Crafting Names For Fictional Peoples By Geography & Ethnos

In fiction writing, it is quite difficult to come up with a name for a group of people, whether they be a tribe, kingdom, nation or empire. Yet, even if you come up with a good name, the meaning of the name bares some consideration for culture-building within your fictional world (ie. when the named polity reflects back on their founding, will you as the author be able to have them describe why they are called what they are?).

For example, if you come up, in a think-tank secession, with the name ‘Daedalion’ for a fictional kingdom, you may well find that it ‘sounds good’ or ‘rolls off the tongue’ but what does it mean, why are these people called Daedalions? Or are the people called something else and it is only the Kingdom which is called Daedalion? All these things must be accounted for (if inter-world culture building is to be the goal – if not, then not, as might be the case in short story concerned principally with conveying a message through parable or analogy).

In my own writing I have discovered two techniques which make the name process quite easy: geography and ethnos. By geography, I mean I consider where the people live, so, for example, in my current novel-in-progress (Tomb of the Father) there is a group of tribal desert wanderers who factor importantly into the plot, yet, I came to trouble coming up with their name, until, that is, I recalled that loesses (calcareous silt or clay deposits) are partial to certain mountain desert regions and hence came to call them ‘Loessians’ – the loess, of course, denoting that they came from a region where silty, clay deposits were common.

A further example: the main bulk of the story in Tomb of the Father revolves around a fictional group that lives in moorlands filled with ancient tors or kopjes (large, free-standing stone outcroppings) and hence, I named them ‘Torians.’ The suffix, however, need not always be -ian(s), as I could just as easily have named them Torites, Torels, etc, or more simply, The Tors (Torian simply best rolled off the tongue).

With the geographical tactic out of the way, let us turn our attention to ethnos (which means ‘people of the same race or regionality who share a distinctive, coherent culture’). For this naming method I do not look to regional terrain and instead focus upon the character of the polity/ethnic group itself.

For example: a seafaring peoples in my novel exhibited skillful mercantilistic ambitions and were extremely guarded concerning their financial affairs and transactions and so I named their province ‘Tyvault’ as a play on words (ie. tie-the-vault → tie-vault → ty-vault) and hence the people came to be known as the ‘Tyvaultians’.

When both the ethno and geo naming methods are plied together, I have found that it simplified naming to a significant degree while at the same time, not detracting from, but indeed, adding too, the depth of meaning of a fictional polity.

Towards Parallel Institutions

Truly dissident political movements in America have, for some time now, failed and failed horribly. The election of Donald Trump, under the auspices of Steven Bannon, has electrified the nation and brought back the kind of old fashioned nationalist populism that was commonplace during the agrarian reformation. However, the history of American nationalist populism is one of almost complete and utter failure. There are always exceptions, but a exception does not disprove a general rule, it therefore seems likely that the Trumpist populist movement will go the way of the Agrarian Radicalists of old – that is, nowhere. One of the reasons why this seems a likely outcome is the fact that what the modern American populist desires (if they even know what they truly desire, and they oft do not) is not antithetical to the prevailing power-structure but is merely a extension thereof. Like all nationalists worthy of being called as such, the Trumpist populist desires to put “America First”  – a undeniably worthy aim, if only they knew what America happens to be. America, like any other nation, is an idea and like all ideas, it changes overtime and it changes in accordance with the whims of its public. The more the demographics of the country change, the more the conception of what it means to be American. The people ultimately make the laws and the codes, not the other way around and yet America has become so globally expansive, so consumeristically self-absorbed, so capitalistically dogmatic and so confoundingly multicultural, that a clear and present identity of national scale is almost impossible to find. If it cannot be found it must therefore be crafted. By this I do not mean that some kind of inorganic idea-set should be cynically developed and subversively disseminated, no, what I mean is that when one comes to know oneself one’s fellows come to realize how very little they themselves understand their social placing – realizing, in horror, that there is not, nor will ever be, within the system, any place for them, no residency for true communal participation – for such a thing is a construction of the past; they are merely cogs who turn not for any greater purpose than the total sublimation of any and all identities underneath the self-replicating, iron-monolith of capital and politics for its own sake.

Understandably, such individuals, upon becoming cognizant of the horrid reality of their situation desire to extricate themselves from the internet of things. Exit. But they can’t. A father with a wife and kids can not simply pack up and quit his soul-crushing, dead-end job, punching stamps under eye-bleating florescent tubes, no more than a college student can just leave the filthy, condom strew, multi-culty coastal slum without severe repercussions to their prospective “livelihood,” communal circle (if they even have one) and societal standing and, in some cases, their very lives.

An abrupt exit is neither possible nor, typically, truly desirable. Yet something, anything, must clearly be done. Some modicum of action must take place. I thus posit parallel institutionalism. Rather than revolt or subversion one should opt instead for complete and total separation from the prevailing, modernistic machine, from the number crunching and the jittery cataloging of bio-hum suppression. Ideally this would not be a separation of territory but rather a separation of resources. That is to say, one must build towards economies within The Economy. Markets within The Market. A clustered, well structured network of communities which each operate with semi-autonomy, yet cede some portion of their total resources, both financial, physical, mental and otherwise, to the central organizing body or bodies to better bring other prospective cells into the whole body of this grand new organism.

Therefore, if you’re tired of Hollywood propaganda, stop paying for their movies, stop buying their merch. Instead, seek out independent film producers that are devoid of the needling propaganda, who adhere to an ethic of artistic integrity. If you don’t like the plasticine food at your local grocer or the fact that they are shipping jobs overseas or undercutting residential works by utilizing foreign labor, both legal and illegal, then find a small grocer or order from one or start your own or help someone else start their own. This same principal applies to every single sphere of society – if someone is saying something you don’t like, something that you truly cannot abide to listen to, you don’t walk up and punch him in the face, nor do you attempt to de-platform them (least not if you are a civilized individual), you merely walk away and set up a countervailing speech platform elsewhere. So too should those who have no use for, and no prospect of placing within, the current social ordering, set up shop – but not elsewhere – but rather in the beating heart of darkness itself; their congregation growing from dull, dawdling pinpricks of light to soaring spears of solar effervescence that, in goodly time, shall envelope the world entire.

The New Magisterium: A Manifesto

FOUNDATION and CREED

I advocate for a new unification in the Western Arts. I do not think that this is a trivial enterprise to undertake. No mere bohemian commune or Expressionist enclave, nor some flowery garden where one can paint Monetesque water lilies to the hearts content in idyllic splendor. Rather it will be a bringing together of the vital forces — masculine virility, strength of will, ardor of character, moral conviction, creativity and ego — and the crucial spheres of discourse — politics, religion, philosophy, sex, race, science and culture. This new school of thought of the arts no mere factory of window-dressing and haughty pretension but rather one of cold reason, clear forethought and purposeful external energy — we of this new aesthetic magisterium act and re-act with our art. We use art as a stepping stone for our goals, our creation’s persistence a monument to our achievements, both past and present and of those still yet to come. Ironclad, militaristic and unyielding save in the face of yet greater magnificence.

We shall herald a return to form, to the classics, to allegory, to forthright symbolism, to meaning, to beauty. We shall return to the past but we shall not stymie there — we do not wish to be the Old Masters we wish to surpass them. We do not seek to write as Faulkner or Sophocles, we seek to do them one better, to build upon their exploits. Nor do we wish to molder away in the septic confines of some decaying museum — our art is active, aggressive and formative. Art, in essence, is creation, therefore we shall be builders — societal architects. We will sound a vivid horn of combat against the invading hordes of socialism, deconstructionism, postmodernism, liberalism, egalitarianism, feminism, Islam, and every other nihilistic vice of thought and invasive mental infection.

We shall be political satirists, lampooning the folly of the hypocritical “talking suits,” we will be graffiti artists, prowling the streets to shame and oust the deviant and the criminal with florid scrawl. We shall be painters and illustrators, etchers and sculptors, crafting grand displays of our societies virtues and dire reminders of follies long since past. We shall be writers cutting straight to the heart of the human soul and expounding upon all manner of philosophies, ills and virtues, witticisms and worthwhile knowledge. We shall be architects who craft mighty monuments to our communities, our nations and our highest aspirations — those angels of our better natures.

WARNING

Obviously this is far from likely to take place anytime soon – merely the future as we wish it to be but not a future completely beyond obtainment. The internet at large is a wonderful place but one which is far from ideal for consistently constructive dialogue — especially in regards to the “pretentious” nature of art (how detached the act of purposeful creation has become from reality!). Thus it is ever important to engage in real life, on a local level, to speak to one’s friends and acquaintances – to debate and convince but not to preach. To be more than some nameless, faceless, shapeless mass of words and images hanging in the whirling void of cyberspace, ever slipping through the shimmering cracks of bio-hum like so many grains of hourglass sand. Those wild flung and ghosting words are merely a catalyst to a greater collective emergence of individual power — they are not the ends but only the means.

The ends are built upon direct and consistent conversation, a face-to-face engagement. The eyes are the windows to the soul – this is not said for nothing. And so it is important to be ever vigilant against building one’s artistic ideals upon the echos of others whose muted mouthings one can barely make out. We always guard against the pitfalls of unconscious role-play, how terribly easy a thing in a warbling space where there are no longer any consequences for one’s actions! And how ridiculous it appears to the reflective to see a artist shouting down the world or building up his own when he knows nothing more of it than what he’s read in college!

CODA

We now know our trajectory. We know our art, our ideals, our enemies and our friends. We know of our failings, those inherent and inheritable. We need now only find our courage — courage enough to speak of our ruthless art in the classrooms, cafes and galleries of our lands. To be able to hoist our thoughts from the darkened inkwells of our minds unto glossy pages and rough-worked canvas, unhindered by fear of rejection or reconciliation.

The bridges have already been burned and so we learn to swim.

[Originally published via WCR]