The apple of my eye: a reading

At some point in our evolution, at the very early stages of our journey, our ancestors named the pupil and the eye.

In Hebrew, the word for “pupil” is אישׁון, “little man”. Similarly in Latin, it is “pupilla”, a doll (a dominutive of boy/girl).

When the English Bible translates “The apple of my eye”, it is literally “The little man of my eye”.

One naked ape looked into the eye of another and saw himself, reflected. For that primitive innocent, that reflection is powerful, an image not dual to reality, but part of reality with the same ontological status as the reflected. Not merely the Platonic shadow we commonly accept today. There really is a little man who exists. Where does he exist? In the eye. And so the ape named it as such.

But we could go further with archeo-linguistic fantasy. I’d hypothesise that it was the act of looking into the other ape’s eye and perceiving the little man, the pupilla, that was one and the same with the birth of both language and religion.

There was no language, no selfhood, no God, before that primal act of mirroring (and mirror naming).

The ape looks into the eye of the other, and sees the little doll, the totem, the image of his self, captured. This mirroring is a linguistic capture: if there is a mirror, there is the capacity to reflect, to represent. And if there is representation, there is language. Before mirroring, there is no capacity to reflect via signs, no representation, no language.

The “little man” is the prime totem, the first totem, from which other signs are born (all signs are derivative fragments of that first totem). He is the prime totem because he designates that first reflection, he reflects reflection itself: he is the sign of language. He reflects the ape, reflecting upon reflection: a feedback loop that transforms the ape into man, his entrance into humanity.

But this act of perception, the genesis of the little man: this was not Platonic for our ancestors. That’s why the little man is a totem. He’s not a “mere” image, a projection onto a surface. He’s not the dual of a reflected entity. He’s real, as a totem in his own right, as the little man distinct from the ape who perceives and names. Yet he is connected to the ape and the ape’s emerging language.

For our ancestors, the mirroring, the formation of the little man in the eye was fundamentally uncanny, transcendent, spiritual, religious. The little man is not an ape, he’s a (linguistic) reflection of an ape (biology): he’s the reality of language and representation conflated or connected with the biology of the ape, with the eye of the other.

The little man, the pupil, is therefore the primal uncanny conjunction of technology (language) with the body. And as we have argued before: this conjunction is the essence of religion. Where the machinery of word is connected to the machinery flesh.

This uncanny conjunction can be expanded upon, in the sense that there is a sign complex which crystallises its power. Because it relies on an implicit conduit (that evolves, much later, into the fetish of the Tailorite creed).

This conduit itself came to be known as “the daughters” – the descendant women. The daughters were the way our ancestors thought of dependency. The little man of language is dependent on a conduit to tie him to the biology of the eye. Dependency is descent, physical relationship: daughterhood. This daughterhood – this dependency – is the nature of religious revelation, it is the transcendent, uncanny bridge necessary to connect word to flesh. And once the little man is named, the uncanny bridge of naming must also be named, the crystallization of religious reflection, the first derivative totem.

So the ape became shaman and we worshiped the daughter.

This lineage is contained within the oft mistranslated psalm:

Keep me as the little man, the daughter of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings (Psalm 17:8)

The daughter, as a (rainbow) connection/derivative, figures within the complex as herself a reflection of the fantasy of utter transcendence, the primal scene of the mother (the palace of binah) containing the supernal point of the hidden father (the point of hokmah).

That is, the daughter is derivation/likeness, from little man/word into flesh sight. So her totem is of resemblance – family resemblance – religiously conflated with the abstract concept of dependency. And so when we worship her, we worship biological resemblance – but independent of biology.

What is resembled? Another eye: the mother as the palace/womb, the carrier of the little man (an upper conduit not a lower) across the eye. A “daughter/derivation of the eye”, now not of the flesh of man but the flesh of the hidden father, God.


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