Thursday, September 17, 2009

the state of sleep

I feel that what is perhaps Philomena’s first night of sleep (8 hours!!!) deserves a blog entry, coincident with my desire to read Jacqueline Rose’s essay, “’On Not Being Able to Sleep’,” and to think about the beginnings of things. Anyhow, I think Philomena slept through the night last night. The reason that there is uncertainty about this is that it is entirely possible (and not unlikely), that I got up with her at some point and that I just do not remember it. However, to the best of my recollection, she did not get up, which means that this is a major event. It could be an anomaly. That’s fine, too. I think it’s just a matter of it being able to happen. I mean, now I’ve seen that it’s possible.

I found it ironic, in a certain way, that in Winnicott’s book, The Child, the Family, and the Outside World, there is no mention in either the index or the table of contents of sleep. Of course I have found this to be the most difficult thing about having a child, seven months in. So maybe my response is a little overdetermined. On the other hand, the hundreds of books on sleep, sleep training, sleep techniques, and etc,.. attest to this problem, at least in contemporary society.

In Jacqueline Rose’s essay, she explores the question of what sleep is, for Freud. She writes, “Although Freud will crucially identify all the features of the dreamwork, not only in symptom formation, but also in jokes and slips, the dream—through sleep—at least partly escapes the mantle of these forms. It breaks the line which Freud—in a gesture which might be seen as the founding gesture of psychoanalysis—runs from the neurotic to the everyday (the ‘approximately normal person’ as he famously describes himself in the preamble to the specimen dream). Sleep changes everything” (106). In this passage, Rose addresses the primary task of psychoanalysis, arguably, the distinctions it makes between the normal, neurotic, and psychotic states of the individual. If sleep breaks the line between or beneath the normal and the neurotic, it is, as she describes, because it is psychotic. The question of how psychotic states of mind intervene in the normal/neurotic continuum is one that is often understated in literature on madness and psychoanalysis, because, I think, it is often assumed that it interrupts or is a rupture in this manner. Perhaps because it seems to follow from the way that psychosis itself is figured as a break, or a rupture with reality. I’ve begun to consider psychosis as less radical and more regressive, perhaps as a reaction to the drama involved in pseudo-psychotic moments.

Regression also turns up in Rose’s essay (also in my above notes that it’s okay if the night of sleep was an anomaly, as if to forestall already the disappointment of regression), several pages later. Rose writes, “Could it be then that the greatest fear for the analyst is not the fear of not knowing, one loss of omnipotence, but another, more tangible, more physical, the fear of slipping backwards (regression is of course also central to this chapter), of turning—with awesome, hallucinogenic vividness—into a frightened child?” (110). For Rose, the idea of the “infantile wish,” which contains the ambiguity of this as a wish that was had as a child or a wish to be a child. Of course regression involves the idea of being “taken back” to something. This is a very abstract and general formula for regression, but it can also therefore include a number of experiences, ones that I would like to think together—certain forms of tradition that are authenticated by being able to be “taken back,” Winnicott’s desire to return to a time when metaphors mean something, recovery from the past or the present, historical reference or citation to an earlier version of an event or idea, the two steps forward one step back theory of progress…

Friday, September 11, 2009

moving on

Reading through my journal of the past months, nothing of much substance is to be found, just lists of things to do, and things done, notes about how tired I am, etc,... There are a few passing comments about wanting to see Philomena's dreams. The blog began as an effort to write alongside the dissertation, and now that that's past, I feel the paucity of new material. Or the overwhelming nature of white space. So, squiggle. I mean, that's one answer. I've been thinking of organizing some thinking on mobility and childhood aggression around the figure of the squiggle, D.W. Winnicott's game for the analysis of children. It's in line with blind contours, at any rate. This is just to mark the end. And, just now, the beginning of the wiggle: meaning, Philomena started crawling today.