"The Empire of Light" by Magritte - To my daughter who didn't want to sleep


Why did my daughter stay up all night?


When my daughter was 2 years old, I got a little worried, that is my daughter never tried to go to bed early at night. She fell asleep around 11-12 pm and sometimes it's even late midnight. People said that normal children usually go to sleep at 8-9 pm at the latest. Why was it that only my daughter was so sleepless? I tried to turn off the light early to put her to sleep, but when the room was dark, she always cried and screamed. My parenting never ended. My wife eventually began to blame me,


"She is your daughter who inherited your genes. You, terrible night person!"

Is the original sin really in her father, me? I felt guilty.


Instead of sleeping, my daughter actively communicated with the world at night. She didn't even get tired, chat with her doll friends she met during the day, and invited the toys to play with them again. There were even times in the middle of the night when she insisted on going to the playground because she had an appointment meeting a horse, a slide, and a seesaw. Like that, my daughter was full of energy at night. In order to manage her energy without any trouble, my wife read a lot of books for her. She read and read for hours, switching books, and our daughter eventually fell asleep.


If I think about it from a child's point of view, it made a little more sense. For a child who was less than two years old, the world was very wide and wide. When she opened her eyes, new and interesting things came to her, and 24 hours a day was not enough to enjoy them. When she fell asleep, mom, dad, and all the fun things disappeared, so she kept her eyes open as much as possible and defend this happiness. The new stimulation that she felt through her five senses every day was what keeps her from falling asleep. But I could feel a sense of déjà vu as if she had seen it somewhere. On Friday nights, it was an image of a father reading a book or surfing the internet at late night. Would you say it is the inheritance of desire for nightlife?


If I think about it from a child's point of view, it made a little more sense. For a child who was less than two years old, the world was very wide and wide. When she opened her eyes, new and interesting things came to her, and 24 hours a day was not enough to enjoy them. When she fell asleep, mom, dad, and all the fun things disappeared, so she kept her eyes open as much as possible to keep this happiness. The new stimulation that she felt through her five senses every day was what keeps her from falling asleep. But I could feel a sense of déjà vu as if she had seen it somewhere. On Friday nights, it was an image of a father reading a book or surfing the internet at late night. Would you say it is the inheritance of desire for nightlife?



Magritte, who had a lot of contemplation and thinking, might have been a philosopher.


Seeing her daughter who forgot to go to bed, I recalled a painting. This is René Magritte's <The Empire of Lights>, which is familiar to us because it has been coming out from many advertisements and movies. At first glance, the picture is nothing special. A house in the forest, the street lamp in front of the house illuminates the darkness, the light on the second-floor room, and the shadow of the water reflected on the lake. The scenery is even peaceful. But there is something strange about the sky. I thought it was a night scene that was dark enough to distinguish only the silhouettes of trees and houses, but the white puffy clouds and the blue sky makes me think it is in the noontime.



René Magritte, <The Empire of Light> 1954, oil on canvas, 146x144cm, Magritte Museum (Photographed in 2014)


In fact, it's not that surprising considering that Magritte painted this painting. This is because he was an artist who had often drawn nonsense things such as countless gentlemen falling like rain from the sky, large rocks floating in the sky, or feet stuck under shoes. He put even note of "This is not a pipe” after drawing a large tobacco pipe.


If you look at surrealist paintings, you can't understand them at a glance, so you have a strange feeling. However, for some reason, Magritte's paintings are not absurdly heterogeneous. This is because, although a random object is placed in an unexpected place and surpasses reality, the object itself maintains familiarity without distortion. So his drawings are not that complicated. It only shows a new world to the observer by lightly placing an object that might exist in reality in the unreality. I like that it doesn't fragment the subject like Picasso, and it's not schizophrenic like Dali. His personality, which was intelligent, witty, and full of humor, remains intact in his paintings. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why many people like Magritte.


I saw this painting at the Magritte Museum in Brussels, Belgium. As with other Magritte masterpieces, many people pressed the shutter in front of this painting. The unfamiliar appearance of day and night coexisting attracted people like a magnet. Magritte's ingenuity, which bound two incompatible hours in one space, was a fresh stimulus for people. The imaginary world he created was hung all over the museum. When I left the museum, I was immersed in the mystery of having a midsummer night's dream. Magritte, who had a lot of contemplation and thinking, might have been a philosopher. Because he has left in his paintings his own ideas that constantly overturn conventions and conventional wisdom.



Daddy's little wish: Like Magritte.


Actually, the daughter who forgot the night was not so worried. It made just her parents get a little tired. I decided to understand the world that she was feeling, learning, and getting to know. On the contrary, it was even satisfying to see my daughter have a strong intellectual curiosity. What came to my mind was a phrase from a parenting book told me. It said,


"Geniuses have a strong spirit of challenge, they constantly challenge themselves beyond their abilities, and are so full of energy, thus they can't sleep!"

I even had a pleasant delusion ''Isn't my daughter a genius?'. It's more worrisome that my daughter will lose her curiosity than she would have trouble with her development due to lack of sleep at night.


My daughter was at a time when her brain is developing a lot, and stretching out countless branches of synapses connected to her neurons. I hoped that she would become a creative and challenging child based on her energetic synapses that do not degenerate even after she got on in years, like René Magritte. I am still hoping for this now when she is a six-year-old girl. It's my little wish for my daughter who used to spend time in a mixture of day and night.


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