Perhaps even a few remarks on the beautiful little Kino Fist zines that arrived in my mailbox last week, where the brilliant issue on Chris Marker and the coolness of a Jean Cocteau drawing of Tristan Tzara that appears on the back of one of them is overshadowed only by what Nina Powers has to say regarding the game of Chess. For the moment may the reader enjoy the following assemblage:
The dream is the guardian of insomnia which keeps it from falling asleep.
- Gilles Deleuze, "The Exhausted"
The philosopher is useful, because he or she has the task of observing the morning of a truth, and of interpreting this new truth over against old opinions. If « we must endure our thoughts all night», it is because we must correctly corrupt young people. When we feel that a truth-event interrupts the continuity of ordinary life, we have to say to others: "Wake up! The time of new thinking and acting is here!" But for that, we ourselves must be awake. We, philosophers, are not allowed to sleep. A philosopher is a poor night watchman.
-Alain Badiou, "Philosophy as Creative Repetition"
What an enigma sleep presents for philosophy! How can the cogito ever slumber? It's duty is to keep vigil till the end of time, as Pascal understood and reiterated. Sleep reproduces life in the womb and foreshadows death; yet this kind of rest has its own fullness. In sleep the body gathers itself together, building up its energy reserves by imposing silence on its information receptors. It closes down, and passes through a moment with its own truth, its own beauty, its own worth. This is one moment among others, a poetic moment. It is now that the 'space of the dream' makes its paradoxical appearance. At once imaginary and real, this space is different from the space of language, though of the same order, and the faithful guardian of sleep rather than of social learning. Is this then the space of 'drives'? It would be better described as a space for the poetic reconstruction of situations in which wishes are present - but wishes which are not so much fulfilled as simply proclaimed. it is a space of enjoyment, indeed it establishes a virtual reing of pleasure, though erotic dreams break up on the reefs of the dreamer's pleasure and disillusion. The space of the dream is strange and alien, yet at the same time as close to us as is possible. Rarely coulored, even more rarely animated by music, it still has a sensual-sensory character. It is a theatrical space even more than a quotidian or poetic one: a putting into images of oneself, for oneself.
- Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space
But does not the dream thus reflect a contradiction just where one might succeed in discerning the cipher of existence? Does it not designate at one and the same time the content of a transcendent world and the original movement of a freedom? The dream is deployed, we saw earlier, in a world which secretes its opaque contents and the forms of a necessity which cannot be deciphered. Yet at the same time it is free genesis, self-accomplishment, emergence of what is most individual in the individual. This contradiction is manifest in the content of the dream when it is deployed and offered to discursive interpretation. It even bursts forth as the ultimate meaning in all those dreams that are haunted by the anguish of dean. Death is experienced as the supreme moment of that contradiction, which death constitutes as destiny. Hence the meaningfulness of all those dreams of violent death, of savage death, of horrified death, in which one must indeed recognize, in the final anlysis, a freedom up against a world. If consciousness sleeps during sleep, existence awakens in the dream. Sleep, itself, goes toward the life that it is preparing, that it is spelling out, that it favors. If it is a seeming death, this is by a ruse of life, which does not want to die; it "plays dead," but "from fear of death." It remains of the order of life.
The dream is no accomplice of sleep. It ascends again the slope that sleep descends, towards life, it goes towards existence, and there, in full light, it sees death as the destiny of freedom. For the dream, as such, and by birture of the meanings of existence it bears with it, kills sleep and life that falls asleep. Say not that sleep makes dreaming possible, for it is the dream that makes sleep impossible by waking it to the light of death. The dream, as with Macbeth, murders sleep.
Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
the death of each day's life, score labour's bath,
balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast...
In the depth of his dream, what man encounters in his death, a death which in its most inauthentic form is but the brutal and bloody interruption of life, yet in its authentic form, is his very existence being accomplished.
-Michel Foucault, Dream and Existence
Language only designates things; only the negation of language opens up to the absence of a limit of what is, which is nothing.
The only limit of the marvelous is a result of this: the marvelous, made of the transparency of "what does not happen" in "what happens," dissolves when death, the exxence of which is given in "what does not happen," takes on the meaning of "what happens."
The same anguish every night. as inert in my bed as a fish is on the saned, telling myself that time, which descends on me, which brings me nothing, is useless. I don't know where I'm from. Reduced to saying, to feeling the uselessness of life, the utility of which has disappointed me.
Strange burden insomnia: I lost, if not the order, the reason, which maybe I didn't have, to write these phrases. would my reason be a literary search? Meanwhile, I cannot conceive of the possibility of not having written them. i have the feeling of writing above all in order to know, to discover, at the heart of my insomnia, what I can, and what I must do. I drift off waiting for the sleefping pill to take effect.
- Georges Bataille, The Unfinished System of Non-Knowledge, 227
It is one of the tacit suppositions of psychoanalysis that the clear-cut antithesis of sleeping and waking has no value for determining the empirical form of consciousness of the human being, but instead yields before and unending variety of concrete states of consciousness conditioned by every conceivable level of wakefulness within all possible centers. The situation of consciousness as patterned and checkered by sleep and waking need only be transferred from the individual to the collective. Of course, much that is external to the former is internal to the latter: architecture, fashion - yes, even the weather - are, in the interior of the collective, what the sensoria of organs, the feeling of sickness or health, are inside the individual. And so long as they preserve this unconscious, amorphous dream configuration, they are as much natural processes as digestion, breathing, and the like. They stand in the cycle of the eternally selfsame, until the collective seizes upon them in politics and history emerges.
Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project