Notes On An Unadorned Night
after Rene Char
Let’s agree that the night is a blank canvas, a station break, a bridge of a song.
Let’s agree further that activities at night—movies, campfires, reading by a lamp—are all
basically an homage to the day.
I have come to regard these two statements as contradictory. Let me explain.
First, set aside that one could see a movie, torch a fire, and read with the sun blazing over
The in-between aspect of night need not spark a flurry of activity, is all I’m saying.
You could do nothing at night! Just lay and sleep!
A Cézanne sketch I looked at last night bears mentioning.
A big Gallic face, reclining upwards, looks up at three boxcars on train tracks.
The man’s eyes are wide open and unfulfilled.
The two disemboweled deer I saw the night before also bear mentioning.
The torsos of both deer were connected to faces, both looking up.
I assumed they were struck by trains near the house where I was sleeping.
Anyway, it occurred to me that as I looked into these two dead deer’s eyes that so much
has fallen at me, rather than simply by me.
I want to be among people. I do.
But I just want the easy parts skipped, for bodies to rub up against each other, to always
feel as new flesh touches new flesh.
Those deer weren’t an emblem of anything. I’m not like that.
I don’t need dead animals to mirror my own interior world.
But what I am saying is that the dead eyes did shock me, and it didn’t help things that it
was by a dark highway.
And it did force me to feel my own heart bumping fast, me in my sweatpants and jogging
I felt like a damn idiot out there, under the moon with two dead deer at my feet.
It made me want to go home and watch a big, dumb, funny movie.
At least it did at first.
I turned the movie on, but I couldn’t focus.
It seemed as if what I was watching—the man and woman’s looks of madcap surprise,
the snappy music cues—were fake re-enactments. Which, of course, they were.
And then the whole idea of movies, especially watching them at home, especially big,
dumb, funny movies, seemed to be the stupidest idea in the world.
Watching them in a room with complete strangers, in a dark room—that’s a better idea.
At the theater where I see most of my movies, an employee makes seating
announcements over a PA speaker.
All the patrons wait and corral inside a rope, much like livestock, until the announcement
We then descend down an escalator, silent, and go into the theater.
My head has to crane uncomfortably to see the screen, since I have this long gawky neck.
The theater doesn’t have what they call “stadium seating.”
Another thing about the theater is that every few minutes during the movie, you can hear
the train—the 6, the D, Q, and F—rumbling beneath your feet.
No one, at least to my knowledge, has complained about this to the managers.
It’s somehow reassuring that people are going somewhere while you’re seeing a movie
with other people.
It’s a good theater because the movies there are of a high quality, and you’re with other
people who want to see a movie.
One time, Cindy Crawford, the famous fashion model, was in the same theater as me,
right behind me and my date.
Everyone tried not to look at her, but of course we all did.
I was on a date with an Irish girl who was an interior designer.
We went to see a movie that took place in Ireland, in a swamp.
It was a very quiet movie, and about halfway through, I fell asleep.
The rumble of the trains woke me up.
When I woke up, I at once smelled the Irish girl’s hair and saw the movie screen.
The scene was a little girl, petting the head of a deer.
The sound of a nearby brook was heard in the back speakers.
Cindy Crawford had gone.
When we left the theater, it was still daylight outside.
I was still sleepy.