313: Insomnia

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Crap, I have levitation class at 25:131. Better set the alarm to 'cinnamon'.
Title text: Crap, I have levitation class at 25:131. Better set the alarm to 'cinnamon'.


Simply put, the narrator's insomnia, combined with small bright lights in an otherwise pitch-black room, is causing him to hallucinate. Furthermore, the narrator is well aware that he will be unable to distinguish the hallucinations from reality. This finally occurs when his clock reads 13:72, which would not be possible on any clock.

A clock can never read "72 minutes," as there are only 60 minutes in an hour. While a clock can read "13 hours" on a 24-hour clock (which is common on most digital clocks in Europe, but not in the US), the thirteenth hour does not occur immediately after the fourth hour.[citation needed]

The title text shows that the narrator has indeed "succumbed" to his visions, and is assigning gibberish values — an alarm clock with a "cinnamon" setting, the time of day "25 hours and 131 minutes," and "levitation class" — to an otherwise normal monologue.


[It is black, except a few blue and green lights, and red numbers from a clock.]
[The clock shows 4:31]
Lying awake at night I realize how many little lights there are in my room. The alarm clock is the brightest. Can't sleep I'm alone with those glowing red numbers
[The clock now shows 4:32]
Time slows
Does time even exist here?
Thoughts churning in on themselves
[The clock now shows 4:33]
The madness can't be far away
Ah yes
[The clock now shows 13:72]
There it is.

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We know it must not be a 24-hour clock. On that setting, 4:31 would be in the afternoon, not at night. 15:11, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

I cannot tell if you are misguided, trolling or just hallucinating in the style of this comic. So - well done! 18:18, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
What's even more well done is that your IP addresses are .021 away! aoijgpisbHtejsykl7ekderhtsjk6r64os4kys\\\[]jsrtjgdrghtvgwrhtejyku5dli6;78t7l6rk5j4h|||||#Rty-----WWWWWWfflfllfllfllfeogk0q9wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww4-cv;c;;c;c[;]z\]d;v[\]????????OH GOD IT'S CRASIHNG MY PC����������������������������������������������� (talk) 13:35, 3 November 2020 (UTC)

Quite the opposite. 13:00 is 1 in the afternoon, and 4:31 would be 4:31 at night. 04:48, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

I know it's quite a long shot, but polish writer Bruno Shulz wrote a novel "Cinamon Shops", which surprisingly have a style of insomnia-crazy visions. More : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Street_of_Crocodiles 11:48, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

A typical situation with insomnia is when you blink your eyes for just a moment, then look at the clock and find that in reality a couple of hours have passed (with you asleep though all this time even though you didn't feel like it). Focusing the eyes on the clock afterwards is not an easy task either, so the creative readings are not unusual. Overall, the situation is much more realistic than it seems at first. 22:27, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

This happens to me all the time actually, I wake up in and check my watch, but since I'm not really fast at waking up I fall asleep for a few minutes before actually checking the watch, and I dream about it. So maybe I've dreamed that it was 6:30 when in fact it is still 4:30. But only real numbers so far (Miguelinileugim) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Once it's not only real numbers, prepare for the most confusing 4.71 - 2.38i hours of your life. Promethean (talk)

There's a problem with part of the explanation. The clock doesn't say "SLEI" upside-down, it says "ZLEI." This is a common perceptual error, often seen with those inverted face illusions where the head is upside down and the mouth and/or eyes are right-side up. If you don't know to watch for it, the face looks normal until you turn it over. 21:32, 21 May 2020 (UTC)Sammael

Should have been a '5' not a '2'. SteveBaker (talk) 16:04, 22 May 2020 (UTC)

...actually also a problem with the parenthetical "or perhaps a 2." That digit would then presumably be a full 7-segment LED array and could easily display the E. 23:39, 21 May 2020 (UTC)Sammael

Could this be a reference to Buttercup Festival cartoon featuring a clock that reads "13:72" and several jellyfish? Sugarfi (talk) 17:18, 14 December 2020 (UTC)

I have a crappily designed microwave oven that, when you set its timer in 10-second increments, goes from 0:40 to 0:50, 0:60, 0:70 etc. It's thus possible to get the timer to display 13:72, although it's minutes:seconds, not hours:minutes. 08:18, 19 October 2022 (UTC)

If those numbers are in octal, then it is quite possible that they are valid. 13:72 can convert to 11:58 Cwallenpoole (talk) 16:12, 13 December 2022 (UTC)

i get this one irl very often An user who has no account yet (talk) 00:14, 7 September 2023 (UTC)