Untitled. Sort of.

This short essay was posted several years ago on a secondary blog of mine that not even my mother read. On that service I experimented with a post without a title. Here it is, significantly updated and augmented.

The no-title-post experiment was fine, except that it shows up as Untitled in the subject line of the email that subscribers get. Not so good. I wouldn’t open an email with Untitled as title. Would you?

Then again, some of the best, or most famous, art — think paintings and poems — are untitled. Maybe Emily was on to something.

So throw those untitled posts in a drawer, and 50 years later they’ll be world-famous. Is that the way it works?

I was tempted to go with untitled this morning for “Morning Silence.” At the last minute, I chickened out.

If a work is Untitled, must “Untitled” be placed in quotes? Does it then become a title?

I saw a painting, Untitled. (I spared the artist by not including it here.) Um, I think I can see why. I’d be embarrassed to put a name on it.

Has Twitter begun the untitledism movement? Or just perpetuated it?

Come to think of it, Bible books were originally untitled. Nothing was written on the outside of those scrolls. Luke didn’t distinguish his two works on the outside by scribbling “My Gospel” and “My Book of Acts” where Theophilus would see it when he picked up a scroll. Names of Bible books got added later, years later.

Is there a divine lesson in that?

And even the Bible itself didn’t have a title. Somebody stuck “Books” on it. Biblos.

How could you sell a book on Amazon today, untitled?

God has plenty of titles. He deserves them. But apparently the church didn’t need a title or name. Like the moon doesn’t need one.

Can people be untitled? “Hello, my name is Joe, what’s yours?” “I’m Untitled.” That would only work if they got numbered, like paintings. I’m Untitled 3.456.789.

In some societies, people wouldn’t name their kids until they were so many months or years old. Seems like they waited to see what kind of kid he was going to be before choosing a personality-appropriate name. (Must have been a lot kids named “Brat” back then.) We wouldn’t go to the hospital until we had baby names picked out.

OK, people have names. And some people have titles. Churchy titles are the weirdest. Senior Pulpit Minister. Lead Servant Minister. The angels read those and untitledly tweet “ROFL.” And maybe add a crying emoji.

Remember when 7-Up tried to have its titled cake and eat it too? The Uncola. Uninviting. They must have thought Anti-cola was too strong. But who wants to drink something Un?

I think I may be Anti-Title. After all, who am I to attached a Title to myself? That would be uncool.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?