Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reading Proust (i)

Consciousness is evanescent, not controllable. Marcel falls asleep without realizing he has done so; this is how I experience falling asleep too. Is it different for anyone? It happens that I'm doing an on-line Kaiser Permanente workshop on improving the quality of one's sleep; one assertion made there is that the second stage of sleep, between the initial "just fallen asleep" stage and deep sleep, is a restful state that insomniacs in particular don't recognize as sleep, believing themselves still awake because it "feels like it." One of the distinctions between such a state and true wakefulness has to be an absence of the experience of will, I would think -- yet believing oneself to be awake might include the belief, or illusion, that one could exert one's will if one wished. Consciousness is evanescent, not controllable: a hypothesis for which the emprical neuroscientist Marcel, who is not Proust, may have spent a lifetime like patient Darwin gathering evidence.  In situ


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