3 December 2020

What's in a name? (2)

I really do think that there should be some sort of insurance arrangements, so that people who give a lot of money to Oxford in order to have their names perpetuated here, can at least have the reassurance that their heirs will get the money back as soon as intellectual fashion demands the damnatio memoriae of the Benefactors.

Even at the Reformation, this fascist Tyranny of Names was not yet around to make such totalitarian demands. Corpus Christi College retained its name . Whitefriars' Entry now leads only to the 'bus station, but keeps its name. In London, Paternoster Row was not renamed just because rosaries went out of fashion. Setting aside excesses in Ireland after the War of Independance, the closest parallel I can think of to this craze for obliterating the names of Unpersons is Stalin's Russia (remember those photographs with increasing numbers of Stalin's associates airbrushed out?). And, of course, German cities with Jewish names obliterated.

I think that this enthusiasm for purifying townscapes of politically incorrect names, generation after generation, is the surest indication that a country has lost any sense of social cohesion and has turned into a Banana Republic.

When Waugh's Mr Scott-King visited Neutralia, he learned that the "Hotel 22nd March was the name, derived from some forgotten event in the Marshal's rise to power, by which the chief hotel of the place was momentarily graced. It had had as many offcial names in its time as the square in which it stood -- the Royal, the Reform, the October Revolution, the Empire, the President Coolidge, the Duchess of Windsor ..." Neutralia, you see, had "suffered every conceivable ill the body politic is heir to. Dynastic wars, foreign invasions, disputed successions, revolting colonies, endemic syphilis, impoverished soil, masonic intrigues, revolutions, restorations, cabals, pronunciamentos, liberations, constitutions, coups d'etat, dictatorshps, assassinations, agrarian reforms, popular elections, foreign interventions, repudiations of loans, inflations of currency, trades unions, massacres, arson, atheism, secret societies ..."

And the Official Guide explained to Scott-King the historical sites they were passing: "Here the anarchists shot General Cardenas. Here the syndico-radicals shot the auxiliary bishop. Here the Agrarian League buried alive ten Teaching Brothers. Here the bimetallists committed unspeakable atrocities on the wife of Senator Mendoza ...".

The transpontines have just renamed a part of their capital city "Black Lives Matter Square". But our own journey thither is going at an ever accelerating speed, yes, here in the United Bananas.


Matthew F Kluk said...

Here in Pittsburgh, a suburb by the name of Fox Chapel, is seeking new names for 2 streets with the name Squaw in them, because even though there was a connection to American Natives living in the area, the name is now thought inappropriate. Here on Scott Twp., named for Winfield Scott hero of the Battle of Buena Vista, we are temporarily safe.

PM said...

If I remember correctly, the statue of St Bernard over the front gate at St John's became St John the Baptist when St Bernard's was refounded (at first I 1555 as a Catholic institution and from 1558 as Anglican), only to become St Bernard again when the Gill statue of John the Baptist was installed in front quad.

Greyman 82 said...

This reminds me of the apocryphal story of the old Russian lady who was asked:

Q1. Where were you born? A. St Petersburg
Q2. Where did you grow up A. Petrograd
Q3. Where did you live when you were bringing up your children? A. Leningrad
Q4. Where do you live now in your old age? A. St Petersburg

Titus said...

Here in these somewhat-united States, the law sometimes provides precisely the remedy you contemplate, Father: http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/OPINIONS/TCA/PDF/052/UDCOPN.pdf

vetusta ecclesia said...

What about Cardinal College?!

Jhayes said...

I'm rather glad that these squares had their names changed

"Adolf-Hitler-Platz is the former name of many city squares in Nazi Germany, for example:

Theodor-Heuss-Platz in Berlin
Rathausplatz in Vienna
Victory Square, Kaliningrad in Kaliningrad


Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

Thank you for reminding me - if I so needed to be - of the brilliance of Mr Waugh, your fellow Hertfordian.