By L. Scrivner
A learn of the background of recent insomnia, this publication explores how poets, newshounds, and medical professionals of the Victorian interval chanced on themselves in near-universal contract that modernity and sleep have been by some means incompatible. It investigates how psychologists, philosophers and literary artists labored to articulate its motives, and its power remedies.
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Additional resources for Becoming Insomniac: How Sleeplessness Alarmed Modernity
In this simulation of the onset of insomnia we see how troublingly close in proximity are thinking and willing. There are not many things we can will or desire without forming, or without having already formed, a train of relevant thoughts attempting to convey them hence. And though our thoughts can sometimes seem to have a mind of their own, we wouldn’t be able to string two of them together if there wasn’t, ostensibly, some superordinating volitional agency directing their The Freeing of the Will 39 flow—without which our “trains of thought” would become unhooked freight cars flying off the tracks.
18 In other words, the communicative content to pick up this or that cup is trumped by an overarching message that the instant commanding of distant cups is now within our grasp, and that the scale and pace of our volitional involvement with the world has entered a new, revolutionized, augmented paradigm. “The medium is the message” explains why it is that, as was noted earlier, the facilitation of our involvement offered by smartphones and social networks stirs up an anticipatory or participatory mental atmosphere even in the absence of particular events of communication.
13 The Movers proposed, conversely, that sleep confirmed the existence of an independent, superordinating, volitional consciousness. The American paleontologist Nathaniel Shaler (1841–1906) considered the apparent will-less state of slumber to be no less than a demonstration of our usual position of will-possessed preeminence over mere animals. In going to sleep, we send ourselves on a kind of hierarchical descent back down to their level. ”14 As sleep takes hold, we shed individualized identities, social roles, job titles.