What is Metaxyturn?


Metaxy is an English word used by Simone Weil among others. It means ‘the between’ in distinction from the absolutes that point to the extremes of experience: life and death, for example.

Metaxyturn is my neologism for the point when consciousness becomes aware of this space as distinct from the self; when the striving of the self to transcend its lack ceases because that lack has been answered from beyond the self. With Metaxyturn the ‘metaxy’ or ‘between’ becomes plurivocal being.

Paul Ricoeur (Time and Memory) defines our ‘first relationship’ to language in terms not of speech but of listening. He applies this to Augustine on ‘the return from error.’ Metaxyturn is the point in a text or dialogue when one’s speech dries up, autonomous consciousness becomes void, and we start to listen to the other and to each other.

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Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Portland OR and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at tom.develyn@comcast.net. D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at http://tdevelyn.com and other sites.

2 thoughts on “What is Metaxyturn?”

  1. This is helpful. Of course if you mean ‘the absolutes that point to the extremes of experience’ that is what you mean, but I wonder if this could read ‘ the absolutes that point to the extremes of experience and the extremes of experience that point to the absolutes of reality’. But obviosuly taht may not be necessary of desired!


    1. Well, ‘point to’ may be a way of responding ing to the difficulty of understanding ‘absolutes’; it’s also worth noting that the metaxy is a response to the ‘same’ things that provoke apocalyptic response. Metaxy includes the grammar of analogy and hyperbole and responds to tensions which, in fundamentalism, disfigure open consciousness, close it to the transcendent other.


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