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On Names

A close friend of mine has a popular name. She struggles to identify herself, to take strength in her unique being, and she is defied by her name: she is one of millions with this name. The galactic central planning committee gathers to converse and meditate on this problem for a thousand years. One venerable and whiskered planner ends the silence offering, “On our planet, Omicron Theta, we solved this dilemma by giving every new cloned O’Thetan a unique identifier. The monosyllabic names went first (Lars, Barb, Flin, etc.), then the duo syllabic names (Lucile, Laura, Robert, etc.), and on and on. By our eighteenth generation, the impediment of referring to each other by our octosyllabic names revealed the inefficiency of our schema, especially when making references in our academic journals and other publications. O’Thetans simply shortened their names to one or two syllables when making polite conversation over tea. Non-conformists subverted the naming system altogether by choosing abstract sygils in lieu of pronounceable names. This was over five thousand years ago. While we have kept these longish names for standards compliance purposes, today we all generally go by the name of Bob and rely on our advanced olfactory glands to distinguish each others unique nature…” As Bob seemed to be finished, galactic central planner 2304598723049234523097102532341- 57890123502389513453245789710345-1239481723- 58971234895713 began what in fact was an interruption. But before 2304598723049234523097102532341- 57890123502389513453245789710345-1239481723- 58971234895713 could finish introducing himself, attention had drifted back to Bob who was further describing the contemporary O’Thetan naming system. “As it happens, in every generation there are O’Thetans born without developed sensory glands, and navigating our society for them, is understandably nightmarish. These O’Thetans cannot even discern there own unique nature — in effect, they are nameless to themselves (although we could discern their identity quite readily). For their name, they rely more heavily on the old system, and they shorten their octosyllabic name to a monosyllabic one such as Biff or Sam, without being stigmatized as being overly pretentious or affected. Such names helps them in identifying themselves as unique beings, even as they remain nearly blind in identifying the rest of society as the rest do. Ironically, in adapting to their olfactory deficiencies, their light sensory lobes often become more sensitive and are capable of discerning our body shapes, musculature and skeletal structure and these handicapped O’Thetans have taken upon themselves the curious habit of mapping these external physical characteristics to certain subtle personality deviancies otherwise hidden to ordinary O’Thetans. Only at our academic conferences are these handicapped O’Thetans capable of putting a name to a face, as it were.” At that, the galactic central planning committee politely applauded Bob O’Thetan for his contribution, ascended from their lotus pond, and drifted to the buffet for corn dogs and spinachopita.

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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