It is a French film directed by Daniel Auteuil, and depicts an age just before, during, and after the First World War, when rural life still embraced a contempt for modern values, and the pastoral context defined the the quietude of family life yet unblemished but for private shame of family secrets. It is in the title itself which reveals much; for, there is no independence of a person’s name, and the underlying theme throughout encapsulates the right to a surname, the identity of an individual, and how the interconnectedness of one’s essence, being and substantive community is itself defined by the proper ascription of who we are related to, how, and by what legitimacy.
It is, in that sense, outdated and “old fashioned”; for, in modernity, we cast no aspersions when it comes to heredity, lineage and source of being, anymore. But the historical context reflects the time of its relevancy; here, names matter; formal acknowledgement of marital unions within a community of acceptance and celebration are expected; and the child who comes into this world must be identified by the proper surname through label of sacrament. At the outset, the title itself reveals much; for, we immediately note that it is not the name of a person, but an identity within the context of a family lineage.
In this day and age, names are no more important than the identification of inanimate objects; relational identities have been cast aside; we are known, each of us, by the names we have been given, have shed and taken on in rebellious denial of former connections, or so easily abandon and recreate, like so many pseudonyms used on the technology of our former selves. But try as we might, somehow the haunting connections seem to matter; otherwise, how else to explain the persistent cries of orphans and abandoned children to search and discover who their parents are, and to open up sealed court documents to embrace identities formerly unknown?
Is it a mere mirage and vestige of an antiquated mutation, where the genetic lineage served to fulfill Darwin’s fantasy of survival of the fittest, somehow misinterpreted by one’s cellular make-up to include direct inheritance of a particular DNA? And why is the language so precise and important? Would the story have been any different if it had been titled, say, “The Girl who wore a pink bonnet”? The narrative could still have remained; but, somehow, by merely identifying the character by what she wore, is not the same as to whom she is related to, of how she is named, and by what relationship her being is connected.
Words — and names — matter. Identifying the proper relationships, and the context of connectedness, all together form the “wholeness” of a coherent narrative.
That is why, in preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to coordinate the medical documentation with the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability with any legal arguments to be made and cited; and any legal arguments with both the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability. For, each are not mere separate codifications of independent entities unrelated to the other; together, they form a compendium of a cogent narrative, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; and when such force of coherence is submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it heightens the statistical favoritism for an initial approval.
And, like the Well-Digger’s Daughter, we must always remember that the interconnectedness of life, living, and the essence of everything around, is defined not merely in our individual capacities, but by the sacredness of who we present ourselves to be.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire