Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Name Game Notes: Sandman and Trump

Is there, above and beyond the patchwork of presidential hopefuls, a part to be played by what Loren Coleman periodically presents as the "name game"?

Out of the numerous contenders, two names immediately stand out: Bernard "Bernie" Sanders and Donald John Trump.

In some contexts, the Democratic-Socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders, is being called "Sandman." Take, for instance, the London Guardian article "Enter Sandman: Why Have Democrats Fallen in Love With Bernie Sanders?"[1]

"The Sandman is a mythical character in central and northern European folklore who brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of people while they sleep at night."[2]

Does Bernie Sanders's function to bring "good dreams" to left-of-center humanists, disenfranchised by "New Democrats" who (like the Clintons and Obama) are - in the words of Noam Chomsky - "in effect, moderate Republicans."[3]

Sandman lore goes back at least to the early nineteenth century. The character is depicted by German short story writer E. T. A. Hoffmann in Der Sandmann,[4] and was further popularized by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in "Ole Lukøje."[5]

Recently, it was reimagined by British graphic novelist Neil Gaiman in his Sandman series, which extended from 1989 to 2013.

A "Sandman" also figures in director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3.[6]

Readers can discover more about the several incarnations of the Sandman D.C. comic character here.

"Trump" (definition) "'[S]urpass, beat,' 1580s... 'playing card of a suit ranking above others,' 1520s, alteration of 'triumph' ...which also was the name of a card game. ...'fabricate, devise,' 1690s, ...'deceive, cheat' (1510s), from Middle English trumpen (late 14c.), from Old French tromper "to deceive," of uncertain origin. Apparently from se tromper de 'to mock,' from Old French tromper 'to blow a trumpet.' Brachet explains this as 'to play the horn, alluding to quacks and mountebanks, who attracted the public by blowing a horn, and then cheated them into buying. ...' The Hindley Old French dictionary has baillier la trompe 'blow the trumpet' as 'act the fool,' and Donkin connects it rather to trombe 'waterspout,' on the notion of turning (someone) around. Connection with triumph also has been proposed. Related: Trumped; trumping. Trumped up 'false, concocted' first recorded 1728."[7]

Donald Trump's surname, on the other hand, conjures up the so-called Major Arcana of the occult "Tarot" deck.

"The antiquity of the game of Tarot is unknown. In packs now ascribed to the 15th century, trump cards bear the images of Fame, Death, and other subjects taken from [the card game of] ...Trionfi. During the Renaissance age, Tarot was played by the wealthy, and card packs were painted by artists..."[8]

Some investigators think it "probable" that "...'trionfi' is the same game as 'trump'..." and is of Italian origin.[9]

A similar theme is the "face card" - king, queen and jack - in the standard deck of 52 (four suites of thirteen cards each).

According to the Anglo-American esotericist and occultist A. E. Waite: "As to the trump cards they may be explained by a final couplet: - 'King, Queen, Knight, Knave. The bridegroom, youth, and child, then all the human race - Thy path by these degrees back to the One retrace."[10]

Of course, the "Jokers" both stand outside of this system and are related to it.[11]

As "coincidence" would have it, as I sit typing these notes, Infowars commentators Paul Joseph Watson posted the following to his Facebook account:

"The delusion of 'happiness' is dependent on an ever growing detachment from reality."[12]

It puts me in mind of the much-repeated, but less-analyzed phrase, the "American dream." The Online Etymology Dictionary reports:

"‘American dream’ ...coined 1931 by James Truslow Adams (1878-1949), U.S. writer and popular historian (unrelated to the Massachusetts Adamses), in 'Epic of America.' '[The American Dream is] that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.' [Adams] Others have used the term as they will."[13]

To many Americans, the "American dream" probably did (or maybe does) designate "...the dream of being a blue-collar manufacturer living, in a suburban house with a white picket fence, with your wife and two kids."[14]

Maybe this "dream" has a shadow-side - to be distracted with "fast-food" and "professional sports," in an updated version of Juvenal's "bread and circuses.”[15] Or perhaps it's entirely shadow-play - a mockery of the sleeping "masses," sustained by illusion. They get their "news" from the same corporate-owned media that make Transformers look real and (in Noam Chomsky's words) "sell us toothpaste." In fantasy-land, the ephemeral lottery ticket symbolizes the chance that the "average Joe" will make it big. One recent count puts your odds at "one in 175 million" - give or take 220,000.[16]

"Mr. Sand-man ...bring me a dream."[17]

It's Hil[l]ar[y]ous.[18]

"Medieval English form of Hilarius or Hilaria. During the Middle Ages it was primarily a masculine name. It was revived in Britain at the beginning of the 20th century as a predominantly feminine name. In America, this name and the variant Hillary seemed to drop in popularity after Hillary Clinton (1947-) became the first lady."[19]


[1] Steve Winkler, Jul. 7, 2015, <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/07/why-do-so-many-democrats-support-bernie-sanders>.

[2] "Sandman," Wikipedia, Sept. 27, 2015, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandman>.

[3] Noam Chomsky, "Rollback," Z Magazine, Jan.-May, 1995, <http://chomsky.info/199505__/>; cf. Gabrielle Dunkley, "Noam Chomsky: Obama Would Have Been A 'Moderate Republican' Several Decades Ago," Huffington Post, Feb. 1, 2013, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/noam-chomsky-obama_n_2599622.html>.

[4] "The Sandman," in Nachtstücke ["Night Pieces"], Berlin: n.p., 1817.

[5] Eventyr, fortalte for Børn ("Fairy Tales Told for Children)", 3rd ed., Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1842.

[6] Columbia, 2007.

[7] Douglas Harper, "Trump," Online Etymology Dictionary, <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=trump>.

[8] Elizabeth Boyd, Popular arts of Spanish New Mexico, Santa Fe, N.M.: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1974, p. 463; archived online at <https://books.google.com/books?id=U71aAAAAMAAJ>.

[9] Cavendish [pseud. of Henry Jones], "Historical Notes on Our National Card Game," London Society, vol. 9, London: William Clowes and Sons, 1866, p. 66; archived online at <https://books.google.com/books?id=pBpLAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA66>.

[10] Arthur Edward Waite, The Mysteries of Magic, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1897, p. 184; archived online at <https://books.google.com/books?id=RLZQvfyrwtwC&pg=PA284>.

[11] See also "Veritas Vincit", "Joker Copycats", "Victor Hugo, The Joker, Joker Copycats," and "Hue of Lincoln".

[12] Paul Joseph Watson, post, Facebook, Oct. 11, 2015, <https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71/posts/10153714911016171>.

[13] Douglas Harper, "American Dream," 2015, <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=American+dream>.

[14] "American Dream," Urban Dictionary, Apr. 18, 2006, <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=american+dream&defid=1705731>.

[15] Panem et circenses, Satires, book 10.

[16] Ronald L. Wasserstein, "A Statistician's View: What Are Your Chances of Winning the Powerball Lottery?" Huffington Post, May 16, 2013, updated, Jul. 16, 2013, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-l-wasserstein/chances-of-winning-powerball-lottery_b_3288129.html>.

[17] Francis Drake "Pat" Ballard, "Mr. Sandman," recorded by The Chordettes, Cadence, 1954.

[18] From Latin hilarius, (“cheerful”)…. "Hilarious," Wiktionary, <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hilarious>.

[19] "Hilary," Behind the Name, <http://www.behindthename.com/name/hilary>.