Now I am experiencing luxury, calm and voluptuousness in the form of New Orleans streets on a lovely fall afternoon. I am trying to learn to take greater advantage of all affordable luxuries available to me than I have done in some time. Before Reeducation I lived in a very pleasant way, but in Reeducation I learned that I did not deserve it. I renounced it and this was very heart rending. Reclaiming it is very difficult because I had to extirpate so much life and self in Reeducation.
The most difficult aspect of the current program for me to implement is to sleep. Most recently the reason I have not slept was that I was so busy admiring my beautiful incandescent light – unavailable in Peru or during Hurricane Gustav. But when I began living in dark latitudes* [*I must explain at some point what I mean – say, the pueblos tristes of Arguedas] I learned to close the blinds, turn up the artificial light, and create a world of my own indoors. I know people who do this even during the day. I do it at night because, if one is living in dark latitudes it is only then then that the world becomes truly my own. Herein lies the current version of my problem, although it has a history.
Sleep is of course a free luxury. I do not suffer at all from insomnia. I have a quiet neighborhood, a lovely room, a good mattress, and better sheets. Yet I have a bad and destructive habit of not sleeping. I first formed it when I became a professor. When I got home from work I would stay up as late as possible because I was now home. I did not want to fall asleep because this would only bring the next day closer, when I would have to go to work again. Not sleeping was a form of rebellion against regimentation, drudgery, and the pressure to resign oneself. Oddly, it was at the same time a form of discipline, a way of disabling myself so that I could not change things or leave. If I did not reduce my energy levels, I might have the strength to escape, which would disappoint those who wanted me to stay where I was. Not sleeping was thus a technique to lobotomize myself so that I would not be so aware of my environment or have such high expectations for each day. All of this is of course very neurotic – a complex strategy designed to protect a status quo and also dissent from it.
That is how not sleeping, a strategy to limit oneself, became a cause of claustrophobia. I felt claustrophobic because I wanted to leave the box I was in but did not have the power to do it. I am still not sure wonder what I wanted to leave. I called it my job, or academia, or my town, but was it those things in fact or was it really the forms of suffering I had been taught were decorous? In the end it developed, I think, into a form of generalized sleep anorexia. I did not sleep because there was nothing to live for. I had no present and no future; I was living in a phantom land for the sake of phantoms; I might best become a phantom myself, or use sleep deprivation as a technique enabling me to better embody the phantom I felt myself to be.
At one level, I did not sleep because there was nothing to live for. I had no present and no future. My past was also a lie. My life had ended prematurely and it was better that I not have a fully functional body. If I were to qualify as a sane person, said Reeducation, I must accept that my only reality was pain and that my hope for improvement was limited. So: why sleep, why replenish energy, why do anything which might make me feel well and thus expose me to accusations of being in denial?
At the same time the simple explanation for not feeling well sleep deprivation provided, permitted me an illusion of easy improvement. Everything would be better once I slept, I would say. But I would not in fact sleep because in all likelihood little else would change. If that happened, the illusion of everything improving would be shattered, and my disappointment would be all too deep. By refusing to sleep I could maintain hope.
Living in this limbo it was hard to remember that before Reeducation I did sleep, and the world was happier. All these things go together. Now If I regain my full faculties perhaps I will find I am happy and empowered, not merely more aware and therefore more shocked and sad.
The greatest logical error of Reeducation was its teaching that the pain of early childhood was one’s deepest truth. You cannot outgrow that, you cannot escape it, you cannot get over it, you must accept that everything else is false, an illusion, a form of hiding from reality, said my Reeducator. What you were then is all there is, and if you have achieved a great deal since, that achievement is only an avoidance strategy and a form of denial. This is false – my Reeducator did not understand the theories he was working with – but I began to lobotomize myself by not sleeping, so I could be as impaired as was required.
Neurotic behaviors, it is said, are based on what were once practical adjustments to real problems. My not sleeping started out as the most literal form of procrastination, an intentional prolongation of the day. Then it became real procrastination, that is, a way of evading what is at hand out of the fear that facing it will not help – or will only worsen matters. Resemble a zombie as much as possible because if you do not, the torturers will come. Freeze yourself as a zombie now. If you outlast this government you can then awake and come into the light.
But I think I have finally figured out where I get the irrational idea that facing reality with my wits about me will not only not help me, but will also offend the sensibilities of others. If I hurt them again by showing that I have a personality of my own, I will see the depth of their pain again, and the pity and guilt will be more than I can bear. Now, that is a true neurosis and it is difficult to unlearn, but I must unlearn it. In the spirit of luxury, calm, and voluptuousness, my renewed lemma, I may be ready to sleep now, and to dream.
Perhaps I can say: if I want to rebel, or if I want to free myself, I must sleep. I believe I am protecting myself and placating others by being the reduced person I am when I do not sleep. I believe that if I become small enough, and tired enough, I will no longer have to feel guilty and lacerate myself for being a person. I believe it is indecorous to live, as opposed to merely exist. But none of this is true. And even if I could reduce myself to almost nothing, even if I could become a microorganism, the authorities I am trying to satisfy would find me lacking. I might as well decide to accept this and live.