By L. Scrivner
A research of the heritage of recent insomnia, this e-book explores how poets, reporters, and medical professionals of the Victorian interval came across themselves in near-universal contract that modernity and sleep have been in some way incompatible. It investigates how psychologists, philosophers and literary artists labored to articulate its reasons, and its power therapies.
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Additional resources for Becoming Insomniac: How Sleeplessness Alarmed Modernity
The American paleontologist Nathaniel Shaler (1841–1906) considered the apparent will-less state of slumber to be no less than a demonstration of our usual position of will-possessed preeminence over mere animals. In going to sleep, we send ourselves on a kind of hierarchical descent back down to their level. ”14 As sleep takes hold, we shed individualized identities, social roles, job titles. No more “philosopher” or “jurist” or “mechanic,” we become generically human. Sleep deepens and we devolve into beasts.
If we linger a bit longer over Franklin Head’s quotation, we discover a now-outmoded, more strictly Victorian way of thinking about thinking. Along with nervous functioning, “intense mental activity” is here conceived of as resulting from, or indeed as being, a kind of work energy: “the nervous and mental force of man” is quantified, “measured against steam and lightning,” evincing a thermodynamic account of our mental physiology. , the study of relations between forms of energy (electrical, thermal, and chemical), their conversion, conservation, and work efficiency—is manifested today in some still-used A Modern Insomnia 23 Victorian expressions: brain power, willpower, blow off steam, and the now-obsolete brain-work and brain-worker.
Why hasn’t she “liked” my lol? Of course, many people are able to log off, disconnect, and disengage from online life without a problem; but many others who interact all day through these boundless and instantaneous forums tend to have difficulty demarcating disconnectedness; they feel the imperative, the obligation, the addiction to keep the conversation going A Modern Insomnia 21 longer than they otherwise would —even when alone, to themselves, in their heads. And thus insomnia is triggered: they want to sleep, but they still contemplate conversations with absent others; an abiding, restless curiosity prompts them to keep checking their emails or their feeds; their mobile devices, never far from their skin, startle them with ghostvibrations of imagined incoming messages.
Becoming Insomniac: How Sleeplessness Alarmed Modernity by L. Scrivner