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the subconscious and name recognition and association..

August 22, 2011

weird mental state this past day.. weird even for me.. tired, out of it some, wore myself out in the days before.. chores, working out 2 days in a row, then a long walk the night before this one..

so here I am.. in an imaginary conversation with someone, like usual.. mostly a very unfortunate habit.. very distracting..

but while in imagined conversation.. or my mind fading out of it, in a tired state..

A name came up. I don’t know why, but it showed up in my head.


As I was typing that surname into google, I came up with the first name, Bobby.

Bobby Shaftoe. Why did this name show up in my head? I couldn’t remember who it was.. not somebody I’d met, I knew that..

So, came up with a few listings on wikipedia.

Bobby Shaftoe was an 18th century member of Parliament in Britain. There’s a nursery rhyme named for him, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard.

The other listing for this name likely explains why the name was in my head at all..

One of the longest novels I read was called “The Cryptonomicon.” I won’t endeavor to describe the plot. Complicated book, and I am not sure why I stuck with it.. didn’t like it all that much, even though it was original.

One of the main characters in that book is named Bobby Shaftoe.

I read that book over a decade ago. Haven’t thought of it in over a decade..

And the name shows up in my head just now.

And I don’t know why.

I thought I might come up with a name referring to a Native American. I am just now recalling why I would have thought “Shaftoe” would have seemed like a Native American to me.

There’s a (likely fictional or at least partially fictional) book about the Yanomamo people of South America, written by an American missionary. Primitive tribe, well-known to Anthropologists. Some anthropologists have claimed the Yanomamo were extraordinarily violent, while others have disagreed.

I know of this group of people because I went to hear a missionary speak at a church. This was in 1999, I’m guessing..

The missionary told the story of the Yanomamo tribes and their supposedly awful sorcery practices.

Some of the natives converted to Christianity, and one of them was a man nicknamed “Shoe-foot.” I find it suspicious that Shoe-foot was not at the church like the missionary said he would be. Maybe Shoe-foot was a fictional person, maybe not. The missionary’s book certainly painted a horrible picture of the Yanomamo.. one of the most violent books I’ve ever read..

Some Christians will write horrible, made up things, and pass them off as truth..for example, a book called, “The Satan Seller.” Written by a Christian comedian named Mike Warnke, who was very popular in the ’80’s, until he was proven to be a total fraud, and his book a work of fiction, not an autobiography.. and it was a Christian magazine that broke that story.. cool.. magazine was called “Cornerstone,” not in print anymore, I don’t think. Maybe some parts of the Bible, even the pre-Christian parts are like this.. I think they are..

But back to the name recognition.. association…

Shoe-foot is similar to Shaftoe..

Sh-sound plus something to do with foot.. so it’s understandable that while typing in the name “Shaftoe,” I was thinking it might be some Native American.


While reading about the historical Bobby Shaftoe, another prominent British politician of Shaftoe’s era was mentioned.. “Pitt the Elder.”

That name seemed familiar too, like I’d heard it mumbled in some line in a movie.. some very quickly mumbled line by a surly person..

But did I really hear this line? ??

Last night, or the night before, I was listening to an audiobook which Stephen Hawking (the most famous physicist on the planet) co-wrote.. and the audiobook is read by a British actor who I’d never heard of.. his voice doesn’t sound surly.. but did he mention Pitt the Elder? I doubt it.. The book is about Quantum Physics, and please don’t ask me to explain quantum physics.. I couldn’t very well anyway.. tried to understand it.

The Hawking book, called “The Grand Design,” .. so far out and strange and .. surreal.. I listened through the first disk.. not likely to continue it!

So.. going back to Pitt..

Pitt the Elder, according to the Wikipedia link was Prime Minister of Britain during what we in America call “The French and Indian War,” and what the British call “The Seven Year’s War.”

(That is, if I’m reading the article right.. rather long, and I’m tired. Hadn’t planned on writing anything tonight.).

I don’t recall where I heard the name “Pitt the Elder.”

And in the article on Pitt, I see a person called “The Duke of Orleans.” Who New Orleans was named after? Seems I’ve heard of the Duke too.. mentioned in some context (not in relation to the city.. ) .. maybe..

Back to William Pitt senior (his son being Pitt the Elder).. Pitt is associated with the name Chatham. I’m not going through the article again to figure out why. It gets confusing.. I don’t know how the systems within the British aristocracy work. Sometimes people have titles because they were born into certain families, some get titles by appointment of king or queen? And some people already with a title get another one if they achieve a military victory. They get promoted..

And when they get a title, they get a new name.. at least some of the time the name is associated with the land/estate they are awarded. I remember this part from Shakespeare.. one of the reasons Shakespeare’s historical plays were confusing..

And from poetry..

George Gordon, Lord Byron. That’s the name of one man, not two. Byron was a poet, 19th century English.. “She walks in beauty like the night..” If you’ve seen the movie “Dead Poets Society,” you’ve heard of Byron and at least one of his poems..

So Pitt the Elder was probably eventually called “Lord Chath.. pardon me.. just saw the heading for the wiki article.. “William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham.” Told you I was tired. “Earl,” in England, is a title, not a person’s name.

Right then..

So.. there are many places in the US named after Chatham (Pitt.. same person). This is because he stood up for colonial American rights. Pitt was concerned that the colonialists in the New World would rise up and fight if their rights were taken away. Nobody listened to him.

He even predicted that if war broke out, America would not be conquered.

I don’t know which cities were named after Pitt before the American Revolution, and which were named after, if any, but there are many of them..

The most famous is Pittsburgh, PA. There’s also a Pittsburgh in CA, which I found rather odd. The city in CA was of course named after the one in PA.

There’s a Pittsfield in Massachusetts, another Pittsfield in New Hampshire, places in several states called Chatham..

Read the article on this historical figure.. interesting..I’ve bookmarked it and will get to it later. I’ve got a bookmark folder for wikipedia articles.. I like that cite very much..


I still don’t know why the name “Bobby Shaftoe” welled up from my subconscious mind. Almost like something that would happen after I’m asleep. I do feel in a bit of a dream state now.. tired but not in a usual way..

And the connection with William Pitt, which I didn’t write about here.. just found the name “Pitt the Elder,” in the Shaftoe article..

And one last name association. “Pitt the Elder” reminds me of the name “Pliny the Elder,” who is some ancient Roman philosopher or ruler.. 23AD-79AD .. wiki sez.. “author, naturalist, natural philosopher” not sure what “natural philosopher means.

There’s also a Pliny the Younger, just as there is a Pitt the Younger. But, Pliny the Younger is the Nephew of Pliny the Elder, but the Pitts were father and son..

It would make more sense if Stephen Hawking mentioned Pliny not Pitt, but I don’t think either were mentioned.. but I’m not going through that first disk of “The Grand Design” again to find out.

So yeah.. Pliny and Pitt both historical figures worth reading about, and Stephen Hawking.. if you want to find your mind in a very strange place check out “The Grand Design,” or his most famous book.. “A Brief History of Time.”

Good luck with all that Hawking stuff. I think I’ll stick with history and leave quantum physics alone.. I hope.

Ok, I’m hungry, still need to take a shower and am getting a headache..

The subconscious is a mystery.. I guess I’ll have to leave it at that.

Very strange..


I wrote the upper part of this post at around 2 am, or something like that.

I got some sleep, and left my bed at 9:30 am.

Just after 10 am, I was listening to an NPR (National Public Radio) interview on the program “Fresh Air.” The woman being interviewed was some kind of high profile restaurant owner.

I was cooking breakfast, so I wasn’t paying all that much attention. I did hear her say that she only went to restaurants a few times when she was a child, and one of the restaurants was..

The William Pitt, in Chatham, New Jersey.

Chatham being another name for William Pitt, also known as Pitt the Elder, who I wrote about in the main part of this post.

And I hear the name this morning on the radio.

Any significance to this? Who knows.. certainly strange.. worth mentioning.

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