the naming paradox

30 warning

‘Names not only address what we are, the irreplaceably human, they also anticipate what we become.  Names call us to become who we will be. … A personal name designates what is irreducibly personal; it also calls us to be what we are not yet.’*

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”**

We are the naming species.

As far as we know it, no other species has our preponderance for giving names to all flora and fauna, and absolutely everything: What is it?

When it comes to naming our children, it is with hope for the future: this baby will grow up to be a name-giver, too: reaching out in curiosity, finding out more truth than we have now, and becoming more who they are on the way.

A name says, I am more than my parent’s genes, more than a matriculation number, more than an employee reference.

The paradox is, we can too easily slip into the kind of life that gives all of this up.

(*From Eugene Peterson’s Run With the Horses.)
(**T. S. Eliot, quoted in Jonah Lehrer’s Proust Was a Neuroscientist.)



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