Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


The opening of this sketch ---
"Suddenly, and without warning, there fell upon the world a calamity unparalleled. As strange chemicals seek out and destroy alien cells among our tissues, without injuring the organism, so on the mind of humanity was worked a spell and also on that frozen mass of brain stuff we call books. A night of blind stress and turmoil, dread nightmare and rending dreams, gave way to the strange daylight of a disordered world. Women woke and turned to touch their husbands, with a sense of terror and uncertainty, for in their minds were wide blank spaces, and what remained strayed disconnected. Men sat barefoot on the bed's edge, their hands to their foreheads, groping for something that had gone."
--- reads like the opening of a science-fiction novel. 

This passage highlights turn-of-the-century anxieties about sleep's purpose and, particularly, it's role in modern life. The narrator implies that the nights of men and women are typically plagued by "blind stress and turmoil, dread nightmare and rending dreams"--all of which are symptoms of broken sleep and sleep deprivation. A result of sleeplessness and vivid dreaming is often "poor memory."​​​​​​

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