Thursday, May 18, 2006

Night and Day

Do you ever get the feeling that you're living a double life?

There are two Falstaffs.

Day Falstaff is sincere and studious. He wakes at 6:30 every morning, is hard at work by 8. Day Falstaff is a workaholic, insanely organised, superhumanly efficient, the kind of person who has a schedule for everything and would be lost without his calendar. He's also a serious kind of guy - tries to keep himself abreast of current affairs, is interested in politics and philosophy and in all things mathematical. Day Falstaff analyses everything. He never trifles with fiction and poetry and stuff like that - he doesn't see the point. Instead, he spends his time doing Research, which he's passionate about. Day Falstaff reads prescribed texts. Day Falstaff's favourite words are 'institutional' and 'artefact'. Day Falstaff is kind of boring.

For all that, Day Falstaff isn't a bad guy once you get to know him. He's kind and mild-mannered, likes children and animals (when they're not interfering with his research), is surprisingly generous. Day Falstaff shaves. Day Falstaff is careful of his appearance. The truth is Day Falstaff rather likes people, it's just that he's shy and insecure and doesn't make friends easily. That's why he never goes to parties, for instance (not that he's ever invited) - he doesn't have the nerve. Not surprisingly, Day Falstaff has no luck with women. They think he's sweet, but too vanilla. As a result, Day Falstaff goes to bed early.

Night Falstaff, on the other hand, is a Byronic madman. He's a wastrel, a good for nothing, wakes up at 7 in the evening and stays awake till the wee hours of dawn. Dreams of being an artist or some such. Swings wildly between manic depressiveness and visionary exhilaration. Drinks like a fish and has, on several occassions, narrowly escaped drowning in his own puke. Is always unkempt and badly dressed, never combs his hair, is proud of his stubble.

Night Falstaff's ambition in life is to be a tortured genius. So far he's doing a good job of being tortured.

For all that, Night Falstaff is the artistic one. Writes poetry, goes to concerts and the ballet. Worships Bach. Is a voracious reader, averaging three maybe four novels a week. Reads books simultaneously, taking a break from one to read the other. Calls it chain reading. Cries easily, for all his uncouthness. Is deeply moved by beauty wherever he finds it.

Night Falstaff is social too, in his own way. Doesn't really care for people much, has nothing but contempt for them in general, but is capable of being hysterically funny and unequivocally charming when he wants to be. With a couple of drinks in him, is capable of being the life of the party. Puns endlessly, is full of wisecracks, proficient in wordplay. Quotes Auden a lot. Night Falstaff doesn't have much luck with women either, but that's mostly because he's too cynical about relationships to commit. Besides, a lot of people think Night Falstaff is gay.

Day Falstaff counts calories, has salads for lunch and homecooked meals for dinner, takes his vitamins. Night Falstaff exists on a diet of caffeine and chocolate.

Day Falstaff e-mails his mother every day. Night Falstaff likes to believe that he just appeared out of the sky. Night Falstaff doesn't believe in family. Night Falstaff blogs.

Day Falstaff reads the New York Times and the Economist. Night Falstaff doesn't believe in newspapers, and is fond of quoting Thoreau on the subject.

Day Falstaff has high blood pressure. Night Falstaff has a homo-erotic death wish.

Day Falstaff is competitive. Night Falstaff couldn't care less.

Night Falstaff has toyed with the idea of suicide, but doesn't think he has the nerve. Day Falstaff has toyed with the idea of settling down, but doesn't think he has the nerve.

Day Falstaff dreams of coming up with the next Big Idea. Day Falstaff has never got over A Beautiful Mind. Night Falstaff doesn't watch films that are in English. Night Falstaff wants to become immortal, and then die.

Day Falstaff would be horrified if he read this post. Day Falstaff is very protective of his privacy. Day Falstaff never talks about himself. Night Falstaff is laughing himself silly imagining Day Falstaff's expression when he sees this in the morning. Night Falstaff thinks Day Falstaff is a prig.

What was it Edna St. Vincent Millay said?

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light!


Night Falstaff thinks this St. Vincent Millay woman is all wet. Day Falstaff thinks it's kind of touching, but wonders how you'd keep a candle burning at both ends. I mean it's not like it would fit in a candle stand. So do you just stand around holding it? But that's not much good, is it?

See what I mean?

Categories: ,

22 comments:

The Black Mamba said...

muy interesante!

do they ever meet, Day and Night? In their dreams perhaps ... and argue till the crack of dawn and wake up all mixed up? :)

to answer you question, I live many lives... one which helps put the roti on my table and the others (more interesting ones, for the other 10 hours). See, that way, you can travel time or space, be immortal or a turd and then always switch back to being the breadwinner in a couple of hours :), every night and every day.

sudha said...

aaa ... illusions .. illusions .. :)

nice collection of poems in the other one, twas when i found it, like a feast, unannounced.

Zero said...

What if the day guy and the night guy agree for a compromise? One becomes bland, too bland. Sit and stare at the wall, is that really boring?

From Godard's "À bout de souffle":

Michel: "I’d choose nothingness. . . grief is a compromise. You’ve got to have all or nothing."

This, sort of, explains lives of many men.

Nice post!

Anonymous said...

At least they're both schizophrenic:)
and a tad given to embellishing the truth("likes children and animals"!!! "homecooked meals"!!! "mild-mannered"!!!- really darling, who are you kidding?)
xoxox
The artist formerly known as shrink

PS Would make damaging comments about your alleged vanilla reputation too, but this is family blog, non?

meditativerose said...

Nice piece of fiction. Thought might be truth embellished with artistic license till I got to - "careful about his appearance".

I don't know any Falstaff who is ... unless he's just hopelessly incompetent and doesn't know it ;)

Also, wrt "likes children" - that's medium rare, is it?

Cheshire Cat said...

Well, you ripped off "Borges and I", but who the fuck cares, it's so entertainingly done... Please do kill off Day Falstaff, prig and bore, if you haven't already.

Patrix said...

so do both of them blog? :)

Girish...! said...

But Falstaff dont we all have two sides to us? One the Rebel and the other compliant?

neha vish said...

This dichotomy between Day and Night - is it inherently tropical - where the sun sets so fast, and personalities flip over. Notion of light and dark. Public Domain and the being the Domain.

Anyhow - Quarter Neha says hello to Day Falstaff.

Just Mohit said...

Aaahhh, if but Day Mohit could write, this is what he'd say! Night Mohit thinks Night Falstaff's the cat's whiskers, but can't be bothered with writing introspective shit!
The Fun&Friendly Mohit thinks this is too cool! The Aggro-Manager Mohit thinks Night Falstaff doesn't have much to do!

buddha said...

On a weekday, I'd look down upon Night Falstaff; on a weekend, I'd wish I could write as well as he does.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

too good a post...2x3x7...your ingenuity at its very best.
its like standing in front of a mirror looking at your alter ego...

btw. thanks.

confused said...

So, what did the day Falstaff say when he read this?


Is he too shocked to comment? :)

And yes, thanks for sharing.

Falstaff said...

BM: Na, those two don't get along much. Night Falstaff claims Day Falstaff once stole his girlfriend. Day Falstaff thinks Night Falstaff is just jealous.

And just to be clear - Day Falstaff is the one who puts bread on our table. Very small crumbs of bread, it's true. But bread.

Sudha: :). Glad you liked Poi-tre.

Zero: Well, given that they're living together it would seem they already have worked out a compromise. Day Falstaff doesn't know whether he's unhappy because he's not free or not free because he's unhappy. Night Falstaff thinks Day Falstaff is not free and unhappy because he's a wuss. Night Falstaff doesn't say this, though, because he's afraid Day Falstaff will get a life and then who's going to pay the bills.

anon: Ah, but I thought my technique for preparing home cooked meals was my chief claim to not being vanilla, no? And they are not both Schizophrenic. Day Falstaff is perfectly sane. Though he sometimes wishes he could be Schizo so he could be more like Nash. poor guy. Things never seem to work out for him.

MR: Ah, but then you don't really know Day Falstaff, do you? And no, no, medium rare is for you bloodthirsty types. I genuinely like children as long as they're well don...err...behaved.

Cat: True, though honestly wasn't thinking of that. Plus doppelganger stories are common enough. And I can't kill of Day Falstaff - as I said above, he pays the bills. It's strictly a marriage of convenience.

Patrix: Yes, but Night Falstaff takes it seriously. Day Falstaff puts up maybe one post a fortnight.

girish: Perhaps, but I don't know how many of our two sides put in 10 hour days everyday?

neha: Quarter Neha? Ah, I take it your multiple personalities are more revolutionary.

mohit: Thanks. Night Falstaff has plenty to do. He just never does it. On general principle.

buddha: thanks

anonymous: thanks. and you're welcome

dhoomketu said...

Yes yes, you definitely lead such an interesting life. So either I'll turn green with envy or I'll laugh at your illusions. Currently, I'm doing the second!!

Day Falstaff said...

Okay, first of all, I so can get women. Why, you should see the number of women who smile at me in corridors. Especially during term-end, when I'm grading.

Plus what the hell, I'm an exciting guy. I do wild things. Like two days ago, I spent the whole day studying in the park. With squirrels around me. So there.

And all this stuff about me not reading - that's such a joke. Who introduced Night Falstaff to Camus and Sartre I'd like to know. He was going around tripping on Joyce, the clueless feck.

So okay, so I'm mature and responsible. Someone has to be. I'd like to see Night Falstaff manage on his own. It's thanks to me that there's money in our bank account. It's thanks to me that our taxes get paid on time. And no, I don't think Night Falstaff's plan to send in a sheet of paper with "No Taxation Without Representation" written in red ink in place of a tax return would have worked out. No sirree.

Right, back to work now. I don't know why I put up with this stuff.

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

You almost ruined it with Edna. Great comeback there.

Great post, all in all.

ozymandiaz said...

.Like wise, there is a day ozy and a night ozy
Day ozy is a slovenly procrastinator. He is a lush. He daydreams all day, mostly about sex. In fact, that is pretty much all consuming this obsession with sex. Other than that he is apathetic. He tries for people to want and admire him though in actuality he can't stand the lot of them. I believe he fears if people don't like him he won't get laid anymore. Day ozy is really a self righteous prick. He doesn't like himself but thinks too much of himself to actually attempt change. He is full of grandiose bullshit.
Night ozy is pretty much the same knob but with less sleep and more intoxicants.

Champa said...

Its nice, I guess, its this way. Imagine being stuck with only one of them.

confused said...

@Day Falstaff,

Good job, I mean you should have called this bluff a long time back, who pays for all the books which the night Falstaff reads? You do-so there.

@Night Falstaff,

I know you are all up and awake now. Please ignore this message. It was not for you.

Azy said...

You're NOT gay?!
Damn it! I've spent so much time dozing through your blogs under the absolute conviction that you are!

Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »