We will examine the work called The Work of Lying Down & A Guide to Horizontal Living by Bernd Brunner, who is mostly known for his travel writings and essays.
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As Serdar Kuzuloğlu mentioned in his 58th bulletin, with the Industrial Revolution, a concept that we call “leisure time” emerged to define our time left from work.
We, too, felt compelled to do something in this “free time” because the name was free. Lying down and resting caused us to feel guilty. We had to go to a language course, write a blog, mark a book we couldn’t grade, and chase after every bit of talent we couldn’t track.
We were born into a century based on working without stopping.
We forgot to rest, dear readers. We have become individuals who change jobs to rest. We couldn’t even remember how we relaxed ourselves.
Of course, we do not praise a life based on laziness. We don’t always say whether to lie down or roll over, but at least we should be able to lie down on these beautiful summer days when we get rid of the work that is bothering us. If it’s not, at least we should be able to lie down and roll over while on vacation. Maybe so, as Bernd Brunner put it:
“With a different, perhaps slower rhythm than ours; When we are in a country where life is lived according to the current situation and not according to the plans in mind, we seem to sense what it might mean to live in a time that operates according to completely different laws.” – Page 13
Our review is on The Art of Lying Down. So who is the author of the book, Bernd Brunner? Let’s answer this question first.
Who is Bernd Brunner?
Bernd Brunner is a writer who was born in Germany in 1964, studied economics in Berlin, and later stayed in Washington for a while with a student exchange. He is known for text types such as non-fiction, travelogue or essay. He usually writes articles focusing on the relationships between people and objects.
He is a person whose travel writings make a lot of noise. For example, a travel article titled Street Dogs of Istanbul, which he wrote in 2013, was even included in the best travel writing anthology prepared by Elizabeth Gilbert.
His works, which are based on the philosophy of daily life, are worth reading. In particular, The Art of Lying Down enables us to look at the 21st century from the outside and to rethink the habits of daily life.
Summary of The Art of Lying Down
The Art of Lying Down, of course, begins with the beauty of lounging first:
“Lots of things can happen when we lie down, it encompasses all human states, from sheer passivity to passionate activity. Yes, human life begins and ends with lying down. According to brothers Edmont and Jules de Goncourt, there are “three great acts” in life that the author must deftly describe: “birth, sexual intercourse, and death” (all three are often lying down) – Page 16
Bernd Brunner embarks on an explanation, including intellectual references, on the relation of man to lying down and the objects upon which lying down.
“The philosopher of space Otto Friedrich Bollnow described the bed as a place where “one gets up in the morning to start the day and returns in the evening after finishing work.” “The daily schedule (normally) starts in bed and ends in bed again. Human life is basically like this: It starts in bed (under normal life conditions) and ends in bed.
The cycle of the day and of life ends in bed. In the deepest sense, a person finds peace in bed. “The bed is the most important part of a home, it is like a home within a home, it is the place that allows and facilitates our withdrawal into the unconscious of our existence.” – Page 91.
But for some reason, spending too much time in bed is condemned, and those who spend too much time in bed are referred to as lazy or lethargic people. However, lying down is the most natural human behavior. As a matter of fact, sleeping while people are awake during the day is not laziness or drowsiness. It is related to human sleep rhythm.
Those who sleep during the day are mostly awake at night, but the strangeness of sleeping during the day is nothing but a scourge of the Industrial Revolution.
Before the industrial revolution, people did not live in one-block sleeps called monoblocks. They mostly slept in two blocks:
“The daily rhythm of light and dark determines the rhythm of our sleep; however, there are many other factors that affect the time to go to bed and the duration of sleep. In short, time is not just the time we know.
Historically speaking, night was not only a time for rest and sleep, but also a time for dangers; It was necessary to be on guard against enemies and wild animals, especially at night. As a matter of fact, before the flow of the day was imposed on us by machines and precise working hours, we were given a few rest and sleep breaks during the day and stayed awake after midnight.
Concentrating on a single time period that is not divided by waking phases, monoblock sleep is a relatively new habit that has evolved in line with the organization of our modern work-based society.
When we look at the sleep patterns of some African or Asian societies that do not live under the sway of time like us, we can imagine what daily life was like when sleep followed a different pattern in us: People get up at night to chat, or feed the fire in the hearth to keep it from going out, and some sleep. ” – page 53
It is possible to encounter this situation in the first texts as well. For example, in the epic of Gilgamesh, we see that the city never stops day and night and daily life continues uninterrupted.
Topic of The Art of Lying Down
The work examines all the actions and objects related to the act of lying down in depth. This happens sometimes from a historical point of view and sometimes from a philosophical point of view.
The book also contains scientific data, the source of which is given in detail.
“Nathainel Kleitman and his assistant Richardson retreated to a cave in Kentucky in the summer of 1938 to try to increase the daily biorhythm to 28 hours. Although only the assistant was successful in this, today Kleitman is considered a pioneer of sleep research.” – page 56
Of course, when a historical perspective is used in such a text, it can go up to a point. Because, although history writes about political turmoil, wars and victories, it does not keep a record of how we lying down.
History begins where memory ends. We know about wars and coronations, but we don’t know much about how our ancestors slept.” – Pages 75 – 76
We understand this from the indicators, we estimate.
There are unique thoughts and topics in the book for every aspect of lying down and every object related to it. But one of the most important of these is undoubtedly sleeping with someone.
People turn in their sleep, dear reader. While this is sometimes uncomfortable for the other person, he or she fidgets in human sleep, including:
“In any case, we can say that people constantly change their sleeping position while they sleep: A healthy person who can move freely changes positions a hundred times during sleep each night. These movements follow an individual rhythm, a personal choreography, so to speak.” – Pages 33 – 34
Husband and wife sleeping together is an interesting act that can turn into a romantic, seductive and unbearable agony. Sleeping in the same bed as someone who moves a lot can make it impossible for their partner to sleep. It’s easy to turn into an aggressive person in everyday life, as a snoring partner likewise deprives the person of sleep.
Although it was an unwavering tradition in the 19th century for men and women to share the same bed after marriage, this is now being discussed in the late 20th and 21st centuries. Even though our ancestors said that “you can’t be offended in bed”, some couples may not prefer to lie down all the time for a more comfortable life.
However, if you want to sleep together, there are even zippered bed models that can be separated and joined together, as stated in the book.
The Art of Lying Down Quotes
There are many interesting sections that I have underlined in The Art of Lying Down. For example, the author describing the invention of the sofa can suddenly give important information about the sitting position of a person as follows:
“Expert doctors welcome this development with calmness, because they think that the normal sitting position (in a chair) is not very suitable for human physiology. On the other hand, the lying-lying position at an angle of 127 degrees is perfect to relieve the load on the backbone while sitting. – Page 22
There are also references to literary texts throughout the book. For example, here is a passage from Hermann Crosch’s The Death of Virgil:
“She had her legs pulled up a little and turned to the side, her head resting on the pillow, her hips pressed against the mattress, her knees stacked like two strange creatures living far away from each other, her ankles and soles in the same condition.
Oh, how much, how much he had studied the various ways of lying in his life! Yes, it was embarrassing that he could not rid himself of this childish habit! He was now remembering in every detail a night that he had found very remarkable and which was now a thing of the past; That night, for the first time—he was only eight—he realized that there were aspects in the way he slept that were worth observing in their own right.” page 36 in the book
Literary quotations do not end there. Here is a beautiful passage from Edward Said’s Out of Place:
“Insomnia is a blessed state in my eyes that I will continue to desire at all costs. I don’t know of anything that rejuvenates me so early in the morning as to throw off that dark semi-consciousness of a wasted night.
A miraculous wakefulness that allows me to re-introduce myself, to pick up on something that I might have completely lost a few hours ago.” page 48 in the book
In the book, not only lying down, but also standing up, which is the position we leave without lying down, is explained at length as seen above.
General Evaluation of The Art of Lying Down
Writing a non-fiction text fluently and collecting the interesting information it contains and putting it into an easy-to-read format is quite a challenge. Bernd Brunner does this job well, based on his years of experience as an editor and a magazine writer.
The art of reaching, especially from the beginning, deepens without getting tired and motivates you to read as you progress.
The length of the chapters makes it a quality that can be read on the chaise longue in summer and can be interrupted without breaking. There is even a section where the history of the sun loungers is mentioned.
Although it touches dozens of different areas. It’s not broken.
Bernd Brunner’s determinations regarding the 16th and 17th centuries regarding the east-west issue, which we talked about with our writers such as Şerif Mardin and Cemil Meriç for years, are also very interesting.
“16. and the furniture used in Europe in the 17th century was sufficient to meet the basic needs. Although they cannot be said to be comfortable in today’s sense, they corresponded to the habits of that period. The modern man’s acquaintance with a more comfortable way of lounging and incorporating it into his daily life was influenced by the Orient.
The fascination with the Orient left deep traces in various living areas of the upper strata in Europe. Enjoy coffee or IV. We can count Louis’ habit of naming himself and his mistresses with cute names inspired by the Orient. British diplomat Paul Rycaut (1629 – 1700) was one of the first to describe in detail the world of Ottoman rulers.
Ornate palaces with marble floors, velvet curtains, and heavy silk sofas seemed very exotic to 17th-century Europeans. Fantastic stories about the Orient turned the Ottoman mansions into a projection of unbridled eroticism.
But the Orient also inspired high literature: Goethe’s intense preoccupation with Persian poetry and his realization that the Orient and the Occident could not be separated from each other enabled the author, who had a great interest in Islam, to create his great work called East-West Divan. – page 87
However, it should be noted that there is not an easy, orientalist point of view in which the East is described with laziness. The aforementioned situation is related to the human right to rest:
“The historian Sigfried Gidieon described the typical perception of that period with these words: “In the East, everyone, rich or poor, has time. In the West, nobody.” In the East, life is based on rest, in the West it is about working and trying. – Page 88
It’s not good to be stuck in bed, but you also need to learn to rest. We just have to live life more consciously.
Books of Bernd Brunner
After working as an editor for television shows, magazines and books for years, Brunner started publishing books as follows:
- The Ocean at Home: An Illustrated History of the Aquarium
- Bears: A Brief History
- Moon: A Brief History
- Inventing the Christmas Tree
- The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living
- Birdmania: A Remarkable Passion for Birds
- Winterlust: Finding Beauty in the Fiercest Season
- Taming Fruit: How Orchards Have Transformed the Land, Offered Sanctuary, and Inspired Creativity
- Extreme North: A Cultural History
Review The Art of Lying Down by Bernd Brunner
Briefly My Opinion
The art of lying down is as necessary as bread and water for a person who saves people from the torment of conscience while lying on a sunbed just at the beginning of the holiday. Must read at the start of every summer!