Why ‘i’ is not capitalized

Conventions of naming:

You’ll notice that anytime i write in the first person or refer to myself, it is a lowercase ‘i’ and not the normal ‘I’ that everyone (in English speaking countries, at least) is accustomed to—unless, of course, the word starts a sentence, in which case i adhere to the standard orthography.

Why do i do this? Originally, it stemmed from not indulging in the English culture of putting the self above others in writing; no other Latin-based language capitalizes self pronouns, interestingly enough.

At the same time, because of, i guess, a form of vanity, it was an aesthetic choice: i preferred the way lowercase “macario james” looked. Same goes for “macario.james,” a convention paying homage to my computer programming background; the use of the ‘.’ representing concatentation (PHP uses the period, other languages use the ‘+’ sign). The concatentation of “macario” and “james” speaks to my multi-faceted heritage: i am, for all intents and (convenience) purposes, predominately of Black and Filipino heritage. A more thorough genealogical breakdown is forthcoming in my book but you’re not Black (no set date).

Paralleling this choice was the introduction to the writings of bell hooks (neé Gloria Watson) several years ago. Hooks didn’t capitalize her name, and i was curious as to why she didn’t (reason being, she wanted the focus to be about the “substance of books, not who I am”).

Serendipitously, i discovered Ms. hooks wasn’t the only writer to conform to non-conformity: i stumbled upon writer danah boyd while reading the NY Times and loved her explanation of the decapitalization of her name. Surprisingly, or maybe not, she shares some of the same practices and sentiments as myself. We both subscribe to conventions at the beginning of sentences, but use our lowercase names everywhere else. It’s remarkable, refreshing and reassuring to experience affirmation (even if remotely) from those in the same field.

Apparently, the counter-(English)-culture act of decapitalization of one’s (pen)name has ruffled some feathers; there is an outrage, a total rejection, a supposition that it is a “discourtesy” to naming etiquette. With that said, i applaud wolfangel’s respect for a person’s naming preference, in both written and spoken forms. If we can allow a person to alter the pronunciation of their name, apologizing for any errors we make, why can’t we respect the written version? It’s a reasonable idea, as wolfangel admits.

With all told, the decapitalization is an adherence to individualized preference, with maintaining my own voice. It’s the inherent love of self.

Originally posted on one of my old personal blogs, 2010 Apr 22.

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