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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

I only just realised what Goya’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters means.

Previously (partly due to having heard it mistranslated as The Dream of Reason…) I’d always believed that it meant that having dreams about reason and logic would result in those dreams being populated by monsters.

But of course that isn’t the case. The Sleep of Reason means when Reason goes to sleep (all his friends go to sleep too) we end up imagining all sorts of horrific things and furthermore believing them.

This is why when waking up in the middle of the night from a dream of ghosts we remain frightened.

This magazine used to offer a make-yourself model of the main characters every week - and in the first issue it was the witch (featured here on the cover of the third issue).

Of course eventually the cardboard model fell apart and got torn up. It probably didn’t even last very long. But I clearly remember that one fragment of card lingered in my bedroom for ages. A fragment containing one of the witch’s eyes.

Just an eye. And even though she was allegedly a “good” witch this disembodied cardboard eye scared me so much that I had a nightmare about it that I remember to this day.

Hope Springs

I am always suspicious when people start talking about the power of positive thinking. Hippy nonsense as the sceptical part of my brain might have it.

But there is something in this - if not positive thinking then positive language. Who we are is largely defined by the words we use (without which we might not even be conscious) and so if we tell ourselves stories with a happy spin then they are more likely to come true because we will be behaving in such a way that would leave us open to beneficial events.

One thing I have notice is that I am always far more positive about other people’s lives than I am about my own, seeing solutions to their problems and the light at the end of their own tunnel. I always using the word “hope” when it comes to them. This is a word I rarely use in conjunction with my own life.

Perhaps it might be a good idea to do so.

What is Time Playing At?

I’ve noticed time behaving oddly of late.

This isn’t that old chestnut of time passing faster the older you get - that’s fairly well documented and has a number of separate explanations which I went into in a blog post once.

This is something different.

This is the fact that time seems to take a moment before it realises I’m watching and then lurches into motion. I’ll explain what I mean. When I look at an old fashioned analogue clock with a second hand I notice that the first second seems to last far longer than all subsequent ones. The second hand remains motionless for so long that I almost think the clock’s stopped. And then it starts circling the clock as if nothing’s happened, whistling nonchalantly “Nothing to see here!”

A similar thing happens with the train indicators at stations. Often a section of the indicator alternates between ON TIME and the platform number - and for the train i want to catch I’ve noticed that seems to display ON TIME for far longer than it does for all the other trains before staring to blink between the two, thus keeping me in suspense as to the platform I have to go to for a tiny bit longer.

What is this all about?

I suspect that it is a glimpse into the fact that time isn’t quite as linear for consciousness as we might think it is. Perhaps as far as the human mind is concerned, cause and effect is an illusion. The unusually long nature of the first second as you concentrate on something is your brain getting everything into order before presenting it to you.

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