“It's at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull. I don't know if anyone has ever pointed out that great attraction of insomnia before, but it is so; the night seems to release a little more of our vast backward inheritance of instincts and feelings; as with the dawn, a little honey is allowed to ooze between the lips of the sandwich, a little of the stuff of dreams to drip into the waking mind. (…) Perhaps that's why some of us are insomniacs; night is so precious that it would be pusillanimous to sleep all through it"I suffer from insomnia and Brian W. Aldiss is an arse. I would just like to make that clear from the start, in case any one was thinking this was going to be some kind of arty little piece about the romance of the night. Bah. I found this quote at 4.46 this morning when, in the absence of anything else to do, I put “insomnia” into every search engine I could find. And he uses words like ‘pusillanimous’ – what does he do, sit up all night reading the thesaurus? How peremptory.
Brian W. Aldiss
As for perceiving 'our vast backward inheritance of instincts' – could he mean Facebook do you think? Second Life? Living our lives in cyberspace at unusual times of the day and night? I do that. Facebook, MySpace, flickr, friends reunited; my favourite shop is Ebay and love Google Blog Search for that really bleak stretch just before dawn. I have become a virtual weird old man who wanders around the streets at night shouting rude and inappropriate comments at people having normal healthy fun.
I am not lacking in imagination! I have already fed nearly every random name from my past (near and distant) into that great virtual haystack – I found an old school friend and didn’t find any ex-boyfriends – so pretty successful all round. Usually around 5am I get stuck into Blog Search – some of them are boring aren’t they?! I’ve been looking for my friend’s mystery blog: he is writing, but won’t disclose the web address. I am not certain whether he wants anyone to look for it – but insomnia reduces any ethical considerations to mere whimsy. Beyond 5.30am I’ll do just about anything to keep amused. "Anyway", I told him, "you might as go public – no one reads these things."
The problem is though, (as the narrator from Fight Club pointed out – Earths’ Biggest Movie Database) “when you have insomnia, you're never really asleep... and you're never really awake,” that’s because you’re very, very, very tired. I sit here as the hours tick by, too vague and disconnected to do any work, research or even write a decent blog (feel free to correct me on that point); putting stupid words into Google; attempting to trace my family tree or looking up quotes, lyrics, movie reviews (education, I tell myself) none of which I read. I just scan. I’m one of those machines on the supermarket check-out: ‘blip’ I say, ‘yep, seen it; next! Blip! Yeah, that too…. Blip!’ And yawning, I do a lot of yawning. I do full-body yawns which nearly throw me from my chair. Last night I discovered a ‘Traveller IQ’ test – which I did 9 times. I now have a ‘superior’ Traveller IQ and am ranked in the top 7,000 in the world. I am Jane’s complete lack of surprise.
What did insomniacs do before computers? Watch mindless TV I suppose. I don’t want to sound contumelious,
It’s not just a nocturnal condition either: in the daytime, I am too tired and grumpy to do anything interesting. As a result: I socialise badly and I work poorly. I loiter, however, very well.