Tuesday, December 23, 2008

on names

Names are important things. They help us to understand what something or someone is or is not. In the case of a baby, does the name define the person, or is it the other way around? Cassidy is still in the early stages of discovering who he is and creating a meaning to go with his name.

He has four names, so I thought I'd briefly explain why we chose each of them, from simplest to most complicated.

Brooks: My last name. There was a little discussion about whether he should have my last name or Holly's, but this seemed simplest.

Pierce: His first middle name. We just liked the sound of it. No big symbolism.

Barrett: His second middle name. This was Holly's dad's last name at birth. He was later adopted, and became Severson. We thought it was good to keep it around - Severson and Schultz (his grandma Rachel's last name) are already being carried on by cousins Sara and Kali. Plus it's Irish-sounding.

Cassidy: his first name. We wanted something a little unusual - no John or Jim or Steve or Thomas. Nothing wrong with those, it just didn't fit for us. Cassidy's also got the Irish sound, which is nice.
The proximal inspiration is the Grateful Dead song quoted on the right - it's a really beautiful song about birth, death, and rebirth, and finding your own way through and joy in life. I highly recommend Suzanne Vega's version, which can be found on the Deadicated compilation. The Grateful Dead version on Without a Net is also very good.

The song is primarily about a baby, Cassidy Law, but also makes allusions to Neal Cassady, who served as an inspiration to two generations of artists (the Beats and the Pranksters). Howl is dedicated to him, and he's the basis for most of Jack Kerouac's work. Neal the person was a complicated and flawed man, but Neal the Icon is something else - he represented breaking down barriers, stepping outside the boundaries of conformity and the rules of society, of seeking joy and adventure in life, and ultimately valuing love, passion, friendship and experience. There are worse inspirations for a little guy these days.

1 comment:

Zoooma!! said...

Howdy. If anyone who reads your post would like more info on Cassidy (or if you've never read it but I'm guessing you have) here's a link to Cassidy's Tale by John Perry Barlow.

I had a Cassidy of my own. My wonderful dog of 13 years passed away a few months ago. What a wonderful name for pupper and child alike :) (And a great song, too!)