Hey there denizens of the internet who happen to have stumbled on to my blog, or have subscribed to it! Phew! Lengthy greeting out of the way, I can now concentrate on what I want to talk about. My inherent mistrust of people who are alive. Wait, let me clarify. I mean theories put forth by people who are alive. Death probably lends them a certain glamour and gravitas that life sorely lacks. For context, I am talking about the Enneagram Tritype theory. While I am happy that the people who put it forth are alive… I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. You might think it is great that they are, and accessible to me with the power of social media. But I happen to think a little differently. I will tell you why. Too much accessibility kills the star quality. It kills the aura of mystery and allure, laying bare before us, the man or woman. Case in point? Like when I finished American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson. Now any time I watch his show re-runs, my way of viewing them has been forever altered. I will always have context now as to what happened behind the scenes on a particular day, and sometimes… Only sometimes… Maybe things work better interpreted subjectively. Without a whole lot of backstory. Jokes for instance. The glimmer of his humour has dimmed a little, but my admiration for him has definitely gone up.
The other reason being, social media allows us to engage in (pseudo) intellectual discourse with these experts, and most of the times the conversations had via this medium lack the depth of research that goes into a painstakingly written book or article. Before you know, a certain kinship owing to the frequency of interaction has developed creating a soft bias in the mind, making one more susceptible to buying into their theory propaganda. Despite being a person with a general proclivity towards skepticism, even I have fallen into this trap; I have been enchanted by “experts” only to realise with some gap of time and reduction in frequency, the loopholes in their explanations and understanding. That led to the inevitable disenchantment with discourse over social media about these kind of topics and more, which require much forethought and careful research before shooting off replies. After all, my generation did project work in school going through dusty tomes and spent long hours in libraries not because of some romanticism they carry, but out of necessity.
Going back to my mistrust of alive theorists, when I was taking apart the Enneagram system to try and understand it; I came upon the tritype theory which posits that each person has a head, heart and gut approach to solving problems; and how they deal with fear, shame and anger either by denying it, expressing it or repressing it. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but Google it if you want to know more. To be honest, I am not sure I understood it fully myself. With every system of typology there is always the chance of fitting the fact to suit the theory and I think that might be one of my prime pet peeves about theorists alive when they apply their theories to explaining pop culture events and people. Then again, my other issue is that it wouldn’t have been in practice for long enough to have earned some modicum of respect as an established system. I am not talking about just peer approval here, but the fact that it lends the system an air of solid comfort. Like that old jumper from ten years which is soft and downy. What it might amount to is just the knee jerk response of skepticism to new theories which I must test for loopholes myself and ensure that they are fool proof. There are so many aspects added to the Tritype theory alone, that it fails to stand as an independently reliable and efficient system with practical application. A theory IMO has to be designed in an elegant and unambiguous manner that makes it easy for the motivated seeker to understand.
The Enneagram (tritype) theory suffers from a lack of consistency in that every test or quiz online yields different results each time. These are not even results close to one another, they are wildly off and different. Given that this tests for behavioral motivation, there is no way to assess that the subject answered with a neutral frame of mind, despite their very best efforts to stay objective. Adding to this colossal pile of confusion is the fact that the Enneagram in some ways is like an invincible many headed sea serpent. There are conflicting views, types applied with instinctual variants, phobic and counter phobic manifestations of a particular type, type fixes, and lots more… There have been times when I had to put the book away or shut my laptop down because my head actually hurt from trying to fit the pieces together in a coherent structure. Since it speaks of behavioural motivations, I think it hardly fair to limit the motivation behind the behaviour of a human being to just three aspects. This theory tries to etch out a person, creating freeze frame allowances only for the past and the present but without laying out a map for the future development of the individual. Besides, any time a supposedly scientific or even psychological theory mentions the word Holy, my skepticism just increases. Holy things have their place, and this might not be it. I may be speaking from a point of limited understanding here but if so, feel free to correct me on it.
Another explanation for why I grapple with this might be that I have a blind spot in how I perceive my Self. For unless I know myself, how can I see myself? But who am I? I am who I was, who I am and who I will be. I am also who I am not. Our cells are regenerating rapidly every single day, that we can roughly say that you are an entirely new you, every seven years. When such is the case, I think Oscar Wilde was right in saying “To define is to limit”.