Thursday, January 5, 2012

I wrote the following as a comment to a post on the blog 
a wonderful blog that always encourages me to think. Bill was discussing
the trouble we have remembering names. I however was struck more by
how transitory names can be and the futility of thinking that they matter 
on a planet 4 plus billion years old in a universe some 13 plus billion
years old. I notice I have quoted a number of poets lately on the very
human impulse to name things and the equally human impulse
to complain about it. I did edit the comments below to provide
more information.

"As I survey the puncture mark in my jacket; we were visiting our cabin and the
barbed wire gate is a work in progress, I was struck by your problem with
remembering which wall represented which neighbour. Land does often have, at
least today, a designation based on names/ownership. Our 80 acres originally
belonged, I believe to a family named Dall I am not sure if they homesteaded
the 160 acres (quarter section which we subdivided) under the Dominion Lands
Act or if they came later, then the land passed to my wife's family and now to us.
In the future their name will disappear along with the few stones that are
left of their foundation. How long our land will be associated with us
I cannot say. But as long as the land itself is crossed with tracks in the winter
and shadowed by the dance of leaves in summer I guess I can be content.
                Maybe the name does not matter."                                                          


" Only on me, the lonely one,
The unending stars of the night shine,
The stone fountain whispers its magic song.
To me alone, to me the lonely one
The colourful shadows of the wandering clouds
Move like dreams over the open countryside.
Neither house nor farmland,
either forest nor hunting privelege is given to me,
What is mine belongs to no one,
The plungeing brook behind the veil of the woods,"

The Poet
Hermann Hesse
translated by James Wright


Kathiesbirds said...

Guy, I love these thoughts and that poem. I have felt that feeling but never gave it voice. Hesse captured it so well. Thanks for posting this.

As for naming things, I think we humans do that because it gives us a sense of control and order and for me, a name makes something real. When I cannot name a person, place or feeling, it causes me fear, for I cannot define it and I do not know what it is. It causes me confusion, especially when it comes to emotion. When I can name what I am feeling, then I am no longer afraid. Does this make sense? These are good questions. I think the mistake comes in thinking that if we name something, we also own it and we cannot own the earth, or a person for that matter!

Kathiesbirds said...

Madaleine L"engle wrote a whole book about naming in her space trilogy for children. I think the book is titled, "A wind in the Door"

Guy said...

Hi Kathie

That makes perfect sense to me. When we name something to claim ownership your right, we are often claiming something we have no right to. But the very human impulse to name things as part of our understanding of our place in the world, is I agree, a big part of how we define ourselves and our environment. Naming things is of course a really a big part of a child’s education and I think we lose something when we stop asking the names of things. As bird watchers or nature lovers we tend to want to know the name of everything, plant, bird or bug. From there you can begin to understand the role creatures play. Also one thing people like to do is share their experiences with others and names are a big part of that. Your point about naming feeling and emotions is really interesting I had not thought of it that way but I can see it is an important part of knowing yourself and developing your relationship with others. Your comments really made me think and I will have consider them further.


Guy said...

Hi Kathie

I enjoyed the Madaleine L'engle books and as I collect SF and Fantasy books I will still have them around somewhere. I will have to revisit A Wind in the Door.

All the best.