1. [Plate 43]
The Sleep of Reason Produces Nightmares
Midway in life's journey, a man who might have been Dante or might have been Goya himself (on this the record
is not clear) went astray and found himself alone in a dark wood. Never saw he so drear, so rank, so arduous a
wilderness! Alas for him that he was an artist, and susceptible to such influences. Alas for us all that he fell
The Noösphere is the ocean of thought within which we all live, dream, make love, and sometimes aspire.
It is purified by reason. It is polluted by war and madness. And, like a river so badly polluted it catches fire,
the Noösphere in times of war and madness can be a dangerous thing.
In a time of war and madness, the man who might well have been Goya fell asleep, and his dreams caught fire.
They congealed and took form and entered the physical world. As cats and owls and bats and less wholesome creatures,
winged, furred and fanged, they leaped into the night, and filled the skies with their keening presence.
One flew off with a child's jacket. Another swooped down and bit a hole in the lord mayor's ear. A third put on
a uniform and led the French armies into Russia.
A thousand ills poured from the dreamer's troubled sleep. The Siege of Leningrad and the Trail of Tears.
Andersonville and total warfare. The Paraguayan War, the Taiping Rebellion, the Bataan Death March. Pol Pot, Baba
Yar, Jack the Ripper. Mercury poisoning, thalidomide babies, mustard gas and trench warfare. Lynchings.
Black Thursday, Black Friday, Black 47. September Eleventh. The Rape of Nanking, the occupation of Tibet, the Great
Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution. Stalin and Beria and the Soviet Terror and the relocations and the gulags.
Krystalnacht, and then the camps: Chelmo, Majdanek, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, Auschwitz, Belsen, Buchenwald,
Dachau, Maidenek the names roll by like cattle cars in an endless train. The Jewish Holocaust, the Native American
Holocaust, the Romani Holocaust, the Armenian Holocaust Why go on?
Around the world, men and women of reason do what they can to purify the Noösphere. Poets and writers and
artists and philosophers, when they dream, can sometimes see the sleeper. Always they try to rouse him from his
sickly sleep. "Wake up!" they cry. "Wake up, arise, banish your nightmare thoughts!" While
behind them, all the agonized world adds its screams in their support. "Wake up!"