March 9, 2010

"Like many insomniacs, I always feel a bit of bully pride in getting by on a few fractured hours each night while others complain if they don’t get a full, conked-out eight."

"For the insomniac Vladimir Nabokov, I think that sleep, which he called 'the most moronic fraternity in the world, with the heaviest dues and the crudest rituals,' meant turning off, even for a few hours, his quicksilver, voracious consciousness. The daily nocturnal rest that presages the ultimate big sleep of mortality was for him a price both vexing and insulting, a 'nightly betrayal of reason, humanity, genius.'"

32 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

Re: 1st comment

"vexing and insulting, a ... betrayal of reason, humanity, genius.'"

Freeman Hunt said...

Also, I agree with Nabokov about sleep. I hate the pull of sleep. Worthless. Except not, because you absolutely must have it.

It's like if one needed, or otherwise would die, 150 empty and sealed Tupperware containers stacked somewhere in the house. A bit maddening.

Freeman Hunt said...

And dreams? Dreams of the type you have while asleep? Totally overrated. Banal oddities. And if you don't think they're banal, have someone describe one of his dreams to you. Intensely boring.

rhhardin said...

"When night obscures the course of hours, who is he who in his bed soaked with icy sweat has not fought against the influence of sleep? That bed, drawing the dying faculties to its bosom, is but a tomb composed of a scantling of deal boards. The will imperceptibly withdraws, as if confronted by an invisible force. A viscous gum coats the crystalline lenses of the eyes. The eyelids seek each other like two friends. The body is no more than a breathing corpse. Finally four enormous stakes nail all his limbs to the mattress. And please note that the sheets, in short, are shrouds. Here is the perfume-pan where the religions' incense burns. Eternity booms like a distant sea and approaches rapidly. The room has disappeared; humans prostrate yourselves in this mortuary chapel! Sometimes, striving vainly to overcome the organism's imperfections, in the midst of the profoundest sleep, the mesmerised sense perceives with amazement that it is but a gravestone and, supported by an incomparable subtlety, admirably reasons: "To leave this bed is a more difficult problem than one would think. Seated on the tumbril I am drawn toward the binary posts of the guillotine. Curiously enough, my inert arm has knowingly assumed the stiffness of a stump. It bodes ill to dream of going to the scaffold." Blood flows in great waves across the face. The chest heaves in repeated gasps and inflates, wheezing. The weight of an obelisk stifles the spread of madness.

Reality has destroyed slumber's dreams! Who does not know that when the struggle between the proud Self and the terrible progress of catalepsy continues, the hallucinated spirit loses its judgment? Gnawed by despair, it delights in its disorder till it has defeated nature, and sleep, seeing the prey escaping, with irritated and shamed wing flies forever from its heart."

- Lautreamont

edutcher said...

Nabokov sounds like a monster ego. How dare Nature deprive the world of his genius for eight hours?

Disagree with Freeman on dreams, since they're intensely personal. If you think they're boring, you're not listening closely enough. Our greatest fears, joys, and aspirations are expressed in dreams.

As for sleep itself, you need less than you think, witness BUD/S or Ranger School, but the reverie of coming in and out of slumber can be one of life's more sensual pleasures

rhhardin said...

Not only will girlfriends tell you about their dreams, but what you did in them.

And they're mad at you.

Trooper York said...

Rh you freak me out man.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you think they're boring, you're not listening closely enough.

Or I don't buy into dream interpretation.

traditionalguy said...

This engine racing sleep rebel needs to get a new mattress and a down filled pillow. The only secret to sleep is to close your eyes. As we age our more recent memory parts of the brain starts to give out first, and we start to spend our reveries and dreams in the events of our earlier memories from 40 to 50 years ago. A good exercise is to do is cross-word puzzles and other mental challenging games.

ricpic said...

Sleep insures sanity.

Jason said...

*yawn*

ricpic said...

Why the hell won't people stop chasing me in my dreams? I wake up all tuckered out.

Palladian said...

"And dreams? Dreams of the type you have while asleep? Totally overrated. Banal oddities. And if you don't think they're banal, have someone describe one of his dreams to you. Intensely boring."

One of the worst things in the world to me is when someone says "I had this strange dream last night...". Torture. I actually sometimes tell people about my dreams but I completely fabricate them so they're more interesting.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And if you don't think they're banal, have someone describe one of his dreams to you. Intensely boring.

Maybe. My dreams tend to be either meh....boring or really silly and amusing.

More often though, they are epic movie/novel like dreams with plots, twists in the plots, sub plots, characters, scenery in great detail, clothing, cars. Detailed. I'm not in these dreams as 'me', but see through the eyes of the various characters (men and women) switching from one to the other as the plot unfolds. The dreams are usually a surprise...like reading a book and the ending was never suspected.

The only thing is....I can't read in the dreams. I can see some words and a few sentences..but reading is impossible.

Sleep is a wonderful thing. I don't see how people can exist on just a few hours. I need at least 7 to 8 hours....and do NOT wake me up until the sun is above the horizon.

Palladian said...

"The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep." — W.C. Fields

lucid said...

"vexing and insulting, a ... betrayal of reason, humanity, genius.'"

Lighten up, Vlad, and take a nap. You'll be less dyspeptic.

Freeman Hunt said...

My first comment referred to a spam comment which was originally the first comment but has since been deleted.

Henry said...

If you don't sleep you don't grow.

"As a poet, I like being the one who is awake while others sleep..."

I like this observation. But one can also be the first one up -- as opposed to the last one asleep.

edutcher said...

Freeman Hunt said...

If you think they're boring, you're not listening closely enough.

Or I don't buy into dream interpretation.


Didn't say anything about interpretation. A lot of dreams are about people or events as we perceive them. Know a little about that person and you have an insight that helps you understand them better.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dudley Do-right said...

Doze off concentrating on a tough technical problem. Wake up 15 minutes later with the answer. I became a legend for doing my best work when asleep.

kentuckyliz said...

Vlad was ignorant about the brain during sleep. I always found him a tiresome bore.

Methadras said...

Fuck. I'm still awake. Fuck you Nabakov.

Maddad said...

Thanks to work, an insane travel schedule and a porchfull of kids, I work on maybe 5 hours of sleep per night and I hate it. I spent yesterday in a hotel room jacked up with food poisoning and slept maybe 19 out of 24 hours. If it wasn't for all the puking, headache and the flames shooting out of my ass, it would have been one of the best days ever.

Sea Urchin said...

Highly recommended to all: The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To. It's from the vantage point of a fifteen-year-old boy, so if language and teenage sex bothers you, you might not enjoy it as much. Regardless, it's a fantastic book and a great look at adolescence and growing up. (It's also science fiction-ish, if that bothers anyone.)

I finished it yesterday and it's been on my mind ever since. I think I have to come down on sleep being a really wonderful thing. Sleep means we have ends and beginnings; at the end of a horrible day, you can just crash and sleep it off. It means your brain has to find a little bit of peace each day.

And waking up slowly on a weekend morning with someone you love in your bed is a delightful thing.

So, to sum up (quoting the estimable Ralph Wiggum): Yay, sleep! That's where I'm a viking!

Jenny said...

I am mostly annoyed with people who wear their sleep deprivation as a merit badge. Folks who are falling down tired and proudly proclaiming they only got four hours of sleep. I cannot help but think, "Wow, you are an idiot."

Scott said...

The way the woman who wrote the blog entry describes her experiences, it's pretty obvious that she needs a sleep study to see if she has obstructive sleep apnoea. My sleep was precisely like hers before I got my CPAP pump and mask.

Windbag said...

I am instantly suspicious of anyone who brags about suffering from insomnia. He is either lying about his condition or his attitude toward it.

The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Crack Emcee said...

I solved this problem by becoming an early riser - still functioning while others are asleep, but just as rested.

Sleep - the act - is surely over-rated, but it's effects can't be discounted, as Dudley Do-Right made clear.

I think dreams are pointless interruptions to what are otherwise pointless interruptions.

Joe said...

The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Getting cancer, having a heart attack, getting hit by a car--all walks in a park compared to not being able to fall asleep at night. What a wanker.

mariner said...

Who Needs Sleep?

kwood said...

In my experience, the dreams that matter are the ones that you don't even have to try to remember. The message or experience arrives, a denouement is reached and -bam- you're awake and couldn't forget it if you tried.