No Words But These; or, The All-Important Title


This is one image. It might be a thousand different works of art, in a quality range from squalid to splendid, without changing a pixel. It all depends on what I call it.

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked. “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” But it does matter. Soldiers will fight wholeheartedly for Operation Just Cause; they may balk at putting their lives on the line for Operation Extensive Collateral Damage or Operation Get People To Hate Us.

A person goes to the art museum, sees something like the above image hanging on the wall, ten feet high and eight wide, and needs a clue. The first place to look for a clue is the title card down and to the right (though the REAL first place to look is the Artist’s Statement, if any). “Moon and Sea.” Ah, that helps. “The Battle Over White Sands.” Okay–got it: visually similar to contrails. “Behold! A Distant Star!” –If this were the title, much would depend on whether the viewer was a fan of Silver Age Marvel Comics in general, and Fantastic Four #37 in particular. If a fan, the image will be enhanced by the memory of the sinister Skrulls softened by the admonishing Anelle. (Alliteration inspired by Stan “The Man” Lee, natch. ‘Nuff said!)

“Tendrils Yearning.” “Tonal Delicacy #937.” “Blue, 1998.” “The Deconstructed Ant.” Give me a day and I’ll give you a thousand titles, and a thousand different experiences. But the two titles at the end of that long list will demand much of you:

“Call It What You Will”



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