“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
― W.C. Fields
“Bob Marley isn’t my name. I don’t even know my name yet.”
― Bob Marley
People call us by our name. That’s just what happens. Over time, the name accumulates weight, to the point that some of us snap our heads up if we hear our name, even if someone else is being called. So it seems like it should matter what names mean. I like thinking about name meanings; we all bear many names throughout our life, nicknames, different names, new names we assume or old names we don’t want to be called anymore.
My Chinese name, given to me by my Chinese professor, Di Laoshi, is An Dawei.
If you’re curious about your own name meaning, there’s the Kabalarians site where they get very weird about names indeed, and lots of baby name meaning sites out there.
An Dawei means “tranquil David.” Or, because of name-surname order in Chinese, “David, tranquil.” Chinese translates Dawei as “greatly accomplished,” but I think that’s probably just a transliteration of the meaning of David in English, which itself relies on whatever King David was actually called in Hebrew. Who wouldn’t like to be tranquil? Of course I like it. I’d like to be greatly accomplished at being tranquil, though that can be difficult. Anyway, to be clear, Chinese names are *extremely* optimistic, and Di Laoshi did give it to me when I was eerily calm (possibly due to medication).
Calm, like in Equilibrium when Christian Bale is taking a lie-detector-like test that will prove he is feeling, and all of a sudden all the readings flatline.
Beeeeeep. No emotions. He is a ninja, and it is because his culture is a lie. A LIE!
Then he pulls out a samurai sword and an assault rifle and goes Gun-Fu on Stasi-style riot police with assault rifles.
If you haven’t seen Equilibrium, you should. The movie, not the band. I don’t know anything about the band. Equilibrium’s a low-budget Matrix, released before the Matrix, and with Christian Bale instead of Keanu Reeves.
REALLY low budget. The director’s cut talks almost exclusively about what they did to save money. But at its core, it’s an Orwellian film: Equilibrium is not just about Christian Bale killing troopers through their face-shields with the studded butt of their automatic pistols. Equilibrium is about Christian Bale feeling for adorable Burmese mountain dog puppies. I do not know how manty/panty-droppinger the movie could get.
Oh wait. There’s a romance with the beautiful Emily Watson too.
Second, An Dawei kind of sounds like “on the way.” Which is what I feel like I am most of the time. Just don’t know what the way is, necessarily. Definitely don’t know what the way is to.
In contrast, the meaning of my actual English name is “beloved Christ-bearing eagle power,” which sounds little too close to what Stephen Colbert is trying to project for my tastes.
Enlighten each other,
-An (it’s kind of cool because it’s also an indefinite article?)