Plep yesterday featured Apmonia, The Modern Word‘s Samuel Beckett page. I’m familiar with the site and its wonderful author sections, but I wondered about the odd name. It turns out to come from Beckett’s early novel Murphy; the quotes page has the relevant passage from the first chapter:
Murphy’s purpose in going to sit at Neary’s feet was not to develop the Neary heart, which he thought would quickly prove fatal to a man of his temper, but simply to invest his own with a little of what Neary, at the time a Pythagorean, called the Apmonia. For Murphy had such an irrational heart that no physician could get to the root of it. Inspected, palpated, ausculated, percussed, radiographed, and cardiographed, it was all that a heart should be. Buttoned up and left to perform, it was like Petrouchka in his box. One moment in such labour that it seemed on the point of seizing, the next in such ebullition that it seemed on the point of bursting. It was the mediation between these extremes that Neary called the Apmonia. When he got tired of calling it the Apmonia, he called it the Isonomy. When he got sick of the sound of Isonomy he called the the Attunement. But he might call it what he liked, into Murphy’s heart it would not enter. Neary could not blend the opposites in Murphy’s heart.
Now, isonomy is an English word (meaning ‘equality of laws, or of people before the law’), as is attunement, but not so “apmonia”; where did Beckett get it? I googled, and on the first page of results found a Greek book page that included the title EPΩTIKH APMONIA [erotikí armonía]. The upper-case form of the Greek word αρμονία ‘harmony’ happens to look exactly like Latin-alphabet “apmonia”; Beckett had presumably noticed this at some point and made a note of it for future use.