1 Jul
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What’s Your Name?

I’m fascinated by the fictional society Ursala Le Guin has created in Always Coming Home. Especially the names of the characters, and the way they get them.

The characters in the book have a First name, a Middle name, and a Last name. But it’s not like our names, which we get all at once when we’re born. They get a name when they’re born, which is their First name. And then they get a Middle name later, when they’re in the middle of life…when they become an adult or when they’ve established themselves in some kind of identity. And then in the last part of their life, they get a Last name.

Their families give them their First name. This is not a city culture, so their names are usually taken from nature. The narrator’s Fist name is North Owl. Thorn is another example. Or Agate.

Their Middle name comes from something about their habits or character, or an important event in their life. It can be given by a family member, or by an important teacher, or it can be a name that they choose for themselves. The narrator’s Middle name is Woman Born Above Others. Ewe Dance in another example. Or Willow. Or Ire.

I haven’t gotten to the end of the book, so I’m not exactly sure, but the Last name seems to be the most personal. It’s usually a name one declares for oneself, but it can also be given. It can come from a vision. Or a vocation. Or from a great change of life. The narrator’s Last name is Stone Telling. Old Cave Woman is another example. Or Mouse Dance. Or Corruption.

I’m past the middle part of my life, so if I were to get a new name, it would be my Last. I wonder what it would be.

Something to do with Inspiration and Imagination and Enjoyment, I hope. Solitude would probably be a part of it. Maybe something like Reads A Lot.



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