April 15, 2017

The News of the Day


There is a world dimensional

For those untwisted

By the love of things irreconcilable.

--Hart Crane

Sometimes, far too seldom, I like to go out into my neighborhood of Queen Anne in Seattle. I like to go out and see what the world dimensional is up to; to exercise my far-too-sedentary body. The problem is I don't do it enough. It never seems compelling. Jogging, walking, reps of all sorts for exercise's sake fill my spirit with inertia. To the sleeping mind all walks seem the same -- pretty flower, overgrown lawn, cute little house, sad big McMansion, jogger with perky breasts, jogger with miles to go hanging from her thighs. As the song says, "All in all, it's all the same. / Just call me if there's any change."

But, from time to time, out I go. And recently when I went out the mantra, "There's never nothing happening," echoed in my mind. I decided to test it. I decided to wake up and take a look around.

Waking up when you're already awake is something that takes constant effort and a life to learn. You first need to wake up to the fact that you are sleep-living; a state that most humans inhabit every waking second of their life. Just knowing you're asleep isn't enough though. You have to decide to wake up, to be present in the present; to inhabit the present moment no matter what lullaby your monkey mind may sing to return you to slumber. It only does that to drown you in regrets for the past and fear for the future. Your monkey mind is a liar, but clever and it gives no quarter. When you put yourself on trial the verdict is always "Guilty.... but with an explanation."

It doesn't take a sage to glance at the current political and social and entertainment landscape of America to tell you that many prefer sleep-living to wakefulness. Not only that, the sleepers have a growing resentment towards those who continue to insist on wakefulness. It is as if much of our nation has fallen "half in love with easeful death;" with freedom and government set on cruise control. That's only one reason why it is more important than ever to know and to act in the world every moment in the belief, "There's never nothing happening."

Looking out into my little world up above Seattle on the crest of Queen Anne Hill, I got Yogi Berraized and "saw a lot just by observing." Then I took a walk.

I recorded it all on my mental video: Here are some jump cuts, zooms, slo-mo and freeze frames:

Couple having coffee outside Bustle. He's expounding. She's listening, smiling a false smile and pretending to be fascinated. Not married. They will marry; him out of a need for love, her out of a greed for things. It will last until his need is not met and/or her greed not satisfied. Written on the wind.

"No good. No bueno. Hustling myself." Wake up!

Pause. And begin again. Look around and look deeper. This moment. This step. This one. The next. Once and once only.

Mixed race couple holding hands and walking with their two beautiful children, boy and girl, the coffee-colored compromise of America made real, heading to the Safeway. Their love as strong and lithe as their children.

Hipster couple coming back from the Safeway. He hasn't shaved. She doesn't care. Their little girl in the stroller is pumping her chubby pink legs trying to kick off her new pink flip-flops.

Trendy young girl with spider-web tattoo on shoulder listens intently on her cell-phone to a friend and then complains that their numbers may be recorded by the NSA. Crosses the street unconsciously confident that no car within ten thousand miles will explode. Resenting the reasons why.

Homeless man sitting half in the street reading a thumbed paperback he's plucked from the garbage can next to him. It's a page turner and he's turning the page.

Couple lounging outside the laundromat. At ease with each other and waiting for their tumbling, mixed laundry to finish drying. Her hand brushes lightly along his thigh. He pushes his thigh against her hand. May their clothes dry quickly.

One overwhelming orange bloom of an Opium poppy growing alone out of a heap of rich black compost in a back alley.

On a half-blown lilac bush a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly with one tip of one wing torn off. The scent of the lilacs.

Scrawled sign above a raft of reeking garbage cans in same alley, "Get Out! Police have been called."

Whirring slapzap of a weed-whacker shaving a small man's small patch of lawn. Scent of the fresh cut grass blowing across the road past the corner house which sports a skull and cross-bones flag on a pole, and a line of worn Tibetan prayer flags strung along the porch.

A sleek jogger swoops by across the street, her bare shoulders pale in the sun, her bright red hair lifting in the lambent light behind her as she runs into a wind of her own making.

The cell phone sounds the opening bars of the 9th Symphony. An old friend reveals a moment of God's grace and the ending of a pain that has been with him daily for decades.

Listening to his relief and happiness, I turn a corner towards my own home and come face to face with a small gray house festooned, roof to lawn, in a thick drenching of lilac blossoms that tumble my mind into blankness with the tsunami of their perfume.

I walk onto my own lawn and stand for a moment under the 40 foot willow shimmering above me and glance into the play ground across the way where a basketball game played by one man flows back and forth across the blacktop. Pass, catch, run, jump, shoot, rebound, nothing but net.


The light of life and the hand of God lie gently across all of Queen Anne on this April afternoon.

"There's never nothing happening."

Moments by Will Hoffman

Once Only

almost at the equator
almost at the equinox
exactly at midnight
from a ship
the full


in the center of the sky.

Gary Snyder
Sappa Creek near Singapore
March 1958

Republished with revisions, variations, and additions from August , 2009

Posted by Vanderleun at April 15, 2017 2:19 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Writing well is good, being able to write what you see is very good. When you write about what you see it's a pleasure. Thanks.

Be back in a moment.

Posted by: Dennis at August 19, 2009 1:14 PM

I took the whole day for my moment in the sun, by the sea, alone. Hurricane Bill had pulled the moisture away from the shore and a balmy 89 degrees with a frisky breeze had me asleep under the umbrella in no time.

Not too many lonely, nearly desolate beaches left in Florida, so when you find one, you dare not tell another soul. Two miles of beach and only a handful of sunbathers. shhhh!

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at August 19, 2009 1:37 PM

A camera.

I carry a camera to freeze these moments.

It's like the frame that you toss at random into a natural area.

It allows you to see. Really see.

(Ya could'a given us a heads-up on that fish decapitation. I was just finishing my spaghetti)

Posted by: Cathy at August 19, 2009 3:10 PM

Not a single religious artifact or building to be seen; not one person at prayer. No place, no moment for God.

Posted by: mrp at August 19, 2009 5:12 PM

Allow me to suggest a poetic complement to the video.


Like the manna, mute as snow,
Swift the moments come and go,
Each sufficient for the needs
Of the multitude it feeds;
One to all, and all to one,
Superfluity to none,
Ever dying but to give
Life whereon alone we live.

John B. Tabb (1845-1909)
The Blog from the Core: Tabb Centenary Year XIII

Posted by: ELC at August 19, 2009 5:20 PM

"No place, no moment for God."

They're all moments of God. All of them. God's moments depend not and require no prayers, symbols, or buildings. Where were they or we when he raised the foundations of the cosmos?

"THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;"

God's Grandeur. Hopkins

Posted by: vanderleun at August 19, 2009 5:45 PM

No, Gerard - not all of the moments enacted by Man are made for God's Glory. Some are, but some, perhaps most, are played out for the Devil's amusement. There are moments of prayerful work, of joyful leisure, and charity. And then there are moments of pure, unmitigated evil.

It's a pretty video, but it is not Truth. Film is unreal - it presents, benignly or not, the POV of the people responsible for its production (an argument generations old). It could easily have ended with an Obama logo.

I simply noticed that for the entire gamut of human emotions displayed throughout, no explicit or implied relationship between the human beings and their Creator is present in the work.

Posted by: mrp at August 19, 2009 6:21 PM

I noticed an implicit relationship with God in every frame. But as you will. I'm not here to sell you inscape or a Bible.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 19, 2009 6:28 PM

I know you're not, Gerard. I'm interested in what Hoffman is selling.

Posted by: mrp at August 19, 2009 6:35 PM

I looked and saw not one
No beads between fingers
No lamps lit and filled
With rose-scented oil.

What I saw before me was as
That first prayer probably
I looked and I perceived
And was filled full.

It was as though (not maybe)
The elements themselves
Sat ready rolling, tumbling
About to be made whole.

Hearing no word or song
Sounds all about, carnival
Whirling, crashing, calling
Strike iron, and ring the bell!

One, three, six, nine, eleven;
Such may be the prayer of Heaven.


Posted by: RiverC at August 19, 2009 6:37 PM

Isn't that why the Japanese invented haiku and senryu? They're even more vivid than film, I think, because as you read them, you live them.

Posted by: John Ziemba at August 19, 2009 8:18 PM

Exactly so, I think. A formal way of recording a moment. In which the seen is also felt. I think the primary effect of the senryu has to be aimed at a knowing implicit in the image.

The imagists used the basic structure, but I think they seldom got the vibration correct. Imagist work always comes off as being just a tad too portentous. It always wants to have a precise edge to it rather than the more feathered wet on wet effect of the senryu.

Posted by: Vanderleun at August 19, 2009 9:39 PM

I so get this. I've watched it 3 times now. Thank you for posting this. When the little girl blows the bubble, then flinches..

Sending along to some others.. Thank you Sir!

Posted by: DD at August 20, 2009 1:14 AM


Nice walk.

Think I'll head out this morning.


Posted by: Cathy at August 20, 2009 5:20 AM

Beautiful film, beautiful writing.
Thank you.

Posted by: Fausta at August 20, 2009 7:30 AM

Tweeting as art.

Posted by: Old Dad at August 20, 2009 7:36 AM

Regarding the issue of religious or spiritual "stuff" ... St. Francis said: Preach the Gospel constantly. Use words {or stuff} when necessary.

Where love is, there God is also. Details are available on request.

Posted by: AskMom at August 20, 2009 7:57 AM

"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
Cesare Pavese

Thank you for this reminder...to be aware of the moments.

Posted by: M*A at August 20, 2009 8:58 AM

The film is apparently a viral advertisement demonstrating Mr. Hoffman's command of the latest video technology. Any or all of the "moments" might be re-arranged or deleted to sell a client's product(s); perhaps the New York Times, or maybe Planned Parenthood (no doubt the PPer's applauded the "moment" where the man unwrapped a rubber and fell back on the bed/couch/floor. A film that is nothing more than a series of fragmentary, inconclusive, non-committal "moments" that could mean anything. That is not Life, and it sure as Hell isn't love.

Posted by: mrp at August 20, 2009 9:15 AM

Gerard, I have told you before that you may have missed your calling.

Rev. Don

Posted by: Donald Sensing at August 20, 2009 2:01 PM

It's never too late, is it? And besides, I've been keeping up on my reading.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 20, 2009 2:41 PM

mrp - since you desire a bit of religion:

We should not expect that the world - or video makers - respect our religious leaning, whether it be true or false or a mixture of the two. In fact, we should assume that the falser it is, the more they will affirm it.

That aside, the word in Greek which represents the notion of time as moments - i.e. discrete instead of continuous time (chronos) is 'kairos'. In the Revelation of John, first chapter, he says that the 'time' is soon or near. The word in greek is.. 'kairos' (1:3 - kairos eggis).

This is the notion; the time for salvation is now. It is in these moments - which come to us unadorned with religious significance since there is arguably no coherent natural theology - in which we either find salvation or damnation.

While what you say about Hoffman is true, it is precisely the ambiguity of these moments that makes it masterful, not the other way around. What a person says about them - including the condom moment - says more about themselves than about the persons therein who are likely actors - or at the least we have no idea what happens before or after.

If we are spiritually mature, it is up to us to take each of these moments - and ourselves pray the prayer. In this sense consider a litany; we pray for the servants of Christ John, Mary, Frank, John, Robert, Elijah... who says that at that moment of prayer what is going on with each person is not as this video displays? Of all of the people you care for, is it so certain that one of them is not secretly cutting off the life of the unborn?

If we do otherwise - that is to say - do not pray for those recorded there (if real) we may have a piety, but it is not a Christian piety. It is instead the piety of the pagans who killed the Christians.

It is that piety which demands the outward forms of religion, demands a sacrifice to its idols, instead of permitting that it be crucified and stand in as a representative of that fallen, but still painfully beautiful, cosmos.

Apologies for the harsh words. Pray for me, the sinner.

Posted by: RiverC at August 20, 2009 3:57 PM

Well, I am in tears. Thank you, Gerard.

Posted by: Mrs Whatsit at August 20, 2009 4:13 PM

Thank you, RiverC, for your thoughtful reply. I did not -expect- nor do I expect in the future that Mr. Hoffman (or any other film maker) will included religious iconography in their work. I did notice its absence. Including icons, whether religious, political, or corporate in a video certainly reduces ambiguity, does it not? It compels the viewer to confront a distinct POV.

As to the "moments" in the work, whose "moments" are they? Do they belong to the viewer? To the actors? To the film maker? Yes, we live in moments - moments of joy, terror, hope, loving tenderness, etc., but I am not addressing in -any- of my comments the "moments" each one of us has experienced in our own lives. All of my comments in this thread are devoted to a discrete media presentation created by Mr. Hoffman. And your recognition of the ambiguity of Mr. Hoffman's "moments" makes my point.

Since they can mean anything, they can be used to sell anything. One may find God in each frame - Great! Append the logo of any religious denomination at the end of the film. Or a publisher might find the "moments" a convincing means of selling newspapers, etc. Does the phrase "Kodak Moments" ring a bell?

I bet Mr. Obama could even use Mr. Hoffman's video to sell government health care.

Posted by: mrp at August 20, 2009 9:46 PM

Life is too short not to take time and look at the little things around you. That is where I find my happiness.

Posted by: pdwalker at August 24, 2009 9:26 AM

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Posted by: dpwmlmwuq at September 9, 2009 1:37 AM

Whether or not you are formally religious or even believe in an anthropomorphic Creator, the numinous can be seen in many things. Really look at a spring flower with a bee in it; or up into the sky on a clear night; or even contemplate the abstract infinities inside the Mandelbrot set - and you will know that no human can never know or understand it all. There's nothing wrong in the attempt, though.

I can see, centuries from now, Palomar Observatory being a holy site. And it deserves to be.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at March 27, 2010 5:02 AM

Gerard and Hoffman make an error for which Gerard, at least, has no excuse. He is old enough, as I am, to recall the egregiously pretentious "happenings" that were the of the self-anointed intelligentsia half a century ago.

Discontinuous Time is a favorite conceit of the self-important. It lets them pretend that they are coequal with all prologue, with the Newtons and Caesars and Aarons taken together. It may even be true, at the quantum level, but it's counterproductive in the world of experience.

No microtome however sharp can slice off a sample of zero thickness, and no event occurs in zero time, or even Planck time if more than one particle is involved. Noting events is poetic and sometimes inspiring, but binding Time is a primary feature of sapient intelligence.The past is prologue of the present, and the present is prologue of the future, and if that perception is lost there is no reason to build or accomplish.


Posted by: Ric Locke at March 27, 2010 6:09 AM

I agree with mrp. It comes across as a very Western secular film: "man is the measure of all things." Given that prayer and worship are activities engaged daily in by a large percentage of the human race, and that a large percentage of this prayer & worship takes place in recognizably religious (oh that word!) settings with recognizably religious objects & iconography, the complete exclusion of even one such shot in a film with XX number of shots is very telling.

What this type of exclusion tends to reflect is that prayer & worship of the kind associated with any traditional religion are so far removed from the consciousness of the filmmaker and the filmmaker's circle of acquaintances as to be, quite literally, unthinkable.

Hoffman is obviously free to make any type of film he wants. The idea & the execution here are very, very good. But let's also recognize that the kind of solipsism that renders such a universal, historic and influential part of the human experience unthinkable is the hallmark of the modern Western secularist ... and that that mindset is crippling the West's ability to confront, among other things, Islamist fanaticism and the West's own material & fleshly excesses.

You can lob big words like "numinous" all you want, but this is still Humanism 101.

And I could have done without the condom shot & the Stepping-in-Dog-Poop // Licking-Ice-Cream-Cone pairing.

At the same time, I have to say, thanks for posting this one, Gerard. I come across more interesting videos on your site than just about anyone else's. I showed the "70 Million" music video (where the band recreates famous Masters paintings) to my film class the other week.

Posted by: bogie wheel at March 27, 2010 8:15 AM

Thank you.

I have been listening to Diane Ackerman's "The Zookeeper's Wife." She has a bit about the observance and importance of "moments." On another note, Anthony DeMello has an interesting book about sleepwalking vs. awareness, simply called, "Awareness."

Greetings from across town (Maple Leaf/Green Lake)!

Posted by: Susan in Seattle at March 27, 2010 4:02 PM

Greetings back to a fellow Seattlite from atop Queen Anne.

Posted by: vanderleun at March 27, 2010 4:53 PM

Would have been great...but the dogsh!t scene was totally uncalled for...and doesn't the balloon have to be red?...lol

Posted by: Barnabus at March 27, 2010 5:36 PM

Everybody's a director. Everybody wants to get inta the act.

Posted by: vanderleun at March 27, 2010 6:05 PM

Suzuki( don't recall which ) said:"There is only Now."

Posted by: CharleyMike at March 27, 2010 6:44 PM

the coffee-colored compromise of America made real


The more "reality" of this sort that is permitted, the fewer sleek, red-haired, pale-skinned joggers you will see.

Posted by: Robert Oculus III at August 16, 2011 7:06 PM

I thought about this song while reading your photograph, yet again. There are no reheated leftovers with you, Gerard. Just well-timed, long sought after seconds...and thirds.


I'm writing you to
catch you up on places I've been
And you have this letter
you probably got excited, but there's nothing else inside it
didn't have a camera by my side this time
hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm
in the mood to lose my way with words
Today skies are painted colors of a cowboy cliché
And it's strange how clouds that look like mountains in the sky
are next to mountains anyway

Didn't have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm
in the mood to lose my way
but let me say

You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You'll be with me next time I go outside
No more 3x5's
I Guess you had to be there
I Guess you had to be with me
Today I finally overcame
tryin' to fit the world inside a picture frame
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I'm in the mood to
lose my way but let me say
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
it brought me back to life
You'll be with me next time I go outside
no more 3x5's
just no more 3x5's

Posted by: Jewel at August 16, 2011 7:07 PM

Well, your wordsmithing ability is nothing short of miraculous; that is an implied relationship with the Creator of the Heavens. Indeed... Your posts are like a glass of Grandma's lemonade on the front porch after a thunderstorm. Unreal...

Posted by: Captain Dave at August 16, 2011 7:54 PM

I love this story and this page more than I can possibly say so I shall say nothing.

Posted by: truth at August 17, 2011 11:24 AM

That's a lot of good nothing going on.

It is hard to remember to notice things, isn't it?

Posted by: Mikey NTH at August 17, 2011 11:42 AM

And once again I know why I am compelled to return to your blog.

It is pure coincidence that Youngest Daughter lives in Queen Anne, and I can completely visualize it as I read your words.

Posted by: RandomThoughts at August 17, 2011 11:52 PM

Couple having coffee outside Toomer's. He's expounding. She's listening, smiling a false smile and pretending to be fascinated.  Married. Thirty some odd years, going on "til death do we part".
These words spoken, she has heard these words before, over coffee, over the walls erected when the shelter of these words failed ... and failed again.  He doesn't remember, her smile helps him forget.  Her love pretends these stale words may carry fresh ... reconciliation. 

Fresh water through yesterday's grounds. It's a bitter cup. 

I enjoyed your stroll.

Posted by: DeAnn at August 20, 2011 11:21 AM

Mixed race couple holding hands and walking with their two beautiful children, boy and girl, the coffee-colored compromise of America made real

SFX: Projectile vomiting.

The extinction of white people made real.

I don't hate blacks. I like white people. I don't think blacks are ugly. I think white people are beautiful. I don't want blacks to be genocided, enslaved, or harmed in any way. I want white people to continue to exist.

I like the races. All of them. I like differences between people. I don't want to live in a coffee-colored world.

But every time a white woman mixes her DNA with a nonwhite man, the world comes one step closer to becoming a place of coffee-colored nothings.

If white people continue to intermarry or interbreed, it means the end of white people. Being white myself, I'm against that. Strenuously.

We're already a Camp of the Saints. Must we throw open the gates, too?

Posted by: Shibes Meadow at April 15, 2013 9:16 AM

Shibes, not that it really makes a difference, but why do you apparently assume that the man was black and the woman white? That may in fact have been the case, but I personally know at least half a dozen couples where the man is white and the woman black. Plus, living in Asia as I have for many years, I've seen too many times to count where whites (and a few blacks) have intermarried with the locals, men and women. While hatred can often have a racial tinge to it, whether it's Black Panthers or the KKK, love truly is color-blind. If that makes you puke, I pity you.

Posted by: waltj at April 15, 2013 12:32 PM

Shibes, not that it really makes a difference, but why do you apparently assume that the man was black and the woman white?

Because black man/white woman is typical of black-white interracial couples.

That may in fact have been the case, but I personally know at least half a dozen couples where the man is white and the woman black.

With all due respect: so what?

Plus, living in Asia as I have for many years, I've seen too many times to count where whites (and a few blacks) have intermarried with the locals, men and women.

Again: so what?

While hatred can often have a racial tinge to it, whether it's Black Panthers or the KKK, love truly is color-blind.

And It's A Small World After All. Dum de dum de deedle-dee dum.

Love is color-blind. Alas, genetics is not color-blind. And unless both parents of a given child are white, the laws of genetics say that their child is not white. And that's bad.

Ever wonder why many Jewish people, even liberal types, are dead set against their children marrying non-Jews? It's because Jewish population numbers are stagnating around the world. There are only about thirteen million Jews in the whole world, and every mixed marriage is step closer to their being fewer Jews in the future. Is that a good thing?

White population numbers are likewise collapsing, both in the US and abroad. As things stand now, there are certainly going to be far fewer white people around in the future than there are today. Why do you celebrate this as a good thing?

If that makes you puke, I pity you

Intermarriage is just a slow form of autogenocide. If you don't care about the gradual extinction of white people through intermarriage, I reciprocate your pity.

Posted by: Shibes Meadow at April 15, 2013 3:36 PM

I took a sentimental drive up to Queen Anne recently, as I lived there as a young married woman in the 70s. My, how it has changed! It used to be one sleepy business area, in fact just the one street surrounded by houses. Very sleepy.
It still feels like old Seattle a bit though.

Posted by: pbird at April 16, 2013 7:13 AM

Having your pale and wan face around sort of rounds things out. We'll file it under: "And baby makes three."

Posted by: vanderleun at April 16, 2013 5:18 PM

Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Ephesians 5:14

Posted by: Roger Drew Williams at April 21, 2013 10:03 PM

Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Ephesians 5:14

Posted by: Roger Drew Williams at April 21, 2013 10:04 PM