One of the reasons I like my doctor so much is that she tells me such great names for things! "Dyshidrotic eczema", "Koebner effect", "actinic keratosis", and most recently "deQuervain's tenosynovitis", a kind of tendinitis that at the moment seems to be afflicting my left wrist.

Names comfort me. Once I know the name of something I seem to gain at least some measure of control over it ... as said best in the opening words of Vernor Vinge's 1980 ur-cyberpunk novel True Names:

In the once upon a time days of the First Age of Magic, the prudent sorcerer regarded his own true name as his most valued possession but also the greatest threat to his continued good health, for --- the stories go --- once an enemy, even a weak unskilled enemy, learned the sorcerer's true name, then routine and widely known spells could destroy or enslave even the most powerful. As times passed, and we graduated to the Age of Reason and thence to the first and second industrial revolutions, such notions were discredited. Now it seems that the Wheel has turned full circle (even if there never really was a First Age) and we are back to worrying about true names again ...

(see also Naming Names (10 Oct 1999), Vernor Vinge (17 Sep 2001), ... )

TopicLanguage - TopicScience - TopicPersonalHistory - 2003-10-16

(correlates: SalesPitch, BarryLawsAndPrecepts, WorthRemembering2, ...)