I look forward to midnight when the day’s insults and stresses recede into their proper places. I feel more present in the world at midnight, most like myself. My routine has become more aestheticized over the years: a single lamp, a candle, and something gloomy on the radio, usually Bohren & Der Club of Gore. I keep a snapshot of my parents on my desk, impossibly young in the overheated color scheme of the 1970s. I chew nicotine gum and drink a cup of powdered Malaysian instant coffee. I write with pen and paper until, beyond the pool of the light, the rest of the world disappears.

The cult of the morning person has become so hardwired into our culture that I sometimes feel sheepish about my late-night tendencies. I’ve read countless profiles of prolific writers who rise before dawn like monks, not to mention the thought leaders and faith dealers who preach the gospel of the morning routine. But in the light of day, my brain feels as if it’s performing rather than being. Late-night thinking tends to be more honest. I felt a little vindicated when I read that Obama writes between 10pm and 2am. In a recent interview, he said, “I find that the world narrows, and that is good for my imagination. It’s almost as if there is a darkness all around and there’s a metaphorical beam of light down on the desk, onto the page.”

I like this image of late-night solitude as “the narrows.”

Bohren & Der Club of Gore – Midnight Radio 6

Midnight Radio | Epistrophy, 1995 | More
Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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