Saturday, 9 April 2016

A Fear of Sleep


The slide out of consciousness is a mysterious time.

Almost every night I embrace the mind slipping free, the imprecise slide from one state to another, with great pleasure. Once in a rare while, though, it gives me a juddering fear.

I leave the blame for this partly, if not squarely, at the door of the late, great Iain M. Banks.

If you have read his Culture books you'll know that death is, for those of the Culture, a choice rather than a necessity.  In the unfortunate case of an accidental death people retain backups of their mind-states which can be reconstituted immediately into another body, making many quite reckless.  This life after a death by manner of starting at the last known mind-state is questioned, I think in Look to Windward: is  not the new self a facsimile that is falsely convinced of its own history whilst the original is, in point of fact, quite dead?

One day I shall find the precise quote, but the answer given I remember as, "You might ask the same of yourself each time you fall asleep."

Do we die a tiny death each night?  Are we reborn each morning, a facsimile of yesterday's consciousness, our history a borrowed patchwork from thousands of prior lifetimes?

Good night.

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