The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.
(Caprichos no. 43: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.),c. 1796-1797

The Spanish master Francisco Goya (1746-1828), graphically depicts the danger of creating from William Blake's world of dreams and visions he used to escape the rules of reason. From a series called Los Caprichos. In The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters the rational mind is stilled as the human figure sleeps, while around him congregate the winged monsters who have skittered freely into being in the absence of thoughtful control, the idea of sexual control of men plucked bare. A visionary work he linked it to the art of Blake's Tiepolo. A piece from early in his career, it is a criticism of "human errors and vices," although the subjects are often obscure and interpretation purposely difficult, it lampoons both political and religious figures. It was intended as the frontispiece for the series Los Caprichos, but Goya soon reconsidered this, probably because the subject related too closely to Henri Rousseau's 1793 Paris edition of Philosophie at a time when the very name of Rousseau was considered bête noire to religious and political leaders in Spain. Instead, Goya buried The Sleep of Reason well within the series and created a more traditional self portrait as the frontispiece. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters survived as a coded expression of the artist's politics as court painter to King Carlos IV during a time when Goya was becoming increasingly sympathetic to the cause of the Spanish peasants. It was during the development of this series that Goya suffered a protracted illness leaving him totally deaf and developing within him a terrible sense of isolation.


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Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art :

You may view an image of this work at

Mark Harden's Artchive:

Every night for the past three months, he's been having nightmares.

They always start the same.

He's in his room, in bed. Usually, he's asleep, but sometimes he's not. Sometimes he's reading, or playing on his cellphone, or just thinking.

It starts with the growling-- low rumbles that shake the room. Then shadows on the wall that are almost shaped like people and mostly shaped like monsters appear without anything to cast them.

Then, out of nowhere, clawed hands grab him and drag him. . . somewhere. Someplace dark and cold where they tear him apart. There's teeth and claws and so much pain, and it lasts for hours until they finally let him die--

--and he wakes up.

At first, he ignored them. It was fucked up, but so what? Some weird psychology bullshit. Probably stress. Work's been hectic. Family troubles.

But then he noticed the blood.

When he first wakes up, before he turns on the light, there are dark, wet stains on his clothes. By the time the lights are on, they're gone.

After, he saw the scars: thick, jagged, pink ones that run all over his body and vanish within seconds of his waking.

He tried to ignore it. It wasn't real, he thought. It's just stress.

But last night, he woke up still in pain. He screamed and found a three-inch long, shark-looking tooth embedded in the muscle by his neck. When he removed it, the wound healed over instantly, but the tooth remained solid and blood stained.

Now he's in his room with the lights on, staring at the tooth. He tells himself it's not real, but all the same, he doesn't think he'll sleep tonight.

Then the rumbling began. . .


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