Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dot-5 "N"

That’s the Braille description for the word “name.” You don’t want to use four cells if you can get away with two; a single function dot (dot five) in front of the first letter (n) is the simplest way to form this particular word.

Name. Everybody has one, every object has one, every procedure has one. It helps us nail things down quickly: “I’m Tom Carten” (understood: Carten family in general, member name Tom).

What was your work? I played records over the radio. In other words, a disc jockey by name. You? A teacher, a lawyer, a short-order cook. All names for professions.

Suppose we didn’t use names. Cop pulls us over and asks, “What’s your name?” I say, “I don’t have one.” He goes, “You gotta have a name.” I reply, “I am who I am, just a person and I don’t happen to have been named.”

Celebrities change their names, sometimes legally: Joe Doakes is now John Smith, in real life as well as in public. Others may use a stage name, but keep their own: former entertainer Garry Moore was known as such only during his tv show; in his home town he was Thomas Garrison Morfit to friends and neighbors.

We name our pets, our boats, hurricanes and branded products. We try to make our products household names (Xerox), and then fight like crazy to keep them from being so familiar (xerox copy) that it loses its protection.

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