Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Naming Names

Some days I wish I could change my name. Today in particular I wish I could change my name, or perhaps that it was unknown to anyone but myself, like a secret name. A secret name that opened up the possibility of a life not hidden or purposely fragmented. A name that, like the self who I envision would bear the name, would fade in and out of the memories of others -- and only as I desired.

Although I have two very important conference papers to write -- my last two papers -- before the end of the month, I have convinced myself that the most important thing for me to do right now is to re-name myself. Re-imagine myself. Re-conceive of the possibilities of myself. And so the last hour or so has been devoted to thinking about names, and which one I should take. Naming the names, and what they mean. I can't help but think, though, that it would not be completely undesireable to be nameless, unnamable (it worked for a Beckett novel). I think that sometimes one's name obscures his or her face.

But names are private, so I can't explain why I'm putting them out there -- undoubtedly one of many competing sets of desires. Conflict. Always conflict. This is what I have so far.

1. Irit (Lot's wife): Because she looked back -- not necessarily in rebellion, but with defiant longing for her daughters who were left behind to burn.

2. Jael: Because she was shrewd enough to invite an evil man into her tent, to partake of her food and company, before driving a tent stake directly through his temples without flinching.

3. Billie: Because she is the only woman I know in the world who loves truly and unconditionally; because she is kind, selfless, and forgiving in ways that I am not.

4. Isha (or Eve): Because she carried the weight of the world on that one decision, that one twist toward opportunity that said simply, I can.

5. Rahel: Because she was buried on the side of a slightly traveled road, quickly; and because she used the idea of menstrual blood to purify her father's idols, knowing full well he would see them as tainted.

6. Becky (Sharp): Because she was shrewd, and she laughed and danced her way to the top of the world.

7. Cebelas: Because she was my grandmother, named by her father after a beautiful fountain in Italy; because she laughed loud and long; because she was taken from me before we could finish picking strawberries in her garden; and because I can't carry her inside of me anymore.

8. Orpah (Ruth's sister-in-law): Because everyone forgets about her; because she had the courage to return to her family and an old way of life. And for that, she is hidden from the text.

9. Lola: Because she was a showgirl.

10. Molly (Bloom): Because she said Yes at the end of a very long and painful journey; because she had the final word.

11. Dewey Dell: Because she was sexual; because she was alive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about Oprah?