Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bye Bye Josie?

I am considering abandoning my pseudonym, Josephine's Echopraxia. I have developed more pride in what I do than I had when I started and more of a sense of my own worthiness and abilities in my field. I no longer feel the need to apologize for my profession (and my existence) with veiled tongue-in-cheek literary and medical references.

I have long felt uncomfortable about my decision to appropriate the term echopraxia. I rationalized to myself that I didn't consider echopraxia to be a disorder but merely another expression of human diversity and told myself I was drawing a smart parallel to the learned behavior of mimicry that becomes second nature, almost compulsive, to a dancer, but really what would disability advocates say? Recently I watched a man at my bus stop with real echopraxia. The kind of echopraxia in which one tries to hold back the movement with the other hand or distract oneself with a cigarette, the kind in which one moves away from others in an attempt to hide even as each passing minute of the bus' tardiness and each siren and horn blare causes the uncontrollable agitation to grow ever more intense. Even if I catch myself embarrassingly rehearsing in public (yes, this happens) in the end I can stop when and if I choose to. Sometimes I choose not to, even if I feel shy about it, I don't want to lose my train of thought, but I can if I want to. Yes, my creative pursuits often make me feel like an outsider, but creativity is not classified as a disorder in the DSM. It's stigma is profoundly less. Most of the time I am watched by audience and not gawkers.

I have no right to use this word.

Josie, Josephine… Kafka's precocious little mouse, patronized by her doubtful but permissive/dismissive community. I have come to love the sound of her name as mine. Yes, her story is often the reality of being an artist- 'we don't get what you're doing or why you won't do real work, but you tell us it's important and you do look kind of cute, so we will let you get away with it'. Claiming Josephine as my totem gave me an academic unemotional way to apologize for myself while at the same time poking fun at the status quo. Josephine could be my defense mechanism to give myself the courage to swim against the current and make work. Now, I no longer intend to apologize for myself. I know longer intend to dignify the existence of doting father style patronage by using my own title as a response to the harm it causes to not only the individual artist, but also to the art form, the audience and the community at large.

No more internalized oppression. I no longer want to buy into my own marginalization.