7 August 2011

"The idea of sleep as dream = caught up in a mythology of productivity, of work: "dream-work": sleep is useful for something; not only does it restore, "regain," "recuperate," it also transforms, labors: it is productive, rescued from the disgrace of the "good for nothing." (Psychoanalysis instituted the idea of the producing dream, material for analysis. Ideology of work: one doesn't dream "for nothing") ≠ utopian sleep (dreamless), falling asleep: unproductive : is even defined by the fact that it is a kind of unconditional expenditure (= the very essence of "perversion": all in all, it would be a perverse sleep):
1. Affinity with drugs, since, in both cases (Also Rescio on Walter Benjamin and H), it is a matter of "immersing one's important thoughts into a long sleep," into a "non-place," into the "fatherless" (but obviously not the "motherless": (worn out!) theme of the fetal sleep).
2. Affinity with the theme of immortality, through the figure of suspended time. Recall a frequent theme of the iconography of Greek vases or reliefs: night distributes its poppies, which are like the plant of immortality.
Diogenes Laertius tells a very beautiful story about Epimenides (one of seven wise men): "He was a native of Knossos in Crete, though from wearing his hair long he did not look like a Cretan. One day he was sent into the country by his father to look for a stray cheep, and at noon he turned aside out of the way, and went to sleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven hours. After this he gt up and went in search of his sheep, thinking he had been asleep only a short time. [...] So he became famous throughout Greece, and was believed to be a special favorite of heaven. [...] He lived one hundred and fifty-seven years." To take note of (at least in my view):
a. Selective suspension of time: his body ages, but his memory does not: he looks for his sheep; interestingly enough, I believe, since memory is not an act of pure recollection of the past, as if it were external to time the better to grasp it: memory is itself submitted to time, to its injustices → cf. process of writing that I have called anamnesis, it is the sheep of the Cretan, "as if it was yesterday," but in an aged body ≠ Myth of Sleeping Beauty: cruder since it's the whole setting of life that is frozen and then restarts: immortality by means of ice: freezing of the past as a whole (cf. cryothanatology: present-day sect that freezes corpses, because they believe that in several years science will have found new means of bodily survival). Greek myth more beautiful: sleep somehow more alive, "warm," because it separates (cf. above): lets the body (hair and face) age but suspends the time of memory.
b. A certain thought of immortality, since the Greeks think that a sleep of this kind is a gift of the gods: longevity of a stretching out of life; not the mathematical, "stupid" immortality (never to die, without taking the trouble to fantasize about what such an infinite life would be, what of our real life it would prolong, at what age it would lock us) but idea of the subject as set of traces (waves) recast according to different wavelengths.
c. Finally, notice that even for the Greeks the idea of an unproductive time triggers a resistance. True: Diogenes Laertius, Greek of the third century after Christ. Laertius: Cilicia, Anatolia. "Some are found to maintain that he did not go to sleep but withdrew himself for a while, engaged in gathering simples": he didn't sleep, he did something that, by the way, can relate to immortality, drugs."
—Roland Barthes, The Neutral

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