that is our own self, and so we instinctively bristle at the thought of being labelled. We are too vast and complex and contradictory to fall under any label, especially ones we’ve already used to write off the views of others, since those labels tend to be the most overly simplistic anyway.

The impulse to refuse the categories we’ve created should act as a reminder that those categories are inherently incomplete. Not false, necessarily, but simplified and abstracted for the purpose of helping us navigate the world. We can’t actually hold the complexity of others in our own heads, but we can recognize that labels sit just as uncomfortably on them as they do on us. If you’re running for office but refuse to call yourself a politician because the term doesn’t reflect your own view of your motivations and experience, recognize that your opponent likely feels the same. If you are trying to agree with a group while pushing against being identified as one of them, try to understand why it’s so important for you to avoid the label, and what assumptions that implies.

If you’re too special to be confined to a category, so is everyone you’ve categorized.

Change is possible because it is necessary

Two quotes from Tyson Yunkaporta’s Sand Talk that have been running through my mind today.
The second one is an especially heavy one, a reminder that not seeing the harm caused by our lifestyle doesn’t mean there is none. In the same way that most of us don’t blink at the thought of eating meat but blanch at the thought of even the most humane farming practices, let alone the reality of how most animals are actually treated, we’ve exported and outsourced the extractive practices, abhorrent working conditions, wars, dictatorships, and other forms of violence that are required for even the more moderate and thoughtful western lifestyle.

The first one is trickier. Has every civilization failed? Some certainly have, and others have lasted by transforming into something unrecognizable from how they started, which could be seen as success or failure depending on your perspective. And some are still going, waxing and waning and adapting and clinging to power. So you could nitpick the claim. But “Change is possible because it is necessary” — that’s a good one. That’s something to hold onto.

All generalizations are false

I definitely first came across that phrase as a sort of joke, one of those self-contained paradoxes that used to entertain me endlessly as a kid exploring the strangeness of language and logic. But it’s been one of the thoughts I’ve been spending the most time with over the past couple years, today’s prompt being the third episode of Sharron Kraus’ Preternatural Investigations podcast. It’s a paradox, but it’s also true (sort of), and I think important in ways that I haven’t fully grasped yet.

A better formation of it would be “all generalizations are fictions,” although that makes the paradox a little less direct. Essentially, though, the idea is that all categories are useful fictions that humans (and likely other sentient creatures) have created to more efficiently navigate the world.

“Fish” is a go-to example, in that there is no way to create a category that uses our current phylogenetic mapping to include everything we commonly think of as fish and exclude everything that we don’t think of as fish. That’s not to say “fish” isn’t a useful category in daily life; it just isn’t an objectively definable category based on the currently-agreed-upon system for understanding how to group species. But then, even “species” is a blurry category, with debate as to its precise definition, so particular groupings of species are also bound to be troublesome.

I’m not just talking about gaps between common-usage terms and scientific categories, though. The point is, the world itself does not generalize. Each entity in the universe is only itself. (It might be fairer to say there’s no such thing as entities, only the universe, given that even boundaries between objects get fairly fuzzy at subatomic levels, but that may be going to far for this post). The point being, something as straightforward as “rock” isn’t a category that exists in the universe, there are only distinct collections of atoms that have properties similar enough to one another that it’s useful for us to lump them together as the conceptual group “rock.” There is no physical law to distinguish between rivers and streams and lakes and oceans, nor between planets and comets and stars. There are individual objects, and we find it easier to talk about them based on the similarities we see between some of them, and the differences we see compared to others.

This is a fairly obvious semantic point. Maybe it’s obvious to the point of being uninteresting. But I think there are at least two reasons that it is important. One is that it can serve to remind us of the uniqueness of everything. Generalizations are a way for us to avoid having to process each individual thing we perceive in its own particular fullness. If we had to consider every leaf, every blade of grass, every bird call or human voice as a completely discrete phenomenon, we would be paralyzed. But that doesn’t change the fact that all of them are, in fact, unique. Each of them is as intricate, as special, as beautiful as the first one you saw, or heard, before your mental mapping of their sense memory was simplified into something your brain could process more easily.

J.F. Martel has written and spoken about how one of the roles of art is to force us to see the uniqueness of whatever is being depicted, and how moments of awe and beauty come from us seeing things as they actually are, as opposed to how we assume them to be. Recognizing that categories are only useful shorthands can act as a reminder to look for that uniqueness, at least from time to time, and to focus on your present experience as the precious thing that it is, instead of something to be tolerated until some imagined future event where you’ll finally get to experience something truly special. In a way, the only thing between the mundane and the marvelous is a perceptual filter that strips away the specificity of the moment.

The second reason I think this is important is that it makes it easier to challenge your own assumptions. If you can internalize that “fish” is a fictional category and “Tuesday” is just a word to make it easier to communicate about future points in time and not a thing that exists in the physical universe, then you can also recognize that much broader conceptual terms (including the whole of politics and economics) are also just useful shorthands. They are attempts to describe complex recurring patterns of cause and effect, and are worth paying attention to for as long as they are actually useful, meaning as long as the things they describe have some sort of predictive or descriptive power, or create positive outcomes. And, importantly, they can be dropped when that’s no longer the case.

It’s a testament to the power of the human mind and its ability to recognize patterns and describe relationships that we are so inclined to think of those patterns and relationships as inherent to the universe. But it also leads us to cling to ideas well past their expiry date, and to fail to question the reason certain beliefs and practices arose in the first place. If we can manage to internalize the idea that all generalizations are fictional to at least some extent, and that all descriptions are generalizations (in that they have to translate something unique into language that can be understood in terms of its similarity to certain concepts and experiences), it makes it easier to try out new models of understanding, because the old ones become a little less precious.


One more reason it’s important, maybe: it’s a way of reminding myself how powerful the force of collective imagination can be. This is basically the inverse of the second reason, which is more about weakening the reality claim of things that can seem all too real. Instead, it’s recognizing the ability of shared imagination to alter the world in absolutely incredible ways. If we can wake up every morning and enact things as elaborate as capitalism and nation states (and it’s well commented on how those are products of collective action and collective belief), then it’s hard to imagine the limits of what realities we could manifest, what dreams and hyperstitions we could bring about.

It’d be an interesting challenge to think about what worlds we could have tomorrow, using existing technology and infrastructure, just by changing how we use the things we have. I don’t know that it would be enough to reach the goals of the latest IPCC report, but… most utopias rely either on technological breakthroughs or a reversion to pre-industrial ways of living that completely abandon the comforts of civilization. I’d be very curious to try to imagine a third way, where the big changes that need to happen are more memetic than physical, where it’s our desires and aspirations that shift rather than using new technology to sustain the current dream. I have no idea what it would look like, but there’s at least a germ of an idea there.

Permanent records of impermanent states

I’ve done a lot of writing over the years, but very little blogging. The thing that makes blog posts interesting (to me) is when they’re closer to the original definition of essays—attempts at understanding, rather than fully formed opinions. I like reading people collecting their thoughts, trying on perspectives, and tracing connections that haven’t fully revealed themselves.

I like reading those, at least. But writing them in even a semi-public forum is a lot more frightening. Despite being built around hyperlinks, which should be one of the best tools imaginable for creating context, the internet has somehow evolved in a way where every piece of content on it exists as an island. Every post, every tweet, every statement is seen as complete in itself, existing outside of time and outside of uncertainty—or at least has the potential to be seen that way by anyone who finds one of the ideas in it troubling. It makes it harder to be wrong, and being willing to be wrong is at the heart of any process that moves towards understanding.

This post is essentially a disclaimer, then. It’s me giving myself permission to try out this format of writing, because I can point to this post later on to say that I didn’t necessarily believe everything I wrote even when I wrote it, and I’m certainly not expecting myself to continue believing any of it for long stretches of time. Blog posts are permanent records of impermanent states. Just like a photograph can’t be expected to contain the whole truth of who a person was, is, and will be, a single piece of writing can’t either. Because there isn’t a singular, whole truth of a person. We are processes, physically and mentally adapting to the world around us, building models to understand and navigate it, discarding the parts that don’t work (if we’re lucky), refining the ones that do, and on rare occasions getting a glimpse of just how completely wrong we are.

I recognize that I’ve missed the peak of blogging by quite a few years at this point, but the other formats I’ve been dabbling in, like social media, Substack, freelance writing, all of them feel too public on the one hand—they’re aimed at audiences—and too insular on the other—each post goes out there and then disappears. When I look at people who’ve been running blogs for years or decades, it’s fascinating to me how they can look up what they were thinking one, five, 10, even 20 years earlier. Journaling opens up some of that possibility, but it’s physical, which makes it much more difficult to dig up old entries, and it doesn’t lend itself to tagging, linking, or quotation in the same way. Something is telling me that I want to try this format out, and so I aim to give it a try.

No mission statement, no public promotion, not yet at least. Just an attempt to compile and collate, find interesting connections that could maybe become more coherent writings. Initial thoughts, early attempts, in the hopes of strengthening those mental muscles that’ve atrophied over the years and to try to put a little more thought into how I engage with and respond to the world.

E-Reader highlights for the first half of 2021

Every dang thing I’ve highlighted in my e-reader for the first half of 2021.

An export of e-reader highlights, presented without context, and because of a quirk of how Instapaper exports stories, it also includes a lot of unattributed quotes that will be difficult to parse in the future. My apologies to the authors who’ve had their attributions inadvertently stripped from the record.

The export also includes notes divorced from their original context, which, again, won’t be particularly useful for anyone, including me. Still, it’s a neat one-step-removed record of the ideas that must’ve struck a chord in the moment, at least, and it’s kind of fascinating to be able to look back on exactly when an idea was first inserted into my worldview.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 129-131 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 15:44:21

This problem is doubly acute today because man must, as a simple survival strategy, become aware of what is happening to him, despite the attendant pain of such comprehension. The fact that he has not done so in this age of electronics is what has made this also the age of anxiety, which in turn has been transformed into its Doppelgänger – the therapeutically reactive age of anomie and apathy.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 157-158 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 15:48:12

We reverse the old educational dictum of learning by proceeding from the familiar to the unfamiliar by going from the unfamiliar to the familiar, which is nothing more or less than the numbing mechanism that takes place whenever new media drastically extend our senses.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 225-227 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 19:52:14

As knowledge is extended in alphabetic form, it is localized and fragmented into specialties, creating division of function, of social classes, of nations and of knowledge – and in the process, the rich interplay of all the senses that characterized the tribal society is sacrificed.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 307-309 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:04:29

The secret of TV’s tactile power is that the video image is one of low intensity or definition and thus, unlike either photograph or film, offers no detailed information about specific objects but instead involves the active participation of the viewer.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 309 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:05:20

This still feels like stretch , and definitely doesnt hold for modern tv


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 250-250 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:05:55

How long did the old tribal culture endure?


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 250 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:07:30

I wonder if mcluhan has any research at all to back this stuff up


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 368-369 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:13:31

The people wouldn’t have cared if John Kennedy lied to them on TV, but they couldn’t stomach L.B.J. even when he told the truth. The credibility gap was really a communications


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 368-369 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:13:37

The people wouldn’t have cared if John Kennedy lied to them on TV, but they couldn’t stomach L.B.J. even when he told the truth. The credibility gap was really a communications gap.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 469-470 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:44:38

Tribal societies, unlike detribalized, fragmented cultures with their stress on individualist values, are extremely austere morally, and do not hesitate to destroy or banish those who offend the tribal values.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 470 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:45:32

Cancel culture and tribal morality?


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 653-654 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 22:06:36

Tribal man is tightly sealed in an integral collective awareness that transcends conventional boundaries of time and space.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 654 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 22:07:02

again, based on what?


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 663-664 | Added on Tuesday, 5 January 2021 22:08:16

This is the real use of the computer, not to expedite marketing or solve technical problems but to speed the process of discovery and orchestrate terrestrial – and eventually galactic – environments and energies.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 1193-1194 | Added on Thursday, 7 January 2021 09:22:18

political revolutions followed in the steps of the artistic one, mostly unfaithfully.


Instapaper: Tuesday, Jan. 5th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 868-870 | Added on Thursday, 7 January 2021 23:03:32

You are extracting visual information in order, ultimately, to get to a meaning.” Once I do start to think about this process—a process I can’t remember not being able to do—it starts to seem extremely alien: Thoughts, ideas, instructions, information are being transferred from one human brain into mine, via my optic nerve.


Instapaper: Thursday, Jan. 7th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 83-85 | Added on Thursday, 7 January 2021 23:18:53

Conversation about what’s been happening over the past several months has often bought into the false binary that either we have a successful coup, in which they steal the election, or we have a failed coup, but there is something insidious in-between: the delegitimization of the democratic process and the incoming administration.


Instapaper: Thursday, Jan. 7th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 83-86 | Added on Thursday, 7 January 2021 23:19:16

Conversation about what’s been happening over the past several months has often bought into the false binary that either we have a successful coup, in which they steal the election, or we have a failed coup, but there is something insidious in-between: the delegitimization of the democratic process and the incoming administration. In this in-between state, Trump supporters continue to regard their leader and themselves as above the law and entitled to enforce it however they see fit, on the basis of whatever facts they most enjoy having.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 21 | location 307-308 | Added on Wednesday, 20 January 2021 21:27:47

In this way of knowing, there is no difference between you, a stone, a tree, or a traffic light. All contain knowledge, story, pattern.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 21 | location 318-323 | Added on Wednesday, 20 January 2021 21:29:23

Emu’s problem can be seen in the mathematical greater-than/less-than interpretation of the symbol. Emu is a troublemaker who brings into being the most destructive idea in existence: I am greater than you; you are less than me. This is the source of all human misery. Aboriginal society was designed over thousands of years to deal with this problem. Some people are just idiots—and everybody has a bit of idiot in them from time to time, coming from some deep place inside that whispers, “You are special. You are greater than other people and things. You are more important than everything and everyone. All things and all people exist to serve you.” This behavior needs massive checks and balances to contain the damage it can do.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 24 | location 360-362 | Added on Wednesday, 20 January 2021 21:34:32

rules of engagement are that you can only cut your opponent on the arms, shoulders, or back (extremely difficult to do) and—here’s the kicker—at the end of the fight the winner must get cut up the same as the loser, so that nobody can walk away with a grudge.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 29 | location 442-444 | Added on Wednesday, 20 January 2021 21:42:39

For the purposes of the thought experiments on sustainability in this book, an Indigenous person is a member of a community retaining memories of life lived sustainably on a land base, as part of that land base. Indigenous Knowledge is any application of those memories as living knowledge to improve present and future circumstances.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 48 | location 730-731 | Added on Thursday, 21 January 2021 23:31:11

the problem is that it is not how cultures adapt and evolve over time. Like all things that last, it must be a group effort aligned with the patterns of creation discerned from living within a specific landscape.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 49 | location 749-750 | Added on Thursday, 21 January 2021 23:33:30

For those seeking sustainability practices from Indigenous cultures, it is important to focus on both ancient and contemporary knowledge of a demotic origin, rather than individual inventions or amendments.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 57 | location 859-862 | Added on Friday, 22 January 2021 23:53:57

How do these symbiotic dances develop, when the cause-and-effect relations are so interdependent and complex that there is no way to reverse engineer the process by which the system came to be? This is precisely the kind of process we need to understand and engage with to create sustainable responses to the catastrophes we are facing.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 63 | location 957-958 | Added on Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:37:09

These patterns cannot be programmed but must emerge within the system organically—a process that is called “random” in Western worldviews but is in fact following the patterns of creation.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 64 | location 981-983 | Added on Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:40:33

The whole is intelligent, and each part carries the inherent intelligence of the entire system. Knowledge is therefore a living thing that is patterned within every person and being and object and phenomenon within creation.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 84 | location 1288-1289 | Added on Tuesday, 26 January 2021 22:33:30

our prehistoric lives were so violent, hard, and savage, how could we have evolved to have such soft skin, limited strength, and delicate parts?


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 84 | location 1288-1289 | Added on Tuesday, 26 January 2021 22:33:35

If our prehistoric lives were so violent, hard, and savage, how could we have evolved to have such soft skin, limited strength, and delicate parts?


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 106 | location 1617-1619 | Added on Wednesday, 27 January 2021 23:07:00

Bearing this in mind, the reclaiming of Indigenous ritual and cultural activities as exercises in concentration, rather than just performances or soft-skill craftwork, may be just what is needed to grow or repair the minds required to create complex solutions for sustainability issues.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 110 | location 1686-1687 | Added on Wednesday, 27 January 2021 23:14:07

Every civilization has failed, and this global one is failing grandly, obviously. Our enemy has no answers. This makes me a bit hopeful. Change is possible because it is necessary.”


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 134 | location 2044-2044 | Added on Thursday, 28 January 2021 08:32:16

symbol you can see the shapes of five other symbols for story-mind, kinship-mind,


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 134 | location 2044-2044 | Added on Thursday, 28 January 2021 08:32:24

story-mind, kinship-mind, dreaming-mind, ancestor-mind, and pattern-mind.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 152 | location 2331-2331 | Added on Thursday, 28 January 2021 20:38:08

you live a life without violence, you are living an illusion:


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 152 | location 2331-2336 | Added on Thursday, 28 January 2021 20:38:16

If you live a life without violence, you are living an illusion: outsourcing your conflict to unseen powers and detonating it in areas beyond your living space. Most of the southern hemisphere is receiving that outsourced violence to supply what you need for the clean, technological, peaceful spaces of your existence. The poor zoned into the ghettos of your city are taking those blows for you, as are the economically marginalized who fill your prisons. The invisible privilege of your technocratic, one-sided peacefulness is an act of violence. Your peace-medallion bling is sparkling with blood diamonds. You carry pillaged metals in your phone from devastated African lands and communities. Your notions of peaceful settlement and development are delusions peppered with bullet holes and spears.


Instapaper: Friday, Jan. 29th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 836-837 | Added on Sunday, 31 January 2021 22:04:34

What Morton promises us is that things need not be done as they always have been, for things have not always been done this way at all.


Sand Talk (Tyson Yunkaporta)

  • Your Highlight on page 182 | location 2789-2790 | Added on Monday, 1 February 2021 23:13:05

Your culture is not what your hands touch or make—it’s what moves your hands.


Instapaper: Monday, Feb. 1st (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 217-220 | Added on Tuesday, 2 February 2021 23:45:11

This led to lively communication between scientists and laypeople, as well as to efforts to keep the sciences as jargon-free as possible. Medical experts eschewed Latinisms in favour of terms their patients used to describe their own experiences of illness; meteorologists formulated wind scales and cloud taxonomies on the basis of the lingoes of sailors and farmers; and geologists came up with terms for seismology that corresponded to the felt reports of earthquake survivors.


Instapaper: Monday, Feb. 1st (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 306-307 | Added on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 21:27:57

‘Museums of the future,’ he wrote, ‘ought not to be as I would like to have them, but as the visitors and users would want them if they knew what makes a museum.’


Instapaper: Monday, Feb. 1st (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 345-346 | Added on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 21:32:15

‘Natural science is the art of shaping a democratic reality and being guided by it – thus being reshaped by it,’ he said.


Instapaper: Wednesday, Feb. 3rd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 314-318 | Added on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 22:16:51

The advent of the online world, he thought, was changing the physical one. In the past, going online had felt like visiting somewhere else. Now being online was the default: it was our Here, while those awkward “no service” zones of disconnectivity had become our There. Checking his Vancouver bank balance from an A.T.M. in Los Angeles struck him suddenly as spooky. It didn’t matter where you were in the landscape; you were in the same place in the datascape. It was as though cyberspace were turning inside out, or “everting”—consuming the world that had once surrounded it.


Instapaper: Wednesday, Feb. 3rd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 323-325 | Added on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 22:17:43

It seemed to Gibson that this constant reprogramming, which had become a major driver of economic life, was imbuing the present with a feeling—something like fatigue, or jet lag, or loss.


Instapaper: Wednesday, Feb. 3rd (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 332-335 | Added on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 22:18:50

For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient “now” to stand on. We have no futures because our present is too volatile. . . . We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.


Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 424 | location 6487-6488 | Added on Wednesday, 10 February 2021 23:12:08

Diderot also said humanity would not be freeuntil the last king is strangled in the entrails of the last priest.^^


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 63 | location 955-957 | Added on Tuesday, 16 February 2021 21:07:36

Conversation, in other words, is not isolated voices making separate points in an alternating series of monologues; it is a creative collaboration, orchestrated not according to linguistic, but prosodic, rules. It is a form of singing, a duet in which two brains choreograph, through variations in pitch, pace, and rhythm, the exchange of ideas.


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 66 | location 1011-1014 | Added on Tuesday, 16 February 2021 21:13:15

Those phrases are distinguished by dramatic changes in pitch and rhythm across the utterance, by the melodic changes we use to help people follow what we’re saying. Not only do we lower our pitch after “unicorn,” to sonically tuck one phrase (“that is in the garden”) into the other, we also slightly increase the speed of articulation for the embedded chunk, so we don’t put undue demands


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Note on page 67 | location 1014 | Added on Tuesday, 16 February 2021 21:14:40

Its like chomsky et al.are basing their theories on written language rather than speech…


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Bookmark on page 108 | location 1642 | Added on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 18:38:47

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This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 232 | location 3553-3555 | Added on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 18:47:09

I also like it because it means that our hunger for, and love of, the human voice can never become obsolete, or outmoded: it is simply too much a part of us, a part of our neural circuitry, a primary means by which we make sense of

This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Bookmark on page 172 | location 2623 | Added on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 21:52:32

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This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 112 | location 1706-1708 | Added on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 21:58:39

These uncanny correspondences between birdsong and human speech led Darwin to a highly original insight. Whereas all earlier theorists imagined words coming first, Darwin said that the melody and rhythm of speech, its birdsong-like pitch sequences across sentences—its emotional prosody—preceded words in some now extinct singing ape-human.


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 114 | location 1746-1750 | Added on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 22:02:20

Through meticulous dissection of their speech—the sounds, vocabularies, and grammars—Sapir confirmed that no language is “simpler,” “more primitive,” or “less evolved” than any other. All partake of the same extraordinary, and mysterious, process of converting abstract thought into elaborately patterned acoustic signals with the voice. As Sapir put it: “the lowliest South African Bushman speaks in the forms of a rich symbolic system that is in essence perfectly comparable to the speech of the cultivated Frenchman.”14


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 232 | location 3547-3551 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 15:08:19

he pointed out that our language comprehension and production evolved in connection with our hearing, around 150,000 years ago. Writing is only 5,000 to 7,000 years old—“partially going pig-gyback on the same circuits,” he wrote. “So it’s possible LISTENING to speech (including such things as cadence, rhythm, and intonation) is more spontaneously comprehensible and linked to emotional brain centers—hence more evocative and natural.”33


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 240 | location 3670-3675 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 15:18:04

The power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial been the | 229 | 5P_Colapinto_ThisIsVoice_HHC.indd 229 11/10/20 7:48 AM | THIS IS THE VOICE | magic power of the spoken word, and that alone. The broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. All great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses.40


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 267 | location 4081-4084 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 15:59:49

The most striking discoveries about the therapeutic effects of song involve choral singing. Even at an amateur level, the act of blending your voice with others in song causes the brain to secrete the chemical oxytocin, a hormone that creates the warm sensations of bonding, unity, and security that make us feel all cuddly toward our children and others we love—or infuses us with spiritual awe.17


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 268 | location 4099-4099 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 16:01:06

Singing leaves us unusually naked and exposed.


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 268 | location 4108-4111 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 16:01:49

By accentuating the rhythmic and melodic channel of the voice over that of the earthbound plod of articulate speech—by riding the exhaled breath through a sequence of pitches and beats that imposes on the air a pattern of vibration that we recognize as beautiful, healing, unifying, and emotionally nourishing—we not only cut to the quick of our humanity, but we reveal private dimensions of the self in ways that the cagey rhetoric of language can obscure.


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 269 | location 4125-4155 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 16:07:13

Even before Fleming could speak, her mother was prompting her to “parrot back” sequences of notes sung to her—a feat the infant Fleming could perform with remarkable precision. In school, she landed the leading parts in musicals (at twelve, she played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady), but as with any art form, shaping raw talent into a long and successful professional career is another story altogether, and Fleming writes, fascinatingly, of the technical mastery behind what she calls the soprano’s “cultivated scream.” It took her years to learn the physical and mental techniques that go into producing the impossibly loud and high notes she can make. Newborns do it instinctively—positioning the tongue and lips and larynx in the optimal arrangement for boosting certain overtones in the voice spectrum, to achieve house-shaking volume without excessive strain on the lungs or vocal cords. In opera, the amplification of vowel overtones is called the “singer’s formant,” and Fleming learned to do it through creative visualization. She “imagines” that she is projecting her voice into highly specific targets in her body—“aiming sound mentally,” as she puts it. For the highest notes, she targets the “mask”—the nose, cheekbones, and sinuses. Only then can she engage the involuntary muscles in the diaphragm, larynx, | 258 | 5P_Colapinto_ThisIsVoice_HHC.indd 258 11/10/20 7:48 AM | SWAN SONG | tongue, and face that allow her to project her voice “to the back of the hall without strain.”22 How she shapes that sound into something we deem “beautiful,” so that each note hangs for a moment in the air, as present as an abstract Brancusi sculpture—shaped and shimmering in space, textured, polished, and conforming to all the criteria of proportion and harmony that Plato said embody perfection in the arts—well, that’s another question entirely. Science has been trying to penetrate that mystery and Fleming is unusual, as one of the world’s most successful singers, in having lent herself to the effort. In 2017, she volunteered as a guinea pig for experiments into the neuroscience of singing conducted by the Kennedy Center and the National Institutes of Health. She spent two hours lying inside the narrow tube of an fMRI scanner, repeatedly singing one of the most emotionally resonant songs in her repertoire: “The Water Is Wide,” a plangent Scottish folk ballad. All the expected areas of her brain “lit up” with activity: her Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas (as she produced the lyrics), her motor cortex (as it sent instructions to the larynx and articulators), her limbic structures (as they processed the song’s emotions), and areas on the right side of the brain (that compute melody and rhythm). In short, the same structures activated in speech. Apparently, even the most high-tech wizardry is as yet powerless to explain why singing is so powerful as singing. The most illuminating reflections on the power of singing that I have come across are from people who have spent their lives helping others achieve the fullest emotional expression with their voice. Laurie Antonioli is a singer, recording artist, singing coach, and chairperson of the Vocal Program at the California Jazz Conservatory. She believes the voices that move us the most have achieved a ruthless honesty of expression: they have been quenched of the mannerisms, affectations, trendy ornaments, and derivative stylistic tics that may make for massive pop | 259 | 5P_Colapinto_ThisIsVoice_HHC.indd 259 11/10/20 7:48 AM | THIS IS THE VOICE | hits, but whose emotional penetration is less than skin deep: true auditory cheesecake (or “ear candy” in music biz parlance).


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 269 | location 4125-4126 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 16:07:32

Even before Fleming could speak, her mother was prompting her to “parrot back” sequences of notes sung to her—a feat the infant Fleming could perform with remarkable precision.


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Note on page 270 | location 4126 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 16:08:21

Is this common? Given how speech evolved, could melody come first?


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 273 | location 4178-4180 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 16:12:30

This is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. If Darwin correctly identifies the “animal” origins of singing’s primal emotional appeal, he cannot account for its peculiarly human dimension, that part of singing that expresses our sense of belonging to a community of interde-pendent, empathetic, and cooperative human beings.


This Is the Voice (John Colapinto)

  • Your Highlight on page 280 | location 4291-4292 | Added on Saturday, 20 February 2021 21:57:19

Speech and song are equally an assertion of our existence against the void, a means for animating the air with news of our presence, however ephemeral, and thus should be performed with confidence in the Self, and with an awareness of the music from which our linguistic capability arose.


Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 3580-3582 | Added on Thursday, 25 February 2021 20:17:08

This year has been clarifying. Not everything needs to be done in person. Not everything need to be done now. And while those who work from home have discovered certain tasks are better accomplished asynchronously, others are better done in a collaborative moment.


Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 3781-3784 | Added on Thursday, 25 February 2021 21:52:49

For, I have seen the devil, by day and by night, and have seen him in you and in me: in the eyes of the cop and the sheriff and the deputy, the landlord, the housewife, the football player: in the eyes of some governors, presidents, wardens, in the eyes of some orphans, and in the eyes of my father, and in my mirror. It is that moment when no other human being is real for you, nor are you real for yourself.


Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 3895-3897 | Added on Thursday, 25 February 2021 22:36:34

we have no true personal privacy on the Web. Even if today’s online privacy laws are enforced, none will give us privacy any more than laws against indecent exposure will give us clothing.


Instapaper: Thursday, Feb. 25th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 3896-3897 | Added on Thursday, 25 February 2021 22:37:12

Even if today’s online privacy laws are enforced, none will give us privacy any more than laws against indecent exposure will give us clothing.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight at location 123-124 | Added on Saturday, 27 February 2021 22:05:07

We are in danger today of losing the capacity to distinguish between artistic creation as Proust defined it and the aesthetic creativity that goes into a commercial jingle,


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight at location 123-124 | Added on Saturday, 27 February 2021 22:05:21

We are in danger today of losing the capacity to distinguish between artistic creation as Proust defined it and the aesthetic creativity that goes into a commercial jingle, a new car design, or a hollow summer blockbuster.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 274-275 | Added on Sunday, 28 February 2021 12:08:22

Astonishment is the litmus test of art, the sign by which we know we have been magicked out of practical and utilitarian enterprises to confront the bottomless dream of life in sensible form.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 16 | location 283-284 | Added on Sunday, 28 February 2021 12:09:17

concerns, an artist’s power comes down to two things: her sensitivity to the radical mystery of existence, and the artistry and craft with which she can channel that mystery into an object or performance.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 16 | location 281-284 | Added on Sunday, 28 February 2021 12:09:25

bodies of work are varying means for achieving a common end. Both are realists in the real sense of the word. Regardless of personal convictions or professional concerns, an artist’s power comes down to two things: her sensitivity to the radical mystery of existence, and the artistry and craft with which she can channel that mystery into an object or performance.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 16 | location 282-284 | Added on Sunday, 28 February 2021 12:09:32

Regardless of personal convictions or professional concerns, an artist’s power comes down to two things: her sensitivity to the radical mystery of existence, and the artistry and craft with which she can channel that mystery into an object or performance.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 24 | location 359-361 | Added on Sunday, 28 February 2021 12:20:20

We tend to see our “personal tastes” as positive personality traits, whereas they could just as well indicate limitations that we might overcome given the right opportunity, the appropriate context, and a little courage.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 25 | location 371-373 | Added on Sunday, 28 February 2021 12:21:46

unfortunately the guardedness that is so essential to our mental wellbeing in this media-saturated world also contributes to the rampant apathy that is frosting over the globe like the beginnings of an unprecedented psychic ice age.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 76 | location 917-920 | Added on Tuesday, 2 March 2021 22:47:27

manifestations.” He then adds something interesting: “I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, the other in the purposed domination of the author.”


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 76 | location 918-920 | Added on Tuesday, 2 March 2021 22:47:34

“I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, the other in the purposed domination of the author.”


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 138 | location 1573-1575 | Added on Friday, 5 March 2021 22:57:54

It began in earnest with television’s systematic co-opting of the night world formerly reserved for conversation, storytelling, and dreaming (an invasion prefigured by the rise of radio decades before). Already by the 1960s, mass entertainment, ubiquitous marketing, and consumer culture formed a beguiling haze of light whose function was to mediate between human beings.


Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice (Manifesto) (Martel, J.F.)

  • Your Highlight on page 157 | location 1781-1782 | Added on Friday, 5 March 2021 23:22:06

Seeing all things purely as symbols leads to a state comparable to schizophrenia, in which all things resonate with meaning yet nothing has a clear signification.


New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird (Gaiman, Neil)

  • Your Highlight on page 120 | location 2453-2454 | Added on Friday, 12 March 2021 14:58:28

Their fear was the small kind, borne of uncertainty rather than dread.


Instapaper: Sunday, Mar. 14th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 295-296 | Added on Monday, 15 March 2021 23:14:15

Mycelium used to feel like a kōan, unintelligible to my mammalian mind. But I’ve come to think of our minds as the most mycelial parts of ourselves.


Instapaper: Sunday, Mar. 14th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 330-332 | Added on Monday, 15 March 2021 23:20:40

I wanted Ambient to mean ‘a music without a clear distinction between foreground and background’ and ‘a music without clear beginning or end’. Removing those boundary conditions from the music opens it up to a kind of mental wandering, a sort of exploratory walk through a field of sound.


The Tangled Tree (David Quammen)

  • Your Highlight on page 286 | location 4381-4382 | Added on Thursday, 18 March 2021 22:41:29

“The tree of life is not something that exists in nature, it’s a way that humans classify nature.”


The Tangled Tree (David Quammen)

  • Your Highlight on page 287 | location 4387-4387 | Added on Thursday, 18 March 2021 22:42:09

“If there is a tree of life, it’s a small anomalous structure growing out of the web of life.”


The Tangled Tree (David Quammen)

  • Your Highlight on page 310 | location 4752-4754 | Added on Saturday, 20 March 2021 23:21:06

With genes flowing sideways, information moving across boundaries, and energy flowing upward from cells through communities and environments, the concept of an “organism”—an isolated creature, a discrete individual—seemed less valid too.


Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 450 | location 6888-6893 | Added on Thursday, 25 March 2021 22:17:06

“The method to be practiced is as follows:you are to doubt regarding the subject in you that hears all sounds. All sounds are heard at a given moment because there is certainly a subject inyou that hears. Although you may hear the sounds with your ears, the holesin your ears are not the subject that hears. If they were, dead men wouldalso hear sounds.” He says, “You must doubt deeply, again and again, ask-ing yourself what the subject of hearing could be.” Ignore the thoughts thatcome to you. “Only doubt more and more deeply,” concentrate, “withoutaiming at anything or expecting anything” and “without intending to beenlightened and without even intending not to intend to be enlightened;become like a child in your own breast.”


Through Thick And Thin – An Infrastructure For Relationships (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 14 | location 201-203 | Added on Wednesday, 31 March 2021 17:34:16

One of the challenges with field building is that the language is newer and less well known, and therefore can be distracting for those whose primary objective in life isn’t to think deeply about the methodologies of collaboration and collective action.


Through Thick And Thin – An Infrastructure For Relationships (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 20 | location 299-300 | Added on Wednesday, 31 March 2021 17:48:06

‘My safety net is not my job or my house, it is the people in my life. People who are willing to step in and offer me support when I need it.


Through Thick And Thin – An Infrastructure For Relationships (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 24 | location 364-365 | Added on Wednesday, 31 March 2021 17:50:46

That we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny, and that what affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’


Instapaper: Wednesday, Mar. 31st (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 438-439 | Added on Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:19:01

But, she reflected, “I had created this world of constant busyness and work that pretty much prevented me from spending any time sitting with myself and examining my inner world.”


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 11 | location 158-160 | Added on Tuesday, 6 April 2021 20:49:42

If 1 percent of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.)


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 18 | location 265-267 | Added on Tuesday, 6 April 2021 20:58:32

“productive work” but work as an end and meaning in itself. We have come to believe that men and women who do not work harder than they wish at jobs they do not particularly enjoy are bad people unworthy of love, care, or assistance from their communities.


Instapaper: Thursday, Apr. 8th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 49-51 | Added on Saturday, 10 April 2021 22:17:13

We can logically infer that these friendships are not an end in themselves but are instrumental to some other goal, such as furthering one’s career or easing a social dynamic.

Instapaper: Thursday, Apr. 8th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 51 | Added on Saturday, 10 April 2021 22:17:45

This is a weird inference…


Instapaper: Thursday, Apr. 8th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 90-91 | Added on Saturday, 10 April 2021 22:20:45

If it has been more than a month, you might be kidding yourself about how close you really are.

Instapaper: Thursday, Apr. 8th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 91 | Added on Saturday, 10 April 2021 22:21:52

Again theres an assumption here that i dont buy. Years maybe but a month?


Instapaper: Thursday, Apr. 8th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 831-834 | Added on Sunday, 11 April 2021 11:01:22

“Christianity” or (even more crudely) “religion” that is at issue. What’s a problem is when a teacher or institution asserts that there is a kind of knowledge that is noncontingent, exclusive, unarguable, universal, eternal, and unitary. If it is generally supposed that knowledge is like that, then the students’ job becomes one of conforming themselves to that knowledge—not exploring it, not questioning it, not playing with it, not experimenting with it, but confirming


Instapaper: Thursday, Apr. 8th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 832-834 | Added on Sunday, 11 April 2021 11:01:29

What’s a problem is when a teacher or institution asserts that there is a kind of knowledge that is noncontingent, exclusive, unarguable, universal, eternal, and unitary. If it is generally supposed that knowledge is like that, then the students’ job becomes one of conforming themselves to that knowledge—not exploring it, not questioning it, not playing with it, not experimenting with it, but confirming


Instapaper: Friday, Apr. 30th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 106-106 | Added on Saturday, 1 May 2021 20:47:50

re-establish the role of community, empathy and cooperation amongst humanity.


Instapaper: Friday, Apr. 30th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 107-110 | Added on Saturday, 1 May 2021 20:50:09

The time is ripe for a new story, one that allows us to integrate all parts of what it means to be human today. Fundamental to this new story should be the question of how do we create communities and individuals with a sense of meaning? Where do we find our belonging? What is our purpose? What makes a ‘whole’ human being — a sense of connection, meaning, purpose, self-worth, justice, community, belonging, and a sense of love for this planet, this one short life, and humanity at large?


Instapaper: Friday, Apr. 30th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 268-269 | Added on Saturday, 1 May 2021 21:51:00

is about de-numbing our perceptions and senses to perceive what was always already there, but we do not usually include in our understanding of value, perspective or virtue.


Instapaper: Friday, Apr. 30th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 268-269 | Added on Saturday, 1 May 2021 21:51:13

It is about de-numbing our perceptions and senses to perceive what was always already there, but we do not usually include in our understanding of value, perspective or virtue.


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 105 | location 1598-1601 | Added on Monday, 3 May 2021 21:44:03

is hard perhaps to think of our sense of self as grounded in action because when we are truly engrossed in doing something—especially something we know how to do very well, from running a race to solving a complicated logical problem—we tend to forget that we exist. But even as we dissolve into what we do, the foundational “pleasure at being the cause” remains, as it were, the unstated ground of our being.


Piranesi (Susanna Clarke)

  • Your Highlight on page 53 | location 798-801 | Added on Sunday, 16 May 2021 22:25:51

they turned (or seemed to turn) towards the Moon. I realised that the search for the Knowledge has encouraged us to think of the House as if it were a sort of riddle to be unravelled, a text to be interpreted, and that if ever we discover the Knowledge, then it will be as if the Value has been wrested from the House and all that remains will be mere scenery.


Piranesi (Susanna Clarke)

  • Your Highlight on page 53 | location 798-803 | Added on Sunday, 16 May 2021 22:26:02

they turned (or seemed to turn) towards the Moon. I realised that the search for the Knowledge has encouraged us to think of the House as if it were a sort of riddle to be unravelled, a text to be interpreted, and that if ever we discover the Knowledge, then it will be as if the Value has been wrested from the House and all that remains will be mere scenery. The sight of the One-Hundred-and-Ninety-Second Western Hall in the Moonlight made me see how ridiculous that is. The House is valuable because it is the House. It is enough in and of Itself. It is not the means to an end.


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 157 | location 2397-2398 | Added on Thursday, 20 May 2021 21:59:04

adolescence is precisely when most of us are first confronted with the challenge of how not to become the monsters we despise.


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 161 | location 2454-2456 | Added on Thursday, 20 May 2021 22:05:10

What we are witnessing is the rise of those forms of popular culture that office workers can produce and consume during the scattered, furtive shards of time they have at their disposal in workplaces where even when there’s nothing for them to do, they still can’t admit it openly.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 20 | location 295-297 | Added on Monday, 24 May 2021 15:29:50

Tricked out of our expectations, we fall back on our senses. What’s astonishing is the gulf between what we expect to find and what we find when we actually look.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 23 | location 340-341 | Added on Monday, 24 May 2021 15:35:02

To talk about individuals made no sense anymore. Biology—the study of living organisms—had transformed into ecology—the study of the relationships between living organisms.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 39 | location 584-586 | Added on Monday, 24 May 2021 16:51:26

“Daniele hunts truffles at night, and I hunt them in the day. He is nervous, and I am not. His dog bites, and mine is friendly. His dog is slim, and mine is not slim. He is bad, and I am good.”


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 59 | location 893-894 | Added on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 21:03:20

William Bateson, who coined the word genetics, observed, “We commonly think of animals and plants as matter, but they are really systems through which matter is continually passing.” When


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 59 | location 893-894 | Added on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 21:03:27

William Bateson, who coined the word genetics, observed, “We commonly think of animals and plants as matter, but they are really systems through which matter is continually passing.”


Instapaper: Monday, May. 24th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 388-388 | Added on Tuesday, 25 May 2021 22:32:51

“the monopolisation of possible realities”.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 100 | location 1520-1523 | Added on Thursday, 27 May 2021 22:56:26

Some researchers use the term “holobiont” to refer to an assemblage of different organisms that behaves as a unit. The word holobiont derives from the Greek word holos, which means “whole.” Holobionts are the lichens of this world, more than the sums of their parts. Like symbiosis and ecology, holobiont is a word that does useful work. If we only have words that describe neatly bounded autonomous individuals, it is easy to think that they actually exist.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 100 | location 1530-1531 | Added on Thursday, 27 May 2021 22:57:16

authors of a seminal paper on the symbiotic view of life take a clear stance on this point. “There have never been individuals,” they declare. “We are all lichens.”


Instapaper: Wednesday, May. 26th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 275-277 | Added on Tuesday, 1 June 2021 15:18:55

It is in this sense, then, that Graeber argued that what may define the Left, and distinguish it from the Right, is its insistence that “creativity and imagination were the fundamental ontological principles” – that is, we can (and should) creatively produce the world and remake it as we wish.


Instapaper: Wednesday, May. 26th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 297-298 | Added on Tuesday, 1 June 2021 15:21:32

“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.”


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 201 | location 3073-3075 | Added on Friday, 4 June 2021 17:54:07

In 1941, this “pretty golden mold” was found on a rotting cantaloupe in an Illinois market by Mary Hunt, a laboratory assistant, after the lab put out a call for civilians to submit molds. Before this point, penicillin had been expensive to produce and remained largely unavailable.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 216 | location 3302-3303 | Added on Friday, 4 June 2021 21:07:28

Somewhere deep in the psycho-spiritual compost heap of his dream world, Stamets metabolized an old radical mycological solution into a new one.


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 238 | location 3646-3648 | Added on Saturday, 5 June 2021 09:42:39

Our hands imbibe like roots, so I place them on what is beautiful in this world. —SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI


Entangled Life (Merlin Sheldrake)

  • Your Highlight on page 240 | location 3675-3676 | Added on Saturday, 5 June 2021 09:45:31

Ambiguity isn’t as itchy as it was; it’s easier for me to resist the temptation to remedy uncertainty with certainty.


Instapaper: Thursday, Jun. 17th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 88-90 | Added on Thursday, 17 June 2021 22:30:47

Instead of reviving ideas of nature, we must reclaim the artificial — not fake, but designed. For this, human-machine intelligence and urban-scale automation become part of an expanded landscape of life, information and labor. They are part of a living ecology, not a substitute for one. Put more specifically: The response to anthropogenic climate change will need to be equally anthropogenic.


Instapaper: Thursday, Jun. 17th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 90 | Added on Thursday, 17 June 2021 22:32:19

Not sure i buy this. The same assumption that we can understand and design for the complexity of global systems is what got us here.


Instapaper: Thursday, Jun. 17th (Instapaper)

  • Your Note at location 104 | Added on Thursday, 17 June 2021 22:36:52

This phrase feels a little terrifying to me, maybe because of my own biases, but the idea of rational ecosystems seems like a misunderstanding of the nature of life and a succumbing to the control trap


Instapaper: Thursday, Jun. 17th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 104-104 | Added on Thursday, 17 June 2021 22:36:52

the rationalization of ecosystems


Instapaper: Thursday, Jun. 17th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 137-137 | Added on Thursday, 17 June 2021 22:40:47

the designer and programmer Ben Cerveny has said, the city is “perhaps the longest continuous process that humans have created.”


Instapaper: Thursday, Jun. 17th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 179-179 | Added on Thursday, 17 June 2021 22:44:43

What future would make the past worth it?


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 218 | location 3338-3341 | Added on Saturday, 19 June 2021 22:40:34

Opinion writers are the moralists of our day. They are the secular equivalent of preachers, and when they write about work, their arguments reflect a very long theological tradition of valorizing work as a sacred duty, at once curse and blessing, and seeing humans as inherently sinful, lazy beings who can be expected to shirk that duty if they can.


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 233 | location 3560-3560 | Added on Saturday, 19 June 2021 23:10:33

Virtutum omnium pretium in ipsis est.


Instapaper: Sunday, Jun. 20th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 143-146 | Added on Sunday, 20 June 2021 22:35:32

energy sources, to grow, to reproduce, to evolve. I would argue that we “conscious” beings share something more during our relatively brief moment in the “era of life”: the ability to witness and reflect on the spectacle of existence, a spectacle that is at once mysterious, joyous, tragic, trembling, majestic, confusing, comic, nurturing, unpredictable and predictable, ecstatic, beautiful, cruel, sacred, devastating, exhilarating.


Instapaper: Sunday, Jun. 20th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 143-146 | Added on Sunday, 20 June 2021 22:35:37

energy sources, to grow, to reproduce, to evolve. I would argue that we “conscious” beings share something more during our relatively brief moment in the “era of life”: the ability to witness and reflect on the spectacle of existence, a spectacle that is at once mysterious, joyous, tragic, trembling, majestic, confusing, comic, nurturing, unpredictable and predictable, ecstatic, beautiful, cruel, sacred, devastating, exhilarating.


Instapaper: Sunday, Jun. 20th (Instapaper)

  • Your Highlight at location 143-146 | Added on Sunday, 20 June 2021 22:35:47

would argue that we “conscious” beings share something more during our relatively brief moment in the “era of life”: the ability to witness and reflect on the spectacle of existence, a spectacle that is at once mysterious, joyous, tragic, trembling, majestic, confusing, comic, nurturing, unpredictable and predictable, ecstatic, beautiful, cruel, sacred, devastating, exhilarating.


Bullshit Jobs (David Graeber)

  • Your Highlight on page 233 | location 3564-3566 | Added on Wednesday, 23 June 2021 11:01:11

“I wanted to do something useful with my life; work that had a positive effect on other people or, at the very least, wasn’t hurting anyone. But the way this economy works, if you spend your working life caring for others, you’ll end up so underpaid and so deeply in debt you won’t be able to care for your own family.”

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

==========
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

==========
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)

  • Your Highlight on page 193 | location 2955-2956 | Added on Friday, 7 August 2020 22:24:16

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 27 | location 406-407 | Added on Tuesday, 11 August 2020 21:11:33

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 34 | location 512-514 | Added on Wednesday, 12 August 2020 22:33:19

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 38 | location 571-573 | Added on Wednesday, 12 August 2020 23:25:56

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 67 | location 1024-1027 | Added on Sunday, 23 August 2020 23:00:05

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 200 | location 3061-3062 | Added on Monday, 24 August 2020 21:55:42

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 204 | location 3115-3117 | Added on Monday, 24 August 2020 22:02:54

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 224 | location 3421-3422 | Added on Saturday, 5 September 2020 22:35:27

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 224 | location 3421-3422 | Added on Saturday, 5 September 2020 22:35:35

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 77 | location 1178-1179 | Added on Tuesday, 8 September 2020 00:10:55

let nothing be called natural In an age of bloody confusion

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Highlight on page 391 | location 5988-5990 | Added on Saturday, 26 September 2020 22:42:49

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)

  • Your Bookmark on page 399 | location 6103 | Added on Sunday, 27 September 2020 22:05:28

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

  • Your Highlight on page 5 | location 62-63 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 19:41:34

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

Team Human (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 7 | location 93-96 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 19:44:41

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 11 | location 168-169 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 19:54:35

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

Team Human (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 13 | location 194-196 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 19:57:12

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 15 | location 223-225 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 20:00:09

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 16 | location 239-240 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 21:50:11

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

Team Human (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 23 | location 347-348 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 22:04:25

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 28 | location 421-422 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 22:12:22

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 31 | location 465-467 | Added on Sunday, 8 November 2020 22:22:04

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 43 | location 645-646 | Added on Monday, 9 November 2020 17:54:46

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

Team Human (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 64 | location 970-972 | Added on Monday, 9 November 2020 22:48:34

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 78 | location 1184-1185 | Added on Tuesday, 10 November 2020 22:41:20

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 80 | location 1222-1223 | Added on Tuesday, 10 November 2020 22:45:10

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

Team Human (Unknown)

  • Your Highlight on page 99 | location 1513-1515 | Added on Wednesday, 11 November 2020 16:28:39

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 135 | location 2064-2066 | Added on Thursday, 12 November 2020 20:53:32

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 144 | location 2204-2206 | Added on Friday, 13 November 2020 22:14:32

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 147 | location 2254-2255 | Added on Friday, 13 November 2020 22:20:41

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)

  • Your Highlight on page 152 | location 2323-2324 | Added on Friday, 13 November 2020 22:45:13

We mistakenly treat the future as something to prepare for.

Doubt (Jennifer Michael Hecht)

  • Your Bookmark on page 407 | location 6236 | Added on Wednesday, 25 November 2020 21:50:34

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The Tangled Tree (David Quammen)

  • Your Highlight on page 178 | location 2723-2726 | Added on Monday, 30 November 2020 19:25:54

“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)

  • Your Highlight on page 182 | location 2781-2782 | Added on Monday, 30 November 2020 19:46:55

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