This is a title of an etching by Francisco Goya. “The Sleep of Reason brings forth Monsters” Christopher Hitchens has the picture on the inside cover of his book “God is not Great”. I only discovered this recently as I have only ever known the book as an audio book. It was a serendipitous discovery for me as I have had those same Spanish words tattooed on my left arm.

In his book Hitchens asks why so many people appear to believe that the mind and its ability to reason is something to be distrusted and dulled by the Kool-Aid of religion. Those that hold Faith with a special reverence also seem to have a certain contempt for the intellect. This is the crux of why religion poisons everything.

Firstly, “those who are innocently credulous may become prey for those that are less scrupulous”. They become slaves to those that “lead” and “inspire” them. They will remain on their knees for life while imagining that they are standing tall (my words).

Secondly, “those whose credulity has led their own society into stagnation may seek a solution, not in true self-examination, but in blaming others for their backwardness”.

A faith that despises the mind and the free individual, that preaches submission and resignation, and that regards life as a poor and transient thing, is ill-equipped for self-criticism.

The monsters will silently creep in and takeover when religion puts reason to sleep.

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Comment by Belle Rose on August 5, 2014 at 4:33am
I love it Reg!!!

In case you didn't know, much of his earlier work as painter to the Spanish court was satirical (sometimes deviously so and without discovery :-)

Such as this:

It seems he liked to make fun of the clergy......who does that remind you of? :-)

I found this out by reading the Bibliography and "Comentarios" from El Museo del Prado...

I also found out he was deaf when he did the series "Los Caprichos."


I was also interested to read that the way "Reason" was defined (from the Diccionario Castellano at the time as follows:

1. Razón: “La potencia intelectiva, en cuanto discurre y raciocina” (Academia Española, Diccionario de la lengua castellana, Madrid, 1791).

"The Intellectual Potential" as something that runs on (grows).....but it was also noted in one of the comentaries that the owls and bats were in control of the pen in his hand. So his energy was being wasted away, on folly and superstition. So the sleep was only of reason, and he became a puppet. It did not mean that he himself would have been actually asleep, but demonstrating a waste of energy and human potential...

Same thing you said. You said it a lot better :-)
Comment by Noel on August 5, 2014 at 8:06am

I read Hitchens on my iPad and that edition did not include the etching.

Thank you two fabulous atheist for starting this thread and pointing me towards the sites that talk about the etching. Good Stuff!

I translate the spanish as "The "Dreams" of reason produce monsters". The word "Sueno" translates to the word "Dream" from spanish. However Spaniards speak a completely different dialect than what I was taught in this hemisphere. So it may well translate to "Sleep".

I translate the painting differently than the commentaries. Owl's denote spiritual symbolism in Spanish and Latino culture. Read "Bless me Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya to see what forms Owl's manifest themselves in our imagination. Bats have always been the buggy man of humanity. Sad really, in as much as they are dying, in our hemisphere, due to a fungus. Bat's consume a good amount of the worlds insects and scientist have said that without them we may be overrun.

Comment by Noel on August 5, 2014 at 9:20am

Actually the word "Sueno" can mean "Dream" as in, Tuve un sueno, "I had a dream"; or it can mean "sleepy" as in, tengo sueno, "I am sleepy".

Comment by Belle Rose on August 5, 2014 at 10:19am
RE: Read "Bless me Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya -- Uno de mis favoritos!!! My favorite author Noel. I love his book Alburquerque (si. Con la "r")

Anyway. Yes it can depict a nightmare...I too would say "Tengo sueno" to mean I'm sleepy. I have even read it to mean that the owls and bats are symbolism of Satan...however I found no mention of that from the comentarios on the site of El Museo...I believe that is only how some people choose to interpret it.

It is part of a series of paintings called "los caprichos." Goya was expressing the many flaws within Spanish society - the result of the Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand. Much like the times we live in, religion had dulled and made ignorant society. He had a deep frustration with it all. Amazing that here we are over 200 years later and we're still facing the same stuff. Religion had ravaged the progress of Spanish society. Why are we such slow learners?
Comment by Belle Rose on August 5, 2014 at 10:27am
BTW: Rudolfo Anaya is from Albuquerque. My hometown. Much of the spiritual symbolism that you find in his writing is greatly influenced by Indian culture as well. New Mexico is known for it's own set of superstitions because of our unique place on the globe. Los conquistadores with their religion, and the Indians with their many gods, and you have a recipe for religious sleepiness. Lol....
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 5, 2014 at 5:52pm

A herd of cattle, a flock of theists and a wisdom of owls……or a parliament of owls. I am thinking about getting a few tattooed around the wording on my arm.

Comment by Belle Rose on August 5, 2014 at 6:12pm
That would look really awesome!
Comment by Belle Rose on August 6, 2014 at 2:12am
Not everybody wakes up...however...........

"Someday, somewhere - anywhere, unfailingly, you'll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life."

~Pablo Neruda~
Comment by Belle Rose on August 6, 2014 at 2:16am
RE: that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life."

In my own case, it was the most bitter. Sleeping numbs.
Comment by Belle Rose on August 6, 2014 at 2:24am
One more comment and then I'll let someone else talk. I wonder why Goya chose to paint himself in this painting, instead of depicting someone from society like the other "Caprichos." HMmmmmmmmmmm............


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