The Power of Names

Since ancient times, people have recognized the power of names.

Adam was given power to name all things in the world.

There is a concept called the True Name that supposedly describes the true nature of things. The legend is, if you are able to somehow acquire an object (or person’s) True Name, you will gain power of that object (or person).

I teach a dance called LambaZouk and there was this one step that I haven’t been able to easily explain to my students. All I can do was to show the movement and explain it while performing the step.

Choreography was also challenging; I know the sequence of the steps but was unable to refer back to a specific section; “that thing” or “that one” was a common explanation.

When I went to Brazil to learn from the masters, I also learned the proper names of those steps: pião (pivot), rodada basica (circular basic), saída (exit). It was a big revelation! I can write down these names and someone else reading it would immediately know what I mean (provided we shared the same name for the dance step).

Names are powerful because it gives an anchor or a handle to a concept. It makes an idea take shape. It makes a thought tangible. A name gives you power over the thing that is named because you can conjure the idea of that thing anytime; even if you don’t possess it or have it nearby.

[A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon](, but it’s damn convenient.