Jonathan Crary's widely-reviewed polemic 24/7 has rapidly established itself as an essential work in the emerging field of sleep studies. In a fascinating new piece in the New Left Review, William Davies challenges Crary's assumption that sleep is "our last bastion of otherness and refusal." For Davies, the tendency to idealize sleep as a realm uncontaminated by market forces disregards the extent to which slumber has already been colonized by "a new consultancy circuit of 'sleep and wellness' expertise." In any case, the figure of the sleeper is an odd sort of mascot for a politics of resistance. "The argument that receptivity and passivity contain sources of hope is a pressing one in our interactive age," he writes, "but surely these have more lively and critical manifestations than mere surrender to nightly unconsciousness."
Professor Cressida Heyes (University of Alberta) will be giving a public lecture entitled "Sleep, 'NIght', and Bodily Anonymity: The Harms of Rape While Unconscious" at Durham University on 7th May. Click here for further details.
In today's Guardian magazine the psychologist Richard Wiseman spells out some of the dire consequences of sleep deprivation and offers a series of practical tips for combatting insomnia. His article is accompanied by a series of short essays in which writers reflect on what sleeplessness means to them. In contrast to Wiseman, who regards insomnia as a damaging and potentially dangerous symptom of a "world that rarely sleeps", these insomniac authors are willing to attach some cultural and psychological value to their condition: "insomnia…gave me my career" (David Baddiel); "Insomnia has its upside…A writer or painter must be knocked back by shock or suffering that stuns his or her rational mind and allows access to inspiration" (Chuck Palahniuk); "it's best to think of insomnia as an intriguing plus -- as your brain's hidden bonus track that you can't hear unless you keep life's CD spinning overtime" (Chris Cleave); " I try to think of insomnia as an uninvited personal trainer…a slightly nightmarish visitor who can nevertheless be helpful, if approached with sufficient care and determination" (A.L. Kennedy).
A recent article in The Atlantic reports on efforts to make the Bavarian spa town Bad Kissingen the world's first "ChronoCity," an environment that caters for the different sleep/wakefulness patterns -- or "chronotypes" -- of its individual citizens.
John Mackey, the founder and co-CEO of the retail chain Whole Foods Market, has praised the virtues of the "executive sleepover" as a means of building trust and co-operation between colleagues . "I know this sounds weird," says Mackey, "but there's something about sleeping in the same house and then fixing breakfast or dinner together that is very much a bonding experience."