Civil Twilight

Civil Twilight


Good morning. Hank. It’s Tuesday. So I’m on vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan and last night Twilight looked like this. I learned yesterday that the first half hour or so after the sun sets is called Civil Twilight, because it’s considered by some governments to be legally still daytime. Like centuries ago, nighttime burglary was often considered a more serious crime than daytime burglary, and criminals would sometimes seek lesser sentences by claiming that they robbed a house not at night, but during Civil Twilight. I just love that phrase Civil twilight, the adjective Civil makes almost every noun better except war. Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about sunsets this week because the ones here in Michigan are so ostentatiously beautiful, like back home in Indiana The light often gets gray and then grayer until it’s dark. But here in Michigan, at least at this time of year these sunsets are mundane They’re ordinary which also makes them cliche of course I mean the beauty of sunsets and the Civil Twilight’s that follow is by now So cliche that it’s difficult to say anything interesting about them like I love E. E. Cummings famous sunset poem which goes: who are you little eye, 5 or 6 years old peering from some high window at the gold of November Sunset and Feeling that if day has to become night. This is a beautiful way It’s a good poem But it only works because Cummings situates the observation in childhood when one is presumably too innocent to have yet realized How lame it is to write about sunsets and yet a good sunset is beautiful and better still universally so like our ancestors didn’t eat like us or travel like us their relationship to ideas as Fundamental as light and time were vastly different from ours but every human who’s lived more than a Few years on this planet has seen a beautiful sunset and paused to spend one of the Last moments of day to be grateful for and overwhelmed by the light, but even now I’m swimming in sentimental waters How do you celebrate a sunset without being cheesy maybe stated in cold facts? So here’s what happens before a beam of sunlight gets to your eyes it has millions of interactions with molecules that cause the so-called Scattering of light different wavelengths are sent off to different directions when interacting with say oxygen or nitrogen in the atmosphere But at sunset the light travels through the atmosphere Longer before it reaches our eyes so that much of the blue and purple has been scattered away before it reaches us I think it’s helpful to know how sunsets work And I’ve never bought the romantic notion that scientific understanding somehow robs the universe of its beauty But it still doesn’t communicate much about how I felt looking at this absolutely routine Totally un-extraordinary Civil Twilight How it felt to look at something that was as beautiful as it was Normal and to be comforted both by the beauty and the normalcy so anyway I tried to photograph it because you know that’s what people do but of course the camera couldn’t capture how I felt in the space between yesterday and last night and Apparently neither can my voice over. All I can say is that sometimes the world stops me cold And I feel my smallness and you’d think that would be sad But it isn’t it only makes me grateful Toni Morrison once wrote that at some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough You don’t need to photograph paint or even remember it it is enough So I turned off my camera, and it was it was enough Hank I’ll see you on Friday

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    Brittany Always

    Sometimes, your videos are really interesting and thoughtful and you just seem like a cool person. This time, the writer in you came through so strongly. Beautifully captured, as best we tiny humans can.

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    N. J. Phillips

    Oh I live in Michigan and love our sunsets! And the stars at night, my Dad still takes me out at night and talks about all the constellations. I used to live in Chicago and never saw stars but moving back HOMES has been awesome. People still look at sunsets nightly here; never grows old no matter how old we grow!

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    onlyonewhyphy

    An apt title for your two.
    And ending to civil discourse while you hurriedly protect bullies right to bully.

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    dangerindesign

    I totally know the feeling of "smallness" and not in a negative way. I went to Iceland recently, and coming from a busy city, seeing the big open spaces and stars and the wilderness, it was breathtaking.

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    Jessica

    This is one of my favorite Vlogbrothers' videos.
    I'm quite sure I could listen to him talk about these kind of deep ideas.

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    Catherine Lu

    Oh no, I was going to make a sunset video of sorts, but this … There's something special about John's voiceover videos and it's too beautiful for me to remember what I was even going to talk about.

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    Matt Palka

    Dang. I felt this so much. Being able to see the beauty as normal and understand it is enough. I feel that's doing the work that awe requires. Being curious and knowing we are enough. I feel interconnected to that beauty and normalcy in the best way. I see my place as enough and am tremendously grateful.

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    I May

    oh my heartstrings! You two beautiful human beings, you. I'm so grateful of having randomly encountered your videos that one faithful day years ago

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    Sara Wehr

    That was beautiful, both in sight an in words. I cannot imagine how you will ever top this. You have outdone yourself, sir.

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    Friendly Metroid

    About 7 years ago, my brother and I took a hike up some local hills. There was a wooden observation deck at the top, and we stopped to watch the sun go down over a vast stretch of land. I had never taken the time to witness the full act before, and in my late 20's, the act seemed trivial. Now that sunset and the dark walk back through the forest have become an incredibly powerful memory, whose meaning seems to change with my situation.

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    KarolaTea

    The interesting thing about sunsets I find is: The more polluted the air, the more beautiful the light. Because more particles in the air that can reflect the colours.

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    gagan kumar

    I just love your videos like this John. Please make a playlist of such videos so that it is gettable at one place.

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    Artistic-Resonance

    John, I live in Indiana too and for the past two years we've gone to Michigan at the same dang time!

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    Kathleen Finan

    John, it's wonderful to hear you sound so relaxed. The lake shore is a place of communion with the universe for me.

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    Jackson Bird

    Watching this on my TV was especially calming and beautiful. Also, I use to summer on the shore of Lake Michigan so this felt like home and was nice.

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    Nameless Javelin

    Sunsets in Indiana like this were common this summer from my observation, maybe the pollution in Indianapolis is what makes them so dull from John's perspective

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    Samantha Stroiazzo

    Still so beautiful. Had to come back to re-watch because of how much inner peace the scene and the words bring me.

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    BromleyGaffer

    The Weakerthans have a great song called Civil Twilight. I think John would really like them. One of their shows was actually how I found out about the Mountain Goats (they opened for the Weakerthans in Winnipeg, 2010).

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    Katie Doherty

    So I have some obsessive behaviours including rewatching certain YouTube videos again and again but this one is a favourite of mine, with my anxieties and various other things this somehow always manages to instill me with a calmness I can't really explain, it's unlikely John will ever see this but still, I thank you for this video

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    hollymeri

    This video stuck in my subconscious enough that when I read the Toni Morrison quote in TATWD, I heard it in John's voice. Then it took a long time to find this video because I was sure it was in the thoughts from places playlist.
    Now that I have found this video again, It is enough.

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    Jasmine Stardes

    Ahhh watching this again after reading Turtles All the Way Down and hearing the Quote gives me a feeling that I can't find a word for so I'll just say that the familiarity of it makes me happy.

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    Kelly Sharon

    It seems that all of the most moving aspects of being human are at the same time entirely ordinary & mundane: childbirth, babies, flowers, sex, the moon, the wind, love, sunsets, death.

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