The Totality Temptation

How far can prejudices go? Under the pretext that nobody can definitely surmise the whole of certainty within the domain of a self, what could be more all-pervading than a label – any signification serving as pigeonhole attachment – that surely is not a testament of how things already are or, much more, will be. Dragged along blurry lines of description, carbon-14ed from way too ancient experiences – is it not rather confounding to hear an idiosyncratic opinion of oneself from a past relation? I would be surprised to hear for example a remark that resembles a boxing statement coming from an old friend who thinks she has a good grasp of what is going on with anyone else’s life – or not, depending on how the whole charade of wordplay, the limitedness of it, based for instance in an influence she might or might not have heard from somebody else regarding persons of acquaintances. One can just not see the gamut in which the chain of comedy is at play in gossiping, name-shaming, and losing the taste of what is extraordinary about hard-won feats. And that might just be the problem: to expect an extraordinariness in an ordinary event but with eyes as murky as a cynic is to reflect back an intrusion of its own ordinariness.

That kind of thinking – the kind that merely suggests and not counsels: a sight that confuses darkness from lightness, getting things jumbled as if a sullen schizophrenia hits it repeatedly – that remains to be the dry placidity of contentment. And what is contentment if not for the halted, defeatist misconstruction of itself, a person bereft of any more detours but the only road left for the taking. Who knew that the greatest itch a human could not succeed to tussle about is the enduring totality temptation? The dangers of immaterial comments, which produce an outlandish insult to what moves, to an injury that is supposed to heal through time, to the hopeful who only wants a few droplets of brilliance, a little spark of independence and enough time to recover from a traumatic impulse to remember; a sabotage against oneself from the upheaval of unconscious tremors! Denial at this stage would be fawn to the bullseye observation; (and what is it) but the reverse isolating defenses of licensing and generalizing: “Someone told me about it”, “Isn’t that a perk that the whole of your kind receives?” – Here, the temptation to have colored the totality of the picture altogether seems crystal clear.

However, it also seems vague that the shenanigans, preconceptions and all, aren’t that surprising, given the stale disposition of those who care to put much effort in understanding them. It may mean to some extent that modernity is no longer the watchword of the day. We have gotten away with that mentality long before the era was reported as expired. No, we do not throw the whole basket of apples anymore just because we found out that one has worms in it. Descartes had served us well to be the junction meeting us at a destination filled with more excitement – discovering which apples are tainted as different from the rest. One by one, we have abandoned totality of all sorts: the idealism of the masses and of the master, the utopian transcendence of political affairs, and the psychoanalytical retroversion of the self from its infantile beginnings! Tyranny (of ideas, rules, and sticklers), Communism, Socialism, Psychoanalysis – these, to be relevant, need reinventions; but only for those who are brave enough to resuscitate failed modern structures, however important they are to the present, a Foucauldian might insist.

Myth of the Apple of Discord

As an allusion to the overall grandiosity of its charm, let us look at the seductive apple in literature. Suffice it to say that this apple, often depicted as temptation, is also the direct metaphor of totality: look at how the serpent in the book of Genesis offers Eve the apple that can make one god. Look at how Aphrodite outwits the goddess of wisdom and the goddess of power to grab the coveted golden apple of Eris engraved for Paris of Troy to determine its fitting beholder. Look at finally – to avoid anti-feminism charges – Ryuk, the shinigami in Death Note, who lavishes apples as if it were food for the gods of death – this last allusion being the sign of destruction. The overall picture is charming, but even the most beautiful smile has a recherché demise in it: in Eve’s apple, iniquity that leads to corruption; in Aphrodite’s golden prize, discord presaging the Trojan war; in Ryuk’s favorite, death and its intricate mechanisms.

Totality is not, and could not be, the rejoinder – at least in terms of reality. The lure to picture it out, even mentally, is the beginning of the end. Listen to an omniscient person under megalomania, listen to every juncture of speech she offers as the theory of everything and there one can hear in reverse the lonely tides of one’s own world. Biases picture hastily the end. Prejudices more often than not paint it magnificently, if only it were good or bad. And categorizing is but the shallow muddiness that seems all-too-profound to be true.


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