Tuesday, March 28, 2006

flip it and reverse it

(or "How to evolve faster")

Have you ever wished that you could be part of one of those sleep studies? The ones where they put you in a windowless room, which I imagine is buried deep near the earth’s core, and then see what happens to your sleep schedule? Because if we can manipulate our sleep cycles, then isn’t this as close to manipulating time as we will ever get?

So, for the sake of science, as well as the betterment of all humankind, I’ve been engaged in a sleep study of my own.

For the past couple of weeks now, I’ve gone to bed and woken up when I felt like it. As a result, I sleep with the rising sun and have my first cup of coffee at noon the next day. Of course, this whole thing really started because of one fateful night when I happened to catch “Dirty Dancing” on TV at 3 am. It totally screwed me over. Though I must have seen that movie at least a dozen times, I was compelled to watch it one more time just to see Patrick Swayze’s jazzy dance moves in the final scene. Man, he really knows how to bring it home. Who knew men’s hips were designed to swivel like that? It didn’t help that my ex-boyfriend is the spitting image of Patrick Swayze, a fact that to his embarrassment was realized on an overnight ferry bound to Tientsin watching “City of Joy” with a roomful of Chinese people. I'm not saying this to say that I think Patrick Swayze (or by implication my ex-boyfriend) is particularly hot. They are both okay looking. But everyone in the room, including myself for a brief moment, thought he was the person in the movie. He didn’t have the same rotator hips though… which was undoubtedly the reason I had to break up with him. But that is another story for another time.

So back to the sleeping thing. My ultimate quest in this experiment is this. Is it possible that if we listen to our bodies, we don’t need as much sleep as we think we need? All of us are bound by the strictures of certain commonly accepted ideas, such as the food pyramid, not swimming after you eat, pumping the brakes on a wet road, yada yada yada. But just as we know that the food pyramid is full of shit, it is very possible that the accepted wisdom that guides our daily lives have been built on ephemera, concocted from some stuffy white guy’s impaired brain.

I’ve already managed to dismantle the notion that we need regular meals at regular intervals throughout the day. My snake-eating thing is still working like a charm. So I have a good feeling about this. I’m thinking that I may be able to shave a good 10 hours a week of sleep time off my normal schedule. Sleep and food, two things that I think the modern person overdoses on through over-rationalization, these are the two obstacles preventing the everyman from fulfilling their greatest destiny. If we unchain ourselves from the enslavement of time, what will we not be capable of?

Previously unbeknownst to me, it just so happens that it is National Sleep Awareness Week. I suggest that in celebration of this happy coincidence, we all lie down for a nap…


Ninja Toes said...

too funny... i feel the same way quite often.

Ninja Toes said...

oh, and that photo is super cool

Montag said...

To quote Larry, (Clive Owen,) in Closer, "Time: what a trickly little fucker."

And, yes. Sleep is a wicked time-bandit.

I often stay up late working, and go extended stretches where I sleep only 3 to 4 hours a night.

Which has given me the opportunity to experiment a lot with my own sleep patterns; but I haven't figured out how to not sleep, and not be cranky the next day. (After three days of three hours sleep, I get short tempered, and become easily overstimulated.)

I've never tried it, but I'd like to try the Spanish schedule. Have a siesta in the afternoon, then stay up late.

Fehlleistungen said...

I'm in a foul mood this morning, so:

"Capital is dead labor that, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks."

If we "unchain ourselves from the enslavement of time" in the way that you're suggesting, the great destiny of the everyman would be opening him- or herself up to even more intensive extraction of surplus labor (witness Montag's comment).

Or, as the Man put it in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (see the section on "The Alienation of Labor"):

"Just as nature provides the means of life for labor, in the sense that labor cannot live without objects, which it uses, but also it provides the means of life in a narrower sense, namely the means to sustain the physical existence of the laborer.

Therefore, the more the laborer through his labor appropriates the external world, sensuous nature, the more he deprives himself of the means of life in this double meaning: first, more and more the sensuous external world stops being an object proper to his labor, that is, to be a means of life to his labor; second: more and more the sensuous, external world stops being a means of life in the second sense: means to sustain the physical existence of the laborer.

In this double sense the worker becomes a slave to his objects; first: he receives an object of labor, that is, labor; and second: he receives a means of subsistence. In the first instance, he can exist as a laborer; in the second instance, he can exist as a physical subject. The result of this slavery is that he can maintain himself as a physical subject only if he is a laborer, and that he can maintain himself as a laborer only if he is a physical subject...."

minsuhson said...

dude. who said anything about labor?! you could do anything you want with the extracted extra time. i myself was thinking more along the lines of extended siestas and new hobbies. like ice fishing? i suggest you um, think... outside... of... the... box. peace.

Fehlleistungen said...

You can do anything you want with the extra time, provided that you are not making anything in the vicinity of minimum wage and trying to support a family. Otherwise, your extra time is probably going to be converted into labor of some sort, not siestas or ice fishing. For an extremely limited demographic, your idea works great; for most people - inside the box is where it's at.