RIP, Nicholas Roeg (plus Rage Against the Machine)25th November 2018
One of Britain’s greatest directors passed away today. Nicholas Roeg produced some lovely dreamlike films during the 1970s.
PS. Scott Slumber pointed me to a National Geographic story, which explains why the sleep world is superior to the awake world:
[W]hen we’re sleeping, and we commence our first REM session, the most elaborate and complex instrument known in the universe is free to do what it wishes. It self-activates. It dreams. This, one could say, is the playtime of the brain. Some sleep theorists postulate that REM sleep is when we are our most intelligent, insightful, creative, and free. It’s when we truly come alive. “REM sleep may be the thing that makes us the most human, both for what it does for the brain and body, and for the sheer experience of it,” says Michael Perlis.
Maybe, then, we’ve been asking the wrong question about sleep, ever since Aristotle. The real wonder isn’t why we sleep. It’s why, with such an incredible alternative available, do we bother to stay awake?
And the answer might be that we need to attend to the basics of life—the eating and mating and fighting—only to ensure that the body is fully ready for sleep.
They also suggested that logic is turned off during dreams:
Belief in the unbelievable happens because in REM sleep, stewardship of the brain is transferred away from the logic centers and impulse-control regions.
Slumber then pointed to a related quote from André Gide:
Because of his multi-faced inconsistency, Proteus is, among all the gods, the one who has the least existence. Before he chooses, an individual is richer; after he chooses, he is stronger.
The dream world is richer, as logic doesn’t force us to choose, while the awake world is stronger.
Slumber added this:
People in the awake world tend to view the conflicts of society in terms of left vs. right. But perhaps the real struggle is the best parts of humanity (creativity, freedom, love, intelligence, etc.) against “the machine”—a stupid oppressive bureaucratic structure built by both the left and the right. I’m talking about the war on drugs, the military, organized religion, the K-12 educational system, health insurance, the IRS, the INS, the TSA and all of the other ways that society tries to crush our spirit and turn us into a cog in the machine.
Isn’t that just warmed over Foucault? Don’t we need a “machine” to generate the GDP required to make the world safe for sleepers, so they don’t get eaten by wolves?
Maybe, but late in his life Foucault saw a possible “third way” between the authoritarianism of the left and the right, and began flirting with economic liberalism. Had he lived, he might have developed a liberalism far more radical than anything espoused by more conventional thinkers such as Hayek.
What a nice dream.
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