LA Review of Books: Sleep's Hidden Histories

Benjamin Reiss on Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer's The Slumbering Masses.

Wolf-Meyer_slumbering coverEVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT couldn’t have a history now has one. Foucault had something to do with this, with his histories of madness and sexuality; and de Certeau — the other Michel — gave verve to the historical activities of wandering around, cooking, and various other non-epic feats. Since the age of the Michels, we’ve had histories of conversation, boredom, shit, death, breasts, penises, tasting, happiness, smiling, laughing, celibacy, masturbation, taking out the trash, obsession, collective joy, and sadness. (The editor of this publication has offered his own entries on crying and slacking.) Things that we do or experience in private, things we might expect to read about in novels or talk about in therapy, have now generated a hidden-histories boomlet. The best of these works not only make the familiar strange, but they make us think differently about history and its intimate relation to our own lives.

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Published in: LA Review of Books
By: Benjamin Reiss