Thursday, August 18, 2011

a brief note on sleep_anguish_authenticity

It isn't like my life is any less fucked (it's probably more fucked) than normal, but for some reason I am sleeping. Too well. Six to seven hours a night. And even though I do really enjoy being sleep deprived, I'm not willing to intentionally not sleep.

All this really means is that I have no time to do everything I want and need to do on any given day: run, swim, write, make art, fall in love – so I don't go crazy; and work – so I don't go hungry, or lose my house/ studio, or not be able to buy coffee and beer and smokes.

And this week the writing has more or less stopped. But I am in an entirely unrequited love affair with someone who doesn't know and probably should never know, which is nice. And this painting is coming along, which is also nice:

It's a retelling of Delacroix's Christ Asleep During the Tempest.

I am looking at it from the point of view of the essay I have (not) been working on about The Tyranny of Happiness, and from the Freudian/ Bataillian/ Kierkegaardian notion that our sense of self and our humanity derives from anguish, and that suppressing that experience is alienating, dehumanizing, and in Kierkegaard's word: inauthentic.


  1. Once, during college, I told my mother that I hadn't slept more than three hours in the as many days--I could hear her breath catch over the phone (she's a nurse).
    "Have you seen a doctor? Are you feeling well? Are you just busy with school work?"
    "Of course I'm busy with school work, Mother," I replied (she clearly remembers this phase of my life where I singularly called her 'Mother,' never 'mom.'). "But there are so many people to meet, so many places to go ... I can't do it all if I sleep."
    "Are you actively choosing not to sleep?"
    "Of course. I'd never appreciated what you can get done when you have the entire 24 hours to work with."

    I miss those days. I hate myself and my 9-5 (9-6 ... 7? 8? Weekends?). I loathe how sleep is the first thing I think about when I wake up from 6 or 7 hours rest ... yet I refuse to deprive myself as I did 8 or 9 years ago.

    I'm seeing a new therapist in about 2 weeks. One of the main points that I want to bring up is the amount of anguish I constantly feel--how that anguish embarrasses me, yet the thought of living without that anguish is inconceivable. From where would I draw my passion? Wouldn't I be less human? Wouldn't I be less ... Caitlin?

  2. Hi Caitlin. I only have a sec, work, but I think you can imagine how most therapists would respond to requests for help suffering meaningfully. Mostly what I want from my analyst is a push/ critique of the lies I tell myself in order to live. Only so that they become better lies.

    Anguish is beautiful too. When I quit fighting it, it quit bothering me. I hope you learn to enjoy yours. The world would be slightly worse place without it...

    And, as always, it's great to hear from you.