Friday, July 19, 2013

"My dream last night was sponsored by Facebook"

I bet there are plenty of people in this world who love sleeping long hours. They talk about how they didn't get out of bed until well into the day.

I am not one of them.

I might waste time, and I do plenty of that, yes.  In fact, I would even make a case that we don't do enough of wasting time. Just idling. Doodling around. Instead, we commit ourselves to way too many activities. Worse, we even bring up kids that way anymore--we wake them up early in the morning, shove down breakfast into their sleepy bodies, pack them off to school, schedule after-school activities, and leave no time at all for simply doodling around.  For kids to then say "I'm bored!"

I get bored a lot. Am so happy that I have enough waking hours and non-working hours to get bored. As a kid, too, I was bored a lot.  My grandmother has commented quite a few times in her life, in response to our whining about being bored, in a highly annoyed tone, "என்ன இது எப்ப பாத்தாலும்?" (what is this all the time?)

Now, boredom has never meant that I should sleep more.  I wake up just to get bored, it seems like.  Boredom and ennui are highly under-appreciated and under-rated, more so in this 24x7 culture that we have created for ourselves.  As Joseph Brodsky noted a few years ago:
When hit by boredom , let yourself be crushed by it; submerge, hit bottom. In general, with things unpleasant, the rule is: The sooner you hit bottom, the faster you surface. The idea here is to exact a full look at the worst. The reason boredom deserves such scrutiny is that it represents pure, undiluted time in all its repetitive, redundant, monotonous splendor.
Boredom is your window on the properties of time that one tends to ignore to the likely peril of one’s mental equilibrium. It is your window on time’s infinity. Once this window opens, don’t try to shut it; on the contrary, throw it wide open.
The mirror image of this--to be constantly doing something--whether it is work or (at the risk of annoying Ramesh, again!) entertainment, is what capitalism seems to prefer.  So much so that the system tries hard to interrupt even that pleasure of sleeping that people might otherwise enjoy:
Sleep, indeed, is a standing affront to capitalism. That is the argument of Jonathan Crary’s provocative and fascinating essay, which takes “24/7” as a spectral umbrella term for round-the-clock consumption and production in today’s world. The human power nap is a macho response to what Crary notes is the alarming shrinkage of sleep in modernity. “The average North American adult now sleeps approximately six and a half hours a night,” he observes, which is “an erosion from eight hours a generation ago” and “ten hours in the early 20th century”.
I sleep for about six hours a night--way less than the average, yes.  But, that is not because I am working hard to make more money, and nor am I being entertained by the money-making entertainers.  I could easily spend time being bored, and I do!
You can’t get more “eyeballs” if the people to whose brains the eyeballs are physically connected are asleep. Hence the interest – currently military; before long surely commercial, too – in removing our need for sleep with drugs or other modifications. Then we would be more like efficient machines, able to “interact” with (or labour among) electronic media all day and all night. (It is strange, once you think about it, that the phrase “He’s a machine” is now supposed to be a compliment in the sporting arena and the workplace.)
If only people would spend time thinking about their lives and what they want to make of it.  How would they want to be remembered after their death?  That they had machine-like work abilities and that they watched a lot television?  Imagine reading that kind of an obituary!
After finishing this book, I had a dystopian nightmare. One day, through clever magnetic stimulation of the brain, it might be possible to insert adverts into our dreams. You could even volunteer to have them interpolated into your sleeping life in exchange for money. (“My dream last night was sponsored by Facebook and Walkers Crisps.”) If that day ever comes, we won’t be safe anywhere
I bet the book-reviewer has now provided the likes of Facebook with a research agenda to insert advertisements in our sleep.

I guess that will be ok as long as the ads in my dreams feature a whole lot of Liril girls ;)



2 comments:

Ramesh said...

How does Karen Lunel sit alongside Mallika :):):)

Yes, modern culture in most societies is obsessed with doing "something" - even if it s plonked on the couch watching television. Contemplation and reflection have gone out of the window.

I have a prescription.Retire. Sleep the full 8 hours. You then have 16 hours to both be entertained and contemplate. A certain commenter you know practices this lifestyle !!

Sriram Khé said...

that was a lovely ad, especially for those days ...
but, i dont think i ever purchased liril soap ;)

so, here is a description of what you are up to these days: "contemplative entertainment consumer"

wait ... wait a second ... is my blogging simply entertainment for you???? sob, sob, sob, sigh!!!!!!!!!!!

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