— the following excerpt was originally printed in The Southeastern Review
“The Spectre that is the Slumber Party, the apparitional epiphany that is the Sleepwalker”
by Buck Sparkman
“It is the method of the Sleeper Agents to assume the form of a ghost, of that which is free and unchained, that which inhabits the empty spaces within and without the great mass of man, for the purpose of awakening mankind to its own spectral nature.”
— Wyatt Duvall
Wyatt Duvall has long intrigued social scientists interested in the dynamics of group psychosis. However, few examine Duvall’s forays into the world of new ageism as a genuine religious endeavor, as outlined in The Somnambulist. One of the more curious speeches given by Slumber Party leader, the so-called Apparitional Epiphany, deals with the latter by way of the former. In it is contained, in typical Duvallian fashion, riddled glimpses of the true nature of the Slumber Party, what it means to be a member of the Slumber Party, what the purpose of the Slumber Party should be, and Duvall’s own conflicting theories regarding its creation:
… [A]nd so it is at this point that I think of our leader, the Sleepwalker, and all that he has taught and all that we have learned, for the Sleepwalker is the specter perfected — a guiding force which exists despite its own inexistence.
We follow the lead of this man, the Sleepwalker, and act in accordance with his whims, which are, in essence, our own, for the Sleepwalker is as close to a fiction as the truth can ever be. And by following the Sleepwalker, this fiction, we are free to follow our whims and notions. As to what effect this affection, this devotion, for a fiction has upon the blessed individuals who call themselves Sleepers, I would venture to say that its impact is grand indeed, but not in the way in which conventional wisdom instructs us. The Sleeper is not weakened by following a fiction. No, the Sleeper is strong. And the Sleepers are united in brotherhood. Undercover, the Sleepers are one.
If there is one lesson history has taught us, it’s that man has an easier time following a fiction than listening to the truth. More importantly, this single-minded devotion to a shared story creates an unbreakable bond, for to admit that they have fallen to a great lie — whether it’s Christ, Claus, or free-market capitalism — they must admit that they are fools, and few are willing to do that. As such, the bonds between the members of the Slumber Party are as secure as our devotion to the Sleepwalker, and by following the will of our master, we are free to make the Slumber Party our own, to fashion it in our own image, for through the Sleepwalker we are free to act upon own accord. We are all ghosts. We are spirits that cannot be chained. We are apparitions that cannot be apprehended.
However, there are some of us who choose to drape the white sheet over ourselves, giving appearance to our apparitional frames so that we, the Sleepers, can be seen, so that they, the great mass of man, can be made aware of our existence.
As you are all aware, it is the duty of the Sleepers to increase the awareness of the Sleepers to the lay, the learned, and the uninitiated in order to awaken their slumbering spirits to the shackled specter inside their own shells.
As we, the men and women of the Slumber Party, are apparitions, may it be apparent that the mass of man may one day be too and that we all may be united in the spectral stream of our thoughts and actions, in our dreams, the only place where we all can be free.
May the fight for freedom begin and may the liberation that we win be our own.”
In this speech, the contradictory nature of Duvall’s vision of the Slumber Party is evident; for example, consider such statements as “the Sleepwalker is as close to a fiction as the truth can ever be” and “a guiding force which exists despite its own inexistence.” Furthermore, when Duvall encourages Slumber Party members to live life as ghosts, he is speaking of acting invisibly, of working in the shadows, one of the primary tenants of the Slumber Party philosophy. He is also referring to a spiritual freedom, an inability to be contained by the shackles of societal conditioning.
However, Duvall also mentions that some members of the Slumber will “choose to drape the cloth over [them]selves,” for the purpose of alerting society to their existence. As you are well aware, numerous Slumber Party members including Duvall brought the party visibly to the public once the initial stage of the party reached a critical mass, while others such as Jenny Hills, Timothy Long, and Jay Hamilton chose to keep their membership secret. Although Hamilton, a long-time employee of Diversified Solutions Inc., was rumored to be a Slumber Party member, he repeatedly denied any affiliation with the group (Of Hamilton’s struggle to keep his involvement secret, see the New Times article “Finding the Sleepwalker: Is a mild-mannered scientist and family man the true brains behind the Slumber Party?”).
As for why Duvall took such a contradictory stance, consider his speech “Why We Must Sleep,” in which he proposes that the ultimate goal of his teachings is to encourage the contemplation of ideas, i.e. “dreaming,” over any sort of real-world actualization. However, in that speech Duvall also notes that in order “to awaken the dreamer” in others, certain “chosen dreamers” must reveal their dreams to others, for neither the “Curiosity Reflex” nor the “Inspiration Nerve” can be triggered without external or physical stimuli.
Furthering the contradictory nature of the central religious philosophy Duvall laid out in The Somnambulist, consider the phrase “by following the will of our master, we are free…” Some authorities on the Slumber Party point to this passage as evidence of how Duvall sought to control members of the Slumber Party by giving them a false sense of free will separate from party interests, while simultaneously increasing his control over the lives of Slumber Party members (See Dr. Tank Kishimoto’s Branded: Fascism and Fanaticism in the Slumber Party, a work which is distinguished in its arguments but also falls victim to the author’s well-known criticism — some would say hatred — of the Slumber Party, as particularly evident in his book Logo Your Ego: The Slumber Party and the Selling of Anti-Consumerist Consumerism). However, as Joyce Hardy points out in her essay “Shackled by the Chains of Freedom,” Duvall and the Slumber Party only employed such apparently dictatorial techniques in order to “awaken” the individual — to free their minds and spirits. She goes on to assert that such methods were the only means by which to do so, since, the individual, by nature of his or her societal education and familial upbringing, is fearful of freedom and more accustomed and comfortable with following.
Although this is one of the first times Duvall notes the true nature of the Sleepwalker, i.e. that he is a fictional construct, we are now quite aware that the Sleepwalker, at least to Duvall, was more than a fiction. He was an actual force. Furthermore, we are also aware that the Slumber Party members who denied the Sleepwalker’s existence did so at their own peril.