Monday 29 January 2018

Poetry: On Name-dropping

Posted by Chengde Chen *

On Name-dropping

Don’t keep dropping those great names
Showing off is self-abasing
Being tall may look remarkable, but
Not by lengthening your shadow in the setting sun

If you happen to be associated with a great name
You only 'happen to be' associated with it
Beethoven’s siblings didn’t necessarily compose
Nor must Einstein’s descendants understand physics

To drink liquor you can’t rely on others’ capacity
To sign a cheque you have to use your own name
The more borrowed jewellery you wear
The more should you feel like a beggar!

* Chengde Chen is the author of Five Themes of Today, Open Gate Press, London.


Tessa den Uyl said...

Dear Chengde,

This poem brings me to the dialogue between Socrates and Thrasymachus about justice in the 1st book of the republic by Plato.....

Tessa den Uyl said...

P.s this comment seems in contrast with your name-dropping title, but it was about coming towards the integrity of names and naming, not to show off! Strange nobody reacted, should we be frightened of names?

Keith said...

Name-dropping is, as I see it, a ‘freeloading’ device. It comes in at least two (undoubtedly more) flavors. Anodyne/ineffectual (trifling pretention and, like a tic, easy to look beyond once familiarity comfortably settles in). And parasitic/opportunistic (through association, seeking greater personal consequence, fretful there isn’t any, or at least not enough).

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

The poem seems proverbial to me. But the problem with proverbs is that they become too familiar. This introduces a welcome freshness to the old 'tenet'.

A thought comes to mind in the moment. When one does acknowledge one's debt, where does it begin and where does it end? On the other side of infinity?

Chengde Chen said...

Thanks for the interesting comments. There are two kinds of common sense: one needs no reminding of while the other does.

docmartincohen said...

A rather disjointed conversation this week, but thank you everyone for offering these thoughts. Myself, I will do a similar thing and just offer my own reaction. Which is that I recently was made aware of the importance of 'name dropping' in writing! If you write on current affairs, or science, or philosophy - just for example - and mention someone important in that area who you have had some kind of conversation with... the 'borrowed jewellery' shines wonderfully! Certainly that is waht I am told by 'marketing' and publishers ;-)

So I admit to liking Chengde's post but not really able to pretend to be above such things.

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