While revisiting the Crary fragment (pp18-19) last night, I was briefly struck by the impression that despite the pessimism in the author’s judgment of the probable incurability of insomnia in the global capitalist conjuncture, his suggestion of the body’s resilient awareness of its complicity in the ongoing globalist processes of expropriation bears a certain optimism. That what is foreclosed to the self-serving psyche of the consumer-citizen could nonetheless be registered by the body through its refusal of the balm of sleep – a refusal so strong that it survives the opiates and subsists in the day’s lethargy – supposes a community-bound ontology that operates to limit violence. Further implied in this diagnosis is the true antidote to the affliction: the conscious recognition of this corporeal guilt and the likewise conscious withdrawal of one’s consent to the global capitalist machinery through action.
There might linger, nonetheless, a doubt as to whether the body is indeed as attached to community as the critique suggests. If the narcissism of the consumer-citizen allows him/her to avert his/her gaze from the contemporaneous sufferings of the impoverished other and to saturate himself/herself with the pleasures afforded by more immediate communities (family; friends), would the body be so agonised by the pain of the distant other as to alter its habitual patterns? Or is Crary interested not so much in furnishing a biological explanation grounded in what the natural sciences consider to be facts as in crafting another narrative that appropriates the figure of the body as a means of reclaiming our responsibility for the other? Does the critique then occur in a space of ‘pure’ fiction that only mobilises ‘fact’ as a rhetorical device for its appeal to its intended addressees? What is its ‘truth’?