Category Archives: Sleep

A hazy torpor overcomes our thoughts

The first moments of sleep are the image of death: a hazy torpor overcomes our thoughts, and it is impossible for us to determine the precise instant when the I, in another form, resumes the creative work of existence. Little by little an obscure underground cavern grows lighter, and the pale, solemnly immobile figures that inhabit the realm of limbo emerge from shadows and darkness. Then the picture takes form, a new light illumines and sets in motion these old apparitions: –the world of Spirits opens before us.

— Nerval,  (via here)



From the well of absolute night

Her eyes were already open. Dawn was breaking. The rock she leaned against hurt her back. She sighed, and shifted her position a bit. Among the rocks out there beyond the town it was very quiet at this time of the day. She looked into the sky, saw space growing ever clearer. The first slight sounds moving through that space seemed no more than variations on the basic silence of which they were made. The nearby rock forms and the more distant city walls came up slowly from the realm of the invisible, but still only as emanations of the shadowy depths beneath. The pure sky, the bushes beside her, the pebbles at her feet, all had been drawn up from the well of absolute night. And in the same fashion the strange languor in the center of her consciousness, those vaporous ideas which kept appearing as though independently of her will, were mere tentative fragments of her own presence, looming against the nothingness of a sleep not yet cold—a sleep still powerful enough to return and take her in its arms. But she remained awake, the nascent light invading her eyes, and still no corresponding aliveness awoke within her; she had no feeling of being anywhere, of being anyone.

— Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

Good morning blues

Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
Good morning blues, blues how do you do?
I’m doing all right, good morning how are you?

I lay down last night, turning from side to side
Oh, turning from side to side
I was not sick, but I was dissatisfied.

I got up this morning with the blues walking round my bed
Oh, with the blues walking round my bed
I went to eat my breakfast, the blues was in my bread.


The open window

‘What is it? What is it?’ I exclaimed, still held down in bed by sleep, and stretched my arms upwards. Then I got up, still far from being conscious of the present, and with the feeling that I must thrust aside various people who were in my way, made the necessary gestures, and so at last reached the open window.

— Kafka, The Blue Octavo Notebooks (tr. E. Kaiser and E. Wilkins)

The day ends all over

Nothing, void, inertia bordering on despair. Grey skies, grey streets, grey walls. You nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard. I thank God for the pills and the wine that put that border in place, lie down and wait for sleep in the afternoon. It doesn’t come, nothing comes, the day ends all over. Same old tedium, same old tedious mystery: the silence that isn’t silence, the voice I wait for that speaks somewhere but fails to come and when it comes is only ever to come. But not even that today, hardly even waiting. Nothing, inertia. Wine, pills, sleep, eventually.


Sleepless again, both X and I. We go outside to smoke and look at the sky. The ancients believed the stars were holes through which the light of the beyond shone, I tell him. We’re holes through which nothing shines, he tells me.

The sleep of the good

To sleep the sleep of the good… to fall asleep in accord with the sleeping night, to wake in accord with the awakening day. But accord is out of reach, and thus the world corrects itself through the likes of us. We’re a hiccup in your sleep, your yawn as you wake.