June 19, 2004

Because "Call Me Crazy" Didn't Have the Same Ring

WE WERE NOT PLANNING to resume posting until Monday evening, but upon our return to the Granite State, we found an e-mail from a good friend informing us that pop singer Madonna has changed her name to Esther. Yes, Esther.

Our friend's reaction to this news -- "Oy gevalt" -- sums up our own feeling on the matter, but we were not about to let the matter go unmentioned. We just needed sleep after our fourteen-hour drive.

So, now that we're rested, we would ask: what the devil is this all about? Is this yet another attempt on Madonna's part to give executives at her record firm more ulcers and indigestion and sleepless nights? No. It could not be. This would mean dealing with someone who had a bit of depth to their character, and we find none in her. Rather, her reasoning appears as out there as she is:

"My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name," Madonna, 45, told ABC News.

"This is in no way a negation of who my mother was. I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."

We don't get it. We ourselves took on another name when we were confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church, but that doesn't mean we make a big deal out of it or advertise it or would scrap the names our parents gave us. As for the whole "energy of a different name" business, this makes about as much sense as our declaring ourself Irwin, Demiurge of Tax Accountancy. Heck, if that's the idea, we ought declare ourself Constantine XII Palaiologos and demand the Turks return Constantinople to its rightful heirs.

However, we are not entirely appalled at this development. For we can imagine that one or two millenia hence, the historians of that time will pore over the news reports and wonder, a la A Canticle for Leibowitz, why this person appears as Madonna and later as Esther. Given the state of our culture in this day and age, it would not be surprising to find they came to the same conclusion as the monks in Walter Miller's book did.

That is, the situation was prevalent in more than one nation, and on a cultural level, Madonna/Esther were probably the equivalent of another name entirely: "Legion."

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 19, 2004 12:12 PM | TrackBack

What name did you have before Catholic indoctrination?

Posted by: blueshuttle at June 21, 2004 12:09 PM

Well -- wait for it -- it was "Benjamin Kepple."

My point here was simply that choosing a confirmation name, or any name for religious reasons, does not generally mean one ought scrap the name which one's parents bestowed.

Obviously, if one is burdened with an unfortunate name (e.g. Aloysius) such a move would be understandable. Nor do I mean to make light of name changes for religious reasons. But making a change for what would appear to be the purpose of promoting one's career -- this did happen in the midst of a tour -- seems unseemly and gauche.

As for your comment about "Catholic indoctrination" ... well, I'll confine my remarks to saying that you must be *great fun* at parties.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at June 21, 2004 06:05 PM


I, respectfully, believe you are wrong here. I merely think Madonna is once again falling for the trend-of-the-moment...this time it's the Kabballah (sic?). I think she truly believes it. She had her Indian mysticism phase, her eroticism phase, etc. It's like she's permanently a college freshman intellectually. It's really sad, jumping bandwagon after another.

At the same, is it really any different than taking on another Catholic name, except that one practice is accepted and one isn't mainstream? Both are just as rational, when you look at it.

I do agree that Madonna is an idiot who is shallow and hideously self-absorbed to the point of unintended irony. She thinks we care.

Posted by: simon from jersey at June 22, 2004 04:21 PM