While reading through Zulus, I saw a saying that said “MUTATO NOMINE” in chapter R, page 112. I was reading quite fast when I saw this foreign saying and decided I could look it up later. I kept reading and eventually finished this absolutely insane book. As Professor McCoy said, “What the hell?”. This was pretty much the only thing I was thinking while trying to bounce what I just read around in my head. While frantically searching for answers, I remembered the mutato nomine saying.
Mutato nomine translates to “the name changed”. The named changed means about nothing in my head and I was not making any connections at all. I eventually found out that there is more to the saying than just mutato nomine. The whole expression is “Mutato nomine de tu fabula narratur” which translates to “with the name changed, the story applies to you”. I read this and thought “I know there is a connection, but I have absolutely no clue what this means.”
I, obviously, do not exactly know what the author, Percival Everett, was trying to portray with this expression or even the whole book but I sure do have some ideas. I am not sure when all of it clicked in my brain but at some point, I started to make lots of connections.
Alice’s head, as we established during a class discussion, is stuck forever in a glass case. The gas that will spread and kill all of humankind cannot get inside of a sealed glass container where her living head is. While every single human on the planet dies, Alice will live. However, should Alice have tried to stop Kevin from letting out the gas? She is now stuck forever in her head knowing that there is no other living human and the only thing she can see forever is the alphabet. If I were her, I would’ve thought about this before I decided it was a good idea to let some man kill my body and every other person on earth.
Alice is just like the average person in modern society today. Lots of people just sit down and avoid problems. Small problems of their own or even huge problems of the world, lots of people just want to avoid it and hope that someone else can fix it. I personally understand this. I like to avoid my problems and sit and hope they just go away. But my problems have never just magically disappeared, I have to fix them. Sometimes it’s laziness but sometimes it is fear stopping me from fixing my problems. But at the end of the day if I want something to change or I want my problems to be fixed, then I am the one who has to get up and fix them. This is the same way for huge world problems as well. We need people to stand up and want to fix the problems. People can not be lazy or scared and sit in their houses avoiding all of it. People are physically ruining the world every single day. We are polluting and contaminating the only planet that we can survive on at the moment. We use non-renewable energies in our everyday lives which is killing the earth. Just to make plastic we burn fossil fuels such as coal and gas all the time. Fossil fuels being burned is ruining the earth’s atmosphere. Every single day we are absolutely killing the earth, yet some people still avoid the issue. Yes, there are people promoting the changes and trying to fix the problem, but I think there are a lot more people avoiding it.
Another example of people avoiding problems would be when people knew the absolutely awful things happening in medicine years ago, yet they just kept letting it happen. Black bodies were stolen from graves to be tested on, people disappeared from hospitals to be tested on, people IN the hospital were being tested on instead of being helped. If you witnessed these things happening would you just sit there and decide that you could not do anything to help or would you try to fix this? While people were being tested in hospitals the nurses must have known. But were they trying to stop the problem or were they just watching it happen?
Alice tried to help at one point, but eventually just listened to Kevin and was convinced that the world would be better off without humans because they couldn’t fix it. If she would not have avoided the problem and conformed, then maybe she could have stood up and tried to fix things. There is always people who want to fix the world problems and I am sure if you get enough people you can eventually start to make some changes. However, Alice made her decision and now she will be stuck forever in a box thinking about how she could’ve changed all of this.
To me Alice represents all of us sitting here letting the earth go to waste. At some point it’s going to be too late to fix it and all we are going to be able to do is sit and watch it happen just as Alice is. I think the author is showing us this as a warning before it is too late.
Now going back to “Mutato nomine de tu fabula narratur”, if you change the name of the story then it applies to you. If we change the name of the story, then it’s our story. So, do you want to be stuck like Alice or do you want to at least try to fix our world problems? I know I would rather die trying than knowing I could have tried and didn’t.