Monthly Archives: December 2006

I want, I want, I want!

There is too much to want!

My professor told me a story about her son when he was two years old.* They were in the toy aisle, and he picked out a toy, saying “I want it.” She refused and calmly put it back. He repeated this with another toy. Each refusal led him to pick a new toy, in greater frenzy until he began running through the aisles yelling “I want, I want, I want!” before she caught him and he began sobbing. Her interpretation is that the toy aisle, plus her repeated refusal or foreclosure of particular toys/ possibilities, suggested so many possibilities—so much potential for future action—that there was no one choice. She says “He felt overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of all he could want.” Here is a model for Heideggerian resoluteness that presents the mammoth nature of this task; one must choose in the face of infinite possibility, and to the annihilation of all other possibility. Eva’s son was awash in the future possible, transforming him into desire without an object.

My God, how I don’t want to foreclose! (How I want to live forever!) To the point that on occasion I wish I hadn’t been put in a position to choose at all—the fearful neurotic position, as Otto Rank** describes it, “A neurotic is one who refuses the loan of life in order to avoid the debt of death.” I have the freedom to be anything (a god), fewer bars surround me than ever historically—in the world’s history and my own history. My activity so far, generally, has been about opening more possibilities. Though these shut down others (had a disturbing conversation with Mr. Sinnett, my lab teacher and later senior essay advisor at St. John’s College, early in my freshman year on the topic!), none has felt conclusive. I want to do everything, in lieu of that, the best thing… when that isn’t available, I am subject to the madness of decision, and often resign to a “tentative existence,” equivalent to refusing the loan of life, and simply going forth, zombie-like.

(Do you see why existential psychology?)

*Dr. Eva-Maria Simms, in Phenomenology of Human Development at Duquesne University, fall 2006 semester, and in her paper “Because We are the Upsurge of Time: Toward a Genetic Phenomenology of Lived Time”

** Will Therapy, p. 19 See more progress on: read everything (from 43 Things)