February 19, 2004

Golden Blunders

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In an era when movies only come in value-packs, music is readily associated with Pepsi and halftime show faux pas, stage performances reek of urine-stained grampas and infragrant bohemians, and radio serves as surrogate conversation for carpools, it is refreshing to find a medium that defies these conventions. This week, I review a remake of an old classic: sleep.

The admission price is steep, anywhere from five to nine hours of one’s life each time. This coupled with an unusual starting time, around 2:30 AM for the Saturday morning showing, forced me to conclude that I was attending a religious service. However, these notions were expelled along with some bodily fluids during my pre-show relaxation routine. There are three tiers of seating available for college students: bed, computer station, and bathroom stall. I am a rich spoiled brat so I selected the bed option with the “waking up to gold coins pitter-pattering upon my roof” upgrade.

Upon first glance at the night’s program I gathered this show would push the bounds of human patience harder than Beckett. The centerpiece, a thirty-minute dream, was sandwiched between two painfully long intermissions during which I would be obliged to remain in the theatre due to my ignorance of any available exits. The first intermission was tedious and uninspired. It was by far Ashton Kutcher’s worst project yet. Next came the dream sequence in which I witnessed an amalgam of bizarre sounds and visuals in their purest sense. I wasn’t just in my third grade classroom with my best friend’s sister who spoke in my mother’s voice; this was the very Platonic Form of Lust! Yet, I have been informed that the same result can be achieved if one plays a typical Internet flash video simultaneously with porn. The final intermission was anti-climactic at best, as its profoundness eluded me. Rock Hudson reflected the mood of the audience when he stomped up the aisle, proclaiming, “Will someone please tell me what the hell this is about?”

Perhaps the general public’s unwillingness to sleep stems from unconsciousness’ fundamentally avant-garde rawness. For the average joe who only consciously desires to hold his gal’s hand, dreaming of fecal rage-sex with a Malaysian prostitute then tripping out to something reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project may be a bit much. It might be best to instill a sense of appreciation by outlining the basics, and giving exemplary instances of sleep.

Much of the inner workings of sleep are much too esoteric for this article, but the following is a synopsis of the art form, past and present. Adolphus Sandmann of Bell Labs invented sleep in 3,000 B.C. after he noticed that some strongly interacting particles can be modeled by Euler’s beta-function. His subsequent pulley and bellows sleep mechanism induced a crude form of slumber upon its users. Skipping forward a couple millennia, a primary source document from thirteenth century Wales reads, “Somnolence, the Privy of Lords and prominent merchant families, is of higher value than a Yarde of Silver and more delectable than the Kingliest wild foul.” It was not until Gutenberg and the mass production of lullabies that the lower classes could indulge in this stately delight. By the Enlightenment, princes and paupers alike were screaming sleep, prompting Rousseau to posit it as “the single undeniable right God forgot to bestow Man.” The mistake was duly rectified through social programs and vaccinations in the early twentieth century, giving all people and their descendents immunity from perpetual consciousness. Nowadays sleep is government regulated in most industrialized nations and universally recognized as important for good health; except by truck drivers, werewolves, and ravers.

For its novel presentation and lofty aims, I give sleep a rating of three and a half towers, but I hasten to add that it is probably something that I would never want to experience again.

Sleep plays every night at every hour. Group packages are available.

Archived article by Chris Kakovitch