Philosophers have largely ignored sleep, treating it as a useless negativity, mere repose for the body or at best a source for the production of unconscious signs out of the night of the soul.
In an extraordinary theoretical investigation written with lyric intensity, The Fall of Sleep puts an end to this neglect by providing a deft yet rigorous philosophy of sleep. What does it mean to "fall" asleep? Might there exist something like a "reason" of sleep, a reason at work in its own form or modality, a modality of being in oneself, of return to oneself, without the waking "self" that distinguishes "I" from "you" and from the world? What reason might exist in that absence of ego, appearance, and intention, in an abandon thanks to which one is emptied out into a non-place shared by everyone?
Sleep attests to something like an equality of all that exists in the rhythm of the world. With sleep, victory is constantly renewed over the fear of night, an a confidence that we will wake with the return of day, in a return to self, to us--though to a self, an us, that is each day different, unforeseen, without any warning given in advance.
To seek anew the meaning stirring in the supposed loss of meaning, of consciousness, and of control that occurs in sleep is not to reclaim some meaning already familiar in philosophy, religion, progressivism, or any other -ism. It is instead to open anew a source that is not the source of a meaning but that makes up the nature proper to meaning, its truth: opening, gushing forth, infinity.
This beautiful, profound meditation on sleep is a unique work in the history of phenomenology--a lyrical phenomenology of what can have no phenomenology, since sleep shows itself to the waking observer, the subject of phenomenology, only as disappearance and concealment.
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Number of pages: 88
Weight: 86 g
Dimensions: 203 x 127 x 5 mm
The Fall of Sleep is Nancy's most lyrical, most beautiful work. It is also
acute in tracing the limits of a phenomenology of sleep: for sleep is the disappearance of the self. Yet that dark self is also the Kantian thing in
itself. So proposes Nancy in his noumenology of sleep. . .
. . . [A] brief siesta of an inquiry into slumber. * -The Times Literary Supplement *
A truly original examination of the most universally overlooked human experience.----Sarah Clift, University of King's College, Halifax
A quarter-century ago Jean-Luc Nancy remarked that "Sleep, perhaps, has never been philosophical." Philosophy, after all, ruins sleep. In The Fall of Sleep Nancy explores the singularities of sleep as (among other things) an experience of freedom and a sojourn for lovers. The book is exemplary of Nancy's practice of finite thinking-thinking without concepts, categories, and other philosophical machinery. And in the bargain we have another superb translation by Charlotte Mandell.----Gerald L. Bruns, University of Notre Dame
What happens to the subject when sleep descends? If philosophy has always supposed consciousness, what happens in the "fall of sleep," when intention, will, deliberation and its correlates are suspended? Nancy traces, not an absence of subjectivity, but another formation of the "I" in this meditative text -- part thesis and part reverie, as much a nocturne as a treatise -- and guides us toward the province of Morpheus.----Charles Shepherdson, University at Abany, State University of New York
A beguiling set of reflections on a topic that has to be among those most resistant to philosophy and philosophizing: sleep. After reading Nancy, one will think differently about this enigmatic fact of life and how we talk about it.----Ian Balfour, York University
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