Monday, June 1, 2015
Doors, doors, as Tom says. The characteristic of a door is that it is neither in nor out but both. Edgewood is a door name (not in the wood, not out of it, "Daily Alice lay in a pool in a medieval forest") and there are the character names that are inside and outside humanity, George inside and Mouse outside, or Alice inside and Daily outside, or Smoky Barnable, which is swinging always towards the word barnacle without ever reaching it. The Wind in the Willows has a man in a car who is also Toad.
Why don't Crowley's unhumanning names belong, in my mental categorisation, with the names in the David Ireland books I've read, also unhumanning, "The Meatman," for instance, from The Glass Canoe, or "Far Away Places" in The Unknown Industrial Prisoner? All of them are named like this: the Sandpiper, the Humdinger, Land of Smiles, the Two Pot Screamer, etc. Why do I think of Ireland's names as nicknames and Crowley's as proper names, even though Ireland doesn't tell you the other name that the nickname has replaced?
(I start to suck my teeth and consider the "the" that prefaces so many of the Ireland names while Crowley's are "the"-less. And want to say that this prevalence of "the" is a sign that we should consider the names as if they are titles attached distantly to the people, in the way that a man who is a modest Dan might be "the king" or "the colonel" when people point at him. That emphasis on the name coming from the outside and not growing from within, as Crowley's names appear to have grown: as though they have come to the characters to express the fluttering intrinsic fairy unhumanity of which they are not necessarily aware.
But Ireland's characters have their humanity displaced or disregarded or narrowed by the name in spite of themselves; it is not the truth of them, says Ireland implicitly when he shows you the Meatman daydreaming over the grass at the golf course. If the Meatman had been named for himself, he would be Lawn.
Also the satirical hostility of Ireland and the gentleness of Crowley.)