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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Sleep eludes me, once again.

The mailbox had a welcome surprise for me this morning - the first issue of a subscription Georgina gifted me of Granta containing a most hilarious essay by Jim Lewis called "Notes From the Land of Nod".

Here are a few quotes I would like to share with you this morning at 4:11am as I post from my bed.

On Nod:
"The Bible says that [Cain] 'went out of the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden'.
In Hebrew, the word nod means 'wandering', which is apt to the occasion, and while Jonathon Swift was the first to use 'land of Nod' to mean sleep in the simplest sense, to me it means something more difficult than that: a place of both exile and sanctuary, where I lie awake and wonder what I've done wrong, or sleep as if I were courting oblivion, a fugitive and vagabond, exactly."

On disorders:
"What's galling is that sleep is supposed to be so natural, so easy - as easy as eating or sex, to name two other activities based on appetite- which risks perversion or failure for those who've somehow lost out on the opportunity to exercise them in health."

On dreams:
"The nocturnal fantasy of the world's most interesting man or woman is less interesting than the dullest person's recitation of what they had for dinner the night before..."

On the inhumanity of sleep deprivation:
"The ability to nod off is the ultimate exercise of freedom. The choice is not to be there: no wonder human-rights groups condemn sleep deprivation as a form of prisoner abuse. For almost every waking malaise-discomfort, depression, boredom-sleep is an escape. No one is bored by dreaming; no one is dissatisfied while sleeping. To keep a prisoner awake, then is to compound the confinement of his body with the incarceration of his consciousness."

On sleep after a night of recreational drugs:
"Ordinary people, whom you envy and hate, are just getting up now to go to work. The ass end of your night is a new beginning to them. Their normality is grotesque: your prodigality is disgusting."

On going into a sleep lab to be diagnosed:
"The creepy part was the room where the nurse led me, which had been made up to look like a cheap but clean motel room: polyester bedspread, flimsy night table, plastic lamp, and a TV bolted into a bracket hanging from the ceiling....I thought of the patients being attended to in adjacent rooms: it felt like I was in some particularly clinical whorehouse, and I wondered if the other bedrooms had been decorated differently as if in anticipation of clients fantasies...and if so, how and why had they decided that Motel 8 would work for me."

On napping properly:
"Long naps are a disaster...stay out of bed: napping on the couch is much better, or even on the floor, or in the passenger seat of a car while someone else is driving....you must wear more clothing than you do at night...if you sleep naked, some form of underwear is obligatory...if you sleep topless, a shirt; and if you sleep in pyjamas, I suppose you have to nap with your shoes on....If you own a dog, he should be in the same room as you: dogs are experts in the art of dozing and man and beast nod off twice as well together as either does alone."

On saying the unmentionable about sleep:
"Given how wonderful sleep is, imagine how pleasurable death must be."

And off I go. Good night!

Lewis, Jim. "Notes from the land of Nod", Granta 88, Winter 2004


At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that took ages to arrive (I'm glad I selected the airmail option!). Pretty dodgy logistics from Granta.


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