Starting with the phrase established at the beginning, which belongs to the short story William Wilson, by the famous American writer Edgar Alan Poe, can a name be so full of misfortunes and calamities that it tarnishes a piece of writing? And if names carry that symbolic history of facts and actions that little by little fill them until they have the capacity to dishonor their legacy, do the names that are inherited from grandfather to father and then to son, or from grandmother to mother and then to daughter, make the latter carry the weight of their ancestors? Or might they even make the same mistakes, or share the same virtues? Is it so full and laden with deposits, their own and others’, that they sully its meaning?
And this last generates another question, which is perhaps the most important in this work: do proper names have meaning? As Poe puts it in that sentence, a name full of misfortunes in its history, which has earned the hatred and contempt of its own lineage, has the capacity to stain the purity of a leaf. In other words, the actions of a person will mark the union of letters that leads to a name to the point that, in the eyes of others, the symbolism and meaning of that name changes completely, and not only that, but also the very conception of the person who carries that name is modified.
The philosopher John Searle (1958) explains that proper names do not correspond to meaninglessness, and that they are a set of characters that are united because they identify something, and that identification is what gives meaning to that something, or what is the same to say that the identification of the object gives meaning to the object itself.
The ethnologist and anthropologist Strauss (1964) explains that, in many of his studies, he found that proper names were not really proper names, since they belonged to the tribe or clan of the people, since they alluded to the occupation of the person within that clan or tribe, to characteristics of the person’s parents, to historical moments of that clan or tribe, even to the animals or part of the animals most representative of that clan or tribe. Therefore, the name of a person had the symbolic burden of being part of that social system, and sometimes the burden of possessing the characteristics that some of his or her ancestors had.
Addressing the classical psychoanalytic perspective, the authors Marcer and Kicillof (1990) mention that for Freud there are few people who do not feel discomfort when another forgets their name, because the proper name is inseparable from the person, in a way it could be said that it is the representation of the very essence of the person, because who is not named is equivalent to nothing, would not have a place within the daily discourse.
I invite everyone to read Matias’ post with the topic of the day.