Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A Volume Of Sleep
by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

I will (never) write a volume of sleep. A Volume Of Sleep. In the tradition of Burton, of Graves, in the tradition of enthusiasts who have anatomised melancholy, myth, poetry and all the maggot-thoughts burrowing in their brains. Accuracy in the realm of fact is a pleasant effect, if feasible, but I will (never) strive instead for accuracy, absolute accuracy of a kind that is more precise the less it is tied to mere empirical fact.

My Volume Of Sleep will (not) begin with a study of literature. I will (not) trace the origins of the literary impulse in myth, of myth in dream, in sleep. It will (never) be shown that Morpheus, and not any of the muses, or that oaf Orpheus, is the true progenitor of all the arts.

The reader shall (never ever alas) see how the works of the great lost classical bards - now restored by a special process of my own, in which every literary work ever is (not, oh no, not at all) painstakingly cross-matched and everything that does not have a predecessor is (at no point ever to be) further refined and manipulated to produce the contents of that vast library called The Lost Classics (Yes, this approach assumes there is no true innovation in literature - or rather, that there has been none since the very early years of human storytelling - and who can deny this sombre fact? Would you, would you with a straight face dare to tell me ‘there is something new under the sun’? Would you? I should think not!), how the work of the great lost classical bards had its origins in common dream-types elucidated by Freud and his detractors. I shall (not, my friends, not in these diminishing days left to us) show how these dream-works are the seed and nucleus of all else, and how even today those works most closely inspired by dream, conceived in sleep are slowly preparing to be forgotten.

I will (not) show how all the finest literature is itself a thing that wakes for a while and then wishes to sleep.

Yes, but what of the sleep of animals? do the mammals and the reptiles and the birds and the many other things that crawl or hop or flit or fly sleep? To answer this question I will (never be able to, not if I have a thousand thousand years in which to overcome my ennui and nescience) posit an entirely new and comprehensive definition of sleep - something which science, that pale fanatic, has failed to provide. You will (not, not if you wait a million aeons and offer me a million fortunes and a million years of dominion over this earth and the favours of a million Helens of a million Troys) learn that sleep is, in fact, the natural order of all life - that it is so fundamental we need not even have a specific word for it. The first things to live did not awaken into life - rather, they fell from the stoic stasis of unlife into sleep.

Sleep, then, is the fundament.

All our waking hours are fancies, gambols and games and not of consequence.

Next, I will (not in this lifetime, and a lifetime is all I am alloted) describe the seven ages of sleep: the ageless slumber in the amniotic ocean, the sleep of infancy, still cradled in oblivion to the passing fancies of the waking world, the sleep of childhood, increasingly a refuge, even in nightmare, the sleep of youth, so much richer and more sustaining than the lives they are about to embark on in the diurnal rut, the sleep of midlife, a troubled, parched thing, often doing more harm than good for the entire organism is so at war with its own nature, the sleep of the aged, a diminished, unsteady thing, scarred by all the years of neglect; and finally that sleep from which we all wish we may never awake.

The next section will (never ever, despite all my efforts) be a collection of segments of individuals, human and otherwise, sleeping, edited from film, television shows, documentaries, surveillance footage and spy cameras.

It will (not, no matter how I wish and weep and genuflect) run for about 24 hours. The idea is to reset the circadian clock of each viewer and initiate a 48-hour sleep cycle that can gradually be converted into a kind of annual hibernation schedule with brief hours of wakefulness every three months to attend to amenities.

Of course (not), the volume will (not) now offer a detailed plan and schedule for achieving this salutary goal.

There will (not, not for all my tears and entreaties) then follow sections on the political, erotic and thaumaturgical aspects of sleep and appendices on sleep in song and sleep as described by individuals from various walks of life through the ages - this last section created by a form of psychic reconstruction akin to the technic of Edgar Cayce.

Naturally, these last sections are not (even if they ever existed) expected to be perused by the reader, who will (not, as he or she does not exist) now be engaged in his or her own journey into the heart of sleep.

Indeed, much of this book will (never, for mere wishing and hoping and trying will never make a thing so which is not meant to be) exist freed from the need to be read; for each passage is written with a carefully calculated rhythm and sonority meant to induce its own subject, and if the soporific effects of the prose are not sufficient, each copy of the book will (not, for it will never be published) have sedative resins imbued in its pages, vapourised at the touch of a human hand, and inhaled to produce instant sleep.

Open my book and you (never) shall sleep, sleep in the hope that this, then, is that final sleep you have been putting off. Everything is else is just clutter, and padding and facade and sham.