The naming of cats
Today, part three of names and the novel, brings us to T.S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot on cats:
The naming of cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES
Eliot perfectly captured the idea that beings are defined by their names, and as you remember from this poem in Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the third name for a cat is known only to itself.
Because that third name is known to the cat alone, it cannot be spoken -- and so, it is impossible to know the cat, the cat's thoughts or nature.
Likewise with fictional characters. If I know their name, I know their character. Or is it more like this ... once I know their character, I know their name?
There are greater secrets than names in writing. Most important, is the secret of "knowing," the secret of how some days the stories, people and details of this living thing, a work of fiction, come -- while other days, I just sit here and stare, with only a sentence or two to show for the day and probably a whole lot of snacks and solitaire in between.
AHEAD: When is it writing ... and when is it indolence?