stein-picasso“‘A rose is a rose is a rose’.”
“By any other name, too?”
“Call it a Hershey bar; it’s still what it is.”
“Oh no. Here we go again.”
“I’m with Emerson on this.”
“Oh yeah?”
“What did he say?”
“In ‘Self-Reliance’ he spells it out. I agree. When I read and understood this, it changed my point of view on everything:

“Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs. Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance

Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_ca1857_retouched“And that means?”
“We call a lot of things a lot of things, but it does not affect their essential nature. They ARE what they are. Our names – labels – get between us and authentic experience, reality. Calling a rose ‘Lamont’ or ‘Thunderbird’ or ‘Binary’ doesn’t change it at all. These ‘names’ are completely abstract, they don’t even touch the surface, but we mistake them for the fact.”
“So what? We have to call stuff something.”
“Yes, but we need to remember that WE did that. Language is a tool of society to help us communicate with each other. A great gift, indeed, but there is implicit in the whole notion of language the idea of consensus. We have to agree on meanings. In doing this we often stop experiencing reality and begin to experience the idea that society agrees on.”
“Are you always like this?”
“No, well, no. But I’ve experienced this. For years my students called me ‘Martha.’ I began having problems with being disrespected.  My office mate said I should demand to be called ‘Professor Kennedy’ and so it is. The difference could be measured. Students respect the title; they expect a kind of distance and authority. My ideal of a perfect class is everyone working together as equals to solve problems and write well. This is not my students’ idea of ‘class’ at all. I don’t even think their idea has much to do with learning. It’s a room and an ambiance and certain distinct roles. If you give people what they expect, they are happier than if you constantly challenge them to ‘examine if it be goodness’. Class SHOULD be a place where people learn. It is not that. It is a room in which people sit in seats and a professor stands or sits in front and tells students things.”
“Ah. So ‘Professor’ is a gesture toward consensus?”
“It makes it easier for me to conduct a class the way I have learned actually teaches.”
“Well, professor, are you still trying to teach ‘Self-Reliance’?”
“No. Not for twenty years.”
“Why not?”
“How about those Lakers?”


Call them what you will:

  1. Weekly Writing Challege: Power of Names | Our Baby Dreams
  2. Weekly Writing Challege: Power of Names | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  3. What’s in a name | Love your dog
  4. Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names | Under the Monkey Tree
  5. More Than A Name | snapshotsofawanderingheart
  6. Weekly Writing Challege: Power of Names | ManicMedic
  7. Melissa|The Meaning | melissuhhsmiles
  8. Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names | B.Kaotic
  9. Faithfully Named | It’s a wonderful F’N life
  10. The Power of a Name | Short & Sharp
  11. A Rose by Any Other Name… | Artfully Aspiring
  12. my name is larry | eastelmhurst.a.go.go

17 thoughts on “Porkchops

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