The Big Issue : Edition 563
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 1–14 JUN 2018 13 PHOTOSBYJAMESBRAUND I’M ALL FOR science, particularly since Gray’s Anatomy (the medical text, not the TV show), elected to reintroduce a diagram of the clitoris, after mysteriously disappearing it in 1947. When it’s not being sexist as all get out, science is brilliant. I went to a talk recently with visiting American neuroscientist and author Dr David Eagleman. He casually dropped that he’s invented a vest that costs a few hundred bucks and allows deaf people to “hear” through their skin, meaning they don’t have to spend $100,000 on an invasive cochlear implant. Legit. Bloody hell, just whipped that up in his garage in between episodes of Game of Thrones. I was impressed, and also reminded of my own inadequacy. I am deep into middle-age and my achievements to date do not include nonchalantly changing the lives of 466 million people worldwide with a transformational yet achingly simple paradigm-shifting piece of technology. I once drank my own urine on air during a community radio broadcast with Kate Langbroek, who used to be on The Panel, and people do occasionally ask me about it, but still. It’s not enough, is it? This is the kind of morbid self- realisation that can keep a person up at night, pondering and pottering. And I’m up at night anyway, finding it hard to put myself down. I have the circadian rhythms of a vampire, and need at least an hour of existential time-frittering before bed, often paired with rearranging the furniture, reading a book* in the bath, or fixing holes in my coat pockets because of my damned keys. I am an owl through and through, and transform into my best self when the sun goes down. Energetic, sharp, focused, at least 30 per cent wittier. Pew pew. Last to leave the party, writing through the night, up amusing myself into the wee hours, this is how my jelly rolls. Except, according to my beloved science – who I am totally not talking to at the moment – being late to bed inclines me to die an early death. A paper » Fiona Scott-Norman (@FScottNorman) is a writer, comedian and proud owl who doesn’t care what you think. FIONA The Owl and the Scientist “I transform into my best self when the sun goes down. Energetic, sharp, focused, at least 30 per cent wittier. Pew pew.” published in April, in the page-turning Chronobiology International, says that “greater eveningness” is associated with psychological and neurological disorders, diabetes, cardio-metabolic issues and everything leading to carking it prematurely. Thanks for nothing, science. Why aren’t you out curing cancer, instead of ruining my enjoyment of life with your “research”? Not to mention creating an aggravating term like “eveningness”, which isn’t even a thing. Not unless Iggy Azalea has a perfume. Scientists are clearly a poxy pack of larks, springing up refreshed at sunrise and annoying everyone with their twittering, bang up for another round of 6am yoga followed by a kale smoothie and some test-tube polishing. Screw you, scientists. The devil, of course, is in the details. Scrolling through the research, it turns out that being a late-nighter, per se, isn’t the problem. Nor is it that peeps who stay up late may also be smoking/partying/eating pizza in front of Netflix. They’ve adjusted for that. The issue is that rising in the morning like a hibernating swamp monster, and hitting peak effervescence at midnight, is incompatible with societal expectations. As Chronobiology International puts it with their trademark eloquence: “Chronic misalignment between internal physiological timing and externally imposed timing of work and social activities.” Or, in English, society expects us to get up early and go to work. Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if society wasn’t one size fits all? Where we can flourish according to our gifts. *I say “book” because it makes me sound intellectual. Could be The Voice on catch-up.