Summary of 24/7
Jonathan Crary writes about the historical evolution of the value, quality and quantity of sleep. Social relations, community vulnerability and trust translates to sleeper’s ability to sleep because of defencelessness while sleeping. The societal safekeeping of others to minimize fear impacts on the accommodation of sleep. Consideration and protection is increasingly necessary to enable the sleeper to sleep. Poor sleep quality, its inconsistency or absence is becoming an acute form of social suffering.
Crary begins his book with research into the end of sleep in late capitalist society. Despite use of robotic weaponry, the military needs sleepless soldiers to complement non-human apparatuses and networks. Only recently I read a study about a new amphetamine, captagon which is used by many fighters in the Syrian war which keeps them awake for several days.
Augmented cognition, anti-fear drugs and sleeplessness gained from the sparrow (he talks about the white crowned sparrow with a highly unusual capacity of staying awake, up to seven days) research would produce a machinic soldier body. The military is trying to achieve at least limited mastery over human sleep. The goal is to allow a combatant to go for several days without sleep while preserving high levels of mental and physical performance.
Sleep deprivation as torture, Crary explained has been used for centuries to irreparably damage human beings. The denial of sleep is the violent dispossession of self by external force, the calculated shattering of an individual.
Sleep is a human need that costs time and cannot be manipulated into the engine profitability. 24/7 markets and a global infrastructure for continuous work and consumption have been in place for some time, but now a human subject that spends more and more hours per day away to produce and consume is in the making. The modeling of one’s personal and social identity has been reorganized to conform to the uninterrupted operation of markets, information networks and other systems. Crary describes our near future society which is more and more shifting towards a 24/7 availability through globalization. Sleep will always collide with the demands of a 24/7 universe.
Crary recalled that Hannah Arendt, in her book The Human Condition, the private sphere had to be distinct from the individual pursuit of material happiness in which the self is defined through acquisitiveness and by what it consumes. She said that space or time of privacy is paramount to individual political effectiveness and balance.
THE GIFTS OF Imperfection
The GIFTS of Imperfection, by Dr Brené Brown’s, is a self-help guide to undertake the habits of “Wholehearted Living” that became a PBS series. Impetus for change, she described her subsequent ten “guideposts” to wholehearted living that integrates resolution, responsiveness and constructive interactions. She paired play with rest, paramount to healthful balance and optimal functioning. A critical important component of wholehearted living is play!
Brown prefaced her guidepost scheme with instructions for list making to qualify participants’ improved lifestyle, define their “ingredients for joy and meaning”. Other actions included, “Get Inspired”, with further research recommended and “Get Going”, directions included, “Say no today”, “Take a nap”, for example. Brown promoted incorporation of play into daily routine. Play constructively shapes brain activity, imagination, empathy, negotiates social interactions and is essential to creativity. She recommends a book by Stuart Brown in which he writes about how play shapes the brain.
Brown continued her introduction with points about the value of “meaningful work”, explained as work that allows a “sense of accomplishment and purpose”, to avoid disconnection, negativity, and physical health problems.
Brown summarized this introduction to her book with practical suggestions. She reiterated the list making, interchanged practicality in the list criteria with what has meaning for the list maker. Brown suggested people ask what makes them alive. Each of Brown’s “Guidepost” or steps to obtain wholehearted living are her strategies to cultivate personal change, to enable the “power of love, belonging, being enough”, which will allow authenticity, self-compassion, resiliency, gratitude, intuition and joy.
I am very thankful for this reading, it made me think about real goals and what I am really trying to achieve in my life. It is important to create a ‘joy and meaning’ list. Also the one person/multiple careers is a very interesting trend for our future. The image that people have one profession for their life is disappearing. It is important to think about what ‘meaningful work’ can be.
Heddon, D. and Howells, A. (2011) From talking to silence: a confessional journey
Dee Heddon in this text introduces Adrian Howells, a creative fellow at the University of Glasgow and a performance artist who evolved the genre of autobiographical confessional live performance. Subsequent texts include what Howells wrote about his performances and what he is trying to achieve with them. His texts are complemented by Heddon’s texts, which share her experiences and interpretation of Howell’s performances from her perspective as the ‘spectator’ participating in Howell’s performances.
Historically, Howells, confided in strangers during his performances, with the expectation of reciprocation, “transaction” and “transformation”. Howells’ performance practice began to suspend the boundary between performer and spectator.
Howells described their research and discoveries. Howells introduced the performance persona “Adrienne”, “The Confessing Animal’, a vehicle for audience members have one-to-one encounters to develop authenticity. Some notable performances were described.
All performances are one-on-one performances, in which the one spectator becomes part of the performance. Each performance is different because the Howell, the performance artist, reacts to what the participating spectator says and does.
Heddon described her first encounter with Howells work, the shared confessional prompted by hair washing. She observed that silence became a valued component of the performance. She explained how each performance allowed various extents of intimacy and disclosure. Adrienne, the attentive facilitator and participant evolved a co-creation with her as spectator and participant, and enabled an improvisation where Heddon learned about herself.
Here are two further examples of performances:
Howells described their conceptual intentions for Foot Washing for the Sole (2008), a research led performance, questioned, “is body language confessional?” Howells explained the origin of their concept and the development into a performance. Focus on the participant, with 7 questions asked during the ritual of foot washing, kissing allowed, they clarified, “a body-memory connection and either a verbalized or an internalized confession.”
Howells also described their final research project, The Garden of Adrian (2009), placing individual exchanges within a garden environment designed by Minty Donald inside a theatre, originally a church. Howells confirmed that they intended to cultivate experiential and sensory experience. Also, they felt this project needed to explore, promote kinds of silences. This performance, they revealed, became a personal monologue while being catalyst for participants, directed acts to trigger physical memories. Internal journeys mirrored the physical garden environment.
Personally, I found Heddon’s ‘Held’ performance (and Howell’s investigation) the most interesting. The performance explores what happens if physical intimacy with individual spectators is added as an additional element.
The ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom – Interview with Michel Foucault
Philosopher Michel Foucault was interviewed on the subject of ethic of care for the self as a practice of freedom. Foucault’s philosophical research is determined by the themes subjectivity and truth and he explained he was working through the practice of the self, a phenomenon that has been important in early Greece and Roman civilizations.
Foucault mentioned that a person with a good ethos as an example of a person who practices freedom well. However, he said that labour on self is required and used the example of Socrates, the philosopher charged with asking questions to assure people are caring for themselves, because he truly cares for others. He said that care of others must not precede the care of self.
Foucault said liberation is determined in the practices of freedom and that the problem of definition of practices of freedom is more important than the affirmation of sexuality or desire. He added that the idea of domination must be introduced, but the relationships with power have wide extensions in human relationships.
Foucault talked about historical examples to show the theme of care for the self is present in ethical thought. In an unspecified time during the Christian era, although not exclusively due to Christianity, caring for self became egoism.
Regarding the care for self can be understood as a conversion of power, Foucault explained that controlling and limiting, slavery is a risk, in opposition to liberty. The abuse of power is a danger. A good ruler will exercise his power on himself, how power over himself will be reflected in his regulative powers. Tyranny means being a slave to desires. He contrasted this with the Christian notion of renunciation. Foucault saw this as exaggerated love of self that possibly leads to neglect of others, abuse of power over them. Foucault continued to define what he meant by power, clarified that instead of the word, “power”, he said, “relationships of power”. He continued to clarify how people think about power within ready made patterns like political structure, government or dominant social class, etc.
Foucault says relations of power can be modified. Relation of power requires a certain form of liberty, the possibility of resistance, for if there were no possibility of resistance-of violent resistance, of strategies -there would be no relations of power. Relations of power throughout every social field is because there is freedom everywhere and states of domination.