Leonardo on At the Borders of Sleep

By Will Luers

schwenger_borders At the Borders of Sleep: on Liminal Literature is not an explanation of the literary experience through the filter of sleep science. For, as Schwenger makes clear in this book, literature is written and read within “the ambiguities and paradoxes” of experience. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have certainly opened exciting new ways of thinking about the questions that have always concerned the humanities, but there is a real cultural danger that the language of science will replace the language of literature, art and philosophy on questions of the self, reality, desire, dream and illusion. One of the many interesting surprises of the book is the idea of literature occupying a threshold similar to the ones between various states of waking and sleeping, “liminal zones” where science, with its objective methodologies, cannot find solid ground.  To read Moby Dick, rather than the data summary of its major themes, is to encounter and be transformed by a complex reality the way Melville conceived it.

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