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  • This is a recent comic strip from the Los Angeles Times.

  • The punch line?

  • "On the other hand, I don't have to get up at four

  • every single morning to milk my Labrador."

  • This is a recent cover of New York Magazine.

  • Best hospitals where doctors say they would go for cancer treatment,

  • births, strokes, heart disease, hip replacements, 4 a.m. emergencies.

  • And this is a song medley I put together --

  • (Music)

  • Did you ever notice that four in the morning has become

  • some sort of meme or shorthand?

  • It means something like you are awake at the worst possible hour.

  • (Laughter)

  • A time for inconveniences, mishaps, yearnings.

  • A time for plotting to whack the chief of police,

  • like in this classic scene from "The Godfather."

  • Coppola's script describes these guys as "exhausted in shirt sleeves.

  • It is four in the morning."

  • (Laughter).

  • A time for even grimmer stuff than that,

  • like autopsies and embalmings in Isabel Allende's

  • "The House of the Spirits."

  • After the breathtaking green-haired Rosa is murdered,

  • the doctors preserve her with unguents and morticians' paste.

  • They worked until four o'clock

  • A time for even grimmer stuff than that,

  • like in last April's New Yorker magazine,

  • this short fiction piece by Martin Amis

  • starts out, "On September 11, 2001, he opened his eyes

  • at 4 a.m. in Portland, Maine,

  • and Mohamed Atta's last day began."

  • For a time that I find to be the most placid

  • and uneventful hour of the day, four in the morning sure gets

  • an awful lot of bad press --

  • (Laughter)

  • across a lot of different media from a lot of big names.

  • And it made me suspicious.

  • I figured, surely some of the most creative artistic minds in the world, really,

  • aren't all defaulting back to this one easy trope

  • like they invented it, right?

  • Could it be there is something more going on here?

  • Something deliberate, something secret,

  • and who got the four in the morning bad rap ball rolling anyway?

  • I say, this guy -- Alberto Giacometti, shown here

  • with some of his sculptures on the Swiss 100 franc note.

  • He did it with this famous piece

  • from the New York Museum of Modern Art.

  • Its title -- "The Palace at Four in the Morning --

  • (Laughter)

  • 1932.

  • Not just the earliest cryptic reference

  • to four in the morning I can find.

  • I believe that this so-called first surrealist sculpture

  • may provide an incredible key to virtually

  • every artistic depiction of four in the morning to follow it.

  • I call this The Giacometti Code, a TED exclusive.

  • No, feel free to follow along on your Blackberries

  • or your iPhones if you've got them.

  • It works a little something like -- this is a recent Google search

  • for four in the morning.

  • Results vary, of course. This is pretty typical.

  • The top 10 results yield you

  • four hits for Faron Young's song, "It's Four in the Morning,"

  • three hits for Judi Dench's film, "Four in the Morning,"

  • one hit for Wislawa Szymborska's poem, "Four in the Morning."

  • But what, you may ask, do a Polish poet, a British Dame,

  • a country music hall of famer all have in common

  • besides this totally excellent Google ranking?

  • Well, let's start with Faron Young -- who was born, incidentally,

  • in 1932.

  • (Laughter)

  • In 1996, he shot himself in the head on December ninth --

  • which incidentally is Judi Dench's birthday.

  • (Laughter)

  • But he didn't die on Dench's birthday.

  • He languished until the following afternoon when he finally succumbed

  • to a supposedly self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 64 --

  • which, incidentally, is how old Alberto Giacometti was when he died.

  • Where was Wislawa Szymborska during all this?

  • She has the world's most absolutely watertight alibi.

  • On that very day, December 10, 1996 while Mr. Four in the Morning,

  • Faron Young, was giving up the ghost in Nashville, Tennessee,

  • Ms. Four in the Morning -- or one of them anyway -- Wislawa Szymborska

  • was in Stockholm, Sweden, accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  • 100 years to the day after the death of Alfred Nobel himself.

  • Coincidence? No, it's creepy.

  • (Laughter)

  • Coincidence to me has a much simpler magic.

  • That's like me telling you,

  • "Hey, you know the Nobel Prize was established in 1901,

  • which coincidentally is the same year Alberto Giacometti was born?"

  • No, not everything fits so tidily into the paradigm,

  • but that does not mean there's not something going on

  • at the highest possible levels.

  • In fact there are people in this room

  • who may not want me to show you this clip we're about to see.

  • (Laughter)

  • Video: We have a tennis court, a swimming pool, a screening room --

  • You mean if I want pork chops, even in the middle of the night,

  • your guy'll fry them up?

  • Sure, that's what he's paid for.

  • Now do you need towels, laundry, maids?

  • Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait -- let me see if I got this straight.

  • It is Christmas Day, 4 a.m.

  • There's a rumble in my stomach.

  • Homer, please.

  • Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

  • Let me see if I got this straight, Matt.

  • (Laughter)

  • When Homer Simpson needs to imagine

  • the most remote possible moment of not just the clock,

  • but the whole freaking calendar, he comes up with 0400

  • on the birthday of the Baby Jesus.

  • And no, I don't know how it works

  • into the whole puzzling scheme of things, but obviously,

  • I know a coded message when I see one.

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, I know a coded message when I see one.

  • And folks, you can buy a copy of Bill Clinton's "My Life"

  • from the bookstore here at TED.

  • Parse it cover to cover for whatever hidden references you want.

  • Or you can go to the Random House website where there is this excerpt.

  • And how far down into it you figure we'll have to scroll

  • to get to the golden ticket?

  • Would you believe, about a dozen paragraphs?

  • This is page 474 on your paperbacks, if you're following along:

  • "Though it was getting better, I still wasn't satisfied

  • with the inaugural address.

  • My speechwriters must have been tearing their hair out

  • because as we worked between one and four in the morning

  • on Inauguration Day, I was still changing it."

  • Sure you were, because you've prepared your entire life

  • for this historic quadrennial event that just sort of sneaks up on you.

  • And then --

  • (Laughter)

  • three paragraphs later we get this little beauty:

  • "We went back to Blair House to look at the speech for the last time.

  • It had gotten a lot better since 4 a.m."

  • Well, how could it have?

  • By his own writing, this man was either asleep,

  • at a prayer meeting with Al and Tipper or learning how to launch

  • a nuclear missile out of a suitcase.

  • What happens to American presidents at 0400 on inauguration day?

  • What happened to William Jefferson Clinton?

  • We might not ever know.

  • And I noticed, he's not exactly around here today

  • to face any tough questions.

  • (Laughter)

  • It could get awkward, right?

  • I mean, after all, this whole business happened on his watch.

  • But if he were here --

  • (Laughter)

  • he might remind us, as he does in the wrap-up to his fine autobiography,

  • that on this day, Bill Clinton began a journey --

  • a journey that saw him go on to become

  • the first Democrat president elected

  • to two consecutive terms in decades.

  • In generations.

  • The first since this man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,

  • who began his own unprecedented journey

  • way back at his own first election,

  • way back in a simpler time, way back in 1932 --

  • (Laughter)

  • the year Alberto Giacometti

  • (Laughter)

  • made "The Palace at Four in the Morning."

  • The year, let's remember, that this voice, now departed,

  • first came a-cryin' into this big old crazy world of ours.

  • (Music)

  • (Applause)

This is a recent comic strip from the Los Angeles Times.

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TED】ライブス。午前4時の謎 (【TED】Rives: The 4 a.m. mystery)

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    Vita に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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