Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: when the sleeper wakes

H.G. Wells, You Old So-And-So!

H.G. Wells drawing
Inside Cover of my Ace Edition

I’m not sure why this drawing is printed on the inside cover of my H.G. Wells book. It looks like strange tank my sons would have drawn when they were kids. The weapons vehicle that he described most in this book was a helicopter like thing.

In the immortal words of “Men on Books,” hated it!

“Hated it” is too much, really. I just never got into it. I’m not a big fan of H.G. Wells at all. His books are filled with descriptions that never capture my imagination. His narrative follows the action and scene more than the feelings and motives of the character. I’m not saying they’re bad books. My boys and my husband love them. They just aren’t my cup of tea, I guess.

The part I found so strange was that Graham never seemed to understand that he was being used by both sides. He had slept for two-hundred years and by some strange sequence of events he actually hadn’t set in motion, he awoke to be the “owner” of more than half the world. Money had been invested in his name while he slept and had multiplied. Since he never died, only slept, when he awoke all that money went to him.

But how would anyone expect him to manage things after being out of the loop that long. He didn’t know anything. So much had changed. You could say that human nature hadn’t changed in that amount of time. He could have used his knowledge of humanity to get up to speed and manage well, but he didn’t have much when he went to sleep. He was just your average Joe, not a leader of men. I just didn’t get it.

Maybe I’m missing something. This is one of those times that I’d love to hear other people’s take on this book. I did a quick search for commentary but didn’t find much.

There were things I did enjoy in the book, though.

He described television, in 1899. “It was exactly like the reality viewed through an inverted opera glass and heard through a long tube.”

And “He clung to his anger – because he was afraid of Fear.”

Ah, yes, I know the feeling and I’m sure it’s what drives many people throughout the ages. It’s also something others use to gather crowds of followers and start wars. Charismatic leaders use people’s fear and say things like, “Those are the people that are ruining things! We must destroy them!” I used to think that didn’t happen often but I’m starting to see I was very wrong. It’s happening again, right now.

“You will be expected to say something,” said Ostrog. “Not what you used to call a Speech, but what our people call a Word – just one sentence, six or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest – ‘I have awakened and my heart is with you.’ That is the sort of thing they want.”

You mean a Tweet? That seems to be all anyone wants to hear from our leaders these days. Don’t give me whole ideas and thoughts. A simple one liner that I can interpret to mean whatever I want and can easily re-tweet or share.

“Thence, too, flashed the world-wide messages, the falsehoods of the news-tellers, the chargers of the telephonic machines that had replaced the newspapers of the past.”

He called them “babble machines.” We call it tv news and social media.

“I want reality not realism.”

Reality: The quality or state of being actual or true.

And

Realism: An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.

Reality is the physical world you live in. Realism is the book or movie about it. I agree with Graham. I’d like more reality and less realism. I’d like to live and breathe in the actual world, not see it on tv or read about in in books. Sometimes, that is. If I could see reality through my screen or in print, instead of someone else’s interpretation of reality, that would be nice.

By the way, I love this old, mass-produced book by Ace Books, probably published in the early 70’s. It has an ad for cigarettes in the middle, and originally sold for 75 cents.

When was the last time you saw an ad for cigarettes in your book?

Yes, there were some archaic and racist ways of thinking in this book. There were references to the “yellow peril” and “negros.” Socialism was a main theme, or really the lack of socialism. Graham had hopes for bright Socialist future, one that Marx promised moving through Capitalism would bring, but he found something very different. I’m sure someone out there has written much about that.

Old sci-fi and dystopian fiction is interesting because it sheds light on where creative people believed the world was headed. Sometimes they get so close and then so far away from where history takes us. This one wasn’t one of my favorites, but it wasn’t a waste of time. If I had infinite time, I’d go back and read it again after I read a few other books. A better grasp on H.G. Well’s politics would be helpful.

Go back to my first post about this book, “When the Sleeper Wakes: New Read” You’ll find links to my other posts there as well.

To Sleep Like the Dead and Be Reborn Each Day

Ah…to sleep like the dead. Wouldn’t that be nice? But don’t we? Isn’t laying in bed, surrounding yourself in a comfort cocoon, and closing your eyes, a lot like death? Your breathing and heartrate slow, you cease movement, and your consciousness creeps closer to the other side. And then a few hours later, when we wake, and we are reborn into a whole new world of possibilities.

To sleep like the dead
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

“What a wonderfully complex thing! This simple seeming unity – the self! Who can trace its reintegration as morning after morning after morning we awaken, the flux and confluence of its countless factors interweaving, rebuilding, the dim first stirrings of the soul, the growth and synthesis of the unconscious to the sub-conscious, the sub-conscious to the dawning consciousness, until at last we recognize ourselves again. And as it happens to most of us after the night’s sleep, so it was with Graham at the end of his vast slumber. A dim cloud of sensation taking shape, a cloudy dreariness, and he found himself vaguely somewhere, recumbent, faint, but alive.”

When the sleeper wakes by Hg wells

A lot of “When the Sleeper Wakes” has been detailed descriptions of his surroundings and I have been getting a little weary of it to be honest, but then there are paragraphs like this. The connection between me and the author over 122 years, nearly as long as Graham had slept in the book, is why I love reading old books. Our civilization and culture may change, but what it means to be human doesn’t.

I don’t sleep well. I never have. I’ve always woken up a lot at night, even as child. I dream a lot, vivid and sometimes very frightful dreams, filled with anxiety and fear, longing, attempting to get things done or trying to connect with someone and failing. I do all the things you’re supposed to do to get a better night’s sleep: no alcohol, sleepy tea, no phones, reading or meditating before bed, winding down…everything.

I got one of those Fitbit things that monitors your heartrate and movement while you sleep. This is a typical evening for me.

I started wearing earplugs about two years ago. The smallest noises wake me up, and even though I did have to fight through the worry that not being able to hear while I sleep would be the death of me, I did get used to it and sleep a little better with them in. I’ve also taken to moving to the guest room if my husband’s snoring wakes me up. I don’t want to hurt his feelings and I do love being close to him, but I need to sleep.

The biggest help though, was acceptance (and naps). My body apparently knows how to sleep. No matter what the news articles say, everyone is different. My body rests this way. That realization was the game-changer. Suddenly, a bit of stress was released. I put less emphasis on the outcome of sleep and more on creating a relaxing evening routine, allowing myself to wake up and change my situation if I need to, and then letting the rest go. I feel more rested and that’s all that matters.

But naps, now THERE’S a whole different game! The paragraph that I quoted above is a perfect description of how I wake up from a short nap. It’s wild.

The best naps are on my bed (not in it), in the daytime, with a pillow over my eyes and the fan on. I put in my earplugs and then settle in. I lay there thinking, “There’s no way I’ll fall asleep. I’m not even tired and I’ve had SO much coffee this morning.” And then I’m off dreaming about not being in the right place, trying to send a text, calling 911, or trying to get the car started and not being able to.

Then I start to feel heavy, like I can’t move but want to, that swimming through thick water towards the surface feeling. I can feel the thick bed under me, my warm pillow on my eyes, the throw blanket over my shoulder. I’m trapped beneath them because they’re so heavy.

Then I start to hear the world moving around me, I lighten up and can feel my fingers move, the cat at my feet, hear the dog snoring beside me. Where am I? What time is it? What DAY is it?

And then I’m awake. I’m me again. I sit up, stretch, throw my feet over the side of the bed and sit up. I left this world for an hour and now I’m back. And it’s so bright and warm. Life feels good.

What if I woke up and the whole world was different to me, but to my family it wasn’t? What if they called me by a different name? What if I didn’t recognize them? What if they thought I’d gone insane and had me locked up?

Sleeping is so strange.

If you’d like to go back and start from the beginning, click back to my first post, “When the Sleeper Wakes: New Read.”

When The Sleeper Wakes: New Read

I thought some classic science fiction would be a good companion read for Asimov’s essays. I went right to H.G. Wells, of course. And I happen to have one of his books on my TBR shelf, so I grabbed it up. At first glance, “When the Sleeper Wakes” sounds like a retake on the Rip Van Winkle story. A man falls asleep and wakes up years later, but it already has an interesting twist. It’s 200 years later and he hasn’t aged.

The last science fiction I read was “The Gods Themselves” by Isaac Asimov, back in February. I’m sensing a theme in my reading this year. Hmm…

when the sleeper wakes

I love to see how old science fiction has stood the test of time. “When the Sleeper Wakes” was written in 1899, one hundred and twenty-two years ago. Technology has changed, as much as the sleeper experiences in the book, but in different ways. I’m curious if it will be a utopian future, but from the first chapter, I believe it will be more of a religious one? I’m not sure.

There was one funny thing that I wish already existed in our world, a clothing making machine. It seems much like a “replicator” from Star Trek, but this one manufactures clothing on the spot from measurements a tailor takes from you. Pretty neat, but it would be nicer if you could just tell the machine your measurements and style and let it pop out clothes for you, wouldn’t it? I hate shopping and I’m so tired of my favorite jeans not being available because I’m the only one that doesn’t want skinny jeans that don’t stay up on my butt, or pretty shirts that have enough room for my shoulders and don’t creep up my waist while I work. …sigh…

I loved “War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine” when I read it years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my husband read “The First Men in the Moon” to the boys when they were little, so I’m sure this one will follow suit.

Have you read any of H.G. Wells’ books? Or have you seen any of the multitude of movies based on them? I’d love to hear your comments!

Want to read more? Follow me through the book in these posts.
To Sleep Like the Dead and Be Reborn Each Day
H.G. Wells, You Old So-and-So

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