How was I conceived? Where do I belong to? What have I done? What do I want to do? How am I a part of a larger entity? Do I have rights? Am I expected to do something? Why am I supposed to do something? Am I shaped by the beliefs of others? Do I have a name? How did I get a name? Do I constitute the name? Am I what the name is? Who am I? I am an idea.
Experiments with Identity and I
Recently, I joined a month-long theatre workshop, a part of which is reflecting on the group dynamics. On Day 3, while we were having a discussion with this objective, I was talking about my journey as a performer when I was a member of the dramatics society of my college. Since I had to refer to the “dramatics society” in the discussion more than once, I felt a little odd to call it that – “dramatics society”.
After the workshop was over, on my way back home, I tried to figure out why it felt strange to use the phrase “Dramatics Society” for Ibtida (that’s the name of the group). First of all, Ibtida has been and remains to be a central part of my self. Ibtida is an idea that disseminates its culture to everybody who involves himself/herself with it. It is not just another dramatics society. It is a spirit that comes alive with the name “Ibtida”. That was exactly the reason I was not comfortable calling Ibtida a dramatics society. Ibtidians are used to speaking about it with a lot of passion. In such a conversation, the very usage of the name ‘Ibtida’ gives an altogether different dimension to the discussion in both – the way in which views are put forth, and the way in which they are received.
Giving Identity to Ideas
To quote the Nobel winning Bulgarian litterateur – Elias Canetti:
“You have but to know an object by its proper name for it to lose its dangerous magic.”
One can interpret Canetti to say that knowing the name may be equal to setting an expectation from it. That coming to have an increased level of knowledge about the object and hence, exercising a certain level of control over it, takes away the unknown magic it enfolds within it. What I believe, though, is that this very control which is a result of ownership of the concept is capable of digging out the mysterious magic that an idea holds.
I wonder how Imtiaz Ali would comment on Rockstar’s Heer renaming Janardhan to Jordan, in context of the quote by Canetti.
PS: Not many know that the ‘I’ of ‘Ibtida’ as it is known today came from the ‘I’ of Imtiaz, when it could have been named Pehel after the ‘P’ of ‘Prabhakar’.