Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

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Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Posted @ 22:01What is sleep?

Those readers who are — together with Flann O'Brien and myself — students of the great De Selby, will be aware of his definition of sleep as a fainting fit brought about by the black air which accumulates in the atmosphere throughout the day (and which, naturally, causes us to perceive that illusory condition known to poets, scientists and other misguided persons, as "night"). It has also been intimated to me, by certain female-type persons, that sleep is what men do after sex instead of talking. However, there must be more to it than that.

Sleep happens almost without thinking except when you think about it. I have been told that tiredness brings about sleep, but I can think of many occasions — last night springs to mind — when tiredness existed but sleep did not. The proximate cause of this most recent fleeing of the condition of sleepiness was that I had realised the long gap since my last post to this blog and was attempting to compose, in my head, an extremely amusing piece about people in a pub on Friday night. Sleep singularly failed to arrive when tiredness gripped my body and I spent almost the entire night awake. (The amusing piece about people in a pub on Friday night was rendered unamusing — and non-existent — by the stunning realisation that I could remember nothing of the amusing anecdotes and witticisms that were exchanged nor a single detail of the cross-dressing bondage incident with the lemming and the banana: maybe the consumption of alcoholic beverages had something to do with this strange amnesia.)

Quite the opposite occurs when I am wide-awake but want to watch, say, Torchwood on TV, I fall asleep (despite the good bits in between the excellent bits). I can also successfully fall asleep during boring TV programmes and films (Natural Born Killers is one of my favourite sophoriphics). But that doesn't count. What stuns me (but not enough to send me to sleep just now; even though I'm tired) is that interesting, amusing or entertaining stuff can send me to sleep without me contributing any personal effort whatsoever.

I have, over the years, thought of asking my doctor about this to see if it's very common. Perhaps a really interesting article could be written for New Scientist or something. Maybe it would be interesting enough to send me to sleep.


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