Imagine a world where people have managed to overcome the need for sleep.
In her short story Disappearance 1 Jeanette Winterson has imagined such a world. In this world sleep is seen as expensive, antisocial and a waste of time.
Sleeping is dirty, unhygienic, wasteful and disrespectful to others. All public spaces are designated ‘Non-Sleeping’ and even a quick nap on a park bench carries a $50 fine. You can sleep in your own home but all new beds are required by law to have a personal alarm clock built into the mattress. If you get caught on a bed-check with a dead alarm, that’s another $50 fine. Three fines and you are disqualified from sleeping for another year.
So what else do people lose when they lose sleep?
People lose their dreams.
In my city of dreams the roads lead nowhere; that is, they lead off the edge of the world into infinite space.
People lose the intimacy of sleeping together.
Let me sleep with you. Let me hear the things you cannot say.
People lose their relationship to nature.
…I decided to go to the park and feed the rubber ducks. The real ducks died because so many people were feeding them in the new 24-hour working day that not a drake nor a duck had a moment to itself. Some sank under the weight of soggy bread, others exploded. The rubber variety are much more adaptable.
So what has this to do with gardens?
Using data derived from Google Maps, academic Tony Hall discovered a relationship between the shrinking of the Australian suburban backyard garden and increased working hours.
In the last ten years the outer suburban landscape in all Australian cities has changed dramatically. It no longer consists of large gardens and large trees. Instead there is a sea of MacMansions - large houses that cover the whole block right up to the boundary. This change coincides with the increase in working hours and the corresponding decline in leisure time.
In a time-poor society, gardens are expensive to maintain so are no longer valued.
All these clocks and no time.
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