Apparently last month I missed Publisher’s Weekly’s PWxyz blog’s round up of some bizarre things named after writers. I’ve actually been to the James Fenimore Cooper, Joyce Kilmer, and Walt Whitman rest stops in Jersey—I always support going to the writerly rest stops over the random historical figures.
I think Stendhal wins, though. Stendhal Syndrome is “an illness that’s caused when an individual is exposed to art, particularly if the art is overwhelmingly beautiful.” Though it refers to an experience of his, not to the beauty of Stendahl’s written art, it’s still a pretty great thing to have associated with your name. (Bonus points for Gabe Habash’s excellent link choice in that paragraph.)
Since I missed the first round, I’m so pleased they followed up with some more this week. I didn’t know that the term “quark” comes from Finnegans Wake, but it’s pretty impressive. There’s something about a scientist of significance enough to be naming quarks also being the sort of literary mind who reads Finnegans Wake. I mean, come on, no one reads Finnegans Wake. Most people are only pretending to have read Ulysses, and that one uses actual words and sentences. In AP English, when we presented end-of-year projects combining author bio with analysis of two of the author’s works, I boldly selected Joyce, Dubliners, and Finnegans Wake. I quickly realized my error when I tried to read the latter and ended up presenting on Joyce’s life, Dubliners, and a reading of nonsensical passages from Finnegans Wake along with the admission I hadn’t read it and an interview Joyce gave about how he was deliberately screwing with the heads of readers by writing such a non-book. But at a minimum, Mr. Gell-Mann, quark namer, was browsing the pages. Perhaps he just pretended that’s where it came from, knowing no one would ever catch him. I’m certainly not going to fact check him.
I’d be less pleased to have that creeptastic spider named after me if I were Bram Stoker, but I imagine he’d be cool with that (as would some of my clients, I bet). So, pray tell, what would you like to have named after you, authors? I might quite like something astronomical, if I were a writer. Maybe a newly discovered moon? Probably not an ugly cement building housing a Cinnabon, McDonald’s, and infrequently cleaned bathrooms, but hey, it’s a nice gesture on New Jersey’s part.