Friday, 17 May 2013

This is my real name. This is real.

kaberettPosted by kaberett

As I said recently: hello, my name's kaberett.

And that is absolutely true.

kaberett is not my wallet name - the name in my passport, on my Prescription Pre-payment Certificate, on my various institutional ID cards - but it is no less real for that. I am the only person using "kaberett" as a name; search the Internet and you'll get me, and a bunch of German-speakers using non-standard spellings.

My wallet name isn't the name under which I perform; it's not the name under which I write; it's not the name under which I have formed countless close friendships; it's not the name under which I provide sex education and health advice; but: it is no less real for that. There are two other people with my wallet name living in my area (one has a private pilot's licence; one spends a lot of time on student theatre), and I have at least one relative who (superficially) shares it.

Both names are real. Both names are equally real.

Both names are chosen.

Neither is the name I was given at birth.

I chose "kaberett" before I had settled on "Alex"; I decided on "Alex" because "kaberett" felt right.

Both names are patchwork: of who I am; of who I was; of who I hope to be. They started out too large: I echoed inside them and looked over my shoulder, unable to tell who was calling me. And then: I grew into my names, settled them on my shoulders like a coat, and I got out my scissors and my needles and my thread and I took them in where they were still too large; added in another stripe - another layer of nuance - where they constricted.

And I have worked for these names - for these identities - and they are consistent, solid, whole. I refuse to do either of them a disservice by relegating them to the status of "pseudonym" or "fake"; I refuse to countenance the question "Ah, but what is your real name?" - as if I could, should, have only one; as if my name should not be context-dependent; as if the name chosen for me by people who didn't yet know me is more real than my names.


We are fond of these distinctions, though: between "real life" and "online", as though they can be meaningfully separated; as though through the mediation of technology our actions become fantasy, our selves fantastical. Yes, online we can fly - but the communities we build are no less valid for that.

So then, predictably: we go the other way: with "meatspace", for example, a graphic and unpleasant image. And, yes, for some of us - and I do here include myself - our bodies make unpleasant roommates; and yet - the mind is not purer than the flesh. Embodiment neither corrupts nor tempts me.


And so, in the end, to neutrality: my real name is what I say it is. My real life is what I say it is.

I am here, and I am real - and so are you. So are we all.

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