Way back in 2007, performance artist John Rives put together a light-hearted TED talk meant to tease conspiracy theorists everywhere. I won’t get into the incredible connections he makes between people like country music artist Faron Young, Dame Judi Dench, and Bill Clinton. (I suggest you watch for yourself.) But he manages to connect one event to another, and another, through the hour of four in the morning. Four in the morning, he says, is the “worst possible hour” of the day. It’s shorthand for a time of inconvenience, mishaps, and yearnings.

What Rives didn’t expect was that the “four in the morning” effect was more widespread in our culture than he ever imagined. After his initial TED Talk, people began sending him “Four AM” references from all over the world. He has received so many references of “four in the morning” in our culture—from Shakespeare to The Simpsons—that he is now the self-proclaimed expert on 4AM. (For just a hint of it’s presence in our culture, here are a quick set of 50 Four in the Mornings that we’ve all seen at some point.)

In response to the overwhelming response, Rives put together a short follow-up talk to show us what he’s learned about 4AM: watch here. So we must ask—has he discovered and decoded the real witching hour? Or is it a magical, creative hour? Or is it nothing at all? Rives has catalogued every reference he’s discovered at the Museum of Four in the Morning, where you’ll find instances in literature, movies, music, television, and all manner of pop culture transmissions. We invite you to click around, examine the copious evidence, and ask yourselves: Just what is the deal with 4AM?


5 comments on “FOUR IN THE MORNING

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    1. Alabama Post author


      I am so sorry for your loss and can’t begin to imagine what that must feel like for a mother. It’s hard to know what is right to say other than I hope that you’ve been able to find some measure of peace within your tragic loss. It is sometimes absolutely impossible to understand the ways of life.


  1. Tashia

    This is so interesting. Last night, I was having trouble falling asleep as I usually do because of my night-hawk tendencies. I began wondering why I seem to be wired for late-night creativity. I’ve never been the early bird so I guess, you could say, I miss the worm based on society’s expectations of sleep schedules.

    So I began reading about human sleep patterns and found, historically, we were never meant for the strict, 8-hour sleep schedule we confine ourselves to today.

    Back in the day, before electricity and lighting, folks would go to sleep a little after dusk, sleep for 4 hours and wake up for a couple hours to visit with their neighbors, talk to their spouses, or make love. After this break in sleeping, they would go back to bed for another 4 hours or so.

    Today, I woke up at 5:30am. Normally I would panic, since I don’t have my full 8 hours of sleep, but today, I woke up, made a coffee, fed the cats and am now perusing online to find eco-friendly businesses for possible collaboration (I am a writer).

    I saw the title of this article and knew it was going to be a nice dance with synchronicity to take a read.

    Thank you for sharing!