Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate, even if you dialed it down this year. I just finished Jonathan Crary’s excellent book 24/7, which is ostensibly about contemporary sleep and 24/7 culture but really about how capitalism expands to fill every available crevice while overriding humans’ biological characteristics—with sleep being the final impenetrable frontier. Early in the book, Crary discusses the transformational role of electric light in 19th century cities: “The broad deployment of urban street lights by the 1880s had achieved two interrelated goals: it reduced long-standing anxieties about various dangers associated with nocturnal darkness, and it expanded the time frame and thus the profitability of many economic activities.” That passage rings particularly true this November, because the onset of daylight savings time—which always catches me off guard—felt especially suffocating this year, intensified by restrictions on indoor activity and New York’s soft curfew, both of which curtailed key sources of relief and made the month feel
"TV has always been ambient." It took me nearly a decade to break my wife of the "white noise" habit with broadcast TV so we could finally cut the cord. So now white noise is replaced with eternally scrolling for nothing.
I sat in an empty diner last week while waiting for a to-go order and it was the most chilled out I'd been in weeks. They served me coffee and I watched people walk by the large front window. Like you suggest, it was a break from the frenzy of activity that's colonized my house.