Is the classification of names into things always truly arbitrary? Or is there not some meaning to how something is named? While a name itself is a primitive sign and cannot be dissected any further by means of a more detailed definition, there are names, which, when given, seem to be replete with profound and sometimes mystical significance.
Names have power. The name Jehovah, considered too sacred by the Jewish people to even utter. Or Macbeth, never spoken by superstitious theater folk. They revere Janus, the Roman god of doors. A smile and a frown he has. Of new beginnings.
At the name of Christ, every knee shall bow. Buddha, the enlightened. Mohammed, the prophet. The name of the slough was Despond. Keat’s name was written in water. And some are written in fire.
Names have numerological significance too. Readers of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” will recall that Pierre Bezukhov, under the influence of his brother Freemasons, managed to turn the name of Napoleon into numbers, th esum of which equals 666. The name of the beast, or the number of his name. “Breath not his name, let it sleep in the shade where cold and unhonored his relics are laid.”
King Solomon’s name is forever remembered for his wealth and his wisdom. Don Quixote is the buffoon who fought and chased windmills, thinking they were dragons. Still, the world hardly remembers the women in their lives, Queen Bathsheba who captured King Solomon’s eyes, and the maiden Dulcinea, who rejected Don Quixote’s every approach. Never tell anyone a baby’s Christian name until after it is christened or the pixies and fairies may hear it and charm the child away.
And who could forget the ugly dwarf Rumpelstilskin, who taught a village girl how to spin gold from straws, but threatened to take her child away? Sirens and mermaids, the lovely creatures who lured sailors to the depths of oceans, revealed their names only to their men of desire. But be forwarned. “They have a more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. Some may have escaped from their singing, but from their silence, certainly never,” speaks Franz Kafka in “Parables”. Witches and warlocks have names to conjure with. And there are names that live forevermore. Norse, Roman and Greek myths and legends are replete with names of gods, goddesses, demi-gods, demigoddesses, even mortals and the cities of yore and lore, which have become rootwords in terms of common use today.
My name is Legion, for we are many. And it was archangel Gabriel who bore the news among the angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim.
Some names are being removed at the turning of night and day in the book of life. And others cannot be removed until their time comes.
Writers carry a nom de plume. Warriors, a nom de guerre. Tell me honestly, do you like your name? Are you not bored with it? As a child, didn’t you want to be called something else? A name with more dash, more spirit? You wondered how your parents could have been so lacking in imagination to have named you as they did to say nothing of the surname they, or at least one of them, inherited.
And if by Jungian synchronicity (Jungian, taken from the name of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung), you share a common name with a hunted man, that wish to chase your name even grows stronger.
You wear your name like a hidden shirt. But once it is revealed to someone, it can never be properly hidden. That person can never then forget that you are wearing it. Having explained to your friends that you are “X”, they will forever think of you in terms that may be simply called as “X”. It is a pure sign of you, and why, and what you are, and where you come from. A name means an object. An object with a meaning.
“My name is for my friends,” says T.E. in “Lawrence of Arabia.” Indeed. Once given out, your name may be used for or against you. But there is power in the unspoken name, in the mold of the main character in the movie “The Usual Suspects.”
In the man with no name, who had also been made hero a thousand times over in movies and in works of literature. The stranger. He rides into town, shoots all the villains dead and then rides away again.
Anonymous. The best name of all.
14 June 2000