❇️ naming

People find it easiest to understand things with names. House shopping, for example, is based around “distance to school and work” or “number of bedrooms and bathrooms” or “great neighborhood and backyard”.

Those are all fine names but there are other names as well and once people have a way to think about something that was previously unnamed, they consider it more.

Rory Sutherland is great at naming things and explained in his book Alchemy that he bought his house for artistic reasons. You see, Sutherland writes, most people think of art as something you hang on the walls or display on the shelves. That’s the ‘name’ of art. But art can be anything and architecture tends to be a cheaper way of owning elite pieces.

Names exist in relation to other things. Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. George, Jerry, and Eliane. Thelma and Louise. Those names mean certain things because they make the connection easy. Names also eliminate connections too. In Systematics John Gall writes this:

“Your president is not a crook,” asserted Mr. Nixon, thereby demonstrating the existence of the Unconscious. Mr. Nixon’s performance also demonstrates for us the process called Drawing a Distinction, whereby the universe is dichotomized.[xxx] The very act of Naming (whether done aloud or under one’s breath, or purely mentally) throws everything into a certain Frame of Reference—in this case, having to do with possessing or lacking the quality of “Crookhood.”

Galls’ books an underrated treasure.

The concept of naming is part-of-the-reason the future tends to be more worrisome than the past. If “collaborative intelligence” (neé: artificial intelligence) does indeed reduce jobs then what jobs will rise? We have no idea. That’s the rub. We see what’s lost and not what’s gained, we see what’s named.

Edit: It turns out there’s a whole bunch of psychology around this. Here’s one of my favorite, very recent, naming videos.