The Etymon

Okay, so I thought I’d put up a little post about the name of this blog.  The Etymon, in case you didn’t know, means the true meaning of a word. We get the more commonly used etymology from this word. Now, despite being a Greek scholar, once upon a time, I had never heard this word, never knowingly heard it spoken by another human being, until I found it by myself by a curious little word experiment a couple of years ago.

I was journalling in my journal one evening, and I noticed the word “Text’. It occurred to me that the word “Text” carries within it the seed of another word, or another few words in fact. Like extend or extenuating. The last three letters of the word could be the beginning of another word. Aha, thinks I, this could be fun. So, I took Texture as my start, (probably after the name of the news feed in Alan Moore‘s Promethea).  Here’s how it went after that:





O text   (We are back to the beginning – “O” can be used in Greek as a definite article or in English poetically)



Dorsal (around this point I decided that it was the sound that was important, rather than the extact spelling)











I wasn’t sure if Etymon was a word. Imagine my surprise when the dictionary turned up this definition:

Etymon (n) – the true meaning of a word; an original root; the genuine or literal sense of a word (rare) – pl. etyma or etymons.


As I wrote in my journal at the time:

This is an excellent example of something. There is a phenomenon of some kind at work here. As I was writing the prose at the top of the page, I began to become aware of the possibilities, the endless permutations, and sensed the existence of poetic forms, undiscovered idioms jostling in the cosmic flux. I became disillusioned with what I was writing, feeling that there was more power in words than I was harnessing. I thought not of poems, but of the possibility of poems……”

“Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it it will be opened to you…” – Matthew 7:7

This word has proven to be something like a key to a door that is not exactly visible, a door to a realm of knowledge, shall we say. That is a nice metaphor, and perhaps it is something more than that, something literal rather than figurative, since with this word I have found things that have made my toes curl. I have even named my Church after it – The Church of the Etymon. This is my own quasi-religious organisation that values meaning above all things, not unlike the humanist view espoused here by Stephen Fry:

I’m basically down with this, except that I don’t like it when someone starts talking authoritatively about what other people do or not not think. I, for one, do not know if there is a divine plan, but I quite like the idea that there might be one. I agree that the Universe is a natural phenomenon, but I really don’t see how anyone can say for certain that there is no design behind it. I mean, in the materialised world there are plenty of things that are designed. Buildings for example. According to Fry, humanists apparently believe that although there may be such things as designed objects, there is no design behind the creatures that designed these designs. Or that human design is somehow distinct from Divine design. I say design is design.

“I saw design, and it opened up my eyes, I saw design.” – Ace of Bass

Personally, I think that this whole video, and the others in this series are trapped in the Aristotelian either/or world, and also in the world of linear time, in which designing somehow must happen beforehand and that a God, in a religious definition, is a pre-existent being. Another video – this one – seems to be under the impression that the people who believe in an invisible world are necessarily distinct from those who use the scientific method.  This is quite simply a False Opposition, or to put it another way, a steaming pile of horseshit.

The Faithful of Islam laid the entire basis for modern mathematic and scientific reasoning. Newton was a practicing alchemist,or so I hear, and Mendelev came up with the periodic table in a dream. Jesus Christ and all the Saints, give me strength!

Let’s try and scientifically repeat Mendelev’s dream shall we? FFS. Get a grip Stephen. The most rigorous scientist I have ever read was Aleister Crowley, and he may have been the best poet too. Believe me, he’s bloody ruthless, particularly with himself and his own subjective judgements. Crowley warns about confusing subjective reality with objective reality, but he does not deny the validity of subjective reasoning, or the usefulness of objective conclusions.

English: Aleister Crowley's unicursal hexagram.

English: Aleister Crowley’s unicursal hexagram. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am coming round to the idea that God was not here first, there is no first, or second or last, there is just now, and God is here and now and just as real as we are. (As Stephen so rightly says, the time to be happy is now.)

God, in fact, is just another way of defining reality (or so it seems to me). As I have discovered on more than one occasion,

“All roads lead to God, because God is the only place there is.” – Tim Wakefield

Perhaps that is just some kind of weird idiosyncracy of my particular life. Who knows? Perhaps I have a natural predispostion towards the ineffable.

I look around and alls I see is miracles,

miracles and angels,

lit by the light of meaning,

the warm glow of the Etymon.

Peace unto you, brothers and sisters.



One thought on “The Etymon

  1. Pingback: What is the Right Word? | The Etymon

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