To name something is to begin to kill it

I have a group of good friends who've gelled over the last several months.  Having noticed this, I'm tempted to say to them, hey, we're the somethings - something we have in common - but I'm resisting.  To name something is to create expectations for it, set patterns for its evolution, and to limit it.

There's a saying that the vitality of a form of expression is in inverse proportion to the number of books that have been written about it.  Think of the difference between hip-hop and rock in the early 1980s.  Hip-hop had barely entered the public consciousness--it had only recently been named so people who weren't familiar with it could talk about it--whereas rock had been the subject of hundreds of books.  Hip-hop was thriving with its practitioners trying new things practically every week; rock was moribund, more a commercial enterprise than an art form.

What does my group of friends have to do with a couple of musical genres?  These things are all communities of people trying new things, all of them creating something in some way, and watching what the others do, to form a larger composition - a genre, a group of friends, a scene, an academic discipline, anything.

To name such a thing is to put the first knife into it.  Other blows will follow.  There will be an "elevator speech" that those in the know use to describe it to the uninitiated.  And there's a little prestige that comes with recognizing a thing that can be named - seeing patterns and showing them to people makes you look smart.  After conversations about the new thing, there will be articles, documentaries, books.  Those introduced to the thing at each stage will then seek out what they were told this thing is, but what they look for is only what the thing was yesterday.  They want the thing to freeze so they can experience it the way they were told it was.  With each of these blows, the thing becomes less vital, dies a little.  They start at virtually the moment the thing comes into existence.

I want my group of friends to be flexible and adaptible.  I want us to be able to let people in and let people go, to try doing things together that we've never done, to find new ways of expressing ourselves and new channels of communication.  I'm frankly scared that if I even so much as stand up and announce that we are a group, then even that will limit us.  I can live without the pride of claiming that tiny burst of prestige.  Maybe I'll just let us be.  Just being seems to be working out for us so far.