austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And fill my nights with song

I've given my father a serious challenge to his values. It wasn't on purpose. Specifically, what I did was turn on the light in my room, which quickly flashed back out again. This doesn't sound like a lot, but you have to understand the context: deep down, my father doesn't see any reason for any light to illuminate anything ever. I know it's traditional for fathers to go around turning off lights, but usually they wait for rooms to be empty before turning them off. Not my father. Somehow in the past several years he has become obsessed with making sure there's the minimum possible number of photons in a room. I think he's happiest sitting in the living room in the middle of the night with his laptop tilted forward so that it doesn't shine any direct light on anything and sitting in the dark. I'm not exaggerating at all; he just doesn't like lights at all, and sees no reason why you'd need a second source of light in a house no matter how dim or off the first is. I'm wondering if he's discovered that Thomas Edison punched out his grandfather or something.

So, expecting something silly to break out, I asked my father where the spare light bulbs were kept, because I haven't seen any, and I couldn't rule out that he's been smashing every bulb he could find. He ... didn't know, offhand. He thought there might maybe be a box of bulbs in the laundry room. They turned out to be there, in an upper cabinet, hidden behind multiple boxes of freezer bags, as if trying to escape notice. But the box was full of the new fluorescent bulbs that look like somebody's practical joke at General Electric. The bulb is dim, of course, no sense getting one of those lights that fills a room with visibility, but it's enough to get dressed by. The only catch is it takes a few seconds to turn on, as if it weren't sure it wanted to get involved in our silly little household drama. I can't blame it.

Trivia: For the 1889 Paris Exposition, Jules Bourdais proposed a 360-meter-tall tower, the Tour Soleil, to be built near Pont-Neuf, with arc lights to illuminate the city. Source: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the 19th Century, Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Currently Reading: The Age of Voltaire, Will and Ariel Durant.

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