Saturday, July 23, 2011

Aesthetics of sleeplessness

I couldn't sleep very much last night but when I did I had a weird dream.

The heat is too much I suppose. I woke up at 1 am and drank two glasses of water.

It looked like there was going to be a big storm and I could see flares of lightning somewhere else but then when it rained it lasted for about one minute.

I put on my tape of "gentle rain" and after it had ended I was still awake.

I have gotten two more sounds of nature tapes: one is a "thundering rainstorm" and the other is "the oceans relaxing surf." They are not very good.

I would be pleased to find there were a tape of a rainstorm that didn't sound real.

And I was thinking about what the market for these tapes was like. Someone probably paid something like $14 for these tapes 20 years ago at some music store in a mall. And the tapes were released by actual record labels.

And there was a huge bewildering cultural situation in which all of this happened, and it makes me think of the architecture and design of the mall just to imagine anything about the sounds of nature tapes. The mall was full of burgundy, and people could smoke inside of it. I feel like that little facet makes the time that has passed seem so foreign.

The meaning of things consist in so many little details beyond the thing itself.

"Gentle Rain" is a product of the conditions of its time and place, of the ideology which made it possible as a commodity.

It was another time.

I know that the rain I am listening to is rain from 1987, when the mall was lined with burgundy carpet and burgundy paneling and burgundy benches and people could smoke in it and put their ashes into burgundy ash trays.

The mall seemed so much more personal in its homeliness.

I have been thinking of the title "Sleepless" for an imaginary film, and I think it would have something to do with tapes of nature.

The sound of rain must only work as a sleeping aid if you can stop thinking about what it means that it's on a tape. (But then again, I wonder if its efficacy for the people of 1987 wasn't precisely in the opposite of this? The little details that compose its meaning. And what is the sound of nature anyway? Whatever it is, if it is there, couldn't you not escape it?)

Boredom itself is misunderstood. Boredom itself is engrossing.

When we sleep we experience nothing and when we fail to sleep we experience nothing, ie nothingness. In the former, nothing is a negative state. In the latter, it is a positive. Sleep is an escape and sleeplessness is a pursuit.

What is sought?

More importantly, what is the seeking?

Time itself is institutionalized beyond biology. Sleepless, we are out of time.

It is a desperate pursuit and a desperate fleeing, from anxiety to nothingness.

In banal desperation I turn on the television, hoping to be bored back to sleep as bluish static, like particles sputtering from the screen penetrates the sheet over my head and bores into my skin and my sandy, circled eyes.

Sleeplessness wins in spite of banality and boredom, and so I seek engrossment.

Most infomercials I find are for exercise machines and routines and pills. There are elastic bras and body-shapers, articles conflating containment and clothing. One imagines the bodies. Some are scams preying on these bodies, these desperate bodies, promising the secrets to gaining riches and luxury vacations, all as an unthinking middleman on the real estate market or eBay. Of course there are gadgets. I suppose there would be less market space for music collections, and needless to say, the payers of paid programming aren't actually that interested in providing me with aesthetic reverie, but the splendors of positive boredom Time Life has endowed my life from time to time number many hours.

Infomercials are both meant to be enjoyed and not meant to be enjoyed. They have an aesthetic value entirely in spite of themselves, yet this value is derived from precisely everything that they are. Deceit is given its most honest exposition in these productions.

What one feels, adrift in the negatives that constitute the target audience for infomercials - nonsleeping, underemployed, disenchanted - is dread. This is the sublime dread of the existentialists, when finally the stark wasteland underneath all the distraction is revealed, in its collapse, to be nothing, and to have been nothing all along. The production functions perfectly, and nothing more.

This "nothing more" is the void.

Harsh static set to images.

Smiley-faced demons prodding the smiley-faced damned.

Pulled to sea in the surf of a muzak version of a Jan and Dean song in a broken elevator, never ending.


  1. I couldn't sleep either. Can never sleep, lately. I work midnights in a factory. I kept giving up on lying here with my eyes closed, picked up "The Temptation to Exist", reread that essay on Jews for the 4th time in 48 hours, and then saw your link over here, and read this. Do you think you and Cioran could have been pals? What would you guys joke about together? Anyway, I'm delirious, and I like your blog a lot. I'd like very much if you wrote a book some day. You ought to. It can be a secret if you want.

  2. I would like to have known Cioran as a joker. As textual alone though, I think I do like the anonymity of the man. It is like the hopefulness when someone's birthdate is followed by a question mark. I would like to find a ghostwriter for my diary, even the gospels had their ghostwriters you know