Insomnia Framed
as Analytical Neuroses

         I turned the volume up on the TV set. It was, coincidentally, a show about terrorism. A man in a white smock was pointing at a diagram. He looked just like the weatherman earlier who was predicting hard rain. The man said "…indeed, a single instance of overwhelming terror can so alter the chemistry of the brain that people begin to experience normal events as trauma."

         He went on to boldly hypothesize that the contagious fallout of this pan-traumatic process was a new epidemic called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which was the result of an overcharged immune system; there being just too many things to fend off in this crowded accostive world. An odd thing about the Syndrome though is that it combines two sensations in one (but that doesn't mean you're getting a bargain): everybody is tired all the time but nobody can sleep.

         In fact people have actually started to throw their beds away as a form of protest against absent government funding. But there was a practical side; it saves space in small New York apartments. These days you see more and more beds on the street and that's good for the homeless too. And the economy too; the culture industry is busy as a bee trying to keep people entertained during all those extra waking hours.

         One night I went to see a so-called performance artist (I think her name was Grace) who actually 'sleeps' on stage while a crowd of dog-eyed people gaze on in envy. Everybody at the show was strangely polite as hell. That's cause they were exhausted. After all it takes energy to be antagonistic. Maybe exhaustion is the answer, maybe the Syndrome is what will save us from World War IV.


         Cause or effect, chicken or egg? Some say the Syndrome is simply hereditary. Could be. Others say it has to do with worry and diet, stress, money, low quality food, overcrowding, sexual confusion, bad decorating schemes. You name it. It doesn't really matter what causes it though, the effects are self-degenerating. The more tired you are the less you sleep.

         Some psychiatrists say the best thing to do is try to remember back to days when you did sleep, as if memory could recreate a pre-Syndrome state. But I always found that memory just made it worse. You search the past for something calming, but what you usually get is more distress.

         The onslaught of course varies with individuals. With me it starts as a tightening of the muscles in my calves. Then there's that subtle screeching noise the sheets make, and the little bugs that aren't really there, followed by an almost avian sense of weightlessness, what I've come to affectionately call 'fool's bliss', and which can also be caused by heavy doses of antihistamines.

         But it's not strictly pharmacological. Nor is it Freudian. And it's certainly not Pavlovian. It can even be fun if you let it be a lifestyle; indulge your cravings for oversalted food, great spoonfulls of sugar after midnight, and munch raw hot peppers as you watch the endless sitcoms, and gruesome news shows, and of course don't forget to nurse those old grudges. In other words don't fight it, fly with it.


[Carl Watson/words][Michael M. Madore/image]

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© copyright Thin Ice Press 2007
© copyright Carl Watson 2001, 2007
© copyright Michael M. Madore 2001, 2007