Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sign Your Name

WAAAAAAAY back in October, I wrote about my REALLY good day in New York City when I saw The Book Of Mormon musical on Broadway. What I left out in the telling of the day was that, between the acquiring of the tickets for the show and going in to see the show, I stumbled upon Harry Potter: the Exhibition at the Discovery Times Square Exhibit Hall. It wasn't actually opening until the following week (when I would've been home in Vancouver) but they were doing a preview admissions that day so I not only got to explore before the massive crowds, I got the SHOP before all the merch was picked over.

This t-shirt is no longer available from the online store if it ever was available there. It's probably somewhere near the top of my "cool"est shirts. A co-worker who is a self-proclaimed Harry Potter fan complimented me on it before she even consciously noticed that it was Harry Potter related. At least that's what she said.

The signatures on the back of the shirt of the characters who comprised Dumbledore's Army in the Harry Potter books reminded me today of other documents that we sign. Petitions, contracts, licenses, constitutions, cheques, birthday cards. The social construct that permits a person to sign their name as a pledge or promise of support is a curious one. It imbues the signature with an almost supernatural power and that means that the ability to write is a type of magic in and of itself. Conveying an idea from the ephemeral to a semi-permanent medium that can be shared, reproduced, parodied, transformed, or otherwise become integrated into the collective consciousness. When we willingly combine that sorcery with the recognized power of a name, the signature becomes an understood oath, binding in legal, social, and faith-centred agreements. A signature on the D.A. list in the Potter-verse indicated an allegiance to an insurrection. A signature on the Declaration of Independence meant open rebellion. A signature on a marriage license (at one point in our history) committed the signatory to a union "until death do you part". Even today, when we consider ourselves to be an evolved species when it comes to family, a long-term relationship does not carry the weight, the rights, the sincerity of the officially signed, notarized, and witnessed marriage. It's an intellectual curiousity, really, when you think about it.

So, consider your commitments today. Where have you drawn your allegiances?