Sleep medicine categorizes different types of insomnia by the part of the sleep cycle that’s “troublesome.” For example, there’s difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking up too early. I can fall asleep in five minutes, but I wake up at four AM. I don’t consider this insomnia, but a normal expression of two-part or segmented sleep (also known as bimodal, bifurcated or divided sleep). This is the way we used to sleep before industrialization.
Four AM is when I listen to what used to be called “books on tape.” Recently I listened to a series of lectures by philosophy professor Lawrence Cahoone called The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida. The presentation of this potentially difficult subject matter — Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Wittgenstein — was excellent. Cahoone made philosophical ideas interesting and (relatively) easy to understand. The lectures kept me awake rather than putting me to sleep, and I came away thinking I’d be happy to spend the rest of my life reading nothing but philosophy. Read more
I decided to make a list of the books I’ve recently read, browsed, or added to my reading list. This turned out to be a thought-provoking process. Although this may sound naïve, when I first imagined this blog, I didn’t anticipate that psychology would be such a major category in my bibliography. My main interest, after all, was the social and cultural history of the self. But of course the self is a subject of considerable interest to academic psychologists these days. The ‘psy’ disciplines – psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis — have been incredibly influential in how we think of ourselves. That’s something I’m now beginning to appreciate more fully.