Sleeping Among Sheep Under a Starry Sky

Wallace Shawn

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Europa Editions (UK) Ltd
18 August 2022
ISBN: 9781787703636
195 pages

From the publisher

"Lovely, hilarious, and seriously thought-provoking." TONI MORRISON SLEEPING AMONG SHEEP UNDER A STARRY SKY is a collection of essays written over the course of the last thirty-five years. Shawn seems to start from the premise that the world ought to be a place where all of us can lie around on cushions writing letters and love poems to each other on multi-coloured paper, as perhaps the women and men of the eleventh-century Heian court in Japan were able to do. Why do we not inhabit a world in which beauty, sensuality, and the adoration of other people, other beings, and the natural world are our principal preoccupations? Why, instead, are we obsessed with a joyless struggle for supremacy over each other? Why have we invented races and nations? Is what we call "civilization" the precipitating cause of our destructiveness and viciousness, our sadism, our love of murder? Shawn himself grew up as a child of privilege and has devoted his life to aesthetic pursuits and hedonism. Has the life he's led provided him with any sort of valuable vantage point from which to view the world, or has he simply been a parasite? As he himself feels that the answer isn't clear, a certain self-questioning underlies these essays, along with a nagging doubt about whether we're right to insist that all of our different qualities and aspects cohere into a single "self." If the self is simply an illusion, how can we understand "ourselves"? And if we don't understand ourselves, what conclusions should we draw from that?