The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

Aaron Pace
4 min readMay 27, 2024
Image generated by OpenArt

Between 1793 and 1798, the Spanish artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Goya for short, was middle-aged, deaf, and weakened by serious illness. During that time, he produced what many regard as his most important work.

For Goya, his imagination came to life, as it were, during this period of failing health. As English essayist Joseph Addison put it, “suffering has a tendency to unlock the darker parts of the human mind.” Of course, it can also be said that it has the potential to unlock the lighter parts as well.

Goya’s drawings were heavily satirical and often dealt with vice, falsehood, superstition, and fear. The subjects: power-hungry politicians and clergy engaged in illicit activities, shrouded in the darkness of night.

While Goya was busy producing these drawings at the dawn of the 19th century, his concern for the human condition and his critique of the society of his time seem in lock-step with conditions in the 21st century that exist today.

In one of his drawings, a man sleeps in a seated position with his head and arms resting on a platform. Bats and owls threaten from all sides, the most prominent of which stares out of the drawing at the viewer. The words, “el sueño de la razon produce monstruos” — The sleep of reason produces monsters — are written across the front of the platform.

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Aaron Pace

Married to my best friend. Father to five exuberant children. Fledgling entrepreneur. Writer. Software developer. Inventory management expert.