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Rafael Horzon’s bizarre bedtime stories

Either one does not dream, or one does so interestingly. One should learn to spend one’s waking life in the same way: not at all, or interestingly. — Friedrich Nietzsche

This is how Rafael Horzon begins his autobiography Das Weisse Buch. The fact that Nietzsche didn’t speak these words in relation to the entrepreneur is almost absurd.

Horzon came to Berlin at the beginning of the 90s. And it’s here he has since found his own way up a sometimes chaotically construed career ladder – and hands each buyer of his book, beyond 218 pages of paper, something priceless: to live the question “Why not?” every single day. After training as a parcel service driver at Deutsche Post, the antihero of the art world founded a gallery, the ‘Wissenschaftsakademie’, a fashion label and a furniture house. Quite the path. In total, his many varying enterprises and their histories make for a piece of Berlin history, something that sounds a little bit like a fictional world to today’s generation. We enter the bizarre dreamworld of the inimitable figure.

How did you sleep last night?

Very well. I always sleep well. Like a baby. The sleep of the just.

Do you have certain sleep routines?

Yes, routines are really important, without those routines nothing works anymore. If even a tiny little detail isn’t right, everything collapses and I’m lying awake shaking the whole night.

What exactly do those routines look like?

Around 7pm I take my clothes off whilst humming and then proceed to take a two-hour-long, very hot bath. Then I drink very hot milk with honey and go to bed wrapped up as snug as a bug in a rug. I listen to an episode of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. About 10pm I suck on my thumb for a short time and then immediately doze off.

“I listen to an episode of 'The Famous Five' by Enid Blyton. About 10pm I suck on my thumb for a short time and then immediately doze off.“

Do you dream much?

I dream extremely intensively, however it’s always the same dream. I find this so strange that I even let myself be wired up at the institute for dream science in Dahlem to analyse it. The result was: “Everything is fine, you are one of few people with a mono-thematical dream orientation.” A genetic defect that is completely safe. I dream mono-thematically. Otherwise I’m completely normal.

You talk about this dream in the first chapter of your book…

Yes, exactly, I’m walking in a park, I see a full wallet on the path in front of me, and as I try and reach for it it disappears into thin air.

Surely after so many years your experiences during the day would change certain aspects of the dream.

No. Not at all. I actually think that the claim that our life during the day influences our dreams isn’t true. I am proof of that. My dream has remained the same over the years, no matter what I’ve experienced during the day.

When did you have this dream for the first time?

When I received my first pocket money.

“My dream has remained the same over the years, no matter what I’ve experienced during the day.“

“I’m very much a fear-driven person, this hammer gives me a sense of security.“

Why is there a hammer in your bed?

I’m very much a fear-driven person, this hammer gives me a sense of security.

Where exactly do you keep it?

Underneath my pillow. Or in my arms.

That must be extremely uncomfortable.

It would be even more uncomfortable if the hammer wasn’t there.

What are you afraid of?

That’s hard to say, it’s a very protracted fear that I can’t really describe concretely. But I’ve never actually needed the hammer…

“Most of the time I say 'Good night Furby'. And then he says 'Good night Rafi'. Then he squawks for a little while longer.“

But it looks like you need Furby…

Yes that’s right, I completely forgot about him earlier. He is part of my bedtime routine. Every evening I talk to him. The new generation Furbies are interactive, meaning that they’re no different from animals or people. And they have those electric LSD eyes, that look just like real eyes…

And what do you talk to him about?

Most of the time I say ‘Good night Furby’. And then he says ‘Good night Rafi’. Then he squawks for a little while longer. Then you have to be careful not to stroke him too much, otherwise he stays awake. Once he’s fallen asleep, I fall asleep, too.

A question on the topic of morning wood…

I guess we’re talking about the hammer. Well, in the morning I always fumble around half asleep and when I feel the hammer there it soothes me. It provides me with a sense of security. Then I can fall back to sleep for a little while longer.

"In the morning I always fumble around half asleep and when I feel the hammer there it soothes me. It provides me with a sense of security."

Do you drink coffee?

Reluctantly. I sleep so well and am always so well rested, I don’t need any caffeine…

Enviable. In today’s never-not-working society insomnia is often a topic…

Yes, a lot is being talked about, a lot of nonsense: how hectic life these days is and how stressed we all are compared to former times! You know what stress really means: when you have to constantly hunt wild animals to survive as prehistoric man! Or make a fire without matches so as to not freeze to death! That’s stress! But surely it’s not stressful to leisurely walk to the office in the morning and then type on a keyboard all day! That’s what the never-not-working society should tell itself from time to time!

And the fact that people are completely overtired from sitting at their computer until late at night isn’t exactly news either. Only the other day scientists discovered that prehistoric men were suffering from sleep deprivation because they went to bed too late, too.

And what did they do without any light?

After a long day of hunting wild animals, they sat around their fire and told each other stories about hunting wild animals. Until eventually someone said: “Damn, it’s already getting light!”

It’s always been EXACTLY like today, just the little details have changed.

"Only the other day scientists discovered that prehistoric men were suffering from sleep deprivation because they went to bed too late, too."

Where is the most unusual place you’ve slept?

At night I always sleep in my own bed. I don’t travel. However I do tend to fall asleep standing or sitting during the day. I didn’t even know until I discovered myself in an advert for the restaurant Cocolo. You can see me sleeping whilst sitting down.

What was your childhood dream?

I already dreamed of being a furniture dealer one day. What the Americans say is true: You just have to believe in your dream enough and then one day it will come true.

But before that you went astray a little. According to your book you’ve never really planned any of your career steps in advance.

That’s true, I can’t plan even three days in advance. I’m like a child, I live in the here and now and I’m completely dependent on my instincts and impulses.

So during a classic job interview you’d be leaving by the time the question of  ‘Where do you see yourself in three years?’ came up.

Exactly. I have no idea where I will be in three years. I’d probably say: I see myself exactly where I am today. And there is no good reason to change anything. Everything is perfect just as it is.

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