Referent and Non Referent

Some time ago (in the 70’s) I read a short story in a Science Fiction Anthology that featured an entity that described itself as a “non-referent”. The theme of this story (the author and the book are long lost to me) has stayed with me for years. In essence this being could only exist as itself, it had no name and no description, for to name it or describe it gave it reference and trapped it in that form – until it was forgotten – or no longer referenced. To give it a name or form, not only confined it, but limited it. Diminished and trapped in an alien form. Something that now begins ring true for me.

This concept of a “non-referent” has influenced me for the last 40 years or more. I have always sought to be far more than a name or set of labels. Indeed label me and I will change. I have never taken to the use of Name Tags, or labels, they convey so little. It is very easy to label someone, to dismiss the person and only see the label. Such labels are often self-fulfilling, encouraging the lowest common denominator, and degrading all.

I accept no labels. I answer only to myself and the future. Being diagnosed with Dementia only encourages me to transcend the expectations of others.

Consider the following quotes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

‘What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty!

In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel!

In apprehension how like a god!

The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!

And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” …….. #1

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“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”


I do not accept the constraints people or my disease try to impose on me!

Give me liberty or give me death!


#1: NOTE, like all my age we had to study Shakespeare (among others) for the HSC. We “studied” Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Nights Dream, etc. None of this literature had much relevance (if any) to any of us at the time. Some years later I heard the cast recording of the Musical “Hair” – and there recast in the social turmoil of the 70’s was Hamlet.

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Posted in Our Stories, Quite Interesting

One comment on “Referent and Non Referent
  1. Ralph says:

    Could you be thinking of “Referent” by Ray Bradbury (October 1948 Issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories)…?

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