Ke$sha. Dr. Drake. Lady Gaga. Neon Hitch. Lil’ Kim. Eminem. Gotye. Macklemore. Pitbull. Icona Pop. A$AP Rocky. J. Cole. R. Kelly. Neo. This is the list of names I found after looking up potential new music on iTunes. Apparently, I know very few people in the music world anymore. Some of course, like Eminem and Lady Gaga, have gained such a high-status in pop culture (which has then bled into regular culture), that it is almost impossible not to have heard of them. Yet, when I see a lot of these names, the first thought that comes to my mind tends to be, Is that a person or a sub-genre?
I do not mean for this to seem negative or critical or questioning of using alternative names. (Just look at my own name!) Personally, I find this trend hopeful. Or, maybe, it has the potential to offer hope. Names are a sacred thing, made less sacred by the fact that most are given to a human being before they have spent less than a week on this Earth. Sometimes, names are assigned while still developing in the womb. To me, there is something limiting about this. It’s all horribly predetermined. And it really does not make a lot of sense. When else do we name something without knowing its use, who it is, or where it is going? Do scientists name molecules and structures without first knowing how they function in the body? Do inventors name inventions before they have a chance to figure out what the invention will do? Do chefs name recipes without first knowing the ingredients? And isn’t it important that we are none of these things? Isn’t it important that we are not a liver, a Robot Mixer, or an Egg McMuffin (Eggless McMuffin if you are vegan)? We are fully-formed, fully-fleshed human beings, supposedly more complex than other animals in the kingdom (though that claim remains dubious at times), and fully capable of intelligent thought. So why is it that, though many of us will forever find ourselves writing and revising our answer to the question of “Who Am I?”, most of us are given an identity before we are even aware of ourselves as a self.
It seems that, as of recently, the music industry is taking notes from different cultures. It is almost like tribal names that people are adapting, names that come after experiencing the world and knowing more about yourself. And why shouldn’t these names be used? It would be completely wrong of me to criticize this movement (again, just look at my own name) and I have no intention to. Names are frequently used as a person’s attachment to themselves. Particularly in American cultures, there is a strong urge to link a person’s name with a person’s identity. Right away, when someone asks, “Who are you?”, we do not respond with, “I’m a housewife/chef/investment broker/lover of all animals”, but instead say, “I am Fred/Meredith/Bob/Tom/Wendy.” These two do not always mix well, as it is hard to know a person (perhaps impossible) solely by their name. However, it seems useless to try and change this. It is such a natural reaction to state our name, rather than our true identity, that I am not sure we can alter our immediate responses. However, If we cannot be in charge of our identities (or, rather, the identities that we give to the public, which may or may not correlate with our own true selves), why can’t we be in charge of the gateway to that identity?
Sure, we could try and fight the culture on this one. We could claim that we are more than our names. And we are. But our names still play a part in shaping us, whether we agree with the notion or not. But so long as we are not using new names as an act of competition (“My name is going to be the weirdest of all!”, some seem to proclaim), and if we have the chance to, why not let our names grow into ourselves rather than force ourselves to grow into our names?
Taking a look around the pop music scene, it seems this is what many artists have decided to do. After some thought, this was what I decided to do as well. Yes, I have a “real name”, but that is not what I chose to address myself as when dealing in artistic matters. For that, I am Jumbled Writer. When I feel within my soul, that is the name that seems to be right, that has a touch of truth to it. This is the name (for the moment) I will carry forward with.
What about you? What is your “true” name?
*Photo Courtesy of stayonsearch.com.