“The Namers” / Memorable Fancies #535

     The Namers are a special kind of people in our country, both acclaimed and reviled. We go to a Namer when there’s something new, something that didn’t have a name before, or had a name that must be changed, like a product that didn’t sell. Names, after all, are the real real; the Namers figured that out, and got rich.      When a dictator falls, the Namers remove his name from the streets that had honored him, the stadiums, the newborns. No more Adolf-Hitler Strassen, for instance, after … [Read more...]

“The Names” / Memorable Fancies #527

     We were requested to sign up so that the authorities would have a list of those who have signed up. It seemed nonsensical at the time, but more innocuous than most of their initiatives. And so we complied.      We are hiding now as our names are called, one by one, over and over. My own name has been called so many times that it begins to sound strange, as if I were someone else. <END>      If you liked this post, please tell your friends and share a comment here or in … [Read more...]

“The Names IV – ‘We are forgetting the names of things'” / A Memorable Fancy #282

We are forgetting the names of things: how they sound, what they mean. It began about a year ago. Once in a while I remembered a word like “skillet” or “plate,” but then quickly forgot it. We were reduced to saying “You know, those things we use to…” cook in, or place food on, or whatever. But gradually, the phrase “Those things we use to…” became, for us, just another kind of name, and we’re forgetting these, too. We gesture now, wordlessly. We point, we wave our arms silently until the … [Read more...]

“The Names – III” / A Memorable Fancy #270

I’m an advisor to the King, but safety lies in looking wise and advising nothing. So I will not tell him that there are too many names already, too many things; that it would be good for us to have some perceptions we don’t put a label on; that knowing the name of a thing is not the same as knowing the thing itself, even though most learning in our schools stops there; and that just because a thing is called some “thing” doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as that other thing that’s also called the … [Read more...]

“The Names – II” / A Memorable Fancy #266

[“Could one then do without names?” – Wittgenstein] Alfred abandons his name. He asks his friends not to call him “Alfred” anymore, not to call him anything. Names, he thinks, say both too little about him and too much. Why do people think they know him when they know only his name? “‘One,’ I shall be called,” he announces one day, as in “One knows very well that…,” or “One can fly from Zurich to Budapest now.” One has wisdom and power, he thinks, as in “upon reflection, One can readily … [Read more...]

“The Names – I” / A Memorable Fancy #263

The King appointed a Royal Namer. Actually, he appointed four of them, one after another, until he found one who avoided the hangman by finally learning the art – no, let’s call it “the trick” – of Naming. You can probably tell from that that I don’t much like what the Namer does. Don’t we have enough names for things already? Take last week, for example. The Namer said “cream cheese” and cream cheese appeared; that is, we saw that something soft and white and edible now had a name, and … [Read more...]

“The Names – II” / A Memorable Fancy #060

     Jim wants to be called James, but everyone calls him Jimmy. In desperation, he moves to a city where he is not known. When meeting someone, he says “Hi, I’m James,” often followed by his surname. But as people get to know him, they start calling him “Jimmy.” He changes his name to Ethan, there being no nickname for Ethan. He says “Hi, I’m Ethan.” They say, “Hi, Jimmy.”  … [Read more...]