Apex Hides the Hurt

November 13, 2007

Just to get this out of the way, when I was reading the first section of this book and we get the description of our narrator as a man who not only isolates himself from other people but also walks with a limp as a result of an unfortunate incident, I mean is there any other connection that can be made there except for this?

Aside from that, I didn’t see a whole lot else in the first fifty-three pages of this book.  We learn that the narrator has a job as a nomenclature consultant, which as a profession is probably even cooler than it sounds.  In talking about his job, the narrator hits on just how important names are to products.  No matter what the product is, a bad name could kill it commercially.  He also mentions how he has names for things that don’t even exist yet, but when the time comes, he’ll have to perfect name for it.  This notion kind of brings back a little bit of Saussure and Baudrillard.  With Saussure, there is the whole sign, signifier thing.  The names which he creates become more important than the products they represent.  Baudrillard comes in with the mention of having names for things which don’t exist yet.  According to Baudrillard, the creation of simulacra and hyper-reality comes from the creation of needs for things which we don’t actually need but are made to think we can’t live without.  So the narrator already has a named stored away for something that doesn’t exist, but when it does come to be, it will have a fancy name to help persuade the public that it is the next great thing they couldn’t possibly live without. 

The situation the narrator finds himself in is something new to him, is not being asked to come up with a new for the newest anti-depressant or sure fire cure for natural male enhancement, he is being summoned out of his seclusion to rename a town.  The once quaint little town of Winthrop is looking to become more modern and there are some who feel the town needs a new name to go with its corporate face-lift.  There are those who see no problem with it, the couple the narrator meets in the hotel bar; but then there are those like old Muttonchops, who have a long history in Winthrop and don’t want to see any changes to the town’s moniker.  So we wait for the rest of the novel to unfold to find out what new name the narrator will come up with for Winthrop.  If I had any say in the matter, I would probably rename my town Fort Awesome.

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2 Responses to “Apex Hides the Hurt”

  1. bastianm said

    Fort Awesome sounds like a great name though it would probably attract a large amount of drug traffic. I have a question; who is the narrator? We have a main character that has no name, but it is told in third person. Is Colson the narrator then? Or does it even matter?

    I liked the link you have to House. He does fit the part; the limping man who likes to isolate himself from the rest of the world.

    I am trying to grasp the importance of naming that you’re talking about. If a name has the power to destroy whatever it names (or the potential power) then what does that day about the name giver? He has a lot of power. If our main character is black then what does that make us think about his agenda? You are right, we don’t get much out of the first fifty pages. If the book is largely about race then I need to see more than the scattered evidence- not that it’s subtle, it’s just that I can’t connect it all yet. Nice post.

  2. Kim S. Clune said

    Good point on Baudrillard. Capitalism is the ultimate hyper-reality, exploiting little niches worldwide in name of the almighty buck.

    I recently heard about something called the economy of nothing, although I can’t remember whose theory it is. Take Diet Coke for example: zero calories, zero fat, no caffeine, no nutritional value – so what the hell are we buying? Essentially, nothing.

    I too thought of Saussure. The narrator’s process of name creation is so antithetical to Saussure’s belief that phonemes are randomly assigned.

    Flowers burst petals in arrangements never considered by the natural world, summoned out of dirt like stained glass. These beautiful hidden things scrolled to the horizon and he walked among them… He had a territory within himself and he would bring back specimens to the old world. These most excellent dispatches. His names. (35)

    This guy believes that names have some sort of meaning, in and of themselves, something natural – only better. It is he who holds the power of unlocking their meaning and unleashing it convincingly upon the masses. As frighteningly powerful as ti sounds, we’re bombarded with campaigns like this every day.

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