Metempsychosis is a philosophical term in the Greek language referring to the belief of transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. It is a doctrine popular among a number of Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Druzism[1] wherein an individual incarnates from one body to another, either human, animal, or plant.[2] Generally the term is only used within the context of Greek Philosophy, but has also been used by modern philosophers such as Schopenhauer[3] and Kurt Goedel[4]; otherwise the phrase transmigration is more appropriate. The word also plays a prominent role in James Joyce‘s Ulysses.

In Ulysses, Joyce describes metempsychosis as a psychic phenomenon in which souls can communicate over space. As Joyce conceives metempsychosis, two people unbeknownst to one another can sense need and compatibility through a shared psychic ether, not unlike what Jung described as the collective unconscious. Thus Stephen and Bloom meet, and the artist finds his voice.

Sometimes the things we most need in life come from people we don’t know. We are all in this together.

These encounters can last a lifetime or an instant, but nonetheless are part of what makes us feel whole, like we belong in the world.


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