Photo by Milan Loiacono
I knew it was a problem when the birds started to sing … as I started to get ready for bed.
Most everyone in my life has told me I’ll grow out of it; nocturnality is an element of youth that will fade under the strict regularity of a 9-to-5 job. But I’ve done 9-to-5, and it hasn’t gone away; more than that, I don’t want it to. It’s not a question of adjusting my internal clock, but rather the piece of myself I will lose if I do.
At night, I think more deeply, calmly and creatively. I ask different questions of myself and the world. I process life and decompress from the stress of what is an admittedly over-committed lifestyle. Wrapping myself in darkness like a blanket, silence seeps in to slow the whirling tornado of deadlines, plans and to-do lists that fills my brain during the day. I can finally breathe.
I’ve noticed that in daylight, people tend to talk about the more tangible elements of life — what they’re doing, what classes they have, what they need to get done that week. Under the comforting cover of darkness, the conversations deepen into the intangible — hopes, fears, dreams, questions, doubts.
And yet my whole life, everything from Disney movies to scary stories at camp has told me that darkness should be feared and that the nighttime is dangerous.
I began to question: Why was I in the wrong? At 3 a.m., against the backdrop of the Santa Ana winds, the idea for this magazine was born, scribbled in the corner of a notebook.
Nothing in the entire magazine would have been possible without the incredible talent and work ethic of the writers, editors and designers who put it together. It was in meetings with these brilliant minds that the edition began to take shape. The more we talked, the more we could see that our own biases were shaped by subconsciously ingrained ideas equating light with goodness and darkness with danger. We realized the necessity of identifying, analyzing and breaking down these associations before challenging our audience to do the same.
So we investigated how history and Hollywood have shaped our views of light and darkness, white and black.
We asked members of our diverse community how they interpret light and color, in everything from race to fashion to music.
We shared our awe of the night sky, capturing the Milky Way in motion and talking to fellow night owls who find solace in the darkness.
We sought to understand how much of our way of thinking is human and how much is cultural, exploring how cultures around the world interact with these elements.
What scares people about darkness, both literal and figurative, is the unknown, the unfamiliar. It’s easier to be surprised in the darkness, but fear is a dangerous response. The point of this magazine is to challenge a culture in which elements such as dark and light, black and white are polarized and pitted against each other.
Our message is not that light is bad and dark is good but rather that these two are not mutually exclusive: Balance is key, as is an awareness of how personal experiences contribute to your perspective. As you peruse these pages, we invite you to embrace the beauty in the darkness.
P.S. I wrote this letter at 3 a.m.
Email Milan Loiacono: firstname.lastname@example.org