The Rag and Bone Shop of the Mind

There were a few interesting happenings of today and I am uncertain as to exactly how interesting any of them are. I woke up thinking more about time and how we are always acting like we are headed towards some end. We are, but not in the way I mean or in the way we act. We act like things will end and then we will finally be able to relax. I don’t think that happens. Things just go on and on and on until they don’t anymore, and the longer we can put off the don’t anymore the better.

Then there were my thoughts at breakfast. I was looking at the preview of a news article on a story out of Texas. The accompanying picture to the news article was of a man with a, “We the People,” tattoo above a handgun. The article itself was about a new Texas law and I thought they’re going back to the days of Liberty Valance down there. That is when it struck me. The name Liberty Valance and the significance therein.

The tattoo featured in the picture accompanying the article is what did it for me. Liberty Valance represents the adolescent view of liberty. It is the idea that liberty is unrestrained freedom doing whatever one wants no matter the consequences and no matter who gets hurt. It is the idea of liberty as taking what you want, when you want to, because you can. Liberty is the state of nature. The type of liberty that is more dangerous than it is worth, and the only thing that can tame it is the law.

About a week or so ago I was thinking of Animal Farm and the name of one of the pigs struck me in much the way the name Liberty Valance did in this instance. Napoleon. Most people talking about the animals of Animal Farm as if they are representations of the Soviet Union and that’s it, but Animal Farm is about the cycle of revolution and here is a character named Napoleon. The main antagonist is named Napoleon. I’m not sure Orwell could have been more obvious and the fact I knew what the story was about and kept going oh yeah Napoleon is Stalin and not perhaps a representation of the man he was named for. The French Revolution becomes the Reign of Terror just as easily as the Russian Revolution gives way to Stalin’s purges.

The first thing I was taught as an English Major was to examine character names and not every author is as obvious as Dickens with his Lady Dedlock and all that. Every now and then they are and the sudden realization of the mean of those two characters’ names made me feel like an idiot, and it won’t be the last time I suddenly realize something I should have known all along.

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