Monday, November 24, 2014

#MicroblogMondays: Liminal

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 lim·i·nal
ˈlimənl/
adjective
  1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

One of the questions on the supplemental application for high school hopefuls trying to gain admission to the hallowed halls of the institution where I work is: "Favorite Word."

I don't know if I had had a favorite word in high school, but I know what it is now.

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is the indeterminate phase in the middle of rituals, when the participants in the ritual are no longer exactly as they were before the ritual, but have not yet assumed the role that they will assume after its is complete. Imagine standing in the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and you've pictured a liminal space exactly.

That's exactly where we are now: on the threshold, on the thin line between fall (a balmy afternoon in the 60s) and winter (snow forecast for Wednesday), not really in either, but somewhere on the edge.  One of my students asked me to tea today off campus, and it couldn't have been a more perfect day to escape for a little while.  If it hadn't been for her, I might have missed it.

What's your favorite word?  Are you bracing for transition?  Or have you crossed over?
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3 comments:

  1. Oooh. One of my favorites too!

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  2. I first heard this word years ago used inappropriately. It was during a final exam and one of my follow classmates accused our professor of being liminal before he stomped out of the exam. It wasn't until today that I put two and two together (I'm assuming he meant limited), which makes that memory a bit more amusing.

    The one I just learned (and am trying to embrace) is Eunoia.

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  3. I love the word "liminal." I wrote about the idea of liminal friends a long time ago (http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2007/12/liminal-friends-for-adults/).

    ReplyDelete

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