Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sporty Spice

Melanie Chisholm got herself the moniker of Sporty Spice because of the big As, apparel and attitude. Her athletic wear and tomboyish ways were thought to be embodied perfectly in the name she took. [I might as well come out now and mention the fact that I am not a Spice Girl aficionado and I'm simply wiki-ing to make a point here. As some readers of this blog might (and likely are) more knowledgeable in this pop music field, I must ask that any perceived inaccuracies be sacrificed to the point.] This is something you have to deal with as a blogger, if you are going to go through the motions of naming your posts, picking a name that matches important concepts you are trying to get across. You can then choose to develop that name in a sort of introductory piece created to be put before the jump. At least...this is something I have to deal with as a blogger (and have dealt with just as described).

The Spice Girls interest me as an introductory element even with my limited knowledge because of their names: with Sporty, Scary, Posh, Baby, and Ginger as titles, the Spice Girls are both a girl group and an exercise in connotation, albeit much more importantly the former than the latter (outside of this post). From something as immediately apparent as a singer's hair color to her accent or her social upbringing, all sorts of levels of analysis must be considered by anyone who is willing to seriously think about them (or look up information on them...). This is, in fact, an update on the John, Paul, Ringo, and George situation because three of those four were simply given names not possibly interacting with lives unlived when given and Ringo isn't a word, nor is someone named after the fact that they wear rings all that interesting (in my opinion).

But to make a story already too long a bit shorter, I will say this. "Sporty" or just "sport" by way of the Spice Girls becomes what I have above mentioned: tomboy attitude and a certain type of clothing. There are gender roles buried under this word that  I'm not going to get into because plenty of people with PhDs can write better about them--I just want to get across the importance of definition. With the Spice Girls you have this whole double-sided influence going on: the name derives from physical or character traits but then reflects on the singer and creates feedback (i.e. was Baby Spice simply the youngest member or did she embody her name in more ways than literal age and did any of this follow the nicknaming?).

I'm interested in the impact we can have of names. A story I've mentioned and even sketched here before is narrated by a James Bond. Not the. As a writer, I am interested in words. As an occasional writer of fiction, I am interested in fictional characters. So I find it fun to explore the ways that both words and their definitions and fictional characters and their names can possibly impact your own story or poem or character sketch or some other something to end this run-on list with. There's a half-formed skeleton of a poem in my notebook about how our names accrete their connotations and denotations throughout life and how what we live could be seen as a book but could even be seen as simply one entry of a book, one definition in a dictionary.

I began this post considering a divide in my personal definition of the terms "art" and "sport," but I've moved on from that. That's going to be done on another day with another example. The Spice Girls, purely through their names, can easily stand on their own. The brief mention of gender roles above is even echoed in "spice" as a name. Probably something everyone else in the world doesn't have to write four paragraphs about before seeing. So what exactly is Sporty Spice or Scary Spice? There's an inner dichotomy here between both gender roles and ordinary characteristics (at least from my vantage point). Sport is defined as masculating (is the male dominance of language really so apparent that emasculating is a word and masculating isn't? just because you can cut off a penis? sigh) and--I'm going to go out on more of a lead here--a tongue piercing and an aggressive attitude are somehow so not-what-you-would-expect-from-a-girl-in-a-girl-group that we have a resulting fear.

The world plays wonderful games for our enjoyment and it creates mystical elements that fall into place so much so without you even trying that you simply cannot prove anything, but only make distinctions. So when I offer the statistic that both of these somehow split personalities within the Spice Girls are named Melanie, I look like an astrologist and not a scientist. And I am not a scientist but I'm also not a numerologist. Or an astrologist, if you must make me return to my original statement. It's just one of the beautiful moments, you know? Like when someone you want to talk to just happens to be three out of five of your classes in the next semester. I'm not insinuating anything. I'm just smiling.

And while you could credit my good mood to the fact that the Red Sox have (by way of a seven-run inning) taken a solid lead against the Yankees while I have written this long meandering post about less than the nothing that makes up an episode of Seinfeld, I would say that perhaps that could be a part of it. But even a word like "happy," just as "sporty" or (my personal favorite) "posh," has its own feedback loop. In bequeathing it upon oneself, a person is thus inclined to act in a certain way. And such and such and so and so...pretend someone can actually understand what I'm trying to say rather than try to get my trying to get across a string of words that are more meaningful than simply their repetition.

Two upcoming thoughts for posts along this line I'm carving in the sand of this blog: eponymic determinism where the object of which we are eponyms is our life, or rather not simply us but all things--the importance of the words we use and the result of changing them--this is going to be an artistic post if you didn't already figure it out; as well as the above-mentioned concept of "art," "sport," and the importance of definitions.

Warren Ellis somehow gets cooler whenever he is talking about the pirate radio stations in Britain that rose up in Maunsell Forts after World War II. The actual building of these places, to help British defenses during the war, is quite amazing in itself. Their eventual uses simply stun the mind. In Americana there are long incessant speeches given over the radio by a character whose name I have forgotten, but are really Don DeLillo getting in a groove and rapping on it, a term I'm borrowing from Tom Wolfe who might be borrowing it from somewhere when he uses it in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and which is, at least to the best of my known, etymologically distinct from the more familiar use of rap, the genre of music, today. What this Frankenstein-monster of a paragraph stitched from various body parts of thoughts into what is a barely recognizable body of a mind thinking is trying to get across is that this is a past I imagine myself continuing when I am at my most vain. The voice on the radio in Americana talking on and on about this and that--and I've never heard that voice and so what if it has ever really existed--and the thought always unspoken underneath the meandering thinker's thoughts run wild is, you have a dial to twist. If I am not worth your time, I apologize, but that was not my intention. Do not let me bore you. Do not let yourself be bored, be controlled. Avoid the restraints of a mind deemed unsuitable to your own, but always be willing to limit and minimize what is incompatible with your worldview.

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