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LIONHEART

05 June 2010

Staunch fans of August, and crazy stalkers (you know who you are!), have probably noticed a peculiar change in my name. Who is this ‘Leeuwenhart’? Wasn’t the author’s surname ‘Leermakers’ when last we saw each other? OK, stalkers will have known of this already, of course, or they wouldn’t be particularly good at what they did.

And I like to think I inspire at least mildly OK stalkers. High mid-class, is what I aim for. I digress.

You’d be right. I have somewhat semi-officially taken the artist name ‘Roderick Leeuwenhart’, which is the Dutch translation of Lionheart. As in, Richard the Lionheart, known from Robin Hood and also, decapitating Turks in the crusades. The why of it isn’t very interesting here. Feel free to assume that I’m an ego-tripping madman, though I’d be flattered if you thought I was doing it out of some higher artistic vibe to create. What’s way more interesting is other people’s reactions to my new name.

Don’t think it below me to delight in this unplanned for social experiment! Because it’s quite interesting. I have gotten tons of reactions from everyone around me and no two were the same. People have found it ridiculous, cautiously OK, ballsy, idiotic, brave, stupid, unnecessary, arrogant, disrespectful towards my family and much more. They questioned me for my motives, sought all kinds of reasons behind it. It’s been supremely entertaining to measure all this and really gave me some new insights into how people think.

As you have noticed, most reactions fell somewhere between This Is Marginally Strange to You Are Bat-Shit Insane. However, a very interesting anomaly occurred every now then. I would meet with people who didn’t know I changed my name and assumed it was simply my real name. Whenever they would comment on it, guess what the reaction was? They loved it. And not simply loved it. They were in awe of it. One guy literally went ‘wooooaaah!’, another person started predicting a future where I simply could not fail on account of my extremely epic name. So what was going on here?

I would dare to venture that if you were to ask all the people who gave negative reactions what the cause of their reaction was, it would not only be that they thought it inappropriate for me to break the dogma of unchangeable, sacrosanct names, but in equal measure say that Leeuwenhart is a silly name. Yet, when we take the knowledge of my changing it out of the equation, people suddenly don’t react positively -- but extremely positively on it.

It shows more than anything that it’s the act of changing the name that causes the most distress with people here (not so much in the US, where it is a more common thing to do, especially in Los Angeles). What else could be the cause that seen as a natural thing, Leeuwenhart is lauded, but as a choice, ridiculed? Only human presumption, is the answer. What a fantastic social experiment!

Roderick