Nomen est omen
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Frits Jonker is not a rare name. I have no idea how many of me there are, but I guess enough to throw a large party. Not that I feel any desire to be in a room with only Frits Jonkers; the idea alone is weird enough.
To read/see/hear my own name mentioned somewhere always triggers something in me. Even if the person is not me. There is at least one Frits Jonker active on the Internet that is not me. I noticed him when I Googled my own name.
I once got a cassette from Jimmy Tigges on which he had compiled only songs about Jimmy’s. I was pretty jealous about that tape, because I realised that I would never be able to do that with my name.
But one should never say never, of course. If you ever come across a song about a Frits, please let me know.
The expression “what’s in a name” can be understood in many different ways. The Typefaces (see here for example) are not the only way that I used this expression. A few years ago I tried to give new meaning to the names of all the people that I know. I called this experiment “magic spelling”. I tried to pronounce the name in such way that it sounded as what I thought to be the main characteristic of that person. For example, for a friend named Marie Noet I came up with “Merry and nude”, which is very much the state of mind that she has in my eyes. I hesitate giving more examples, because this is personal information. I am not the only person who does this name game. Somebody made “Limited Theory” out of Timothy Leary, which I find a brilliant example of magic spelling. The results that I got were not always spectacular, but I was surprised how much there was possible with names. After doing this for a week or two, my mind began producing phonetic associations automatically every time I heard a name mentioned somewhere. It took me months before this mental machine stopped working!
One of the things that I understood from that experiment is that names are far more powerful than I realised. We have associations with every name that we hear. And whether we are aware of it or not, we associate the person with the associations that we have with his or her name.
There are many more name games. They are a bit dangerous for me. But please send them to me anyway if you happen to know new ones.
Here is today’s soundtrack, by Alma Cogan. It is a song (about language!) from my 78rpm record collection: