We say that people „fuck“ or „make love“‑‑ more intimately, that they sleep together, though the latter doesn’t necessarily connote the sexual act. Yet somehow this sleeping together ‑‑ this engaging in the act of joined sleep, this shared journey into the unconscious‑‑ is the most intimate, the most bonding, act of all. For something deeper even than the physical act synchronizes here‑‑ the fusion of dream‑states in a single bed, the reverberating rhythm of two sympathetic breathings, the slight and intermittent touchings of hair to nostril, finger to thigh, stomach to buttocks… the loose, licensed, semi‑conscious patrol of fingertips over bodies.
Sharing this death‑in‑life experience with another, loosening the demands of consciousness in relation, we are somehow brought closer to one another, rather than distanced. We experience, albeit semi‑consciously, that blissful state of being alone together, that sharing of two solitudes of which Rilke so poignantly speaks, a kind of Platonic pre‑severence experienced in separate bodies. And, in this indistinctness of night and day, consciousness and unconsciousness, the other’s distinctiveness, too, lapses and is incorporated into my own.
Sleeping, lovers join in a way they can only wish for while awake or making love. Silent, they speak to each other in a language both understand perfectly. Awake once more, each is enriched by the all‑too‑human impoverishment both have willingly subdued in the name of sleep. Sleepers, suspending their sense of their own disparateness, join hands more fully, imagine once more the peace of a shared silence.
So that Paul Eluard’s great question to all lovers („Are we two, or am I all alone?“) is rendered irrelevant by sleep’s beautiful and beautifying ellipsis, the double dialogue (self to self, self to other) in which the natural disjunction of separate wills is momentarily suspended in the joined, revivifying need for a connection more silent, more profound, than either speech or lovemaking can ever provide. These are moments, one suspects, too deep to be wasted on the merely waking.