04/06/2012 § Mag-iwan ng puna
Sa bawat babaeng
pagod nang magpanggap na mahina,
gayong alam niyang siya ay malakas,
pagod nang magpanggap na malakas
gayong siya ay marupok.
Sa bawat babaeng
pagod nang magtanga-tangahan,
nabibigatang asahan na alam niya ang lahat.
Sa bawat babaeng
pagod nang tawaging
pinagkakaitan ng karapatang
tumangis at maging mayumi.
Sa bawat babaeng
sa tuwing siya’y aktibong nakikilahok,
sa aktibong pakikilahok lamang
mapatutunayan ang kaniyang pagkalalaki.
Sa bawat babaeng
pagod nang magamit sa pagtatalik,
dapat asikasuhin ang kaniyang libog.
Sa bawat babaeng
pinagkaitan ng makabuluhang
trabaho at patas na sahod,
dapat pumasan ng pampinansyang pananagutan
para sa isa pang tao.
Sa bawat babaeng
hindi tinuruan sa mga
pasikot-sikot ng sasakyan,
hindi tinuruan sa
kaluguran ng pagluluto.
Sa bawat babaeng
sa kaniyang paglaya,
matutuklasang ang daan
tungo sa kanya ring kalayaan
ay bahagyang napadali.
[April 2012; nabasa ko mula sa isang pamphlet hinggil sa “pang-kasariang pagkakapantay,” kaya ni-google ko at natagpuan todits :D]
04/06/2012 § Mag-iwan ng puna
rock ang tawag don
para ka talagang
earphone ang foil
hihithitin mo mula sa tenga
madadala ka rin talaga
sa simula’y malambot
malamya, matamlay na boses
parang tinatangay, lahat ang, huling pantig
o biglang tataas, titinis
sasabayan ng tambol at piano
manginginig yung boses
, matutulala, ka
kasabay ng papatinding
tungo sa hindi mo alam
o may dadatnan
rock ang tawag don
para ka talagang
earphone ang foil
hihithitin mo mula sa tenga
[Hunyo 2, 2012; habang sa unang pagkakataon e napakinggan ko yung kanta, astig!]
04/06/2012 § Mag-iwan ng puna
Nakamarka na sa iyong puwit
ang hilera ng mga binarnisang ngipin
na nakapako sa bakal na
kalansay ng upuan;
kagaya ng mga ka-edadan mong
kasabay na inihaharap,
ng iisang braso nitong nakaakbay,
sa malawak at madilim na pisara.
Kanya-kanya kayo ng tangkang
maging kumportable, nagpupumiglas
sa pagkakayapos ng kahoy-bakal
na nilalang, kahit paniwala ninyo’y
walang-silbi ang pagtanggi-
na hindi maaring tumakas.
ang bilugang matang nakasabit
sa parehong pader na kinalalapatan
ng walang-hiyang pisara;
sa labing-dalawang balintataw
nitong taglay ay walang kilos ninyo
ang makasasalisi. Walang tigil
ang pag-ikot ng patpat nitong mga kamay,
walang tigil ang sa inyo’y pagkakasiil-
hindi kayo makaaalis
nang wala ang kanyang pahintulot.
Sa walang-hintong pagbuga nama’y
pinatitigas ng nakatindig na aircon
ang inyong mga isipan.
Pilit pinalalamig ang nag-iinit
ninyong mga ulo
na nanggaling sa labas
ng mga sementong harang
taas at ilalim,
kanan at kaliwa,
harap at likod.
Makinis ang puti nitong pintura,
gaya ng pagkakakulob nito
Animo’y perpektong tagapagtanggol
mula sa magulong kaayusan.
Walang butas, walang puwang;
bagaman sa isang panig ay may mga
nakapikit na bintanang bulag,
hindi ito maaring buksan.
Maririnig ng magtatangka
ang nakapangririndi nitong pagtutol
mula sa matinding pagkakakapit
ng mga kalawang nito sa
mga alikabok ng pasilyo.
Walang ibang liwanag ang makapapasok
liban ang mula sa apat na mahahabang
bastong nakalambitin sa mababaw
na kisame. Nakaayos ang mga itong
tila apat na daliring anumang
minuto’y maaring tumiklop at sakmalin
ang anumang nalalapatan ng kanilang
Sa gitna ng lahat ng ito’y
walang-malay mong tanggap ang
hindi ka dapat magambala
mainam ‘pag tahimik
lalabas ka lang upang mamudmod
ng katalinihan, ng kaalaman,
ng kawastuhan, ng kaayusan
[late April – early May; habang nasa summer class, at nalulungkot/nadidismaya sa mga bagay-bagay]
12/03/2012 § Mag-iwan ng puna
“Binabawi ko ang lahat ng aking binanggit,” ang madalas wikain ng naturang lalaking propesor sa matematika’t pisika sa tuwing siya ay matatapos na magtanghal ng isa sa kaniyang mga (anti-)tula. Ito si Nicanor Parra, ang makatang ang pagtukoy sa sariling panulaan ay anti-panulaan (anti-poetry); at kung gayon ay isang anti-makata (anti-poet). Narito ang ilan sa mga anti-tula (“I Wouldn’t Want to let the Train Go By,” “Roller Coaster,” “No President’s Statue Escapes,” “Litany of the Little Bourgeois,” at “Self-Portrait”) niyang sinikap kong isalin:
Hindi ko Gugustuhing Palampasin ang Tren
Nang hindi ipinaalala ang isang kagamitang
sadyang mapanglarawan pa rin
kahit na tila napaglipasan na sa unang tingin:
Lahat ng iya’y mga diktadurya marikit kong kaibigan:
Maari lamang tayong mamili
sa pagitan ng sa kanila & ng sa atin.
mula sa elegy para kay Luis Oyarzun na Although I Haven’t come Prepared
Sa loob ng kalahating siglo
ang tula ay paraiso
ng taimtim na bobo.
Hanggang sa dumating ako
at nagtayo ng roller coaster.
Sumakay ka, kung gusto mo.
Hindi ko kasalanan kung bumaba kang
nagdurugo ang ilong at bibig.
mula sa Antipoems: New and Selected (1985)
Walang Rebulto ng Sinomang Pangulo ang Makaliligtas
Mula sa mga di-nagkakamaling kalapati
Sabi nga noon ni Clara Sandoval:
Alam na alam ng mga kalapating iyan ang kanilang ginagawa.
mula sa Antipoems: How to Look Better and Feel Great
Litanya ng Munting Burgis
Kung nais mong mapunta sa langit
ng munting burgis, dapat mong tahakin
ang daan ng ‘Art for Art’s sake
at lumunok ng maraming laway:
ang paninikluhod ay halos walang humpay
Listahan ng mga dapat mong matutunang gawin:
Masining na itali ang iyong necktie
Ipuslit ang iyong kard sa mga tamang tao
Magpakintab ng makikintab nang sapatos
Konsultahin ang salamin sa dingding
(Harapan at side view)
Lumagok ng isang tagay ng brandy
Pag-ibahin ang viola sa violin
Magpaunlak ng panauhin nang naka-pantulog
Pigilan ang pagbagsak ng iyong buhok
At lumunok ng maraming laway.
Mabuting nasa iyong kit na ang lahat.
Kung ang misis ay mahulog sa iba
Minumungkahi namin ang mga sumusunod:
Mag-ahit gamit ang razor blade
Hangaan ang Kagandahan ng Kalikasan
Maglukot ng isang pirasong papel
Magkaroon ng mahabang usapan sa telepono
Itira ang darts mula sa popgun
Linisin ang kuko gamit ang mga ngipin
At lumunok ng maraming laway.
Kung nais niyang sumikat sa mga pagdiriwang
Ang munting burgis
Ay dapat matutong lumakad sa apat na paa
Kung paanong ngumiti at umatsing nang sabay
Sumuyaw sa bingit ng kawalan
Sambahin ang mga ari ng kantutan
Hubdan ang sarili sa harap ng salamin
Gahasain ang rosas gamit ang lapis
At lumunok ng tone-toneladang laway.
At pagkatapos nitong lahat itanong na rin natin:
Si Hesu Kristo ba’y munting burgis?
Gaya ng ating namalas, kung nais mong maabot
Ang langit ng munting burgis,
Ikaw dapay ay isang matagumpay na sirkero:
Para makarating sa langit,
Ikaw dapat ay isang kahanga-hangang sirkero.
At gaano kawasto siyang tunay na artista
sa nakalilibang na pamumuksa sa mga surot!
Upang makakawala sa malupit na pag-ikot
Minumungkahi namin ang madaskol na pagkilos:
Lumitaw at maglaho
Maglakad habang lumilipad ang kamalayan
Sumaway sa ibabaw ng mga guho
Magduyan ng lolo sa iyong mga braso
Habang nakatitig sa kaniyang mga mata
Itanong ang oras sa taong mamamatay na
Dumura sa iyong palad
Pumunta sa mga sunog nang naka-Americana
Sumugod sa prusisyon ng patay
Tumira ng higit sa babae
Alisin ang takip ng nitso upang makita
Kung sila’y nagpapalago ng mga puno doon
At tumawid mula sa isang bangketa tungo sa kabila
Nang walang paki kung kailan at bakit
…para lang masabi
…kalakip ang kaniyang artistahing bigote
…kalakip ang bilis ng isip…
mula sa Antipoems: New and Selected
Pakinggan ninyo, tol,
itong nginatngat na dila:
Nagtuturo ako sa isang malabong paaralan,
Nawalan ako ng boses kabibigay ng mga aral
(Kung sa bagay o kung sa wala
naglaan ako ng 40 oras kada linggo.)
Anong palagay mo sa aking gulanit na mukha?
Tiyak na ang makita ako’y nakalulungkot!
At anong masasabi mo sa ilong kong nabubulok
dala ng alikabok ng nagbabalakubak na chalk.
At sa usapin ng aking mga mata, sa tatlong metro
ay hindi ko na makilala ang sarili kong ina.
Ano ang susunod sa akin? Wala!
Winasak ko ang sarili kabibigay ng mga aral:
ang pangit na ilaw, ang araw,
ang kahabag-habag na nakalalasong buwan.
Lahat ng ‘to, para sa ano!
Para walang-kapatawarang magka-tinapay,
makapal gaya ng pagmumukha ng burges
at taglay ang amoy at lasa ng dugo.
Bakit ba tayo isinilang bilang tao
kung maglalaho tayong parang mga hayop!
Dala ng labis na pagtatrabaho, minsan
nakakakita ako ng mga kakaibang hugis sa hangin,
nakakarinig ako ng mga salitang hibang,
halakhak, mga usapang halang.
Masdan ang mga kamay na ito
at itong mga kukong kasimputi ng multo,
ang iilang buhok na nalalabi,
ang mga mala-impyernong itim na kulubot!
Ano’t-ano man, ako’y tulad mo lang rin,
bata, puno ng magagandang ideya,
natulog akong nagmimina ng tanso
at nagpapakintab ng mga mukha ng diyamante;
Ngayon dinala nila ako rito
sa likod nitong asiwang podium,
minalupit ng paguulit-ulit
ng 500 oras kada linggo.
Autorretrato (Self-portrait), mula sa Poemas y antipoemas
[Marso 10-11, 2012; habang gingawan ng authorial paper ang Latin American writer na si Nicanor Parra at ang kaniyang mga kontra-tula (anti-poem); palagay ko pangit yung karamihan dito dahil di ko naman lubos na gets yung ilang bahagi nung ilang tula – gusto ko lang din talaga ng writing excercise, haha]
16/02/2012 § Mag-iwan ng puna
“And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth” might sound something new yet familiar to many readers – since it really is both. The term “geek” is somehow really new and perhaps Carljoe Javier is the first to use it as a term in Philippine Literature, the geek as a character, however is not. We have always known the “geek,” it is in fact an archetype which is often present in our local TV soap operas, romance pocket books, and novels aimed for teenagers. And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth does not present a fundamentally different geek, it only highlights the often tossed aside geek without in the end changing him/her (or turning him/her in a normal cool guy/gal, as most do).
“I am rarely taken seriously, or taken as a serious writer.” writes Carljoe in his post entitled “Making the Most of my Midi-chlorian Count: Geek Consciousness, Identity, and Humor in Creative Non-Fiction” on his blog. I cannot know up to what extent that is true (if at all), but Javier, as all writers do, deserves serious criticism. And that is exactly what this paper will attempt to accomplish. I will be criticizing Carljoe Javier’s first book, “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth,” by looking at its implied class positions. The insights and symbolisms utilized in the book will be contextualized with the reality that Philippine society (as with all the countries of the world) currently has an ongoing class war; with the more numerous labor-slaved working class and land-depraved peasants on one side, the few profit-motivated ruling class* on the other, and the middle class, petit-bourgeoisie[*] at the center – as an important force that can be used by both sides.
“The political is personal,” says Carol Hanisch, and since the And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth (hereafter referred to as And the Geek) is a collection of deeply personal creative non-fictions, its form will also be scrutinized with special focus on its effectiveness to articulate the political message/ideal of the works. No one may ever know what a work intends to deliver – even if we ask the author, we can only know what he does – but we can interpret what it actually delivers. And since all human activity (or inactivity, for that matter) has political biases/implications, this critique will be working with a heavy bias against the view that literature is a field autonomous from society (or that it should, or even ‘can,’ be objective or neutral). Quite the opposite, literary works are undoubtedly a product of, in the case of the Philippines, a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country; and therefore these same works will inevitably be consumed by individuals who grew in such a type of society.
“Disheveled and Fat”
That is how Javier, in “My Secret Vanity,” described himself physically; but it can also be used to describe his book’s cover: disheveled in the sense that icons are randomly scattered, and fat since that exact show of creativity perhaps helps the book be profitable. This is not the only case that the book’s content complements its cover. The title itself, “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth,” seems to be a distortion of one of the Eight Beatitudes of the New Testament (“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” from Matthew 5:5), and it is, in this sense, the same with the entire book: a romantic distortion of Western norms, culture, and ideas. Moreover, the front and back covers both feature icons of Western origins (Mythbusters hosts), popular in nature (Superman logo), and seems to be dedicated to the macho male (image of a fantastically curvaceous woman) – all of which perfectly fit the book’s contents.
And aligned with the theme of being personal or even intimate, the book, at 7 by 8 inches and not even half-an-inch thick (physically smaller than a regular notebook and lighter than a cellular phone), makes it easy to bring – in the same manner that all our personal stuff (toothbrushes, handkerchiefs, etc.) are all made portable. This consideration for the audience is again seen after noticing that the essays therein average only from four to six pages – perhaps acknowledging that most books are read not in one sitting. This brevity, coupled with only the “geek” factor binding all these essays together, makes the book seem to have multiple fragments, again, compatible with the fact that those are supposedly fragments of Javier’s life.
Between Fact and Fiction
Creative non-fiction (CNF) or literary non-fiction is a relatively young genre. According to Stephen Minot, in “Literary Nonfiction: The Fourth Genre,” CNF is distinct from other literary forms because it is based on verifiable and factual events (nonfiction) but written with a special concern for language and execution (creative). Contrary to news writing which is necessarily factual and uncreative, and fiction writing which is imagined hence creative. Lee Gutkind, in “The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality,” adds that CNF often goals to provoke the interest of the general public to read about a specific topic. He then cited his work “Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation” an example of carefully handling the fact and fiction aspects of CNF (or at least an attempt to). In it, according to him, he talked about the dark realities of illegal organ-for-cosmetic-surgery trade in their hometown; and so, while revealing real situations, he amplifies the effectiveness by not aiming to be objective (which what normal journalistic writing would do).
Factuality and verifiability is therefore one CNF’s strengths. And the Geek, however seem not to focus on truth. In the earlier example, had the organ trade been all made-up, the work would greatly lose its appeal, but that is not the case with Javier’s essays. It loses nothing had all of it been imagined. Also, most of the essays are unverifiable, leaving the readers to either blindly accept the presented situations as real or be left hanging with speculation. In relation to this, the essays which are more grounded in verifiable reality are the ones which are generally better works. “Celebrity Panties and Other Passing Fashions,” “My Memory’s Gone,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “My Rock and Roll Lifestyle” all let the readers into worlds which are often inaccessible yet are familiar and known. Most of the other essays however, are too personal and therefore may be foreign to an average reader (albeit perhaps not for the geeks). Most notably is “My Mutant Powers” which is merely an enumeration of the geeky Western “mutant powers” that Javier wanted to manifest in the real world, in him in fact. There is not even an attempt at its end to connect with the general audience with a romantic ideal (as most of the essays end with), hence the reader may often be left asking Is that it? or/and So what?. There are of course attempts, and successful ones, at ending with insights which are graspable for a wider range of audience. These insights serve to differentiate the essays from being mere journal/diary entry.
“I’ll keep trying to make people laugh.”
That is again quoted from Javier’s Midi-Chlorian Count post, preceded by an explanation of his use of humor in his writings:
“I often write these situations as funny. But if one thinks about it, these are based on sad occurrences, on instances of failure. These situations might include a dilemma while buying DVDs, not having a date at a wedding, or a breakup. All of these are obviously dwarfed when it comes to the larger social conditions that we have to contend with in this world, and particularly in the third world. But these are small tragedies, containing gravitas and pathos, wrapped up in a sense of humor. Which is to say that while I may be making jokes, I am serious about them.”
This then, as much as Javier is serious about using humor, immediately makes it a serious matter to look at.
Even though, as E. B. White said, “analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog: few people are interested and the frog dies of it,” several theories had already been developed exactly for that purpose. An emerging one, pioneered by A. Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren, is the Benign Violation Theory. The theory posits that humor is achieved as a reaction to violations of social/moral norms that are possibly made benign, by one or more of the following ways: (1) the existence of another norm which makes the violation possible or even acceptable, (2) the subject being not that much committed to the violated norm, (3) and having psychological distance from the said violation. “Peelemma” here is a good example which made use of all three. “Peelemma” is a pun, a word play, a distortion of spelling, a violation of language and yet, as Javier himself ended the said essay, since “man is a social animal… it only makes sense that we try and apply our faculty for language” and create new terms – the violation is made benign. Adding to this, is there really anyone who is that much committed to spelling/grammar that will find this violation offending? Lastly, even if there was such a strict individual, the violation is still psychologically distant from him/her since it is only in the confines of a book, unused by people.
Aside from puns, Javier successfully made other humorous benign-violations. The violations are often made by talking about taboo sexual relations and other too-personal topics, while they are made benign by being mere literary devices. However, that is just the first level of the use of humor – which is relatively easier to accomplish (in the sense that slapstick humor or tickling, being false violence and false threats respectively, are also humorous in the same ways). The real challenge at humor is not being humorous per se, but being insightful and sensible in spite of. A fitting example of this is Jun Cruz Reyes’ novel “Tutubi, Tutubi, ‘Wag kang Magpapahulis sa Mamang Salbahe” where he successfully expresses subversive ideas/messages about the Martial Law hidden inside humorous commentaries. Most of Javier’s CNFs also accomplishes this. One of which is “Celebrity Panties and Other Passing Fashions,” which, while humorously (for non-gender-sensitive readers) talking about sexual desires, he successfully articulates how the Imaginary is destroyed/opposed by an encounter with the Real. This theme (the Imaginary’s encounter with and subsequent crumble caused by the Real), is recurring in the book’s better essays: “My Rock and Roll Lifestyle,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Sum of My Fears.” It is however disappointing that Javier often expresses dismay instead of feeling enlightened after seeing the Real, and gives the tone that it is still desirable to remain ignorant in exchange of blind bliss.
However, not all the essays transcend humor, some fell short at expressing an insight. These are “Peelemma,” “My Mutant Powers,” “Life of the Party,” and “A Question of Fidelity;” these essays feels more like funny journal entries than CNFs.
“Ah, Geeks. What’s not to love?”
The geek is what the collection is all about, but what is it really? A geek, as used in the book, is (1) of the intelligentsia (educated bourgeoisie), (2) shy/socially inept, (3) fond of fringe Western and modern popular cultural products, and (4) lacks notable physical skills. What all these characteristics show is the passiveness of the geek. Although a member of the critically-minded intelligentsia, the geek’s potentials are neutralized by being socially inept, suppressed further by his/her adulation of Western culture and ideas which in total makes his/her critical observations of society doused. This is vividly shown in the essay “It is Easier to Talk about Bird and Bees” where Javier is asked by her younger sister why there are poor and rich people. After displaying his awareness of the exploitative capitalist system, Javier still preferred the equally no-explaining-power (for his young sister) answer, that there are many kinds of wealth – in effect coupling the girl’s alienation from production with the romanticism of property (both reactionary bourgeoisie traits).
Another manifestation of the inclination to fall short at analysis is “My Memory’s Gone.” Here, Javier successfully dramatizes (humorously) the damage that computer virus-infection does. It is noteworthy that this is the only essay where he ended with a rather aggressive tone, albeit directed at the wrong people… Although he had the idea that virus programmers and anti-virus companies might be conspiring, it is disappointing however that in the end, he focuses on the individuals who do not care for their “system integrity” as the culprits to blame for the destruction viruses do, instead of acknowledging that these individuals, like him are merely victims too, and that their common offender is the virus programmer – if not the operating system programmers who allow such destructive viruses be made and propagated through the systems they wrote and get profit from.
Javier’s knowledge of the ills that the profit-motivation cause is again seen with “The Sum of my Fears,” wherein near the end he talks about his fear of ‘buying belongingness’ – hence his fear of salespeople. Again, it is disappointing that after seeing the dehumanization the salespeople has to go through (if buying belongingness is scary, how more is to be forced to sell it?), Javier does not see it as something wrong but instead, considers his fear of them as the anomaly – in effect expressing that this situation wherein an individual trades his/her affection (however little and unreal) for minimum wage is just right.
Javier had successfully portrayed the geek’s critical faculties, but instead of rationally adopting its revolutionary tendency and push the material questioning further and further; he had, so far, instead focused on the opposite, of the geek just as a keen observer, able to extract humor out of otherwise sad realities, but stops there and is content with the amusement that he/she is able to. Aside from rejecting the geek’s potentials for being a radical force for political change, Javier also seems to reject even cultural change.
The CNFs are of course written in English, and there is no problem with that (even Gelacio Guillermo says that this foreign language can also be used for our nation’s interests), but what cries foul is that the works also tend to favor Western cultural supremacy. Writing in the language of our colonizers is one thing but, still, writing about, and perhaps ‘for,’ the benefit of its cultural dominans in our country is another. The book is filled with Western popular cultural references: John Connor, DeLorean, Harrison Ford, House, Hunter Thompson, Sith Lords, Star Trek, Star Wars, Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Yodaspeak, Groucho Marx, Tiffany Amber-Thiessen, and a whole separate essay (“My Mutant Powers”). This large amount of Western details goes to show the book’s promotion of Western culture. In fact, even Javier himself knows this. He even had a post in his blog entitled “Am I a Traitor to my Nation (Culturally?),”in which the first sentence reads: “To which the simple answer is: YES.”In the said blog post, Javier admits his preference of “big rock or bouncing hip-hop over our local ethnic and folk stylings,” and goes on to defend this stand with liberal individualism (“Ultimately I believe it comes down to how we honor our country. And I think we find ways to honor our country by doing right as individuals and as citizens”) – another Western and reactionary ideology. I claim however that being in to Western culture per se is not what constitute a betrayal of our nation. Since, the petit-bourgeoisie had really no choice to what culture it will grow in – we are all forced to consume the ruling/oppressing class/nation’s culture. However, this same culture is what the petit-bourgeoisie can use to resist the prevailing oppressive class structures. An example of this would be several fan fictions written by Vladimeir Gonzales wherein he parallels Western or at least foreign cultural elements with the Philippine setting (e. g. the Toguro brothers from Ghost Fighters as fascist agents of the government, Full Metal Alchemist’s government as the State, etc.).
Another alarming tendency is that some of the pieces implicitly promotes self-conceit, not of the author, but of the general reactionary bourgeois/ruling class. This is seen most in the essays “A Question of Fidelity,” “Life of the Party,” and the aptly titled “My Secret Vanity.” Fidelity outright proclaims that the consumer (the author) is being fought for, where in fact, closely reading the text, we never see any action from the two Ates which prove this – the reader is only given such idea by author. The closest to such an action, the old Ate tugging his cloth, is far from what the author dramatizes. Also, here is where the author runs away from his problem, as if it is big enough as he makes it be. Life of the Party on the other hand is the perfect essay that showed the geek’s shyness, however it also shows a certain level of narcissism since while the author keeps on talking about how hard it is for him to fit in and belong, he never makes an attempt to adapt – as if saying that what needs to adapt is the environment and not him (true enough, his friend-bride tried to). It is also interesting that once drunk, he becomes in; which can only mean that it is only his attitude that needs to change, or get loose. But he also knows what things might “scare-off “other people, yet does not seem to effort to change those. And if the author simply does not want to modify his personality for the acceptance others, which is understandable, then why hide it? This conscious refusal to engage in social activities reminds us of what Andre Dubus once said: “Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.”
This seeming belief of self-importance is best demonstrated by the worst essay in the collection: “My Mutant Powers”. Reactions from this essay can range from being sympathetically funny to awkwardly annoying; mine dwells closer to the latter.
Putting class criticisms aside, most of the essays also contain traces of gender bias against women. As had been earlier said, a gender-sensitive reader would not find “Celebrity Panties and Other Passing Fashions” funny because of its consistent reinforcement of the view that women, by nature are men’s mere objects of desire/lust; or that women have to look sexy for men. Mentioning that the sexy women he interviewed were “brainless beauties” did not help either. Most sexist perhaps is the dismay expressed because the real women did not fit with the porn-fueled imagination of them. “Girls, Girls, Girls” on the other hand might be the most uncomfortable to read, since it is about a turning-thirties man talking about his dismay at being in a “sea of skirts” but unable to “make contact” – the sea of skirts that he wants to make contact with being underage high school girls. In this essay is where the desire for a harem is also most pronounced (also seen in “My Rock and Roll Lifestyle,” “A Question of Fidelity,” and “Life of the Party”); this is extremely sexist – we have to admit, the premise of “being surrounded by the opposite sex” wouldn’t sound as much as desirable for a female.
I have not talked much about the last essay “More Real than Real: One Day as Reality TV Contestant,” since it seems fundamentally different from the rest. This essay is distinct since it is the only one which talked about a specific topic (reality TV shows) and is the least personal. And I think that these are positive divergences. Firstly, it had made use of the “fact” aspect of CNF to inform the readers about insights about popular reality TV shows, this is a more direct show of critical faculty, and hence, might provoke the reader’s interest to learn more about popular culture analyses; the goal now is not just presenting the geek but recruiting a geek. Secondly, geek-ness is not the main focus here but just a point-of-view, hence making it less personal yet more effective. Most essays up to this one are necessarily personal because the author is talking about himself. But Reality TV, can be impersonal since the topic is not the author himself, but the experience he had during the show, and the insights he and other writers have about it, but still it is personal; which is what makes this otherwise boring-popular-culture-critique-paper be an engaging CNF. This can be considered the best of all the works in the collection.
What Philippine Literature Shall Inherit from the Geek
After thousands of words of criticism, what is then the ultimate contribution of Carljoe Javier’s “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth” to Philippine Literature? It would be shallow and disrespectful, after all this, to just hastily pronounce, as what it appears so, that the contribution lies with giving voice to the Pinoy geek or by attracting the bibliophilic youth to literature – both of which are ultimately false; the first since, as Javier himself in his blog wrote: “The true Filipino geek does not exist,” and even so, the geek is a member of the intelligentsia hence has enough cultural power to express his/her interests; and the second because the geek, as the books primary audience, by-definition already reads. It can also be argued that the CNFs in this collection has contributed by revealing blunt realities of life and in effect humorously stripping moral and social norms off their untouchable statuses (specifically on sexual taboos). However, that can only be partly true since most of the essays simply replace the attacked social norm with another without any real, significant, or fundamental difference.
What the collection undeniably accomplished is the light portrayal of the geek’s aforementioned qualities, roles in society, and possible ideas.
The geek, as a subject of popular culture has big revolutionary potentials. And although this is shown in “And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth,” the collection falls short when it comes to making use of these potentials; of pushing the humorously violated social norms into more serious questioning; of showing what change the targeted intelligentsia audience would be capable of with the cultural/political/economic machinery at their disposal; and of showing that, indeed, with critical praxis, the geek shall inherit the earth –not the meek.
Fernando, Gilda Cordero. Pinoy Pop Culture. Bench/Suyen Corporation, 2001.
Gutkind, Lee. The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality. Wiley, 1997.
Hidalgo, Cristina Pantoja. Creative Nonfiction : A Manual for Filipino Writers. University of the Philippines Press, 2005.
Javier, Calrjoe. Am I a traitor to my nation (culturally)? May 27, 2011. http://lumpenculturati.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/am-i-a-traitor-to-my-nation-culturally/ (accessed October 16, 2011).
Javier, Carljoe. And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth. Quezon City: Milflores Publishing Inc., 2009.
—. Making the Most of my Midi-chlorian Count: Geek Consciousness, Identity, and Humor in Creative Non-Fiction. October 1, 2010. http://lumpenculturati.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/making-the-most-of-my-midi-chlorian-count-geek-consciousness-identity-and-humor-in-creative-non-fiction/ (accessed October 16, 2011).
Lumbera, Bienvenido. Revaluation 1997. University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 1997.
Minot, Stephen. Literary Nonfiction: The Fourth Genre. Prentice Hall, 2003.
Reyes, Soleded S. Pagbasa ng Panitikan at Kulturang Popular: Piling Sanaysay. Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1997.
Warren, A. Peter McGraw & Caleb. “Benign Violations: Making Immoral Behavior Funny.” Pscyhological Science: A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science. June 29, 2010. http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/06/29/0956797610376073 (accessed October 16, 2011).
[*] The petit-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie class both has means, other than selling their labor, for survival. But they are different from each other such that, the former’s limited means of production cannot be amplified (and therefore doomed to fall a class lower) to the extent the latter’s can. In this paper, however, the “petit-bourgeoisie” will be generalized as the “bourgeoisie” for simplicity; while the higher bourgeoisie class will be referred to as the “ruling class.”
[Unang bahagi ng 2011; para sa Comparative Literature 50; ang layunin dapat ng papel ay tukuyin ang kontribusyon ng isang manunulat sa panitikang Pilipino sa Ingles, kaya ganoon ang tono sa huli; may pagka-apologetic ang tono ng ilang parte dahil sa tangkang ipaliwanag ang ilang puntong pinuna ni Prof. Pison sa unang draft ng papel; at wala nang ibang maisip na pamagat kaya korni!X_x]
18/10/2011 § Mag-iwan ng puna
Isalaysay mo sa aming lahat, Kadungung,
ang makasaysayang panahon ni Handiong,
Tugtugin mo sa iyong pilak na kudyapi
ang mapang-akit na tamis ng Aslong.
‘Pagkat ikaw lamang at wala nang iba
ang makakakanta ng ganda at kariktan
ng misteryong ngayo’y bumabalot
sa pinagpalang lugar na ito.
Gayo’y awitan mo kami, ilahad mo ang kwento
ng magigiting na hari na nakipaglaban
nang hindi natatakot maski sa ahas na si Oryol,
hanggang sa ito’y kanilang madaig.
Ikuwento mo sa amin ang mga pakikipagsapalaran
ng matanda nang si Asog,
ng bata pang si Masaraga,
at ng nilulumot na sinaunang Isarog.
Sa lahat ng taong nakakaalam
ng lawang pinaglibingan sa mabuting si Takay,
ikaw ang mainam, malambing bumigkas
at nakabibihag sa puso ninoman.
Gayo’y awitan mo na kami ngayon;
buong-atensyon kaming makikinig
sa malambing mong awitin, habang nakaupo
rito sa lilim ng punong dao.
Ito ang agad na isinambit ni Kadungung:
Makinig kayo, mga kapwa anak ng Bikol
sa magiting na kasaysayan nitong
matagal nang kaharian ni haring Handiong.
Isang kaharian ang Bicol
na may matatabang lupain,
pinakamagandang kaloob ng kalikasan,
marami ang ani, anuman ang itanim.
Si Baltog ang unang bayaning
nagpaunlad sa kahali-halinang lupaing ito.
Buhat siya sa Botavara at dito na tumira;
siya ay nagmula sa lahi ng Lipod.
Nainis siya sa kanyang pagdating sa Bicol,
pagkat isang gabi’y winasak ng isang mabangis
na baboy-ramo ang mga pananim niyang linsa;
nagngangalit niya itong tinugis.
Kalauna’y naabutan din ito ni Baltog,
dahil wala ang kaniyang sibat, ay sarili
niyang makikisig na bisig ang kanyang
ginamit upang lagutin ang panga nito.
May isang dipa ang bawat panga,
tila ba malalaking karit ang nakaliko
nitong mga pangil, sangkatlo ng haba
ng matibay niyang sibat.
Pagbalik sa kaniyang lupain
ay isinabit niya ang malaking
buto sa puno ng talisay sa Tondol
upang mamasdan ng lahat.
Nagsipag-awitan ang matatandang
mangangaso, pinupuri ang magiting
nilang haring Baltog. Dahil sa namasdang
pangangasong nag-uwi pa ng tropeo.
Dumating ang tribo ng Panikwason
at Asog, minasdan ang walang-kaparis
na dambuhalang baboy-ramong
pinaslang ni Baltog.
Tinawag nila itong Tandayag
ng Burol Lingyon pagkat
katulad nito ang mga halimaw
na sila mismo’y di-maipaliwanag.
Pagkatapos ay dumating na sa Bicol ang
dakilang si Handiong, pati kanyang mga
mandirigma, dala ang paninindigang sila
ang papaslang sa lahat ng mababangis ritong halimaw.
Upang lipulin ang mga ito,
libong labanan ang nilahukan
ng tanyag na si Handiong
laban sa lahat ng mababangis.
Nang kubkubin ng halimaw na may tatlong
lalamunan at isang mata ang sakahan
ni Ponong, ay sampung buwang walang-patid
silang sumalakay hanggang sa ito ay mamatay.
Mga de-pakpak na pating sa ilalim ng dagat,
mababangis at ligaw na kalabaw na
nagdarabog at naninira sa kabundukan,
lahat ito ay kaniyang pinaamo.
Lahat ng higanteng buwayang
sinlaki ng mga bangka, at
ang mababagsik at mapanlinlang na Sarimao
ay nagsipagtago sa Kulasi.
Ang mga serpyenteng may boses na
mapang-aliping gaya ng sa mga sirena,
sa malawak na yungib ng Hantik,
sila ay habangpanahong nakabaon na.
Subalit hindi niya madaig,
sa kabila ng kanyang liksi’t talino,
ang sawang ubod ng talas ang isip,
ang pinakamailap sa lahat, si Oryol.
Si Oryol ay mas maalam kaysa kay Handiong,
ang kaniyang mga mata ay nakahuhumaling,
tila ba masamyo itong kumikilos
at mapang-akit na nanghahamak.
Libong ulit siyang ginapos ni Handiong.
Gamit ang walang-kapantay niyang talino,
si Oryol ay ngumingisi lamang at nangungutya
habang kinakalagan ang sarili sa mga pagkakatali.
Gamit ang matatamis na salita ay
paulit-ulit niyang nalinlang si Handiong.
Dahil dito siya ay binansagang
Oryol, ang dakilang maestro sa panlilinlang.
Mangilang-ulit, nang walang pahinga,
hinalughog ni Handiong ang kagubatan,
inaakalang ang boses ng mga sirena
ay ang tinig ni Oryol.
Mismong ang tanyag na si Herkules,
sa mga misyon niyang nagbigay
sa kanya ng lahat-lahat, ay tiyak na
mabibigo kung hadlangan ng gaya ni Oryol.
Nakakalito man, si Oryol
mismo ay tumulong kay Handiong
na labanan ang mga halimaw
na namemeste sa Kabikulan.
Sabay nilang ginapi ang
mga higanteng buwaya.
Matapos ang labanan,
ni isang galos wala sila.
Ang mga pongo at matsing na sa pangpang
ay nagmamasid, sa takot at pangamba ay nanginig;
pagkat ang dugo ng pinaslang na buwaya
ay ginawang pula ang Ilog Bikol.
Ang mga mapanggulong unggoy na
kilala ng marami, ay lahat itinaboy
ng dakilang si Handiong patungo sa
sa gabundok na yungib sa Isarog.
Ngayong ligtas na ang paligid, wala nang
halimaw na dapat patayin, ay lumikha
si Handiong ng mas mabubuting batas na
aayon sa mga interes ng kaniyang nasasakupan.
Sa pamumuno ni Handiong ay nagtanim
sila ng mga linsa sa mga burol.
Na naglikha ng malalamang lamang-lupang
sinlalaki ng mga pansol.
At maging sa kapatagan, sila ay
naghasik ng malalagong tipo ng palay.
Na pagkalipas ng ilang siglo
ay kinilala bilang Hinandyong.
Si Handiong ang unang gumawa ng bangkang
may kakayahang tumawid sa Ilog Bikol.
Maliban sa timon at mga sagwan nito
na si Kimantong ang may-likha.
Bukod dito’y si Kimantong din ang kumatha
sa araro, sa suyod, sa pamungkal ng lupa,
sa ganta, maging sa iba pang mga panukat,
sa bolo, sa asarol, at sa pamatok sa kalabaw.
Sabi nila’y ang panghabing
pinaghirapang gawain ni Hablom,
sa pagkabigla ng lahat, ay
ipinagkaloob niya sa haring si Hadiong.
At ang mga paso, koron, kalan,
at iba-iba pang mga kagamitan
naman, ay ginawa ng unanong
tinatawag na Dinahong.
Matagumpay na inukit ni Sural
sa bato ang naiibang sulating
natagpuan nila sa Libon. Ito
naman ay kalaunang kininis ni Gapon.
Nagatayo sila ng mga bahay
na may sari-saring laki.
At pinutol ang mga delikadong
sanga ng banasi at kamagong.
Sa dami ng insektong umaaligid
at sa nakapapasong init ng araw,
ay wala silang ibang tanggulan
kundi sa loob ng muog.
Patas ang patakaran ni Handiong:
Upang pangalagaan kanilang buhay at ngalan,
ang lahat ng tao ay pantay sa batas,
walang pinapaburan, walang idinidiin.
Sa posisyong kanya’y ikinaloob
sa mga alipin at nangangalipin,
paggalang sa lahat ng tao
ang pamana niya’t tagubilin.
At may dumating na pagbaha,
dala ng pwersa ng sinaunang Onos.
Kaya naman, ang itsura ng lupain
ay nagabagong walang-duda.
Ang mga bulkang Hantik, Kulasi,
at Isarog ay nagsipagbuga ng apoy.
Kasabay nito ay naramdaman ang
matinding pagyanig ng buong kalupaan.
Sa tindi ng paglindol
pati dagat ay nagalaw,
nagbunga ng tangway
sa Pasacao ngayo’y matatanaw.
Ang napunit na bahagi ng lupain
ay bumuo sa isla ng Malbogong,
na pinaninirhan ng dalawang aswang
nagngangalang Hilang at Laaryong.
Bumaha sa lugar ng Inarihan
ngunit natigil ang pag-agos nito,
kaya’t hindi na nasakuna pa ang Ponong,
kung saan lumulubog ang araw.
May malaking bundok ang lumubog sa Bato,
na nagbunga ng lawa ng tubig
na ngayon ay pinagkukunan ng mga
taga-Ibalong ng makakaing isda.
Mula sa look ng Kalabangan,
naubos ang mga Dagatnong,
dito naman nagmula ang mga Dumagat
na nanirahan sa Kotmong.
Kalaunan ang kahariang ito ay yumabong
hanggang sa panahon ng batang si Bantong,
isang tapat na kaagapay ng pagod
at matanda nang si Handiong.
Pinagkalooban siya ng isang libong
mandirigma upang paslangin si Rabot,
na kalahating tao, kalahating halimaw,
manlilinlang na salot sa kanilang bayan.
Lahat ng matatapang ay naglakbay;
pagkalapit ng ilan sa lungga ni Rabot,
sila’y naging bato kaagad dala ng
makapangyarihang salamangka nito.
Napansin ng matalinong si Bantong
na si Rabot ay mahimbing matulog.
Wala man lamang kaunting pag-iingat,
siya’y ganitog matulog buong araw.
Kaya’t isang araw habang mataas ang baha,
ay nagtungo nga siya sa lungga
at bago pa man magising at bumangon
itong si Rabot, ay pinugutan siya ni Bantong.
Paglabas ni Bantong ay dumagundong
ang sigawan ng kanyang mga tauhan
umalingawngaw ito sa mga bunga,
at hanggang sa mga kamagong din.
Dinala sa Ligmanan ang bangkay ni Rabot
at nakita ito ng magiting na si Handiong
hindi siya makapaniwala, gitlang-gitla;
emosyong matagal na niyang nailalabas.
‘Pagkat wala pa ritong nakikitang
mas nakadidiring nilalang si Handiong;
kalagim-lagim ang itsura pati
ang ungol nitong dumadagundong.
At dito na huminto si Kadungung.
Sa unang kabanata ng kanilang kasaysayan;
iniwang bukas ang daan para sa pagpapatuloy
nito, na darating sa susunod pang panahon.
[2011 pa. Pero ngayon lang in-upload, para sa Filipino 10.1 (Bikolano), maluwag ang pagkakasalin dito, natapos lang sa tulong ng ingles na salin, pero parang okay naman, haha.]
18/09/2011 § Mag-iwan ng puna
at nais niyang putulin maging ang uhay
siyang wala nang ipapapagupit pa sa kanyang ulo
siyang dayuhan sa bukid na kanilang inaangkin
puputulin niya maging ang uhay
ang mismong pinagmumulan ng kanin, ng buhay
ang mismong produkto ng lupang diniligan ng ating pawis, ng ating dugo
tumigil ka, tanga!
hindi ito isang laro sa PSP na pwede mong i-reset!
hindi ito isang Porsche na pwede mong ibenta ulit!
marahil nga ay wala nang magugupit pa sa kanya
ngunit hindi naman tayo mga barbero
tayo ay ang mga rebolusyonaryo
na makatarungang puputol sa kaniya//kanila –
silang mga pesteng damo!
at tayo na ang mismong hahawan ng
tuwid na pilapil.
[Setyembre 18, 2011; 00:45; para sa KALtas, haha, hinabol lang :D]