Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Why is it that ideas and plans which seem completely rational, feasible and even brilliant at night often look quite the opposite in daylight?

Is daylight necessarily the best light in which to evaluate the reasonableness, feasibility and even brilliance of an idea?

Or is it simply that we're brainwashed to believe that daylight is good while nightlight is fun but a bit dodgy? "Nightlife" for instance means various degrees of drunk and disorderly.

But why shouldn't our brain, consciousness, subconsciousness and all the other bits of wiring work just as well under the moon as under the sun?

Weren't our primeval ancestors on the qui-vive at night, keenly aware of dangers and opportunities? It must also have been the time when their imaginations were most active, inventing stories, figuring out solutions to daytime puzzles.


Hattie said...

I think we are traveling the same path. I am lucky to live in a place where there are bright days and dark, dark nights. My daylight and night time selves are totally different, one mostly outer oriented and the other inner-oriented.

Catalyst said...

"Oh, the nightlife, it ain't no good life,
But it's my life."

------Willy Nelson

Catalyst said...

(Actually, that should be "Willie" Nelson.)

Dick said...

Daylight brings with it all the quotidian concernspreoccupations & distractions that are the enemy of the pure creative impulses that thrive in the unattended night. Maybe we should value that which comes up from within during darkness more.

https://sisyphusascending.wordpress.com said...


Tom said...

There is one aspect of darkness that had never occurred to me before our Iceland trip, but I'll say no more at this point. I will deal with it further, however.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hattie, in Paraguay the night sky was very black but there were so many stars it was illuminated. My day & night sides are similar but unequal: the night one is the boss. This doesn't really work too well in day life.

Bruce, Willie certainly had a busy nightlife and made good use of it in his songs...no regrets there! (I'm thinking of the lyrics in "There's nothing I can do about it now")

Dick, yes, definitely. You know something about sleepless nights, right?

Tom, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your Icelandic saga. I wish my nights were filled with the wondrous Northern Lights performance, minus the icy cold.

genie said...

last night the waining moon was brighter than bright and the fox barked in a relentless way.
Some of us can only manifest at night . Tuff but most interesting

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Genie, fox crying for the moon, mating under the moon, barking at the moon....I too can sometimes hear that strange sound deep in the night. Once, I looked out the window at about 3am and a little fox was stansding in the middle of the road, just standing there.

Rouchswalwe said...

My Great-Grandmother Anna was born in 1886, so it was as a teen-ager that she saw the first electric lights and airships and movies. As a girl, I was interested in her childhood and asked her many questions. One of her answers has stuck with me. She told me that back then, the nights were longer, the shadows deeper. I knew her when she was in her 80's, and in the evenings, she would say, "I'm going to bed. It's too bright and noisy." I suspect she did quite a bit of reading and thinking upstairs in her candle-lit room.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Rouchswalwe, thank you for this. Indeed how different the world must have seemed before electricity and all the rest. I'm sure the night must have played a much greater role in people's lives. Maybe because I was born at midnight, I often feel more awake (in a good way) at night than in the day. But maybe that's just because of my night owl habit.

A happy New Year to you and yours.

Vincent said...

"Why is it that ideas and plans which seem completely rational, feasible and even brilliant at night often look quite the opposite in daylight?"

Yes, it's your night-owl habit I think. I welcome daylight thoughts for their brightness and ability to cast out those shadowed fears that make obstacles loom huge at night.

We are creatures of different habit and retired to bed before midnight's ushering in the new year with extraordinary barrages of artillery as they seemed through our window, and children blowing whistles, & unusual cries, until we drifted off in spite of them all.

It occurred to me how New Year is arbitrary and artificial, whereas Night and Day are astonishing and majestic, affecting us deeply. It is these we should attend to, and the effects of different latitudes and seasons in modifying their length and transitions.

Do you ever feel called to a place within you where there is not only no electricity, but no civilization? The hunter-gatherer state in which our species emerged? Day and night are different worlds there.

Lucy said...

I have to say mostly I hope that the thoughts that beset me in the night aren't the reality. Not only that they're sometimes dark and threatening, but what's worse is when they're circular and repetetive. I think I'm not a night owl, yet I do like the darkness in many ways.

All good things and much love for 2016, Natalie, and thanks for everything.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Vincent, I like the ritual of celebrating the last day of the year though I always avoid the crowds and also worry about animals being frightened by the noise. But whether with friends and family or alone, there's something invigorating about the feeling of clearing out the old year with some kind of metaphorical (or real) bang. In parts of Italy there is a tradition of throwing stuff out of the windows, even furniture, on New Year's eve....Fun, if you're not walking below those windows!

"..Do you ever feel called to a place within you where there is not only no electricity, but no civilization? "
Oh yes, but has 'civilisation' ever meant anything in the deepest layer of our inner self? I don't know if that layer can be defined as 'hunter-gatherer' but it certainly is aware of day and night in a very different, more intense way.
A very happy 2016 to you and K.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Lucy, I do know what you mean about circular thoughts that flourish at night. In my case they only happen if I'm in bed and can't sleep. But when I'm up and about very late doing stuff, any stuff, by the time I hit the pillow I'm asleep. So no chance of those mind-mosquitoes buzzing around.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

And a very wondrous year to you and Tom, Lucy.

Rouchswalwe said...

Prost Neujahr to you, Natalie! Wishing you only the best in 2016!

Beth said...

I secretly love being up in the night.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Secretly Beth? Should we tell J?

Dave Bonta said...

In my last dream before waking last night, I had it all worked out how to free objects from enslavement by supplying them with legal documents spelling out the conditions for their use, and stipulating that they could never become anyone's personal property. Then I woke up and realized that communism via the legal system was an exceedingly unlikely scenario. There's no accounting for what the nocturnal mind will come up with!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

You have seriously political dreams, Dave, even coming up with new versions of "Property is theft"!

It would be interesting to improvise on your dream's premise. Strict instructions stamped on all objects, natural or manufactured - eg: this iPad/ mobilephone/Armani suit/potted plant/yacht/loaf of bread/tent/umbrella/penthouse/book belongs to everyone; you may use it for 48 hours after which it must be left in a public place accessible to all regardless of race, age, gender, religion, nationality etc.

Anonymous said...

Happy new year Natalie. I loved this post, the drawings sum up my night time musings perfectly; i get out of bed and hurriedly scribble down the brilliant ideas that have popped into my head at 2am so that i don’t forget them, only to find that they’ve melted in the daylight and what i thought was my next big thing isn’t a thing at all….*sigh*….maybe i should pretend it’s still night time when i get up so that my ideas remain interesting.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Phil, maybe the solution is to actually carry out those ideas in the night and not wait for daylight to sweep them away? A very happy 2016 to you, and lots more ideas-turned-into real works.

Dave Bonta said...

De onzas de plata, la luna
de madrugada llenó mi alma.
Cerré mi puerta, en el dí­a,
por verlas. No valí­an nada!

(With silver coins, the moon
of the small hours stuffed my soul.
During the day, I locked the door
to have a look at them. Worthless!)

–Juan Ramón Jiménez (tr. by Ralph and Rita Garcí­a Nelson)

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dave, excellent poem and absolutely relevant.
My own liberal translation:

At dawn the moon
filled my soul with silver coins.
In the morning I locked the door
so I could count them. Worthless!

Dave Bonta said...

Nice. There's a second stanza to it, but I don't have my books handy. (I actually found this quote by searching the Via Negativa archives!)

Dave Bonta said...

I mis-remembered -- that was the second stanza. Here's the whole poem according to some otherwise Russian-language site:


Me colmó el sol del poniente
el corazón de onzas doradas.
Me levanté por la noche
a verlas. ¡No valían nada!

De onzas de plata, la luna
de madrugada llenó mi alma.
Cerré mi puerta, en el día,
por verlas. ¡No valían nada!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

I like it even more, thanks Dave.

Roderick Robinson said...

We are different versions of ourself by day and by night. Theoretically anything is possible by day: we are sharper, mobile, have access to solutions, have the capacity to do something new. At night much of us has closed down: we are passive, impatiently awaiting sleep which our impatience keeps at bay, with nothing to see we are alone with our thoughts flying in all directions but tending towards deeper dark, towards dissatisfaction, towards fear. This is what I call 3 am wakefulness; as dawn approaches the transition begins and I am able to start writing something in my head (even verse), more remarkably correcting what I have composed and keeping track of it all, now impatient for another reason: waiting for the moment when I can put it into permanent form and escape the vulnerability of defective memory.

3 am wakefulness - very occasionally - arrives in a pleasant form. When almost everything has closed down and we've dissolved into blurred consciousness, knowing for sure we are seconds away from sleep. A truly luxurious sensation, detached from our body and with our mind almost in hibernation. If only that state could be artificially contrived.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Robbie, the collective "our" makes it seem that your own experience is common to us all. I appreciate your slant on the matter but there are infinite varieties in the way each of us lives our night-lives, the ways in which our bodies, thoughts and feelings behave in the night time. You say:

"... we are passive, impatiently awaiting sleep which our impatience keeps at bay, with nothing to see we are alone with our thoughts flying in all directions but tending towards deeper dark, towards dissatisfaction, towards fear."

This does not in the least ressemble my night-self, it could even be its exact opposite. Far from blurred consciousness and dark, fearful thoughts, my night-mind is generally full of optimistic ideas, detailed plans and interesting tasks for which sleep is an unwanted interruption. Often I get a lot done at night. But there are also times when my night-conceived plans don't stand up to the scrutiny of day. My blog post was questioning whether that day-lit scrutiny is a better judge of validity than the more visceral night-genie.