27.7.07

On names and anonymity

This was triggered by eM, who's been having issues with being in the public eye. Having been built up to by growing demands for one to come up with a more accessible moniker. Or to be otherwise available.

And since people are nice enough to let one comment on their pages (and replying to one's smartypants comments without getting offended (unlike Leo)), and since more people are being nicer and commenting about the things one rambles about here (without being nasty, and occasionally being all fan-like (hello E)), one generally felt a little exposition was in order.

And it promises to be a long one.

Now then.

Let's start with a book called The Borribles. A children's book, which one found in one of those quaint little bookshops you find in one of the thousands of almost-identical-but-slightly-ephemerally-unique villages in Ol' Blighty. It's part of a trilogy, but the other two books are quite okay, and till one didn't know about them (one had to wait another decade-and-a-half before laying eyes and hands on the other two, since one - or one's friends - never saw a copy of the book(s) in any other country in all that time....but boy, it was such a thrill to finally find those two - the sublime joy of the book-collector), the first book seemed quite wonderful on its own, simply because it didn't have a cop-out, sappy ending.

But wait...this isn't about the book. Sorry, thoda tangent ho gaya (which sounds like a wonderful line to use - almost as good as "Galti se mistake ho gaya", and "Apna bad luck ich kharab hain" - BM could guess those at a spot, one assumes).

The point about the Borribles is that all the Borribles have to earn their names, and are named after some Adventure they have, which they get known for. Rather like the Native Americans, but while the NAs had a child name and an adult name, these Borribles are only known as 'Oi', and 'Watzit' (said in a very Mockney accent of course, the book being set in London) till such time as they get their Name.

And that concept triggered off research into what one's own name meant (yes, one does have one, which comes in handy when signing Official Documents). As it turned out, the meaning was....ambiguous, at the best. One's mater had modified a quite acceptable name with a proper meaning, but due to the modification, it was almost unique (one knows of just one other person named thus), and hence one's name had no real meaning. One has since decided on a meaning for it, and hence is quite satisfied with it. Not least because it's so unique (a little hubris is allowed, yes?).

Since then, one always asks people if they know what their name signifies - and a surprisingly large number do not. And one has since been leaning more towards the belief that people's names should mean something, and say something about themselves. Oh, some names sound wonderful, but they just don't reflect on the person. Which is not to say there aren't any people whose names feel apt. But increasingly, one looks at people, and tries to imagine what name they are, or rather, what name they should be, since their names don't quite....fit (we've all played this, one assumes).

So, one has long felt that the value of personal names is not really up to market potential.

And blogging is doing something to redress that, with everybody free to pick a moniker of their own. But even here, social conditioning kicks in, and there's an inherent need for it to be a name of some sorts. And one thinks that's simply because people need to have something pronounceable.

Now, one is aware one is being difficult by not selecting a title, or even acronym-able handle. One did not do it to be deliberately irritating, but it was only because one loves this particular expression, which one equates as "incredulous astonishment". And that quite succintly expresses one's most common reaction to most things one comes across.

It's also perhaps a bit of an sociological experiment, just like blogging is for quite a few of us - how do people react to the lack of a name? Does it take away from the writing? Does it add to the writing? Does it become more of an issue than it should be? Do people give a name of their choosing, if they find it difficult to use it in a comment-chat? The results have been interesting, if a little expected.

And those questions are also perhaps the reason behind the lack of a detailed personality portrait. Not that one wouldn't happily be a diarist - one quite enjoys BM's escapades and the globe-trotting that Szer/Professori share with us - but one doesn't feel the need to, and so one shall leave that to those who are experts at it.

No, it's more about whether and how much the lack of background details affects the discussion/absorption of a theory or observation. Which also extends to the writing itself, forcing a purer, clearer focus on the idea, and trying to get the meaning across without cluttering it with extraneous details. It's a fascinating experience, where one is forced to re-examine one's own assumptions in the light of an absence of background to give the story some relief, some depth. One isn't deliberately hiding them - well, one is, but not in that sense - one is simply not mentioning them. Except when the details are the idea, or relevant to it - such as all entries on food.

***************
Notes:

1) Of course, the no-name thing could be due to one's fascination with the Eastwood character in those Westerns.

2) If you don't like this handle - Go ahead, pick a name (again with the Eastwood). But then please co-ordinate so that one doesn't have to answer to fifteen of them.
3) This post is NOT because one is upset or angry at anyone. One just feels this is the right time to talk about it, what with the confluence of various minor threads, so one is doing so. Not to mention one cannot be bothered doing what one is supposed to be doing.

15 comments:

Brown Magic said...

psst, chai piyogi?

Do dost ek pyaali main chai piyenge. Isse pyar badhta hai.

Brown Magic is nickname earned in college through drinking game domination (yeah!) one set out to not be so much a diarist (really? sounds so fancy!), but a journal-ing alcoholic so it only seemed appropriate.

Now, reduced to BM (even in one's own head)-it feels irrelevant - random letters that could just as easily mean bowel movement.

which barely answers your query but that is entirely your fault for the nature of said query.

fwiw - one is unperturbed by your lack of a name.

Tabula Rasa said...

this is an interesting experiment you have going here and i agree with pretty much everything you said, except for point #2 right at the end. i don't think we (your subjects) should be forced to co-ordinate at this point. you hadn't thought that bit through and doing this now would be messing with your experiment. which is something that i as a scientist can't go along with.

ps. i think "bowel movement" is going to stick, at least in my head.

Aparna said...

bm:
beta, phas gaye....bowel movement ka chaap lag gaya. and second phillum?

tr:
not forced, was but a suggestion, if people are so inclined to form groups. which would add another facet to the observation, no? and one wouldn't really mind answering to several, one just would prefer not to.

Tabula Rasa said...

woops. was that intentional?

BM (bowel movement hi sahi) said...

i am going to believe that was intentional- what with a post on names and all.

uh both are Andaz Apna Apna.
or that is how I know them, but i suppose bad luck bahut logon ka kharab hota hai.

??! said...

whoops indeed.
the perils of sharing a computer, and not checking the last log-in.
and one is NOT an aparna.

??! said...

bm,bm. second one was so from Rangeela. unless Aamir-bhai used it again in AAA, but one cannot recollect a scene in that one.

Brown Magic said...

why so indignant about not being an Aparna? wots so wrong with being an Aparna? My mother is named Aparna.

(she isn't but for some reason that always lends credence to random offense-taking, no?)

eh, friday afternoon - I am clearly not working.

??! said...

aparna is nice name. but just not one's style. if one would be an A name, one would be an...Ananya. or Anandita.

Revealed said...

Oooh oooh. How did I miss this one? FYI I don't care about the name at all. And I think that ??! in itself provides enough background, details, persona. It's a name just like any other, right? I mean, if anything, some of our names (actual names in your book) make no sense whatsoever (other than these oh-so-profound people like bm and tr). I mean, Revealed!!!! It doesn't even have a meaning. It's totally random.

Now from a scientific point of view, I find a lot of flaws in your experiment. Mainly because your original premise is erroneous. ??! *is* a name. Just because it's unpronounceable doesn't make it a non-name. And it actually provides a lot more insight into you as a person than a name like Revealed or Brown Magic. Think about it, woman.

??! said...

Ahh, trust a scientist to pick up on the point one glossed over. Very true.

Tabula Rasa said...

personally i think brown magic is a *very* descriptive name.

The Bride said...

Fascinating. Only when you mentioned it and from the earlier post on gender did I actually realise that you are deliberately not disclosing your identity. The whole thing seemed perfectly fluid and natural until pointed out that it was not.

As someone else here said, I too didn't think that you did not have a 'name' because ??! is a name. Especially since we're communicating only in text and don't actually have to call out to you. If I had to refer to your blog to someone else, I would probably say something like 'that question mark girl' (yes - think you're a girl).

You're right - you're not an aparna. Weirdly I thought you might be an Aditi. Closer (for me) to Ananya and Anandita

Anonymous said...

hahahha all of this is so much fun and my dear ??! thanks for mentioning me in your post. NO ONE has ever done that. But see having no name made me famous on your blog at least. Thanks, all this is very entertaining- name or no name. I am famous for two mins on yr blog and my name doesn't even begin with E :-)
love Ennui.

??! said...

one was aware bringing this out into the open would be violating the first rule of any observation (where any details of the intent changes the entire dynamic and/or proves any inference void). but it's interesting to note what has happened since.
Also, point one forgot - one HAS given three name options on one's About Me. nobody noticed that eh?
E, you're welcome.