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foxwizard ☾

🎭 Down with downlighting

Lights should not be placed in ceilings. For thousands of years we humans have sat by campfires at night. In pre-modern times, we might have lit a torch, or a candle in a sconce. If we were particularly fancy, we would have had a suspended candelabra or chandelier. But only in the past century or so have we seen the hellish concept of downlights take hold in almost all buildings and households.

Downlights are the lights in a ceiling that point downward. This messes with our circadian rhythms. And their effect is terrible; like a subtle low-level mana-drain.

They make me look like I have an extra big nose; like I am wearing a cheap disguise. And they also make my eyes half-lidded in partial squint, as though I am trying too hard to appear mysterious and cool. Truth-light without the grace.


If I somehow turn into an evil wizard in my retirement, my dungeon—the labyrinth one must venture through in order to reach me in my lair—would be carpeted, with low ceilings and downlights. The carpet will be spongey and the halls will have motivational posters and kitsch craftworks that say things like “live, laugh, love”. My dungeon will also have those automatic air deodorisers that puff the toxic scent of artificial lavender into the vicinity every five minutes. There will also be commercial radio playing in the distance, with frequent advertisements, on a tinny speaker.

A downlit dungeon, as hallucinated by shoggoth

Most importantly: there will be downlights. The downlights will be over-indexed in lumens, and will emit a slightly harsh blue light. Some will also flicker at a level that is barely perceivable. But still: perceivable.


Actually no I wouldn’t even do that. I couldn’t!

My dungeon will be cool stone, with natural corridors that blend into subterranean caves with mirror-still freshwater lakes. It’ll be damp enough to be conducive to moss—but never dank. And wherever bioluminescence and foxfire is not feasible, I will have lamps. Tasteful lamps that emit a soft but invitingly warm light.

My dungeon traps would also be comical and ironic. Things like walls that slowly close in together in a hallway. It’ll be expensive af to get the mechanism of this working, particularly if the walls are stone—the counterweights would be huge. But visitors will appreciate this weird flex.

Why so nice? Oh because I would probably want for folks to actually still visit me, despite being an “evil” wizard. Regulars will know which book to pull on the bookshelf to take them straight to my antechamber, where they can help themselves to an aperitif. Again, the antechamber will be tastefully lit with lamps (and maybe candles too, if I can be bothered).

Why lamps? Why not downlights? Why not smart downlights connected to my phone; lights that can be all sorts of colours? Because I want for my guests to be comfortable and at ease. If visitors feel more at home, then the conversation will likely be much better. Less guarded, more open, more real—and thus: more interesting.


I say this to all event organisers—be they a massive conference or a dinner party: if your venue has downlights, consider (safely) razing the whole building to the ground and then finding a location with lamps.

Or, failing that, a campfire under the stars.

// Where to now? //

Thanks for being here · I’m foxwizard (aka Dr Fox)

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