Tuesday, March 31, 2009

of all things visible and invisible...

I've been thinking lately about "naming" and how the ability to NAME something has so much power behind it. This isn't really a new idea for me as most of my women's and colonial literature training has touched on this topic many many times, but lately its been coming back to me. A few weeks ago Karen, Bethany and I were talking about marriage in light of Melisa's upcoming wedding. The three of us got into an interesting discussion of the purpose of marriage outside of a traditional or religious viewpoint. I immediately, instinctually came up with the fact that, for me, the major importance is the ability to name the relationship you have with that person. And yes, I understand how people who buckle under or feel uncomfortable with the expectations and connotation that go along with the traditional and religious views of marriage have a hard time reconciling themselves to agree to be in a relationship that borrows the language of these institutions and traditions, but when it comes down to it, we live in a cultural context in which it is essential to be able to name that important relationship in a way that others can understand and relate to. Does that make sense? Maybe, maybe not. It does to me.
Anyway, marriage is not the only area that this idea of naming has been popping up in. I've been thinking a lot about how 'naming' is such a powerful action; how it can be both empowering and oppressive, liberating and restrictive. I think I need to do some more work in English Lit on this idea because I've been trying to publish this post for the past three days and just keep coming up with fragments of ideas that need to be followed through and worked out.

However, I do want to leave you with this excerpt from a book I finished recently. It wasn't an amazing, blow you away book to be honest. I've read better from Paulo, but I liked this paragraph and this idea...

Many many years before on a night like this, Jacob has not allowed God to leave without blessing him. It was then that the Lord had asked:"What is thy name?"
The essential point was this: to have a name. When Jacob had answered, God had baptized him Israel. Each one has a name from birth but must learn to baptize his life with the word he has chosen to give meaning to that life.

- from Paulo Coelho's "Fifth Mountain"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey. So, this is Nathan writing under my pseudonym.

I'd really like to hear more of your thoughts on this "naming" business. I recently legally changed my name, and it's been a big deal to me for a long time, long before it actually went through.

Anyway, you should write more about this. Thanks for your thoughts.