I’m also suspicious of titles as a device. In calling one another by titles, we reinact the 19th and early 20th c. literary technique of almost naming characters or places with letters and dashes. Like when Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From Underground” misanthrope supposes, “An artist paints a picture of s—-.” Or when Jane Austen nearly discloses that George Wickham “was to have a lieutenant’s commission in the ____shire.” When we’re addressed as Mr. or Ms., part of our name – the first part even, the part that is most us – is replaced with a placeholder. And a name disappears entirely into Sir or Ma’am. More than honor us, titles threaten our individualities.
I’m suspicious of this kind of partial nom de guerre. Continue reading