The title header is a detail from a 16th century woodcutting:
On August 7, 1566, at dawn, many citizens of Basel (Switzerland), frightened, saw during several hours the black spheres involved in a formidable aerial battle, invading the sky of their city: “at the time when the sun rose, one saw many large black balls which moved at high speed in the air towards the sun, then made half-turns, banging one against the others as if they were fighting a battle out a combat, a great number of them became red and igneous, thereafter they were consumed and died out,” wrote Samuel Coccius, the student in “crowned writings and liberal arts” who consigned the strange events in the city’s gazette.
At 8 A.M. on March 24, 1961, two women in Prospect, Oregon, a town of about three hundred people, were talking together on the phone when suddenly a strange man’s voice broke into the line and snapped, “Wake up down there!” One of the ladies regarded this as an affront and she proceeded to express a very strong opinion. The voice started to rattle on in a rapid-fire language that sounded like Spanish but the line seemed to be dead. The two women could not hear each other. After the man suddenly stopped, the line became live again.
When applied to the human condition more broadly it becomes quite profound. The quote “When one realises one is asleep, at that moment one is already half-awake” is from Peter D. Ouspensky (Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii – 5 March 1878 – 2 October 1947), a 20th century Russian esotericist known for his expositions of the early work of the Greek–Armenian teacher of esoteric doctrine George Gurdjieff, whom he met in Moscow in 1915.