It’s a holiday weekend. I have several posts half finished, waiting for additional historical information to arrive or, in the case of some difficult topics, for the right angle to strike me.
So I decided to tinker with my blog — specifically, with the names of my subcategories, Genealogy, Psychology & Meat.
Because I didn’t fuss over them enough the first time around.
When I created this blog, I wanted the title and the subcategories to convey the fact that it would be about a search for my mother’s family, a search inspired by the discovery that my great uncle had a butcher shop in Sigmund Freud’s building.
I put a lot of thought into the sound and emotional impact of the words I chose for that purpose.
“Freud’s Butcher” is a literal statement of the role my great uncle played vis a vis a famous man, but the words “butcher” and “Freud” are far from neutral — to put it mildly. I worried about that a bit but ultimately decided that the combination was intriguing and evocative. You can’t go wrong with a phrase that would make a good name for a punk band.
The subject categories were designed to clarify and amplify the title. I liked the off-rhymes of Genealogy and Psychology and the humorous THUNK of the monosyllabic Meat following those two polysyllabic words. I also liked the contrast between the intellectual-sounding Genealogy and Psychology (words that end with “ology”– meaning the study or science of — always seem smart) versus the sheer physicality of Meat.
I’d captured the mind-body dichotomy in three words!
Very pleased with myself, I had business cards and a badge created.
Freud’s Butcher: A Blog About Genealogy, Psychology, and Meat.
But after nearly 10 months of blogging, I’ve realized this isn’t quite accurate.
What’s Wrong With Genealogy, Psychology and Meat?
Consider Genealogy. Although I planned to spend most of my time tracking down family members by using tried-and-true genealogical methods, and although I’ve blogged a bit about genealogy theory — see Sex and the Single Genealogist and The Mormon Church, the Holocaust and Me — I haven’t yet spent much time doing actual genealogical research. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that others have done it for me.
Then there’s Meat.
I’ve discovered that, although butchering was the trade of my mother’s grandfather and three uncles, it wasn’t the only food-related business the family was involved with. My Kornmehl kin also included a chocolatier, a cafe owner, and a candy mogul. I’ve also ventured into some fishy topics; see the Great Gefilte Fish Divide.
And a friend who is vegetarian told me that people she knew were put off by the proud endorsement of meat that my blog announces.
Perhaps most relevant: When I asked writer friends about possibly changing the name of my blog’s categories, two of them thought that this was a good idea because Meat was “too Freudian” (ironically). By which I realized they meant “sexual.”
When I thought about it, they were right. The double entendre of Meat — think phrases like “meat market,” “beat your meat,” “meat rack” — has no place here.
As for Psychology, this blog doesn’t discuss the theories of Henry James, B.F. Skinner, Noam Chomsky, or any of the other thinkers whose ideas and practices fall under the mind-exploration umbrella. I focus on the guy who lived in my great uncle’s building and was lucky enough to have access to a good butcher shop, so he could give his beloved Chows high quality table scraps. Whereas the Meat category is not inclusive enough, Psychology is too broad a term.
Alliteration Saves the Day!
Then it came to me: Family, Freud and Food.
If I don’t currently spend a lot of time doing genealogical research, I do devote many posts to discussing my family, past and present. So the word Family accurately reflects my blogging practices, and is broad enough to include genealogy, should my focus shift.
When it comes to edibles, it’s best to go for inclusiveness, not to mention inoffensiveness. The term Food contains multitudes and is far less off-putting than Meat.
I could have lived with keeping the Psychology category — though Psychoanalysis would have been more accurate — but having come up with two words starting with “f,” Freud was inevitable. True, he is already in the blog’s title, but he is the celebrity draw. And I find myself spending a lot of time writing about him.
The Jewish Kinder, Küche, and Kirche?
Having made this decision, I realized that I had accidentally hit on a version of another alliterative phrase, one closely associated with Nazism: Kinder (children), Küche (kitchen) and Kirche (church). Hitler believed that women should be kept pregnant and in the kitchen, listening to a higher male authority.
He had a thing about authority in general.
In contrast, this is a Jewish feminist blog — or at least a blog written by a Jewish feminist — that deals with Family, which doesn’t necessarily involve children; Food, which doesn’t have to be cooked at home; and the secular life of the mind that Freud represents.
It’s the anti-Kinder-Kuche-Kirche.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t think Freud and feminism are mutually exclusive. Misguided theories like penis-envy notwithstanding, Freud didn’t believe women were inferior. Yes, he was a Victorian man, but he had many strong female friends and patients, including the poet H.D. and Princess Marie Bonaparte. He encouraged his daughter, Anna, to follow his career path, not to marry a rich man.
And the man who invented the Oedipus Complex would never underestimate the importance of women.
So there you have it. As soon as I get with my web designer, this will be Freud’s Butcher: A Blog About Family, Freud & Food.*
Or Family, Food & Freud. Or Freud, Family, & Food. Or Food, Family, & Freud.
All input welcome. I haven’t made up new business cards yet.
*Reader: This never happened.