In real life, I have a nearly unpronounceable surname. Almost all vowels. At least it’s distinctive – search for it and you find only me, my father’s campaign contributions to the Republican party, and a long string of arrest records of distant relatives in West Grenville, Ontario. Neither my family nor I really knew how to say it, tried a few different ways, and finally settled in the one least likely to get me laughed at by my fellow jockish types.
But it seems that my pseudonym is just as difficult, if in another sense. There’s a small dispute going on over at digital emunction about the proper way to write the possessive form of my first pseudo name. Should it be Ads’ or Ads’s? Well, it depends whether Ads is a proper noun or common noun. As Michael Robbins writes in response to another comment:
Ads is whose name? For plural nouns, even if they serve as collective proper nouns (like the Rolling Stones), CMS is clear: apostrophe only. Now if some dude is called “Ads,” that’s another story; but the author posting as Ads is clearly posting as “Ads without Products,” like when Keith Richards posted in Kent’s Flarf review thread as “Stones,” or when the CEO of Hardees signed his comment in my meat thread “Hardees.” (I also know this because I once got into an argument about it with someone who said the same thing as Joel above, so I wrote directly to the editors of CMS, who backed me up. I don’t care if you make fun of me.)
Ah but everyone’s missing the point! True to the fact that the title of this blog was inspired by a paragraph (not the one I’m about to clip in, but rather the one discussed here) from Agamben’s The Coming Community, my blog name is a whatever name, aporetically balanced directly between the proper and the collective.
Common and proper, genus and individual are only two slopes dripping down from either side into the watershed of whatever […] The passage from potentiality to act, from language to the word, from the common to the proper, comes about every time as a shuttling in both directions along a line of sparkling alternation on which common nature and singularity, potentiality and act change roles and interpenetrate. The being that is engendered on this line is whatever being, and the manner in which it passes from the common to the proper and from the proper to the common is called usage – or rather, ethos.
As such, of course, it has no possessive form. There are no possessions of any sort down in the watershed of whatever.