End wall of reception room covered in mirrors.

Chiasmus


Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country

John F. Kennedy (1961)



A chiasmus is neither an eclectic, a collocation of externally related parallel lines. Nor is it a dialectic, a synthesis by which two apparently contradictor opposites are both internalised in a neutral stabilising third.

John Llewelyn (1991)


The Christian cross can be seen as a special example of the Greek Chi (χ), the first letter of ‘anointed’ and hence our word Christ. Chi also gives us the word chiasmus from its two arms, with the idea of two lines of thought meeting, exchanging and going on their separate ways. As Llewelyn emphasises, a chiasmus is not a set of ideas placed side by side, nor the synthesis derived from a dialectic process, but more a cross-fertilisation. Hence the significance of the asymmetry of the letter. So might it be that a chiasmus emerges from the lines of thought on the last two pages: Projections and Mirror Neurons. If it is often the case that we see ourselves when we view others - projection - does that not fit neatly with the concept of self stemming from the concept of the other - mirror neurons?

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President John F. Kennedy’s famous example of a chiasmus was given at his Inaugural Address on 20th January 1961. John Llewlyn assays the idea of chiasmus in a number of his books, this quote is from The Middle Voice of Ecological Consciousness p. 197, published by Macmillan. The cross in the photograph surmounts mount Teide on Tenerife. At this violently wind torn 3,718 metre high location, it seems two ideas are indeed meeting, interacting, and parting - reified in the realms of heaven and earth.

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