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a long day's journey... into the night


I found this a few days ago... a short article on a professor of history at Virginia Tech that is writing a book on how our perception of what is the night (in terms of how it affects ours activities), and what we do with it has changed over history:

Normally a morning person who thinks best before noon, Ekirch spends a lot of time these days thinking about night, particularly night as experienced by people before the coming of artificial light. "Along with changes in diet, dress, and forms of communication -- all nearly as different as night and day -- variations occurred at night in popular mores, including attitudes toward magic, sexual relations, social authority, and the nocturnal landscape," he says. Nighttime back then was "a rich and complex universe in which persons passed nearly half of their lives -- a shadowy world of blanket fairs, night freaks, and curtain lectures, sun-suckers, moon cursers, and night-kings," Ekirch says.
I find this fascinating. Many times I do my best work at night, but I've been able to work well at any time. I also enjoy early afternoon, especially in the summer, and early-early morning. I wonder: I know of many programmers who also do a lot of work late at night. If working a "nightshift" was almost unheard of, say, in the 17th century, I don't think it's a coincidence that the very things we are creating at these late hours are what ... enables us to work on them. Like electricity. And so on.

The concept of "what's normal" is something that I usually talk about with friends or family, since I my hours are really strange. For example, the "weekend" such as it is, has no meaning for me. Of course, I am affected since the rest of society does care. But for me, personally, a day is a day is a day.

I suddenly remembered I've talked about this before. Instead of repeating myself, I'll just let that entry do it for me. :-)

Categories: science
Posted by diego on April 28 2003 at 12:34 AM

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