Alternating Currents

Like cats, the Gentlemen have a multiplicity of names that they trade between themselves as necessity or inclination demands. Public names, private names, true names; names for the stage, the page, and the war; preferred names and passing names, work names and screen names. They have an endless supply of official-seeming documentation to support these names, cards, badges, passports, library cards, utility bills, job applications, you name it.

These names are real, in the way that a suit of clothes is real, or haircut or beard is real, but they are fluid, labile, suitable to a moment or a mood. They learn each other’s name like collecting quarters, spend them as easily. They hydra out with each introduction, forking again and again, a tangle of identities that scorns the idea of a solid, stable center. Like fish, like coral, like a man o war breaking the surface before descending to feed, they exist only in aggregate, each one a nation in himself.