Flashback Friday: Name Games

A good name is better than precious ointment. — Eccles. 7:1

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

I don’t know why, but naming things is fun. Perhaps, too, it’s a privilege, as illustrated in the Dylan tune, “Man gave names to all the animals, in the beginning.”

Biologists enjoy naming new plants and astronomers new stars and planets. We all enjoy the tussle of coming up with just the right names for our sons or daughters. And many Hollywood stars often begin their careers coming up with a “stage name” for themselves. Cars, dormitories, businesses, streets and books all have names.

Every couple whos had children has probably wrestled with the problem of coming to agreement regarding the names we choose with our spouses. We may not have a say in our own names, but we certainly want a voice in what our kids will be called growing up. It’s one of the privileges of parenthood, isn’t it?

We name our pets and sometimes even name our vehicles. Authors name their stories and books, businesses wrestle with naming new products and owners of race horses must get a thrill out of naming their hoped-for future champions. Maybe we ourselves didn’t have a say in it but the places we live all have names, both the cities as well as the roads, as well as the lakes and even the creeks. Stars and combinations of stars have been named, and our diseases also have names.

Three years ago this month my September Artforum arrived in the mail and as I was paging through the first hundred pages of advertisements for galleries and shows (this edition has near 400 pages again) I was struck by how fascinating or intriguing many of the shows’ titles were. Here’s a sliver from that list of advertised shows. You can read it like a poem, or (if you are a writer) read it as a series of “idea prompts” for a set of essays.

Eighteen Stations
Fly Away
In the Wake
Bare Shouldered Beauty
A Century of Nudes
Line into Color, Color into Line
Jumping Over My Shadow
through patches of corn, wheat and mud
Extensions Made To Trouble Transformation
Facility of Decline
Woman Power
Blockchain Future States
Small Brass Raffle Drum
Some Terrible Problems
This Brutal World
On the Other Side of Tomorrow
Really Good
The Guests All Crowded Into the Dining Room
The Toast is Burning
Three Cats
Waiting for the Barbarians
After Pasteur
Any Fallow Field
serious candy revisited
Remains to Be Seen
Cathedral of the Pines
Silence of the Music
25 years of collaboration
Gathering Clouds
Honor and Disgrace
New Geometries

I find it interesting how the magazine has become so massive, a reflection of the bloated dollar values for serious work in the art market today. The ads feature galleries from New York, Berlin and Hong Kong to Madrid, London and Istanbul. The art scene is a truly international affair.

Locally, I’ve enjoyed the variety of names our local artists come up with for their events and projects. Here’s a another list.

From the Basement
Rust & Flow
Getting Real
Busy Being Born
Underwater Dreaming Bunnies
Saturated Life
Land of Wonder
Collection of Chaos
Life & Art Entangled

This isn’t the first time I thought about names as a blog theme. In July 2009 I made a list of names I’d attached to many of my paintings.

What have you named lately? Do you enjoy coming up with names, or is it simply a necessary evil? For the record half of our geese are named, but the other half are not. It’s a tradition here. We prefer not to name the geese designated for devouring.

Meantime life goes on. It’s the name of the game.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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