Time’s new science of Sleep (and whats wrong with it?)

Bob Dylan in the Spring 1965 documentary “Don’t Look Back” (made by D.A. Pennebaker) is seen to be refusing to give an interview to the Time magazine reporter. After the reporter persists, Dylan finally says that he would not talk to that magazine because its read by the elites, who else?

Exactly 40 years have passed since. On its December 20, 2004 issue, which by no means an unimportant issue-this being one of the year end and ‘best-photos-of-the-year’ issue-Time has come up with the cover story: “The new science of Sleep”.

In its 10-page spread of why sleep is needed, Christine Gorman reveals citing some research (and believe me, I am still looking for that research in her texts) that sleep indeed is needed for the brain, not for body.

Well, lets say that’s alright, but what’s the news? If not news, what’s new? If not new, what’s profound?

Here it is. The larger picture today is that of social unrest following a political system that took charge once again. The larger picture is that of youth apprehensions about the war that’s caused so that it will perpetuate the fear psychoses. The larger picture is that more critical questions are surfacing today than they ever did before in terms of social justice, but fewer are actually being asked due to the fear factor of being termed unpatriotic or even a terrorist.

When the mind is working more than the body (lets say in the process of my blogging at midnight on a computer communicating this to you, my body works less than my mind) there is a problem to the people who wants to replace the larger picture with a myopic vision full of non-issues. Hence, the researchers (whoever they are and again let me state I could not find which researches provided the ‘fresh clues’-as said on the cover) working at such a theory of sleep that says the more we sleep the smarter we become is little exaggerated. Why else would I have the knowledge of Gandhi having maintained a four-hour-sleep-a-night routine? Or all the prolific scholars I have seen in my short life actually being smart, staying smart and staying awake most of the day and the night?

Why Time magazine would want such a cover story is not surprising. It has countless frivolous cover stories in the past in most regular intervals that will surprise just about anyone. But precisely because of that, the regularity of such cover events, it has succeeded in letting such them get past to its readers, some of whom must have more or less got normalized into believing that this is the big issue.

Health is definitely a much bigger concern than what the president has to say over the thanksgivings dinner. Its because health issue affects all, republican or democrat or the rest of us. Its also true that we have really got bored of the political coverages, maybe because they are of a very similar ‘he-said-this-then-he-refuted-that’ types. The second most popular theme, entertainment is another horrible domain. At times political stories are as entertaining as entertainment stories can be political. But entertainment stories in mainstream press are considered for the so-called entertainment value only reducing them to irrelevance.

Look at the Johnny Cash cover on Time recently. No political mention at all. Or even look at Dylan becoming a top 100 entertainer in Time. One can only gauge the extent to which entertainers are forcibly separated from their social stands so that the audience only applauds, not join.

After utterly monotonous political stories and extremely redundant entertainment rumors, one would only look at the health section with some hope. And this is precisely what Time understands well. Since the stakes are high, the health stories are manufactured in a subtle manner to send out a clear message. Subtle insofar as political mentions go amiss, clear insofar as the cover stories proclaim of some researches providing some clues.

Funny but true. A sleeping nation doth not stay awake and liberty can be attained only by a vigilant citizenry. At the juncture of history when we see partisan politics jeopardizing personal decisions based on sexual preferences, and the most number of youths are being sent to fight a war that has absolutely no basis other than false rhetorics and when we face the biggest challenges of unemployment and healthcare in recent times, to lull the country to sleep is the best available method to prevent any form of agitation.

One of the six advices Time offers: “no computers, no TV or arguments before sleep. Soothing music and mysteries are OK.”
Soothing and mysteries. You bet, the world is one peaceful thing for fantasizing in soothing music.

Illusion, like sleep, is a state of mind.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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