Wake Up and Provide Content for Sleeping to Dream (ME-NIFESTO)
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All images courtesy the author
For those who are whimsical the dream is the subject matter of sleeping; for some who are tired, the dream is the bi-product of rest.
While some may say sleeping is the closest experience to death, I say here and now: sleep is precious for its lingering repents. To me it is the closest experience to living. Dreaming is the easiest, most economic moment for one to approach infinity and immortality, to be alive. Yet sleeping is the most distant and detached moment from life, a periodical isolation for every individual.
Sleep is an ecstatic torture for people like me who are too greedy. As I regard sleeping as the closest to living, life becomes a residue of sleep.
Every day I wake, realizing what kind of time I’ve just spent during rest. Sleeping time is always an earthquake. Waking from the time brings a remnant vibration. As it is always obscured by that time, where and how the geographical change that brings the earthquake is never clear, in which part of the world did the earth sink drastically is gonna be concealed forever because when I wake up it all remains the same. All I know is that my soul is destroyed by the aftermath.
The result of the earthquake of sleeping condenses into a floating epitome. There must be some sort of epiphany about the most fundamental truth, which is the aftermath, the thing in itself, something inside phenomenons behind the shake I could utilize to reach a personal revolution. But I can’t remember exactly what happened, who got involved into a storm of infinity that eventually started the shake of the world, only a flashback to a moment near the end of the adventure that I couldn’t capture. That one looks back, and then the wipeout. What’s left is the brutal reality that infinity is actually slipping at my eyelashes and vanishing in the glimpse of opening up eyes.
Like Kuafu chasing the sun, he never comes even close. The shape of the sun and the shape of the dream will always float away at an absolute speed. My position relative to sleep will never change: I will always be late after their intangible specters.
Just like what anyone is facing when living a life, staying in a chain of remorse and bitterness of being too late becomes the only choice to face the loss. It is vain, oblivion will inevitably come in duration, tense, and periodicity. But for greedy people, chasing the immortal, the indefinite is the subject matter of living, for they are never satisfied. Tracing the ambiguous myth of sleeping is the most adapted act to pursue infinity.
Waking up is to accept this fact: we all have to reconcile with the never-knowable. It is a fight to forgive the unknowability of dreams, to accept the right to remain mysterious, and to give ourselves the right to imagine. To imagine in our endless geographic of dreams what is the cause of the earthquake, whether it’s the fall of any mountain, the tsunami of any sea, whether it’s the deity or mortal world, every concealed revolution. It is ok not knowing the reason, as the result is already here, I have survived the earthquake. I look back.
So I live, and always live with many doubts, so I may fall back into this repetitious delay brought by nocturn and bed. In the daytime I breathe by stretches of imagination, by distant glances at silent nights. Then I lie down, throwing my body into the fermenting dream, using experience gained from being awake to build up the storm of ecstasy with dedication. I wake up again and live by the lingering.
I’m not saying: sleeping is unforgivingly melancholic. It is, for sure, melancholic. The unreachable nature of sleeping is the allegory of connecting with others when dwelling in this world. The gauzy touch of another individual’s mind and heart, the fact that an individual can never know everything about the other individual, just like they can never know all about themselves, just like they can never comprehend and remember everything in their sleep.
Shadowed fragments give me the urge to describe and search. I prefer description to elaboration. It’s caught between narrative and truth, between a tightrope walk of subjective speculation and a response to the existence of things, and between articulation and fabrication, which runs the risk of being overly embellished. The mystery of sleeping provides this kind of urge, to describe the reminiscent became the material of living.
If we see sleeping as the ontology and waking as the bi-product, it may be “Being towards sleeping” in a knockoff Heideggerian quote. To Heidegger, death is the only certain thing for mortals. We are all bound to death and dying. Levinas, in opposition, believes death is the only uncertainty, no one knows what happens after death. Death and Being hijack each other like sleeping and waking. Sleeping is the only uncertainty and the only certainty; being and waking are both the illusion of one assuming they recognize reality.
Yet I still envy those who always have lucid dreams more than I envy anyone else. I feel empathy for people having insomnia, I wish they get the rest and the living-death, illusion-reality experience they deserve.
Everyone should review and commemorate sleeping. For those who believe it’s approaching death, they could commemorate their daily resurrection; for those who feel it’s more like living, as for me, I commemorate the loss and the oblivion, I commemorate the reconciliation I had as courage to confront. For those who think neither, rest itself is worth praise. The celebration gives back to individuals to decide their relationship with their sleeping. Sleeping experiences can be unique and refreshed every day, in the call to death as an uncertain / absolute end. Luckily, sleeping makes the revival possible every day, either revive from mute dreams as waking up, or revive as a new participant of a vivid dream after falling asleep.
Revolution can be started from bed, personal emancipation can be done by using the universal need of sleeping as a material, whether to rest, to resist, to escape, to roundabout, to fight, as a strategy, or as a goal. It gives back to the individuals that sleeping is, whether a truth or a lie, an experience of sublime or banal, surreal or mist to themselves. Reviewing the experience of sleeping, as a form of empathy to oneself, is a universal material that, regardless of identities, can be applied by any. As empathy is the best way to resolve the unknowable realities of others, reviewing one’s own sleeping process is the best way to resist the occult reality of oneself.
If we are to search for proof of the duality of being, where better to look than the bedroom, where we rise in the morning to find the previous night’s unconscious struggle memorialized in the sheets below? At Panyanhan’s “sleeping party,” as they called it in their invite, the dreaming begins as soon as you enter their apartment. Various paintings and words plaster the floors and walls in irregular intervals, intentional, yet haphazard. Friends and visitors sit together on the floor to read and affirm the me-nifesto* before dispersing to various parts of the home. An oddly square bed sits in the corner of the bedroom. Its rumpled covers host fleeting groups that pass through from room to room, from realm to realm. The kitchen presents a curious amalgam of accouterments: Diet Coke and a tub of gesso. Instant mashed potatoes but neither a microwave nor water is present. There is a levity in the air. Someone is asleep on the couch, and I’ve lost a friend to the winding stairwell outside. Perhaps it is the soft lighting or the absurd dinner spread or earlier melodic declarations of slumber and scuffles but, as I leave, I am sure that our waking world is as strange as any other.
I slept soundly and dreamlessly that night.
*Though it started from a typo on the poster, Yanhan maintains the piece is a “me”-nifesto rather than a “manifesto”— it is both invention and portmanteau, prose and declaration.
— Katherine Fu
Panyanhan is me-nifesting sleeping and painting from a bed.