2013/07/15

My name(s)



Names are references, like adresses by which people can identify and find you. A friend recently changed hers, and asked her friends and relative to avoid calling her by her previous name. I personally like to *append* new names and titles to the old ones, without feeling the need to shed the past (even though I thought about shedding my father's name "Barbay" for 5 years or so!).

I was born Barbay. I never liked the sound of it, and a classmate making it rhyme with "Barbar" did not help with it. I did not recognize myself in it, did not feel that I had to be close to people sharing some of my genes, and that the notion itself of people having to be close to their gene-kin was dangerous in itself and the source of war and suffering. But I learned with time to like and respect the people grouping themselves under this name, and the "clan" that we are all forming together, from my dear brothers to my cousins and grand-cousins. Kudos to Joachim, Titouan, Nicolas, Lilian, Theo, Anastasia, Ophélie, Alexia, Oriane, Killian, Elène and all the others, too numerous to name them all here.

My parents named me Jérémy after a pessimistic prophet, and Félix after their cheery, adventure-prone and (to be discovered later, I think to their dismay) gay history and geography professor riding a motorcycle and traveling to Africa. To this day I like each of the detail of this inheritance, and recognize myself in those two names, being prone to concern myself with the future of humanity (and what a dark future I see sometimes!), loving to travel and loving to run away from any notion of normality.

I chose the name JyBy for myself when I was 8, because I resented having the same initials (JB) as my brother and a friend, and extended it to "Le JyBy" at age 21 when I discovered that a Japanese was already using it on the Internet. ("Le" in French means "The" in English, as in "The One and Only One JyBy"). I proposed to use this as my nickname when I became user and then administrator of a student network, at age 21, and my companions accepted it (which should not be taked for granted: a friend proposed "Phenix" and was nicknamed "Fefe" :) ). It even became a verb among a circle of 30 or so friends: "jybyser" in French, meaning to make the kind of error (e.g. saying the inapropriate thing to the inapropriate person or at the inapropriate time) that I would have done! To this day, some people know me as JyBy and barely know my other names, and I sign all my art as JyBy.

At age 16 I invented myself the character of the Dragon-Clown, a (western-style massive) dragon born with a red nose, and a disability making it blow soap bubbles instead of flames. People who don't know him are afraid of it, or aggressive to it (those annoying testosterone addicted knights and their princesses in heat!), but the children young enough to not know yet scary Dragon stories are delighted by his colorful soap bubbles and his jokes. To this day I am generally more at ease with children than adults, and Dragons and Clowns are proeminent in my art, often together and in complementarity. One of my favorite drawing of this type is one where the Dragon and the Clown share the same red nose, each one being the reflection of the other, and the Clown's shaddow being shaped as a Dragon while the Dragon projects on the ground a Clown's shape.

Some names I got and did not keep. A good friend transformed "JyBy" in the pet-names "Gibier" and "JyByBy", mostly referred to my low level of performance at my first networked game, XPilot. At age 27 I got the degree of "doctor in Philosophy", a title to which I am still not used, but for which I got a renewed interest after discovering some similarities (rainbow colors, a long scarf, an ubiquitous electronic device, a collection of funny hats, a taste for exploration, etc...) with the main character of some well know Brittish television serie. At age 32 Chilean students started calling me "professor", which always sounded like an insult or an accusation to me (I disagree with 6 out of the 7 definition of "profess" in the dictionary), and which I feel they mainly use to avoid learning the names of their teaching staff. Recently I felt amused and flattered that some students referred to me as "professor Jeremy" (as opposed to "professor Barbay", which would be the common usage of the title) in a large department meeting: at least they know my name, and which one matters to me the most ;)

I was surprised many times over by how the duality of the title of Dragon-Clown resonates with aspects of my life: I wanted early to prove that one could be serious (like a dragon) and funny (like a clown), later that one could work persistently but creatively at the same time, and lastly that one could be scientific and artistic at the same time. I was (and am) worried about bipolarity, another form of duality, and there is an inherent duality between the names of Jérémy, the dark prophet, and Félix, rhyming with Feliz, felicity, happiness. But most probably this duality is a mere reflection of the duality of the world observed and discussed by philosophers, from life and deatg to yin and yang...

Jérémy Félix "Le JyBy" Barbay, Dragon-Clown
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