Everyone needs a love tap now and then

…and it may just be good for what ails you.

I dub thee…

Posted by Týr on September 4, 2007

So at Floating World 10 days (or so) ago, I decided to take part in the Labels Panel, partly because my good friend Eileen was moderating the panel, but mostly because I am actually interested in language and how it’s used. I would have to say my greatest intellectual interest in this is what names and pronouns to use for my transgender friends when referring to their pre-transition times. But I digress…

One of the things that struck me about how vehemently this one trans-man (I forget his name) opposed labels for being too confining. Now I never really had any gender identity issues that I’ve had to deal with. Likewise, being heterosexual spared me from any teasing/abuse I may have received (though frankly I doubt it would have happened at my school). Still, whenever I feel like I have to describe myself for whatever reason, such as my Tale of Týr page, I too find labels horribly retarded. How do you distill who you are, whether in a couple of words or in a treatise? I find this incredibly annoying and difficult, and I have no problem describing myself as a heterosexual male. Not ever having had to use it myself, I feel like the term “gender-queer” is more a definition by exclusion than an actual definition. I seriously couldn’t imagine having define myself by playing Botticelli let alone envisioning how to deal with a problem like choosing which bathroom feels more comfortable. (Personally, I believe that bathrooms in places where one doesn’t assume that men just spray everywhere (which seems to be any public bathroom, such as concerts, stadia, etc) should be unisex, but that isn’t really relevant to this entry). But I digress… so now I move on.

Sure, labels suck. I know that I would leave out a Metric Fuckton if I tried to use 5 words to describe myself: heterosexual, toppish-switch, engineer, German, metal-head. I just thought of something purely for the sake of my own curiosity: while I could indeed easily list another 15 words to describe me, I was wondering which five words you, beautiful reader, would use to describe me. Please don’t use any of the words I used. Whether you want to bar words that other people have used is up to you.

So, if labels are acknowledged by all to suck, why do we continue to confine ourselves to the narrow definitions that all labels have? The simple reason is that otherwise no communication would happen. All communication inherently contains some uncertainty, thanks to different nuances in precise definition and, to use Maymay’s terminology, the fact that speech has no checksum. Labels simply have the same drawbacks inherent to speech itself. Yes, it’s a shame that when using labels you feel like you need a seemingly endless array of them if you want to get remotely close to actually defining yourself.

The thing is, if we simply chose not to, we’d just be staring at each other nicely talking about the weather. And that shit happens way too much already.


7 Responses to “I dub thee…”

  1. maja said

    And also, dark horse. which makes me think of Deathklok’s Thunderhorse, but that’s obviously not the point. Aside from the mysterious/powerful image, I mean to say that you’re often surprising, and that surprise is often AWESOME. Like, who knew that a top could be so tender, or that such a sweet man could be so fierce?

    Or that metal’s biggest devotee could be so devoted to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go?”

    (Sorry for that last one.)

  2. Týr said

    I was expecting something a little more list-like, but far be it from me to tell anyone how to use language. So your list of words is “contrarian, dark horse, mysterious/powerful, surprising, tender, fierce, devotee of ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go'”? I count seven.

    And I totally knew you were going to use “contrarian”

  3. maja said

    well it had to be said. and I’m loving this language kick which you have always been on but are just now talking about. and meanwhile i’m learning to cha-cha with numbers. HMMMM.

  4. Týr said

    Maybe now, someone will add 5 words in the next comment and then we’ll have a descriptive, word-instead-of-syllable haiku!

  5. Eileen said

    I also like surprising. Do the words have to be unique?

    Sidenote: Jim moderated that panel, not me. I was something of an unexpected guest.

    Taciturn, unexpected, wry, amused and amusing.

  6. Týr said

    Eileen –
    The schedule/program/etc seid that the three of you were moderating it, not just Jim. Hence I included you as one of the moderators.

  7. words are different than labels, describing words are easy for me to conjure for you, but labels tend to be hollow when one tries to apply them to others – that is the weakness of labels, not in claiming them for yourself but in others applying them to you. (Occasionally it is their failure in translation of what a self applied label means to you and to them.)

    5 words of the Týr
    linkage (as in the amusing links you link me to) –
    witty –
    kind –
    interesting –

    the only other one I would include would most likely irritate you and has to do with your stature

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