Standing Up For Lying Down

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A newly translated The Art of Lying Down offers a spirited defense of the recumbent life:

Lying down, German author Bernd Brunner writes, “spans the human condition, from complete passivity to the most passionate of activities.” It’s the position in which “we sleep and dream, make love, contemplate, give ourselves over to wistful moods, daydream, and suffer.” Almost every day begins and ends in a bed, and so does almost every human life. If Brunner has a big idea, it’s that lying down is due for a revival in the Western world, a culture too long obsessed with achievement and motion and noise and, therefore, uprightness. That makes rest a kind of rebellion. The book begins with reassurance: “If you’re lying down right now, there’s no need to defend yourself.” After all, life on the X axis is natural, enjoyable, and healthful. It’s good for the soul, the mind, and the body. By the end, Brunner is optimistically declaring that “the age of the New Horizontal has arrived.”

(Image: Detail from Arnold Böcklin’s Faun Blowing a Whistle to a Blackbird, 1964-65)