Good evening, denizens of the asylum. As the day drifts into night and to the east the ever-ready Nycty shadow swells about the horizon, we watch the last parting glimpses of the sun fall away like sand in an hourglass. It is again Friday night, and it is time for By an Idiot. I am your idiot, Mr. Clown.
We are in that wonderful twilight, that moment between the two great powers, day and night, as one replaces the other upon this inhabited globe, and yet it is not now truly day, nor can it be said yet fully to have become night: both faces present themselves to us in this brief minute of time. What would we be without this transition, without this heavenly pomp and circumstance surrounding this continual handing off of territory?
Imagine, if you will, were day to simply appear in its full colors. At whatever instant it came, would that not be terrible, blinding? The shock just wouldn’t do for many a weak and weary heart. And the counter, night, if that shadow were thrown over us in an instant, would it not seem unmanageable? Without the gentle warnings of waning light, many a fastidious laborer would in the midst of his work find himself surrounded in the sudden depth of night unable to complete what he had started. Such a thing wouldn’t do.
But I could tell of certain unreasonable transitions, ones alike as I describe above, and so to the youth which I was, as like the heavens themselves were mad, I knew unsubtle change between night and day, which is metaphor speaking of a person’s light and darkness, the heavens relating to her authority over me.
It was, by chance, an aunt of mine, ill-suited to tender care to children, to whose powers I was often subjected. It was she who first taught me to be a clown, for in her youth she had entertained as such—her day—merry making with jokes and dances to her public audiences and to me at times. It was her talent to drive away sadness from any face, to bring out laughter from the most bitter of hearts.
And yet a night would supersede that, black shadows eclipsing such frivolity. There was no warning twilight for me. Laughing one minute, before wiping away tears of joy, my eyes swelled in terror and torment. The painted face of the clown would be gone, a mask thrown aside, and the time of darkness would be at hand.
Then just as precipitously, the hour would pass, and the bright white face of the clown would return, smiling until I smiled, joking until I laughed. There was no moment to mourn the past, to observe the insanity—you had to love the clown.