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Turtles All the Way Down
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Turtles All the Way Down > Question #6: The Title

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Do you know where the phrase "turtles all the way down" derives from?

What do you think the title means in connection to the story?


message 2: by Olivia (new) - added it

Olivia | 13 comments Mod
When I first picked up the book I hadn't really thought much about the phrase "turtles all the way down", but the title sounded familiar. I figured it was just a figure of speech I had heard in passing.

After doing a little digging, it turns out the phrase has some mythological roots. The idea of "turtles all the way down" has been expressed in a few different ways, by philosophers, poets, and authors alike over the centuries, but it's true origin is unknown. All variations point back to the idea that one suggested concept rests on another, which rests on another, and another and so on.

It didn't really hit me until Chapter 21, when Aza and Daisy discuss the phrase, that "turtles all the way down" and the idea of infinite regress is really a great way of looking at some people's experiences with OCD. Thoughts spiralling down, one thought resting on another, and a problem getting further and further from the beginning all line up with Aza's experiences and the book's title.

I think it's interesting how phrases about philosophical questions and mythology can become a part of regular vocabulary without some of us even realizing it.


message 3: by Rocio (new)

Rocio (rociofarrell) | 64 comments Thanks for the digging Olivia. I was not familiar with the phrase and just thought it was a strange tittle until I came to the part of the book that you mentioned. It is an interesting concept and a very good analogy in this case of how the spiral thought process happens.


message 4: by Maureen (new)

Maureen B. | 212 comments Yes, thanks, Olivia. It reminded me of when I was young and holding a mirror reflecting my image into another mirror, and another, and another . . . I can remember wondering what happened when those images came to an end. Thankfully, I had a reassuring mother!


message 5: by Olivia (new) - added it

Olivia | 13 comments Mod
I'm glad we were able to give a little context to the title Rocio!

And Maureen, I hadn't clued in to that mirror connection but it is so true!


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