In the Spaces Scattered Among Moments

Image: 'Self-Portrait: Me First, Safety Last #3,' by user MattsFlicks on

[Image: “Self-Portrait: Me First, Safety Last #3,” by user MattysFlicks on Flickr (used here under a Creative Commons license; thank you!). This is actually a composite photo — multiple exposures: “one of the scene, one of myself with the hammer, one of my pried open eye while leaning over my workbench and a bunch of photos of a pair of safety glasses that I cut up using a pair of cable cutters and lineman’s pliers…  I brought everything into Photoshop, assembled the scene, and added some motion blurs, some blood, an umbilical cord, and some babes.” The photographer has posted several more of these staged accidents at Flickr — each capturing an apparent split-second while actually requiring hours of in-between time.]

From whiskey river:

Even in childhood I watched the hours flow, independent of any reference, any action, any event, the disjunction of time from what was not itself, its autonomous existence, its special status, its empire, its tyranny. I remember quite clearly that afternoon when, for the first time, confronting the empty universe, I was no more than a passage of moments reluctant to go on playing their proper parts. Time was coming unstuck from being—at my expense.

(Emil Cioran [source])


Evening Talk

Everything you didn’t understand
Made you what you are. Strangers
Whose eye you caught on the street
Studying you. Perhaps they were the all-seeing
Illuminati? They knew what you didn’t,
And left you troubled like a strange dream.

Not even the light stayed the same.
Where did all that hard glare come from?
And the scent, as if mythical beings
Were being groomed and fed stalks of hay
On these roofs drifting among the evening clouds.

You didn’t understand a thing!
You loved the crowds at the end of the day
That brought you so many mysteries.
There was always someone you were meant to meet
Who for some reason wasn’t waiting.
Or perhaps they were? But not here, friend.

You should have crossed the street
And followed that obviously demented woman
With the long streak of blood-red hair
Which the sky took up like a distant cry.

(Charles Simic [source])


I want you to stop running from thing to thing to thing, and to sit down at the table, to offer the people you love something humble and nourishing, like soup and bread, like a story, like a hand holding another hand while you pray. We live in a world that values us for how fast we go, for how much we accomplish, for how much life we can pack into one day. But I’m coming to believe it’s in the in-between spaces that our lives change, and that the real beauty lies there.

(Shauna Niequist [source])

Not from whiskey river:

The Drink

I am always interested in the people in films who have just had a drink
thrown in their faces. Sometimes they react with uncontrollable rage,
but sometimes—my favorites—they do not change their expressions at
all. Instead they raise a handkerchief or napkin and calmly dab at the
offending liquid, as the hurler jumps to her feet and storms away. The
other people at the table are understandably uncomfortable. A woman
leans over and places her hand on the sleeve of the man’s jacket and
says, “David, you know she didn’t mean it.” David answers, “Yes,” but
in an ambiguous tone—the perfect adult response. But now the orchestra
has resumed its amiable and lively dance music, and the room is set in
motion as before. Out in the parking lot, however, Elizabeth is setting
fire to David’s car. Yes, this is a contemporary film.

(Ron Padgett [source])


A year or two ago, my wife took me to the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville to see a film about comic books. Titled Super, the film was about a guy who’s read one too many comics and decides to stand up to injustice. I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie, but one scene eloquently expressed this idea of waiting and how it fits in with the rest of life.

In the scene, the main character, Frank, who runs around town killing bad guys with an oversized monkey wrench, is sitting with his self-appointed teenage sidekick, Libby. They’re waiting for an opportunity to fight evil, for the police sirens to blare or something significant to happen. But nothing does. So they sit in boredom, wondering what they should do.

Frank: Maybe you need to be bored sometimes.
Libby: You don’t see them bored in comic books.
Frank: That’s what happens in between the panels.
Libby: Wow, in between the panels! Is that where we are right now?

(Jeff Goins [source])



Little has been made
of the soft, skirting action
of magnets reversed,
while much has been
made of attraction.
But is it not this pillowy
principle of repulsion
that produces the
doily edges of oceans
or the arabesques of thought?
And do these cutout coasts
and incurved rhetorical beaches
not baffle the onslaught
of the sea or objectionable people
and give private life
what small protection it’s got?
Praise then the oiled motions
of avoidance, the pearly
convolutions of all that
slides off or takes a
wide berth; praise every
eddying vacancy of Earth,
all the dimpled depths
of pooling space, the whole
swirl set up by fending-off—
extending far beyond the personal,
I’m convinced—
immense and good
in a cosmological sense:
unpressing us against
each other, lending
the necessary never
to never-ending.

(Kay Ryan [source])


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  1. I’d comment, but I’m interstitial right now.

    • No longer! You’ve been blessed by whatever weird sp*m-filtering tollbooth operator was blocking you. :)

    • Great to see you again, Ashleigh!

      I love interstices, myself – both the word and the idea. However, I feel a little guilty upon the reflection that this seems like a word that must have been created primarily to taunt stutterers.

  2. JES, this must surely be the most macabre image you have ever led off a post with in, what is now, 9 years of blogging! I suspect a Lynchian influence is at work in your subconscious.

    • Hello, Mr. Froog! Yes, 9 years later, I am probably very much under the sway of (now) Twin Peaks: The Return. I considered all the photographer’s images in this series; they’re all pretty absurd and faux-gruesome. Of course the image as such doesn’t really “go” with a whiskey river Fridays post, but the description of the process seemed to fit right in. (Also, I loved about this one the disapproving look on the face of the maternal figure in the toolbox lid, ha.)

      What are you up to now? Still disporting in the Far East/Southeast Asia? Or have you reverted to, well, a state in which you’re more likely to gather moss?

      • I have settled for a while in the mellifluously named town of Battambang, in north-west Cambodia, but still travelling quite a bit. Getting tempted now to try to earn some cash again by taking a short-term gig as a PR man for a casino resort on the Vietnamese border… You know, the same old Graham Greene stuff.

        • In a world of tumult and upheaval, it reassures the soul that some things remain constant!

          The photography and/or writing still coming along???

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