8.16.2010

Namers and Un-namers

I would say that more than half of L'Engle's A Wind in the Door was read during the preparation, creation, and consumption of Jessie's house-famous blueberry waffles. That lady wields that waffle iron with the dexterity and grace of an Olympic Waffle Gymnast!
Picture
M.W. Corley
L'Engle's Fairy Land follows MacDonald's precepts in that she creates a world of utter fantasy, at times straining my human imagination, and all the while keeps within her world's laws. And these laws are given a certain blunt and blazing credence of possibility. To me they are our laws, our science, our metaphysics, axiology, and theology, the themes we seem to take for granted or that we often shallowly confess that we believe; L'Engle has just taken these to the nth degree, to their logical or rather hyper-logical extreme. They are stretched so far that the picture is that of brilliant interconnectivity (or Zusammenhang as Novalis put it): Where does not matter. Size does not matter. Silence as pure communication. Movement without moving. Matter mattering. Good, love having actual power over evil.
The most poignant and pervasive theme of this story is the act of Naming and Un-naming. These concepts bring chilling import to concepts of utterance, action, conception and the power that such things have. Perhaps if we understood that responsibility we would be more careful with our words. Michael Edwards in the introduction to Towards a Christian Poetics discusses Adam the Namer, his "momentous linguistic act" of naming the animals; "he could name them in such a way that the creatures, his understanding of them, and the mental and physical properties of his words, would perfectly rhyme." He continues Post-Fall into a world where words, as T.S. Eliot states, "slip, slide, perish", where reality and naming have become disjoined.

"We arrive after generations of shady complicity between language and the world, to find ourselves in an inextricable yet incongruous texture of words, self, things. The incongruity of language, however, is precisely our chance. The flaw between word and object, the flaws within words (the apartness of sound and sense, for example), and the complex obscurities of meaning, impel the imagination... It is this possibility, of re-naming, with which I shall be mostly concerned. I am proposing that language, by hints of its own renewal, adumbrates no less than the renewal of reality, of ourselves, of the disrupted harmonies."


Raskin
Words, and as L'Engle stresses, words of love, have immense importance. I love this song of the farae and the stars:
I Name you Echthroi.
I Name you Meg.
I Name you Calvin.
I Name you Mr. Jenkins.
I Name you Proginoskes.
I fill you with Naming.
Be!
Be, butterfly and behemoth,
be galaxy and grasshopper,
star and sparrow,
you matter,
you are,
be!
Be caterpillar and comet,
be porcupine and planet,
sea sand and solar system,
sing with us,
dance with us,
wind and fire,
the words of the Glory.

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