Welcome to Marginamia! So, what is it all about, you ask? This blog is no more about names than it is about design, beauty, creativity, and the stories we create. Names, however, are the uniting thread of the various other subjects we will examine. They are the marginalia,the notes in the margins (the names in the margins, rather), of everything else we'll see here together.
For the most part, the names here (just like the subject matter with which they dance from post to post) are on the fringes of popular trends and practices. Just as you don't find a lot of married couples who make a life of refurbishing thrifted objects, making jewelry, neither do you find a lot of couples named Artemis and Nao. I find both elements about them (their livelihood/creative endeavors and their names) intriguing, artful, and beautiful.
While indulging my many interests, from architecture to poetry, when I find creative people with interesting lives and wonderful talents, I always end up intrigued by the inventive and beautiful names I find alongside them. Whether those are their own names or the names of their children, the names of their creations or simply names that their ideas, work, and lives inspire in me, names abound.
I'm not going to claim that creative people have interesting names, or further, that creative names make creative people, but I know that where you find interesting, artful subject matter, more often than not, a field of beautiful names opens up for the plucking. My hope is that here we will find and create beautiful names, uncover meaningful stories and ideas, and peek in on inspiring people.
Often parents are looking for wonderful inspiration from which to select a name, and I think there are no better worlds to peer in on for that inspiration than the worlds of art and design, myth, natural beauty and family history. These are the worlds populated by things that we love precisely because we're human, precisely because we are conscious, creating beings who, well, name things. Should creating a name (a composition of sounds and meanings) be approached any differently from taking a beautifully composed photograph? Should it be any less inspired, artful, thoughtful or meaningful?
Where better to start instilling a sense of magic and beauty than with the sounds we will use evermore to call out to our children, the sounds that they will hear linked with their beings for the duration of their lives? I think those sounds are better off to be beautiful and meaningful to us and our children.
I'm not suggesting that everyone have a never-before-used-by-anyone-else-on-the-planet Fable. Though we will be visiting many one-of-a-kind type word names here, a little Louis or Edna can be just as inspired and meaningful. I am also not saying that all "creative" names are necessarily thoughtful ones, that if a child is named Banjo, for example, that he or she is automatically carrying a meaningful or inspired name. As with all things, context is absolutely key; it's what creates meaning. Context is what I'm imploring us to consider; why are we making the selections we're making?
I want to be clear from the outset about where I stand on inspired, unexpected, compositionally beautiful and creative names, so that this blog doesn't have to spend it's energy having this discussion over and over: I love these names just as much as I love a handmade quilt, painting, or that perfect song at the perfect time. I absolutely do. not. think. unusual names will cause damage to a child. Baring obscenities, a name is not going to scar a child for life, and we have a wide pool of evidence to support this.
Let's please stop worrying about and giving all of our focus to potential teasing for the names we choose for our kids. How about we just involve children (and ourselves) with people who can appreciate (or at least kindly dismiss) qualities of individuality? How about we work on the people who don't like to tolerate differences, rather than work to conform everyone else to fit within their comfort zones(maybe we all grow or surprise each other?) How about we instill in our children the confidence to love about themselves all of the things that go into making them individuals?
Ultimately, if parents want creative and inspired children, parents should live creative and inspired lives; naming a child beautifully and creatively isn't going to seal the deal for her any more than giving her a more ordinary name will make her a more ordinary person. But why not make the name selection the first in a long line of choices that will sculpt your family on your terms?
"Shouldn't we let the child define herself on her terms, not on ours?" Of course, but that will happen more in how we treat our children throughout their lives, and they are much more likely to be inspired to sculpt themselves on their terms if they have parents who make similar choices for their family unit (against the backdrop of a sometimes protesting world). I think of naming as a first step in this process(if only a minor, though thoroughly fun an interesting one). And look, we impart our values to our kids in all sorts of ways. We decide how the children will be birthed, fed, educated, supported (or not), and myriad other sculpting decisions, which quite honestly have much more to do with how they'll be defined throughout their lives than their names will. You aren't playing God with your child's future by naming them. You are (at best) inspiring them and gifting them with beauty, or (at worst) leaving them wishing they had a different name sometimes.
People should use what they love, be it marginal or popular, but there is nothing more of a shame than forgoing something special and beautiful in the name of convention. So have fun, be inspired, be thoughtful, be true to your family's values and sense of beauty, and don't look back! Maybe your kids will take the spirit in which they were named with them throughout their lives and they won't look back either.
Now, names and human creativity, let's dance, shall we?
(photos from JUNKAHOLIQUE )