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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/15/15

Sherry Salman's book DREAMS OF TOTALITY is worth engaging with (REVIEW ESSAY)

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Furthermore, she claims that when "new life tears . . . tears holes in the fabric of our dreams at their weakest links . . . the strong emotions this evokes in us can leave an open wound, a wound that fosters healing instead of foreclosure" (page 9). But this possibility is admittedly tricky.

For this tricky possibility to work out, she claims that the person needs to bear with the tension by sacrificing the completeness of the dream of totality. In plain English, the person need to accept that the dream of totality is not going to materialize completely.

By accepting this disappointing realization, the person, she claims, can then live with "an open wound of empathy and communion with what appeared as the other" (page 9).

In her imagery, openness to relatedness to what appeared previously as the other involves having an open wound that somehow engenders a spirit of empathy and communion.

Jung attributes the sense of relatedness to what he terms Eros.

Now, Beatrice Bruteau (1930-2014; Ph.D. in philosophy, Fordham University, 1969) refers to the new feminine era in the psyche of people in contemporary Western culture as involving communion consciousness.

Now, if she is correct about the new feminine era in the psyche of people in contemporary Western culture -- and I think that she is right -- then this new feminine era in the psyche might register on certain people in ways that produce stress in them. As a result of the stress that they are feeling, they may embrace certain personal dreams of totality, or they might embrace a group dream of totality, as a way to resist this rising new feminine era in their psyches.

But perhaps the new era of the feminine dimension in the psyche will somehow engender a new era of the masculine in the psyche -- higher masculinity is the term that Erich Neumann uses in his book THE ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS, translated by R. F. C. Hull (1954; orig. German ed., 1949).

Now, many of Sherry Salman's claims seem to refer to individual person's dreams of totality -- presumably about themselves individually.

However, Sherry Salman also discusses 20th-century examples of totalitarian regimes. Those infamous regimes tried to produce certain group dreams of totality in the material world.

In addition, she discusses contemporary 21st-century examples of certain impulses seemingly designed to produce other groups' dreams of totality in the material world.

No doubt there can be group dreams of totality. No doubt individual persons can buy into group dreams of totality. No doubt 20th-century examples of totalitarian regimes should alert us to watch out for possible new appeals to group dreams of totality that might lend themselves to new forms of totalitarian regimes. No doubt we should be vigilant about such possibilities.

In addition, Sherry Salman repeatedly refers to communications technology (pages 4, 44, 47, 120, 146, 166) and the Internet (pages 18, 25, 61, 77, 146, 175, 185) and the infotainment industry (pages 5, 10, 59, 140, 166) and the World Wide Web (pages 1, 3, 6, 18, 20, 61-62, 77, 146, 174, 181, 183, 185).


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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