Saturday, 13 February 2010

Writing, writing, writing this because a blog doesn't work if you don't update it: After Dark.

Image courtesy of Word Power Books.

This week I've been thinking, when I've been capable of coherent thoughts, about a Japanese novel I read over the Christmas holidays. It was called 'After Dark' by Haruki Murakami. Its about a girl called Eri Asai who seems to have gone to bed permanently. Told partly through the perspective of her sister, Mari, and partly by an omniscient narrator who eerily observes the sleeping girl, the reader gathers that she's not always sleeping, but she's never awake to be with her family. Eri Asai just went to bed and never properly woke up.

Some of 'After Dark' was about the differences between siblings, particularly sisters, as Mari's fears that the divisions that already existed between herself and her beautiful sister appear to increase more expansively as Eri Asai lies in bed. By contrast Mari descends into an insomniac's lifestyle, spending the witching hour between dusk and dawn in an all night Japanese cafe. Mari wonders if Eri Asai is trying to work something out, something dark, that she couldn't talk about, through her sleep.

Its funny how sleep or lack of it is often one of the first signals or means in which we manifest our daytime anxieties and fears. Long gone are the days before the electric light bulb and our 24/7 lifestyle has rather pityingly totally screwed up many modern people's ability to sleep in a natural and coherent manner. I should know, I've slept, so to speak on both ends of the trajectory swinging from excruciating insomnia to a debilitating over-sleep. While insomnia leaves you climbing the walls, shaky, bleary eyed and often tearful, over-sleeping ironically marks your body with an overwhelming lethargy, suddenly all of your movements including speech, become very, very slow. It also disrupts your appetite. Both states make you feel as if you have the worst hang over without any of the fun of the previous night's over indulgence.

At the start of this week I slipped into a horrible over-sleep, whole days stretched out unbeknownst to myself. I'd wake and it would be dark outside, confused I'd go back to sleep. My mind was working through something, or maybe needed the rest, so I shut down and went to bed. Now as the week tapers off and without the relieved Friday night feeling after a week's worth of work, I'm contemplating slipping into a more familiar pattern of sleep disturbance, a version of insomnia which will probably see me into about 8.30 Saturday morning. Then, defeated, I'll turn in and try to steal myself a few hours of the black deathly sleep that comes with pure exhaustion. At least if you oversleep it feels like your sleeping. With insomnia I miss dreams.

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