On Sleep,

Being Some Random Observations on the Treatment of Sleep in the Present Age, With Particular Reference to the Esteemed Opinions of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Several Other Eminent Fellas.


Sleep is the new uncool.

Among intellectual circles, pseudo and authentic, ‘those who sleep like a log’ are a euphemism for imbecile. Sleep has been knocked off its pagan and Christian connexions with death, renewal, and harmless idleness, and its jambalaya of glorious histories smashed to amorphous pulp.

Clever people have always derided sleep as a humungous waste of precious time, which would rather be spent in honourable ventures like, let’s say, thinking, more thinking, and a lil’ bit more thinking. Because, Heidegger himself has said we must think more and think deeply in order to live life meaningfully, which, at one point in his life, meant yelling, “Heil Führer!” and tyrannising university syllabi.

According to Kant, sleep kills you–it is like a quota of poison, the more you gulp down, the earlier you die; the lesser you sip, the longer your life span available for study, work, and boring routine. Nietzsche’s suspect wise-man says, “No small art it is to sleep; it is necessary for that purpose to keep awake all day,” which is dismissed as utter piffle by Zarathustra, who, in turn, exhorts the people to “awake”, even “awaken the corpses” peacefully dead in their graves.

With due respect to the eminences referred to here, the Author is of the humble opinion that cleverness is an epidemic, or in the words of Jack Worthing, though not as well expressed, “an absolute public nuisance.” There is no better comeback for the long-sustained assault on sleep than Poe’s memorable words, slightly adapted to suit our purpose, “What is only pure insomniac balderdash is mistaken for what is profound.” This accounts for much of modern scholarship, which is foggy at best and punch-drunk barmy at its worst.

The pretentious glory of sleep-deprived philosophy and intellectualism is but a manifestation of a deep-seated Freudian envy of happy-go-lucky sleepers, who, in Hamlet’s poignant phrasing, ever so slightly adapted, “may sleep, and sleep and still be fiends at thinking.”


NOTE FROM CYLAN: All quotes, except Nietzsche’s and Wilde’s, due to the extensive amount of tampering done to them, are in effect, my own. The opinions expressed in this entry are, like everything else in this blog, highly contentious, subjective, and crushingly debatable.

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