an agonized sleeplessness beyond sedation.nMost survivors were devastated. All sorts of neurotic andnpsychotic disorders, including extreme and exaggeratednforms of Parkinson’s disease, dogged them. The neurologistnOliver Sacks, who has devoted himself to the clinicalnobservation, care, and treatment of these people, describesntheir postepidemic fate: “The illness started to cool orncongeal, and states of immobility and arrest. Parkinsonian,ncatatonic, melancholic, apathetic, started to roll in a greatnsluggish tide over the survivors, enveloping them in singularnand scarcely accessible states of trance, abeyance, or stillness.nPatients so affected were put away in chronic hospitals,nnursing homes, lunatic asylums, special colonies — andntotally forgotten.”nThe most unfortunate survivors never returned to life —nfor the most part they merely existed. In 1966, Dr. Sacksntook charge of a group of postencephalitic patients at ansuburban New York hospital, one of the very few remainingnsuch groups in the world. He found that they weren”motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totallynlacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect orndesire; they registered what went on about them withoutnactive attention, and with profound indifference” andnconcluded that lack of will “forms the empty heart of suchnstates.”nClearly the inability to sleep made the disease’s victimsnphysically lethargic, but the crucial effect was the victims’nloss of will; their loss of spirit. No longer able to sleep, theirnspirits had no respite from their flights through time so theynbecame exhausted and went into suspension.nTreatment of these patients with L-DOPA, a drug usednfor the relief of Parkinson’s syndrome, brought dramaticnrecovery. The patients regained their animation and interestnin themselves and the world. “One patient, who had beenntotally transfixed physically and mentally for over thirtynyears, intensely rigid, completely motionless and mute,nshowed no reaction whatever as the dose was built up, andnthen suddenly—in the space of five seconds or less —n’awoke,’ jumped to her feet, ran down the corridor, andnburst into voluble conversation with the dumbfoundednnursing staff on her ward. . . . The first awakenings nearlynalways gave intense and unmixed joy to the patients.” Sadly,nmany of these recoveries were not sustained. Although somenpatients enjoyed an enduring restoration to life, othersntended to develop more or less severe behavior disordersnwithin a few months of their awakening, in spite ofncontinued treatment with L-DOPA.nEncephalitis lethargica robbed its victims not only of theirnspirits, but also their sense of time. In the most extremencases they entered a timeless state devoid “of all sense ofnhistory and happening.” After “awakening,” one patientnwas full of allusions and stories all relating to 1926, “her lastnyear of real life before her illness closed round her.” Whennasked about this, “she said she knew perfectiy well that it wasn1969 and she was 64, but that she felt as if it was 1926 andnshe was 21, and that she couldn’t imagine what it was likenbeing older than 21.”nExistence is an eventless drifting on the currents of time,nwhile life is a flight through time. Encephalitis lethargica’snghastiy effects suggest that sleep, far from being a functionlessnwaste of time, makes the difference between existencenSirennby Frances OlivernOnce this voice like light fallingnThrough planes of amber, like the sound of shellsnBoundless but intimate, a sea held beatingnIn a cupped hand, a resonance of lightnConjured the exile’s island whose clear springsnHeal in a moment all the wounds there are,nThe agate waters that no search can fathomnThe shores whose every lantern is a starnConjured the sunken bells, the submarinenCathedral where the sky-robed pilgrims dancenThe ghostly loves of young and haunted summersnThe marsh-light truth teasing the mystic’s trancenAnd in its crystal thread forever boundnWho heard it then, wanting no touch or tokennOnly the fevered spell to stay unbrokennOnly the shining cadence of that soundnAnd never dreamt it but a trick of hearingnLike the shell’s captive ocean, echoed floodnThe tide and timbre of the listening blood.nand life; it is the key that transforms us from time’sntumbleweeds into time’s eagles.nThe appreciation of life as a flight of the spirit throughntime may be novel and interesting; however, it may alsonseem to be rather exotic. Nonetheless, it has importantnconsequences. We will conclude with consideration of onenof them.nA feature of 20th-century Western civilization is thenrationalist mentality — the low-grade, logical-positivist tonen— of its intellectual and cultural elites. The general assumption,nusually unstated, is that everything of importance innthe external world and the life of the mind has been, or soonnwill be, put on a rational basis. Even God is expected to fallnwithin the rationalist scope.n”How do you reconcile God’s goodness and infinitenpower with suffering?” is one form of questioning God’sndesign. Russian Communists of the 1920’s, for example,nargued that there could be no God because if there were.nHe would have arranged for the large Siberian rivers to flownsouth and water the arid lands of central Asia, instead ofnflowing north into the frozen Arctic wasteland.nThe scientist, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine,nSir Peter Medawar puts it somewhat less crudely:n”Nowhere is this incongruence [between transcendentnanswers and the world of experience] more apparent than innthe problem of evil and of reconciling the idea of anbenevolent God with the natural dispositions and events thatnare so difficult to reconcile with it.”nIn a recent conversation, Sidney Hook asked: “Is itnexpecting too much to ask that at some point as adults wenwould be blessed with the understanding to see the justice, ifnnnSEPTEMBER 1988/21n