Panitikang post-konseptwal, sining konseptwal: Kritika ni E. San Juan, Jr.


U.S.T. KRITIKE VOLUME THIRTEEN NUMBER ONE (JUNE 2019) 1-26Featured Essay

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Sining-Konseptwal, Panitikang Post-Konseptwal: Pilosopiya at Politika ng Postmodernong Sining

Epifanio San Juan, Jr.

 

Abstract: Controversies regarding conceptual art and post-conceptual practices are central to the understanding of cultural trends in globalization. The case of post-conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith illustrates the various ramifications of this development. The essay introduces this aesthetic field into Filipino Studies, exploring local commentaries and examples.

Keywords: Goldsmith, sining-konseptwal, post-konseptwal, postmodernismo

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

—Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks

The class struggle, which is always present to a historian influenced by Marx, is a fight for the crude and material things without which no refined and spiritual things could exist …. There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.

—Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History

Malubhang sitwasyon ng kulturang kontemporaryo—sintomas ng masahol na kondisyon ng kabuhayan sa Pilipinas. Bagamat maitatambuli na tayo’y nakarating na sa saray ng mga modernisadong kalinangan sa panahon ng globalisasyon at paghahari ng neoliberlismong kapital, nakalubog pa rin tayo sa piyudal at neokolonisadong kumunoy, Hindi lamang ito totoo sa ekonomiya at pulitika. Kaagapay rin ang pagkabimbin sa lumang tradisyon ng burgesiyang pananaw, kaakibat ng mapagsunurang gawing minana sa kolonyalismong Espanyol. Magkatuwang ang pagkakulong sa lumang pananampalataya— utos/ritwal ng simbahang Katoliko ang nananaig—at indibidwalistikong asta at malig ng pagkilos. Hindi ko tinutukoy ang atrasadong teknolohiya kundi

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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2 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

ang inaaliping mentalidad/saloobin ng mga mamamayan sa neokolonyang sinakop dito sa Timog-Silangang Asiya.

Mapanghamong tanong: maaari kayang malunasan ang di-pantay na pagsulong kung babaguhin natin ang kamalayan? O lagi ba itong tagasunod lamang sa ekonomiyang pagbabago, ayon sa nakasanayang modelo ng “base/superstructure”? Idinaramay ko rito hindi lamang mga alagad-ng- sining at intelihensiya kundi lahat ng mamamayang nag-aangkin ng budhi at pintig ng pagkalinga sa kapwa-tao.1

Subukan nating ipanukala ang pag-aaral at paghalaw ng ilang leksiyon sa konseptwalisting kaisipan na sumibol sa Kanluran noong dekada 1960 at 1970, hanggang sa postkonseptwalistang epokang isinaad ni Peter Osborne sa kanyang The Postconceptual Condition (2018). Ang mga pagbabagong naganap matapos ang Digmaang Pandaigdig II (WW II) ay kaalinsabay ng mga kilusang Civil Rights, anti-Vietnam War, at pakikibaka ng mga kabataan at kababaihan na sumukdol sa Paris 1968 rebelyon. Sumiklab rin ang anti-imperyalistang giyera sa Aprika, Palestine, at Latino- Amerika (Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada), at sa Pilipinas sa paglunsad ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan at paghuhunos ng Partido Komunista sa ilalim ng Kaisipang Mao Tsetung. Hindi maihihiwalay ang materyalistikong basehan ng mga pulitiko-ideolohiyang pagsulong na taglay ang diyalektikang (hindi tuwirang) pagtutugma. Gayunman, dapat isaloob na masalimuot ang ugnayan ng mga elemento sa totalidad ng anumang politiko-ekonomiyang pormasyon.

Krisis ng Sistema, Sigalot sa Kaluluwa

Pangunahing nawasak ang banghay ng modernisasyong sekular (alyas kapitalismong pampinansiyal). Isiniwalat ng 1917 Bolshevik Revolution ang di-mapipigilang pagbulusok ng kapitalismo- imperyalismong orden. Lumala ang krisis nito sa 1929 Wall Street bagsak, at pagkatapos ng WW II, ang pagtamo ng kasarinlan ng dating kolonisadong bayan, pati na Vietnam at Cuba. Nabuwag ang naratibo ng walang-taning na pag-unlad ng kapitalismong naka-sentro sa kompetisyon ng bawat indibidwal, sa walang patid na akumulasyon ng tubo (surplus-value) at dominasyon ng Kalikasan. Kaagapay nito ang pagtakwil sa ilang paniniwalang aksyomatiko sa larang ng sining, tulad ng: 1) Isang tiyak na hiyerarkya ng kahalagahan nakabatay sa isang matatag na kaayusang global; 2) dogma na nakasalig ang sining sa pagsalamin/pagkopya sa realidad; 3) pag-aari ng artista/manlilikha ang isang galing/birtud, talino at kasanayang

1 E. San Juan, Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Tinubuan (Manila: De la Salle University Publishing House, 2016).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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inaruga sa disiplinang personal; 4) namumukod ang artistang henyo, kaakuhang taglay ang mahiwaga’t banal na imahinasyon/dunong; 5) ang diskurso sa sining ay nakasalig sa tatlong kategoryang magkalangkap: artista, likhang-sining, awdiyens.

Sa kanluran, ang paglunsad ng kilusang avant-garde laban sa modernismo (binansagang postmodernismo, dekonstruksiyon, poststrukturalismo) ay tumingkad sa taong 1966–1972. Panahon ng “dematerialization of the art object,” hinalinhan ang romantikong aura/fetish ng obra-maestra (mula Michelangelo hanggang Cezanne, Picasso, Pollock) ng idea/information art, sa kalaunan, conceptual art. Naging isang tipo ng art- labor ang pagmumuni o pagninilay na inilaan sa interogasyon ng problema ng sining.2

Kung tutuusin, ang kaisipang tinutukoy ay pagsisiyasat at pag- analisa sa kondisyon, haka-haka, pala-palagay, prehuwisyo na namamahala sa pagyari, sirkulasyon at pagpapahalaga sa sining. Mithiin nito ang buwagin ang modernismong pangitain (Weltanschauung) katalik ng burgesyang ideolohiya’t ekonomyang pampolitika. Kalakip ng burgesyang modernidad ang malubhang alyenasyon at reipikasyong bunga ng pagsikil sa uring manggagawa at pagsasamantala sa mayorya. Adhikain nitong wasakin ang hangganang humahati sa araw-araw na ordinaryong buhay at katas-diwa ng sagradong sining—ang pinakabuod na hangarin ng makaproletaryongavantgarde sa kasaysayan. Huwag kalimutan na mayroon ding reaksyonaryo’t pasistang avant-garde (Marinetti, Dali), kaya dapat kongkretong analisis sa masalimuot na pagsalikop ng mga puwersa sa iba’t ibang antas ng galaw ng lipunan sa tiyak na yugto, hindi mekanikal na paghimay sa habi ng historya.3

Kongkretong Imbestigasyon sa Milyu

Matutunghayan ang mga paniniwalang nabanggit sa kasalukuyang dominanteng panlasa ngayon. Kalagayang neokolonyal pa rin bagamat nayanig na ang status quo sa 1986 Pebrero, “People Power” rebelyon at masiglang pagbanyuhay ng pambansang-demokratikong pakikibaka. Mistulang hindi naaapekto ng sunod-sunod na krises pampolitika ang mga guwardya ng elitistang istandard. Ihanay natin ang ilang ebidensiyang kalunos-lunos.

2 Michael Corris, “Black and White Debates,” in Corrected Slogans, ed. by Lucy Ives and Alexander Provan (Brooklyn: Triple Canopy, 2013).

3 Stefan Morawski, “Introduction,” in Marx and Engels on Literature and Art (St. Louis, MO: Telos Press, 1973).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Sa pambungad ni Virgilio Almario sa kanyang Hiyas ng Tulang Tagalog, inatupag lamang ang kaibahan ng tema o paksang naghihiwalay kina Teo Baylen at Amado Hernandez, walang puna sa tunggalian ng mga puwersang historikal. Makitid at mababaw rin ang makasektaryang pagwari sa tatak modernismo dahil gumagamit ng “malayang taludturan … at kaisipang pribado’t indibidwalista.”4 Sa kabilang dako, ayon kay Rene Villanueva, ang dula “ay laging nagtatangkang isaayos ang isang tiyak na karanasan upang mapaghanguan ng manonood o mambabasa ng mga pananaw tungkol sa buhay.”5 Lumalayo sa moralistikong tingin ni Villanueva si Gary Devilles sa pinamatnugutan niyang antolohiya, Pasakalye.Mapagwawari na ang talinghaga ng paglalakbay, punto at kontrapunto, ay liberalismong pagsukat sa “muhon ng panitikan” na hindi maikukulong sa simbolo ng transportasyon o hulagway hango sa teknolohiya.

Hindi pa tumatalab ang kuro-kurong radikal ng mga Minimalista’t konseptwalista.

Isang parikala na masisinag natin ang estetika ng mga sinaunang pantas (tulad nina Inigo Regalado, Lope K. Santos, Julian Cruz Balmaseda6na hango sa klasikong modelo nina Aristotle at Horace sa militanteng panunuri ni Bienvenido Lumbera. Sinuyod ni Lumbera ang pagsulong ng kritisismo mula sa pormalistikong pananaw hanggang sa realismong sosyal. Itinakwil na ang tradisyonal na pamantayan ng “ganda,” “lalim” o “kinis,” subalit kay Lumbera, mas importante ang “bisa” ng pagpapahayag o pagpapadama, “pagtatampok sa nilalaman,”7 na di tinitiyak kung sa anong layon o adhika nakatutok ang bisa, at kung anong kontekstong historikal nakaangkla ang nilalaman. Sina Isagani Cruz at Soledad Reyes ay nagpatuloy sa kanilang empirisistikong talaan ng mga awtor na marunong makibagay sa kalakaran, tulad nina Nemesio Caravana at A.C. Fabian na batid “kung paano pawiwilihin ang mga taong basahin ang kanilang mga akda.”8 Lahat ng nabanggit na opinyon ay nakasandig pa rin sa lumang tatsulok ng artista, likhang-sining, awdiyens—ang padron ng aprubadong panulat.

4 Virgilio Almario, ed., Hiyas ng Tulang Tagalog (Metro Manila: Aklat ng Bayan, 2015), xxv.

5 Rene Villanueva, “Ang Dula: Introduksiyon,” in Paano Magbasa ng Panitikang Filipino: Mga Babasahing Pangkolehiyo, ed. by Bienvenido Lumbera, Joi Barrios, Rolando Tolentino, and Rene Villanueva (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2000), 103.

6 Galileo Zafra, ed., Mga Lektura sa Kasaysayan ng Panitikan (Metro Manila: Aklat ng Bayan, 2013).

7 Bienvenido Lumbera, Suri (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2017),

36.
8 Isagani Cruz and Soledad Reyes, eds., Ang Ating Panitikan. (Manila: Goodwill

Trading Co., 1984), 258.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Oryentasyong Pangkasaysayan

Uminog at umalimbukay ang kosmos ng diskursong mapanuri sa epoka ng neoliberalisasyon. Pagkaraang lagumin ang tradisyonal na konsensus tungkol sa mga katangian ng likhang-sining, kuro-kuro ni Stefan Morawski na hindi esensyal na sangkap ang ekspresyon, techne, at porma: “Conceptualism is but the final step on the journey ‘beyond’ art”9—ibig sabihin, iyong tipong nakagawian. Ilang bagong pangyayari ang “theatricalization” sa sining, ang ritwalistikong paglalaro sa “performance art,” collage sa pelikula (Godard) at musika (Stockhausen). Salungat naman ang dulang walang dulaan nina Jean Genet at Beckett, sampu ng mga nobela nina Robbe-Grillet, Butor, Calvino, Garcia Marquez—ang estruktura nito ay bunga ng partisipasyon ng mambabasa o nanonood.

Tigmak ng ikonoklastikong hakbang ang postmodernistang improbisasyon. Dito lumantad na ang politika ng distribusyon ng “sensibles,” dalumat at danas, na tinalakay ni Jacques Ranciere sa The Politics of Aesthetics(2004), ay makatuturan pa rin bagamat ang tuon ng pansin ay nailipat sa yugto ng kaisipang humihikayat at umaantig patungong praktika/aksyon.

Umabot na tayo sa nagpagkasunduang punto. Ang prinsipyong umuugit sa bisa ng representasyon sa iba’t ibang midya at sa nakasentrong- sabject sa rason/katwiran ay inusig, nilitis, at hinatulang walang silbi sa pagpapaliwanag sa krisis ng modernismo. Hindi lumaganap ito. Nakakulong pa rin ang akademikong teksbuk nina P. Flores at Cecilia de la Paz (1997) sa pagdiin sa pormalistikong paradigm kung saan “teknik at imahinasyon” ang nakatampok. Bagamat nakadawit sa panlipunang usapin, mahigpit pa rin ang bigat ng subhetibong pagkiling mula kina Kant kung saan ang hatol- estetika “cannot be other than subjective.”10 Napapanahon na ang paghuhunos. Kailangang sariwain ang kamalayang pangkasaysayan upang matalikuran ang dogmatikong ugali ng sistemang umuugit sa paninindigang makasarili at pananalig sa batas ng negosyo’t pamilihan.

Simula pa ng kilusang Dada, suryalismo, Constructivism, Cubismo, hanggang Pop Art, Fluxus (kabilang na si Yoko Ono) at Minimalism, unti- unting naagnas ang pagtitiwala sa isang ordeng matiwasay kahit nambubusabos. Sumalisi ang udyok ng aksidente at pagbabakasakali kaakibat ng anarkiya ng walang regulasyon sa kalakal. Sumaksi ang pagtutol sa estetisismo at komoditi-petisismo nina Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg,

9 Stefan Morawski, Inquiries into the Fundamentals of Aesthetics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1974), 120.

10 Immanuel Kant, Analytic of the Beautiful, trans. by Walter Cerf (New York: The Bobbs- Merrill Co., 1969), 4. Tingnan din Collingwood, R.G., “The Expression of Emotion,” in The Problems of Aesthetics, ed. by Eliseo Vivas and Murray Krieger (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1953).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

E. SAN JUAN 5

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atbp. Ibinasura na ang prinsipyong expresyonista nina Bosanquet at Croce mula pa nang ipanukala nina Walter Benjamin at Lewis Mumford (circa 1930) ang mapanghamong kalidad ng makina sa reproduksiyon ng art-object. Pinagtibay din ng mga saliksik hinggil sa sining ng Silangan at primitibong kabihasnan na kailangan lamang ng ulirang halimbawa, huwarang balangkas at panuntunan upang makayari ng artipak/bagay na makasasapat sa depinisyong napagkasunduan hinggil sa likhang-sining.

Argumentong Magkatumbalik

Dumako tayo sandali sa yugto ng Minimalism na tumiwalag sa naghaharing Abstract Expressionism ni Pollock.11 Tanyag na halimbawa ang “Lever” ni Carl Andre, “Series A” ni Sol Lewitt, ang mga “Untitled” nina Robert Morris at Donald Judd, potograpiya ni Dan Graham, atbp. Kalakip ang tendensiyang anti-expressionist, sumubaybay din sila sa konstruktibistang inhinyera ng naunang Bauhaus at Proletkult. Dagling bumulas ang konseptwalismo upang paigtingin ang depersonalisadong padron/paradigma ng konstruktibismo’t mapanirang ugali ng Dada at mapagbirong Fluxus. Hindi nagtagal, isinusog ng konseptwalistang artista na ang kanilang aktibidad/gawa ay isang pagsisiyasat sa magusot at malabong katayuan ng sining. Sumbat nila sa elitistang alipores na humuhubog ng kodigo: wala kayong katuwiran kundi puwersa ng kombensyon at minanang ugali. Tumalikod sila sa palengke/pamilihan at publikong nagumon sa konsumerismo, nakaugat sa hedonismong mapinsala—rahuyong pinakaubod sa pusod ng problematikong pangitaing burgis sa mundo ngayon.

Balangkasin natin ang trajektorya ng konseptwalismo sa apat na bugso ng pakikipagsapalaran nito. Una, pinalawak nito ang aralin hinggil sa kaisahan at materyalidad ng obhetong tinaguriang sining. Karugtong ito ng self-reflexivity ng modernismong pumoproblema’t tumitimbang sa iba’t ibang salik at sangkap ng sining. Pangalawa, tinanggihan nito ang kostumbreng biswal ng praktikang pansining. Isinaisantabi na ang isyu ng midya. Pangatlo, inilapat ang sining sa lugar at konteksto ng pagbilad nito sa publiko. Pang-apat, sinipat ang kalagayan ng uri ng distribusyon at pakikibahagi ng sining sa lipunan—ang usapin ng demokrasya’t pagkakapantay-pantay.

Tunay na masalimuot ang hibla ng pinagbuhatan ng konseptwalismo, pati na ang estratehiyang pagbabago nito. Buhat pa nang itanghal ni Marcel Duchamp ang kanyang urinal at iba pang “ready-made”

11 Tingnan ang Gregory Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1968).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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bilang art-object simula 1913, gumana na ang generic modernismong humiwalay sa pribilehiyong midya. Wala nang espesyal na katas-diwang estetiko; impormasyon, dokumentasyon, at iba pang determinadong negasyon ng institusyonalisadong sining ang itinataguyod sa sari-saring praktikang dinudukal sa kasalukuyan. Walang partikular na materyales o pamamaraan ang iniririserba para sa paghubog sa likhang-sining.

Ikintal natin dito ang ilang tagpo sa naratibo ng konseptwalismo. Mag-umpisa muna sa lingguwistikong palitang-kuro nina Joseph Kosuth at ang Art & Language Group sa UK circa 1968–69. Itinakwil nila ang talinong teknikal sa pagyari ng bagay na taglay ang integral na kalidad. Naglaho ang materyal na bagay na nakikita, ang biswal na produkto na nagdulot ng kabuluhan sa pagsasanib ng tiyak at alanganing sangkap nito. Binalewala na ng “ready-made” ni Duchamp ang morpolohiyang artipak nina Cezanne, Manet, atbp. Idiniin ang konsepto ng kahulugang hindi nakaangkla sa reperent. Ang sining ay isang analitikong proposisyon, hindi sintetikong hugot sa karanasan—proklama ni Kosuth. Sa sipat nina Atkinson at Baldwin, ang sining ay pagdeklara ng kontekstong pansining sa metalingwistikang metodolohiya. Sinibak ang pormalismo at kognitibong biswalidad ng tradisyonal na sining, dagling pinalitan ng impormasyon/dokumentasyon at iba pang hulmahang hiram sa pinagtambal na kodigong analog/digital.

Gunitain ang proseso ng reduksiyon o demateryalisasyon ng bagay na binansagang “art-object”12 Tulad nang nabanggit, nailunsad ito sa paglagay sa galerya ng mga bagay na nagsasarili. Pagkatapos, inilapat iyon sa pook o lugar hanggang ito’y mawala. Sa kalaunan, idiniin ang lamang-isip o konsepto sa halip na ituon ang atensiyon sa masasalat na sisidlan na kinaluluklukan ng kahulugan. Hindi pagmasid kundi pagkapa at paghinuha ng kahulugan mula sa anumang bagay na dinanas. Matindi’t mabalasik ang mga argumento sa diskursong metalingwistikal hinggil sa sining; ang gamit sa wika bilang makahulugang materyal/laman ay bininyagang ideya-sining.

Sining Bilang Kabatiran/Wari

Sapagkat laging sinisipi ang dokumentong “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” (1967) ni Sol LeWitt, nais kong talakayin ang ilang tema nito. Kabilang ang mga kagrupong Mel Bochner, Hann Darhoven at iba pa, si LeWitt ay hindi sang-ayon sa “linguistic conceptualism” nina Kosuth at Art & Language. Binura ni LeWitt ang namamatyagang bagay at ibiniling ang sipat sa prosesong konseptwal na kaiba sa expresyonistang atitudo na nakabatay sa anyong biswal. Pinupukaw at inuuntag ang isip, hindi mata, ng

12 Lucy Lippard and John Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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konseptwalistang artista na nakapokus sa ideya/hinagap ng dinamikong makinang yumayari ng sining. Lahat ng pagpapasiya tungkol sa kung paano lilikhain ang bagay ay naisakatuparan na sa proseso ng pag-iisip/pagninilay. Hindi na kailangan ang intuwisyon o pangangatwiran dahil nailatag na ang lohikang susundin, ang tinaguriang “OS” (Operating System).

Sa iskemang apriori, wala nang papel na gaganapin ang henyong indibidwal, ang saloobing personal, na dinakila ng mga romantikong pilosopo (Coleridge, Goethe, Schiller, Croce). Pahayag ni LeWitt: “To work with a plan that is pre-set is one way of avoiding subjectivity … The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product …. Those that show the thought-process of the artist are sometimes more interesting than the finished product.”13 Napalitan ang kamalayang interyor ng prosesong mala- matematika na gumitaw sa ulirat, may angking lohikang nag-uudyok sa mambabasa o nanonood na lumahok sa pabrikasyon ng danas.

Sa pagkilatis ni Fredric Jameson, ang espasyo/lunan ang importante sa konseptwalistang kadalubhasaan:

Conceptual art may be described as a Kantian procedure whereby, on the occasion of what first seems to be an encounter with a work of art of some kind, the categories of the mind itself—normally, not conscious, and inaccessible to any direct representation or to any thematizable self-consciousness or reflexibility—are flexed, their structuring presence now felt laterally by the viewer like musculature or nerves of which we normally remain insensible, in the form of those peculiar mental experiences Lyotard terms paralogisms.14

Pakiwari ko’y mali ang positibistikong akala ni Jameson. Limitado ni Kant ang ideya sa palapag na penomenal, kaya di makaakyat sa kongkretong yunibersal ng sining. Dapat intindihin na hindi ang anatomya o biyolohiya ng utak ang nakataya rito kundi ang proseso ng hinuha (inference) na mahuhugot sa nailahad na direksiyon/instruksiyon ng artista.

Pagkawala ng rasyonalistikong sabjek/awtor, sumupling ang depersonalisadong sining sa danas at panlasa ng nakararaming tao. Malaya na ang sinumang nais magpahalaga at magpakahulugan sa anumang bagay o pangyayari na pwedeng kabitan ng etiketa, “sining ito.”

13 Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,”in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 13-14. Sa paksang ito, knsultahin din ang kuro-kuro ni Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All. New York: Verso, 2013).

14 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 157.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Dalawang halimbawa ang maiuulat dito. Sa Following Piece (1969) ni Vito Acconci, yumari ng isang listahang naglalarawan ng publikong pagsubaybay ng isang taga-lungsod sa sinuman hanggang makarating ito sa kanilang destinasyon. Tila prinsipyong apriori ang metodo ng pagsunod sa isang iskema kasangkot ang katawan ng artista ay tuwirang notasyon ng ilang insidente. Walang naratibo, komposisyon, o pagpapasiya ng saloobin ang mamamalas dito. Sinuman na nasa lungsod ay makagaganap ng papel ng artista kung susundin ang tagubilin at panutong nailahad.

Isa pang makatuturang dating ng konseptwalistang paraan ay mamamasid sa demokratikong pagpapalaganap ng sining sa nakararaming tao, sa pagbuo nito at pagtanggap ninuman. Mapapatunayan ito sa sining ni Lawrence Weiner. Sa halip na lumikha ng mararamdamang bagay, pinahayag lamang niya ang impormasyon tungkol sa sining na aayusin. Matris ng proyekto ang mga pangungusap niya na nagtatakda ng estrukturang materyal at metodo ng paggawa. Halimbawa, “One hole in the ground Approximately 1’ x 1’ x 1’ One Gallon Water-based White Paint Poured into this Hole.” Ginamit ang pandiwaring pasado sa patalastas upang ipahiwatig ang pagkatiyak ng paglalarawan at posibilidad ng pagsasakatuparan nito sa hinaharap. Ang serye ng mga ginawa ni Weiner sa Statements (1968) ay siya mismong nakadispley na sining sa exibisyon. Kahalintulad nito ang mga avant-garde iskor, “Three Aqueous Events” (1961) sa musika ni George Brecht ng Fluxus (tungkol sa Le Magasin de Ben ni Ben Vautier, tingnan si Kearney [1988]), o mga notasyon sa musika ni John Cage. Kahawig din ang mga iniulat na “happenings” ni Yoko Ono sa Grapefruit, pinaka-pioneer ng sining- konseptwal—kasabay sa pag-unawa sa patalastas o habilin ang performans/pagsasadula nito.

Kahit tagubilin pasalita, o kilos na inirekord sa dokumento, ang naisagawa ay isang kawing lamang sa isang mahabang kadenang metonimiko. Dapat unawain ang sinkroniko’t diyakronikong galaw hitik ng indeks-senyas at sagisag. Kasangkot doon ang komunikasyong oral, ang inilathalang instruksiyon, ang proseso ng paglabas ng deklarasyon, ang kinahinatnan, ang dokumentasyong potograpiko, atbp. Sa maikling salita, iba’t ibang anyo o hugis pisikal ang maaaring manipestasyon ng konsepto. Nararapat ikabit dito ang kasaysayan ng sining, hindi estetikang ideyalistiko ni Kant o Lyotard. Pagnilayin ang matatag na “declaration of intent” ni Weiner na modipikasyon ng simulaing ipinahayag ni LeWitt:

  1. The artist may construct the piece
  2. The piece may be fabricated
  3. The piece need not be built© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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10 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.15

Simbiyotika ng Teorya at Praktika

Higit na radikal kaysa kina Kosuth at Lewitt ang panukala ni Weiner. Bukod sa pagbaklas sa mito ng paglikhang depende sa awtoridad ng awtor/artistang bukal ng orihinalidad, ang pagkasangkot ng awdiyens, ang demokratikong paglahok ng tumatanggap/nakatanggap ng sining, ay nakabuwag sa tradisyonal na pananaw. Lumalim at tumalas ito sa sumunod na uri ng konseptwalismo nina Daniel Buren, Hans Haacke, Marcel Broodthaers. Pinuntirya nila ang kondisyong ideolohikal ng institusyong pansining (museo, galerya, midyang sosyal), ang mga regulasyon at batas, ang kanonisadong doktrinang upisyal na nagpapasiya kung anong bagay ang ituturing na sining. Halimbawa, sa Gallery-Visitors-Profile, isiniwalat ni Haacke ang sistemang nagtatakda kung ano ang kahulugan at kabuluhan ng bagay na tinaguriang likhang-sining.16

Alalahanin na iba ang sitwasyon ng Global South sa Global North. Asymetrikal ang tayo ng neokolonyang Pilipinas kumpara sa industriyalisadong Europa o Norte Amerika. Sa Latino-Amerika, iniangkop ang “Media Art” sa krisis ng lipunan. Halimbawa, ang Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia sa Argentina ang nagpropaganda sa “Nasusunog ang Tucuman,” kung saan ang pagtipon ng impormasyon at pagpapalaganap nito sa midya (tungkol sa panunupil at pagsikil sa mga taga-Tucuman) ay magkabuklod na praktika sa sining at politika. Ibinunyag nila ang kasinungalin ng Estado. Isinakdal ang institusyon ng pag-aaring indibidwal, pati na ang ilusyon ng aliw at kariktan mula sa pambihirang art-object. Pwedeng gawing modelo ang aksyon ng mga aktibista sa Argentina. Ngunit dapat tandaan o isaalang-alang na ang sitwasyon ng neokolonyang Pilipinas ay kaiba sa iba pang bansang hindi sinakop ng imperyalismong U.S. at nagtamasa ng biyaya ng industriyalisasyon at repormang pang-agraryo.

Nang pumasok ang dekada 1970–1980, isinaisantabi na ang linguwistiko-analitikong konseptualismong nauna. Yumabong ang tipo ng postkonseptualismo nina Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Mary Kelley, at iba pa, na nagproblema sa palasak na pormalistikong relasyon ng imahen/wika/suhetibidad. Pinuna sila ng grupo nina Martha Roseler, Alan Sekula, atbp. Ipinaliwanag ng huli na ang ideolohiyang identidad ay hindi hiwalay sa lenggwaheng ginagamit. Kaya kung natanggal man ang ahensiya

15 Sinipi ni Alberro sa Alexander Alberro, “Reconsidering Conceptual Art, 1966-1977,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), xxii.

16 Tony Godfrey, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon Press, 1998).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 11

o kalooban ng ulilang artistang nasukol ng puwersa ng kapaligiran at nabalaho sa bangin ng “art-for-art’s sake,” pwede pa ring bumuo ng estratehiya ng interbensiyon.

Bukod sa masidhing performans ni Adrian Piper na nakasentro sa sabwatang rasismo/machismo sa Norte Amerika’t Europa, magandang halimbawa ang “The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems” (1974) ni Martha Rosler. Maimpluwensiya pa rin ang reduktibismo’t reflexibidad-sa- sarili, mabisa pa rin ang “ready-made” sa Pop Art at Minimalism. Ngunit ang pangunahing tagumpay ng konseptwalismo, sa pangkalahatan, ay naisuma ng dalubhasang Benjamin Buchloch17 sa kritika ng institusyon, ang demistipikasyon ng burgesyang pananaw tungkol sa midya, impormasyon, publisidad, at sining. Anumang sitwasyon ay tigib ng sapin-saping kontradiksyong nagsisilbing motor sa pagsulong ng kasaysayan.

Pagbuno sa Palaisipan & Suliranin

Sa pagbabalik-tanaw sa kasaysayan ng konseptwalismo sa sining, idiniin ni Craig Dworkin, na impresario ng konseptwalistang panulat, ang pagpanaw ng awtor, ang imbentor ng orihinal na likhang-sining (naibalita na nina Roland Barthes at Michel Foucault ang pagkamatay ng awtor). Naipasinaya ng pagburol ng malikhaing awtor ang pagsilang ng “uncreative writing” sa bagong milenyo, sa epoka ng “War on Terrorism” pagkaraan ng pagsabog ng Twin Tower sa New York, USA, noong ika-11 Setyembre 2001.

Sa gayon, nararapat iangkop ang tendensiya ng panulat sa daloy ng kapaligiran. Halaw sa eksperimentasyon sa wika nina Dan Graham, Mel Ramsden, Robert Barry at John Baldessari, naisuma ni Dworkin ang ilang katangiang gagabay sa makabagong panulat: hindi na kailangang magsikap tumuklas ng orihinal na gawa. Tratuhin ang wika bilang datang mabibilang, materyal na limbag. Pwedeng kumopya o gumagad ng ibang teksto na magiging iba o bago dahil iba o bago na ang konteksto—isang takdang panahon at lugar—ng artistang sumusunod sa isang procedure o iskema. Kaya ng minakinilya muli ni Kenneth Goldsmith sa kanyang Day ang isang isyu ng New York Times, ang tanskrispyon ay pagsasakatuparan ng kanyang ideya/konsepto ng sining. Kahambing ito ng After Walker Evans ni Sherrie Levine, o ang mga collage Nina Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, atbp.

Appropriation/pag-angkin, pagkumpiska/pang-aagaw, ang namamayaning estilo at modo ng pagkatha ngayon sa literaturang nangunguna. Sa milyung umaapaw ng kompyuter, elektronikong teknolohiya, sumagana’t kumalat ang “remix culture” ng hip-hop, global DJ

17 Benjamin Buchloch, “Conceptual Art 1962-1969: From the Aesthetic of Adminstration to the Critique of Institutions,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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12 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

kultura, sampling, mash-up, montage, cut-up, atbp. Ginagagad ng manunulat ang “database logic” ng bagong midya,” ayon kay Dworkin, “wherein the focus is no longer on the production of new material but on the recombination of previously produced and stockpiled data. Conceptual poetry, accordingly, often operates as an interface—returning the answer to a particular query; assembling, rearranging, and displaying information; or sorting and selecting from files of accumulated language according to a certain algorithm.”18 Ayon kay Walter Benjamin, sa reproduksyong mekanikal ng modernong kabihasnan, natanggal ang “aura” sa mga pribadong pag-aaring signos ng pribilehiyo/kapangyarihan, at diumano’y naging demokratiko ang pagtatamasa ng ligayang dulot ng sining.19 Totoo ba ito?

Kung tutuusin, walang panganib o hamong nakasisindak sa status quo ang konseptwalismong lumaganap at hinangaan. Nasaring nga ni Robert Smithson na naging aliporis ng sistemang kapital ang dating avantgarde: ginawa ni Warhol ang kapitalismo bilang isang alamat/mito pagsuob sa “production for production’s sake.”20 Yumaman ang mga artistang dating pariahsa Establisimyento. Samantala, ang “uncreative writing” ni Goldsmith ay nagtamo ng mayamang tagumpay, naging bantog at kinilalang sopistikadong biyaya ng pambihirang moda. Pinarangalan sila. Pihikang panlasa?

Hintay, isang araw, inanyayahan si Goldsmith na bumigkas ng isang tula sa isang program sa Brown University, ang “The Body of Michael Brown,” na dagling naging kontrobersiyal. Hintay muna …. Pinatindi ang reaksyon sa balita na nagbunsod ng umaatikabong tuligsa, pati banta ng pagpatay sa makata. Pakli ni Goldsmith: “There’s been too much pain for many people around this, and I do not want to cause anymore.”21

Sa dagling pagtaya, ang performans ni Goldsmith ay simple lamang. Ito’y pagbasa ng ilang talatang sinipi sa autopsy report ng pulisya ng Ferguson, Missouri, na pumaslang kay Michael Brown, isang 18 taong gulang na Aprikano-Amerikanong lalaki, noong 13 Marso 2014. Pumutok ang maraming demonstrasyon sa buong bansa laban sa awtoridad. Sa itaas ng entablado ng unibersidad pinaskil ang malaking graduation photo ni Brown. Walang emosyon ang pagbasang tumagal ng 30 minutos, walang imik ang nakinig. Pagkaraang kumalat ang balita sa Internet, umarangkada ang

18 Craig Dworkin, “The Fate of Echo,” in Against Expression, ed. by C. Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2011), xlii.

19 Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” inIlluminations, trans. by Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 2007), 217-251.

20 Robert Smithson, “Production for Production’s Sake,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 285.21 Alison Flood, “US poet defends reading of Michael Brown autopsy report as a poem,” The Guardian (17 March 2015), <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015

/mar/17/michael-brown-autopsy-report-poem-kenneth-goldsmith>.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 13

batikos at tuligsa: “tacky,” “new racist lows,” “white elite institutions pay … another white man holding the corpse of a black child, saying “Look at what I’ve made.”22 Pinag-initan ang Puting pagsamsam sa kahirapan ng mga Itim, ang paghamak at pagkutya sa kamatayan ng isang inosenteng biktima ng marahas na paghahari ng White Supremacy.

Masusing pag-aralan ang matapang at mahayap na komentaryo ni Anne Waldman:

I was not present, but by all reports what we seem to have is a solipsistic clueless bubble of unsupportable ‘art’ attitude and privilege. What was Kenny Goldsmith thinking? That it’s okay to self-appoint and perform the autopsy report of murdered black teenager Michael Brown and mess with the text, and so “own” it and get paid for his services? No empathy no sorrow for the boy, the body, the family, ignorant of the ramifications, deaf ear to the explosive demonstrations and marches? Reeks of expoitation, of the ‘racial imaginary.’ Black Dada Nihilismus is lurking on the lineaments of the appropriated shadow of so much suffering.23

Alingawngaw sa Kaharian ng Arte

Dagling nawala ang pretext ng kontrobersiya. Biglang inurong ni Goldsmith ang tula sa Web, at pinalitan ng isang pagtatanggol (sa Facebook) ng signature estilong pagkopya, pagputol, pagdikit, pag-angkin ng digital text mula sa cyberspace. Ikinatwiran ang ethos ng sampling, reblogging, mimesis, replikasyon, procedure ng pagmanipula, paglilipat at pakikibahagi ng impormasyon na primaryang imbakan ng konseptwalistang panulat. Maingat nating pagliripin ang paliwanag (hindi apologia) ni Goldsmith sa kanyang pagsala, paghimay at pagsasaayos ng isang publikong dokumento na pinamagatang “The Body of Michael Brown”—pinagsamantalahang ipuslit ang autopsy report upang makaani ng pansariling “symbolic capital”:

In the tradition of my previous book Seven American Deaths and Disasters, I took a publicly available document from an American tragedy that was witnessed first-hand (in this case by the doctor performing the autopsy) and simply read it. Like Seven American Deaths, I did not editorialize. I simply read it

22 Ibid.

23 C.A. Conrad, “Kenneth Goldsmith Says He Is an Outlaw,” Poetry Foundation (June 2015), <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2015/06/kenneth-goldsmith-says-he-is-an- outlaw>.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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14 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

without commentary or additional editorializing. Many of you have heard me read from Seven American Deaths. This reading was identical in tone and intention. This, in fact, could have been the eighth American death and disaster. The document I read from is powerful. My reading of it was powerful. How could it be otherwise? Such is my long- standing practice of conceptual writing: like Seven American Deaths, the document speaks for itself in ways that an interpretation cannot. It is a horrific American document, but then again it was a horrific American death.24

Pagtugis sa Katunayan at Kabulaanan

Masinop na imbestigasyon ang kailangan. Kabulaanan ang igiit ni Goldsmith na hindi niya binago ang dokumento. Tandisang litaw na pinili niya, sinipi at niretoke ang ilang detalye ng postmortem examination at ipinasiyang magwakas sa maselang bahagi. Narito ang nakasulat sa report: “Male Genital System: There is foreskin present near the head of the penis. The remaining male genitalia system is unremarkable” (galing sa Office of the Medical Examiner, Dr Gershom; 2014 # 5143). Bakit dito piniling huminto ang akda ni Goldsmith?

Bukod sa pihikang komentaryong inilagay ni Goldsmith sa Facebook, ang pagbigkas noon ng isang puting Amerikano, sa kontekstong wala pang napagkasunduang pagsisiyasat at paglilitis kung makatarungan ang pagpaslang sa kanya, ay mapupuna. Lumalabas na editorializing at panghihimasok ang ginawa. Ipinasiya ni Goldsmith na idaos ang teatro niya sa Brown University, isang ivy-league na institusyon na dating pasimuno’t yumaman sa tubo ng kalakal ng mga esklabong Aprikano noong siglo 1700– 1800. Batid din ni Goldsmith na magulo’t matinik pa ang usapin tungkol sa karahasan ng pulisya—hindi maiwawaglit ang kontekstong ito, na sa tahasang asersyon ni Goldsmith, ay personal na pag-ani ng “cultural capital.”25. Tunay na hindi makatotohanan ang pangangatwiran ni Goldsmith. Maiging suriin ang dugtong niya (mula sa kanyang Facebook post):

I altered the text for poetic effect. I translated into plain English many obscure medical terms that would have stopped the flow of the text; I narrativized it in ways that made the text

24 Flood, “US poet defends reading of Michael Brown autopsy report as a poem.”

25 Kenneth Goldsmith, “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” Against Expression, ed. by C. Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2011), xviii.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 15

less didactic and more literary. I indeed stated at the beginning of my reading that this was a poem called “The Body of Michael Brown”: I never stated, “I am going to read the autopsy report of Michael Brown.” But then again, this is what I did in Seven Deaths and Disasters. I always massage dry texts to transform them into literature, for that is what they are when I read them. That said, I didn’t add or alter a single word or sentiment that did not preexist in the original text, for to do so would be to go against my nearly three decades’ practice of conceptual writing, one that states that a writer need not write any new texts but rather reframe those that already exist in the world to greater effect than any subjective interpretation could lend. Perhaps people feel uncomfortable with my uncreative writing, but for me, this is the writing that is able to tell the truth in the strongest and clearest was possible.

Ecce homo. Behold the man.

Walang pasubali, hindi ito salitang humihingi ng paumanhin. Sa katunayan, isang rasyonalisasyon ito sa pagtatanggol sa kanyang tipo ng panulat. Samakatwid, ang “reframing” o pagmasahe sa dokumento ni Goldsmith ang nakataya rito. Sa malas, talaga bang na-defamiliarize ang Estadong rasista’t pasista, ang layunin ng makata na ipahayag ang katotohanan sa pinakamabisang paraan?

Umuukilkil ang ilang tanong hinggil sa dating, sa impak ng impormasyong naipaabot. Binago niya, amin ng makata, upang magkaroon ng bisang matulain. Anong kahulugan o kabuluhan ng estetikang naipahatid nito? Ito ba ang birtud ng pagkamakatotohanan ng konseptwalismo? Katunayan ba kaninuman, sa lahat ng oras, saanmang lugar? Anong damdamin, atitudo, saloobin, ang inaadhika ng “unoriginal genius” ng makata? Kung ilalapat natin ang haka o hinuha nina Vanessa Place at Robert Fitterman na “Conceptual writing is allegorical writing,”26 anong klaseng mensaheng literal at matalinghaga ang isinadula ni Goldsmith sa pagkasangkapan niya ng postmortem report—barokong alegorya, hybrid simulacra, o tusong pagkukunwari?

Sa anu’t anoman, mahirap maipaghiwalay ang interogasyong pang- estetika sa politikal, etikal at moral na suliraning bumabagabag sa publikong konsiyensiya.

26 Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman, Notes on Conceptualisms (New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), 13.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Diskurso ng Pagkilala o Pagwalang-pansin

Tulad ng nabanggit na, binatikos si Goldsmith, ang poet laureate ng Museum of Modern Art, ng maraming kolega at manunulat sa website ng Poetry Foundation.27 at iba pang lugar sa Internet at lathalain. Sa marahas na bintang na ang akda ni Goldsmith ay dokumento ng “white supremacy poetics,” kung saan naroon ang “white power dissecting colored body,” sulyapan ang website ng “Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo”: “The murdered body of Mike Brown’s medical report is not our poetry, it’s the building blocks of white supremacy, a miscreant DNA infecting everyone in the world. We refuse to let it be made literary.” 28

Kaunting repaso. Magsimula muli tayo sa pagtutugma ng sining at situwasyon ng mundo, ang yugto ng krisis ng kapitalismong global/neoliberal. Masahol ang kalagayan ng mga taong-may-kulay, lalo na ang Aprikano-Amerikano sa mga nabubulok na urbanidad ng pasistang U.S. Mapanganib na rin ang lagay ng petiburgesyang edukado; walang trabaho karamihan ng graduweyt sa humanidades, sampu ng mga manunulat-artista, atbp. Ginagamit ang sining bilang investment, tulad ng pagtitinda ng mga likha nina Warhol, Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter sa Sotheby at iba pang organo ng komodipikasyon. Hinirang na propesor sa University of Pennsylvania, si Goldsmith ay isa sa mga mapalad na konseptwalistang awtor na kinilala ng Establisimyento (naimbita pa ni dating Pangulong Obama sa White House).

Mapaparatangan bang nagkasala si Goldsmith sa komodipikasyon ng bangkay ni Brown? Nagkasala ba siya sa pagbebenta ng tekstong ninakaw sa Internet, at pagpuslit ng simbolikong kapital bilang “meme macho”?29 Ano ang kahulugan ng pangyayaring ito sa larangan ng politikang digmaan sa U.S. at ligalig na dulot ng krisis internasyonal sa pagtutunggalian ng kapitalistang bansa?

Sa perspektibang historiko-materyalistiko, matatarok na may tatlong panig ang problemang hinarap ni Goldsmith (kahit hindi niya ito dama o alam). Una, ang kontradiksiyon ng pagkatao ng Aprikano-Amerikanong grupo (si Brown ay kinatawan nila) at paglait sa bangkay (“quantified self” ni Brown). Nananaig pa rin ang aparatong ideolohikal ng Estado sa

27 Conrad, “Kenneth Goldsmith Says He Is an Outlaw.”

28 Sinipi ni Wilkinson sa Alec Wilkinson, “Something Borrowed,” The New Yorker (7 October 2015), <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/07/something-borrowed- wilkinson>.

29 Kenneth Goldsmith, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Writing,” University of Buffalo Webpage, <http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/goldsmith/conceptual_paragraphs.html&gt;.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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pagpapanatili ng rasismo/makismo. Pangalawa, sa harap ng dumaragsangmemes, bulto-bultong dami ng datos digital, labis-labis na “disposable data- basing,” blogging, identity ciphering, mabilisang programing, paano maisasaayos ng makata ang kumplikadong penomena upang magkaroon iyon ng halaga sa buhay natin? Pangatlo, paano malulutas ang hidwaang nabanggit kung ang paraang konseptwal ay makina-ng-ideyang walang silbi, hindi utilitaryan, matipid, mahigpit ang paghawak, nais lamang pukawin ang isip, walang balisa sa pagsasakatuparan ng konsepto? Tatlong problemang dapat lutasin upang makahulagpos sa bilanggo ng burgesyang orden.

Sa gitna ng ating pagkalito, iginiit ni Goldsmith: “Arbitrary or chance decisions would be kept to a minimum, while caprice, taste and other whimsies would be eliminated from the making of the text.”30 Sa gayon, hindi awtomatikongcollage, pastiche, o transkripsyon ang ginanap na pagbigkas ni Goldsmith. Tunay na iyon ay interbensiyong marahas, wangis gahasa ng puting lahi sa bangkay ng aliping kulay-itim, tanda ng barbarikong nekropilya. Sa tatlong kontradiksiyong nabanggit, anong pinili’t hinulmang paraan ang sinubok ng awtor sa paglutas ng inilatag na suliranin?

Totoong hindi niyutral o walang pakialam ang manunulat sa paraan at estilo ng paglalahad. Puna ni Marjorie Perloff, masinop si Goldsmith (tulad ni Duchamp) sa paghakot at pagsasalansan ng inilipat na tekso sa kanyangTraffic: “What Goldsmith wants us to see is what the world we live in is actually like.”31 Bilang isang pormang ideolohikal, nakapaloob sa kathang binigkas ni Goldsmith ang paglalarawan ng lohika ng rasistang lipunan bilang oposisyon ng kantidad (abstraktong pagkilatis sa bangkay ni Brown gawa ng Estado) versus makataong pagtransporma ni Goldsmith sa paraan ng satirikong pagmasahe sa autopsy report. Samakatwid, lumabag siya sa mungkahi ng kasamang Dworkin na ang konseptwalisting bricolage ay nakapako sa “recontextualizing language in a mode of strict citation.”32

Maselan ang detournement o paghuhugis ng nakumpiskang teksto sa Internet. Hindi naiba ng “reframing” ang konteksto ng diskursong kumbensyonal. Nakapokus din sa reduksiyon ng liping Aprikano sa sukat ng genitalia, kaya ipinabulaanan ni Goldsmith ang stereotype sa pagwakas ng kanyang pag-ilit sa medikong ulat na normal lamang ang seks ni Brown— “unremarkable” genitalia.33 Sa mismong pag-uulit ng rasismong kategorya, salungat sa kanyang tangka, dinulutan ng positibong bantas ang gawing rasista: ang tao ay katumbas ng kanyang anatomya/biyolohiya.

30 LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” 13.

31 Perloff, Marjorie, Poetics in a New Key: Interviews and Essays (Manila: De La Salle University Publishing House, 2013), 160.

32 Craig Dworkin, “The Fate of Echo,” xlvii.33 Wilkinson, “Something Borrowed.”

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18 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

Subersiyong Radikal o Kompromisong Liberal?

Kakatwa ang kinalabasan sa ronda ng impormasyong kumalat. Sa kumpas ng diumano’y pagdaramay ni Goldsmith sa trahedyang pagkabaril sa inosenteng sibilyan, nabigyang-buhay rin ang liberalismong ideolohiya ng burgesyang uri—isang ironikal na pagbalikwas ng balak, parikalang di tangka. Ipinagtibay ang teorya nina Balibar at Macherey na ang literatura ay “imaginary solution of ideological contradictions.”34 Nadulutan ni Goldsmith ng isang tanghalan, mise en scene, ang di-malulutas na kontradisiyon ng burgesyang lipunan sa paraang huwad: ang rasismo ay bunga lamang ng teknolohiya/abstraksyon, na maireresolba sa humanistikong pagtingin kay Brown bilang ordinaryong tao. Mapinsalang ilusyon ito. Alalaong-baga’y hindi kailangan ang transpormasyon ng institusyon, ang di-makatarungang paghahati ng poder at yaman, ng karapatan at katungkulan, sa lipunang naghihiwalay sa mga may-ari ng kapital/produktibong kagamitan at pulubing uri ng mga trabahador, pati gitnang-uring petiburgis. Samakatwid, pinaikot lamang ni Goldsmith ang neokonserbatibong doktrina ng mga panginoon ng sistemang kapitalismong global.

Sa perspektibang ideyalistiko/metapisikal, maituturing na repormista ang prinsipyo ni Goldsmith (sampu nina Dworkin at mga kapanalig) sa pagtutol sa ortodoksiya ng romantiko’t mistikal na pagkilala sa awtor. Ang tipo ng mapanghamig na suhetibidad ay batayan ng burgesya- kapitalistang orden. Makatwiran din ang tatlong negasyon (ng obhetibidad ng likhang-sining, ng midyum biswal, at ng autonomiya ng art-object) na iniulat ni Osborne.35 Nagbunga iyon ng uri ng sining/panitikan na gumagamit o kumakasangkapan sa umiiral na diskurso/teksto sa midya upang mabago ang mga institusyong pang-araw-araw. Kabilang si Goldsmith sa pag-repunksiyon at sirkulasyon ng normatibong doxa tungkol sa identidad at karapatang pantao na masasagap sa cyberspace.

Ngunit, sanhi sa limitadong kaalaman, natigil doon sa produksiyon para sa sariling kapakanan. Nasaksihan ang kaunting “defamiliarization,” birtud ng mapanghimagsik na kritika, pero walang pagtakwil sa institusyon at estrukturang pampolitika. Walang pasubaling may simpatiya si Goldsmith sa protesta ng mga biktima ng karahasan ng pulisya. Ngunit hindi magkapareho ang sinulat na preskripyon at ang aktwal na pagsasagawa nito. Hindi nagampanan ni Goldsmith ang tungkuling isinabalikat nina Rosler, Haacke, at iba pang sumuri, gumalugad, at kumilatis sa di-makatarungang

34 Etienne Balibar and Pierre Macherey, “On Literature as an Ideological Form,” inMarxist Literary Theory, ed. by Terry Eagleton and Drew Milne (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996),

285.
35 Peter Osborne, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon Press, 2002), 18.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 19

relasyon ng kapangyarihang nakapaloob sa sistema ng institusyong nangangasiwa’t kumokontrol sa sining/panitikan, sa buong aparato ng kultura/ideolohiya. Naibunyag na ni Charles Harrison ang “utopian fantasy”36ng rebolusyonaryong programa ng avantgarde kilusan na nagsimula pa kina Andre Breton, Duchamp, Mondrian, Joseph Beuys, Minimalism, Fluxus, hanggang kina Adrian Piper, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, atbp.

Mapanganib na suliranin ang pagkaligta sa mediyasyong diyalektikal ng gawaing manwal at intelektwal. Walang direktong korespondensiya ang transpormasyon sa literatura at sa ekonomyang pampulitika. Maisusulit dito na ang malaking kamalian nina Dworkin at Goldsmith, pati na rin ang kanilang taga-suportang si Marjorie Perloff, ay walang pakundangang pananatili sa burgesyang kuwadrong humahatol: ang awtor bilang “unoriginal genius,” at wika/diskursong kumbensyonal bilang niyutral o sariwang salik/sangkap na maihuhugis sa anumang direksiyon, di alintana ang nagtatakdang kasaysaya’t ideolohiyang nakabuklod doon.

Bukod dito, partikular din na hindi iniuugnay ng konseptwalismong aprubado ang institusyon ng museo, galerya, mass media, at akademyang makapangyarihan sa pagtakda ng paghahati ng lakas-paggawa ayon sa means-ends rasyonalidad ng burgesyan orden. Ito nga ang dahilan ng bangguwardyang pagsisikap na siya ring nagtutulak sa konseptwalistang eksperimento.37 Sa kabilang dako, maihahalintulad ang transisyonal na katangian ng kalakarang ito sa trahedyang Griyego na, sa loob ng reaksyonaryong porma, sinikap nina Aeschylus, Sophocles, at Euripedes na ipasok doon ang pinakarasyonal, demokratiko’t materyalistikong paninindigan ng progresibong uri ng panahong iyon.38 Masinop na pagliripin ang diyalektikang pagsusulit na matutuklasan sa mga nobela nina Lope K. Santos, Faustino Aguilar, Amado Hernandez, Lazaro Francisco, Efren Abueg, Lualhati Bautista, Jun Cruz Reyes, atbp.39

Tungo sa Palatuntunan ng Pananagutan

Siyasatin natin ang ibang semiotika bukod kay Saussure at mga dekonstruksyonista. Ang malaking pagkukulang ng kritikang institusyonal ay isang bagay na mapupunan kung susundin ang pragmatikong tagubilin ni Charles Peirce hinggil sa kahulugan ng konsepto/ideya:

36 Charles Harrison, Conceptual Art and Painting (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 38.

37 Peter Burger, “Theory of the Avant-garde and Critical Literary Science,” inContemporary Marxist Literary Criticism, ed. by Francis Mulhern. (London: Longman, 1992).

38 Tingnan ang George Thomson, The Human Essence: The Sources of Science and Art(London: China Policy Study Group, 1974), 88-100.

39 E. San Juan, Himagsik: Pakikibaka Tungo sa Mapagpalayang Kultura (Manila: De La Salle University Press, 2004).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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20 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

a conception, that is, the rational purport of a word or other expression, lies exclusively in its conceivable bearing upon the conduct of life; so that, since obviously nothing that might not result from experiment can have any direct bearing upon conduct, if one can define accurately all the conceivable experimental phenomena that the affirmation or denial of a concept could imply, one will have therein a complete definition of the concept.40

Ipinag-uugnay nito ang teorya at praktika, udyok na pumapatnubay din sa avantgardistang awtor. Nakaugat din ito sa paniwalang ang sining na buod ng mapanlikhang simbuyo’t kakayahan ng tao ay hindi mauunawaan sa pagkahumaling sa intuwisyon, bisyon, organikong porma ng ekspresyon, atbp. Sa halip, dapat idiin ang konsepto/ideya ng sining bilang “polysignificant language dealing with specific types,” at walang silbi ang dakdak tungkol sa porma/anyo/hugis kung walang “eidos or dianoia or idea or concept,” susog ni Galvano della Volpe.41

Sa Pilipinas, bukod sa nasubukan nina Angelo Suárez at kapanalig, pambihirang makakita ng masugid na pagdukal sa konseptwalistang teritoryo. Ipauubaya ko sa iba ang pag-ulat sa iba pang pagsubok postkonseptwal. Magkasya na munang banggitin dito ang ilang proyekto ng awtor sa gilid ng pagsasalaysay sa naratibo ng konseptwalismong Kanluran, na baka makatulong sa kilusan laban sa imperyalismo’t oligarkyang kasabwat nito.42

Malayo na ang nalakbay natin mula sa katipunang Alay Sa Paglikha ng Bukang-Liwayway (2000). Alinsunod sa panukala nina Peirce at Della Volpe, sinikap naming umpisahan ang konseptwalismong pakikipagsapalaran sa ilang tula sa koleksiyong Sapagkat Iniibig Kita (2004)43at Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan (2014),44 at lubos na nilinang sa Ambil (2015)45 at sa Wala (2018). Tinasahan din ang paraang Oulipo sa kathang

40 Charles S. Peirce, The Essential Writings (Amherts, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998), 264. Ineksamin and kumplekadong semantik ng konspekto ni Lewis. Tingnan ang Clarence Irving Lewis, The Mind and the World-Order (New York: Dover, 1929), 411.

41 Galvano Della Volpe, “Theoretical Issues of a Marxist Poetics,” in Marxism and Art, ed. by Berel Lang and Forrest Williams. New York: David McKay, 1972), 180.

42 San Juan, Himagsik.

43 E. San Juan, Sapagkat Iniibig Kita at Iba pang Bagong Tula (Quezon City: University of the Philippines, 2004).

44 E. San Juan, Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan (Quezon City: University of the Philippines, 2014).

45 E. San Juan, Ambil (Connecticut, USA: Philippines Cultural Studies Center, 2015). Tingnan ang rebyu ni Labayne sa Ivan Emil Labayne, “Review of E. San Juan’s Ambil,” The

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E. SAN JUAN 21

“Trahedya/Komedyang Moro-Moro sa Mamasapano.”46 Mula sa panghihimasok sa typograpikal na bihis ng tula (imitasyon ng praktika ng concrete poetry, Mallarme, Weiner), suryalismong eksperimentasyon, at iba pang sinubukang palatuntunan, tumawid tayo sa paghiram/pagkumpiska sa mga salawikain at sampling ng bugtong, pati na modipikasyon ng ilang kanonikal na akda. Sa paraan ng alegorikong montage, sinubok ding ilapat ang minimalistikong metodo ng serye o reduksiyon, parikalang pagputol sa kanonisadong teksto, pagkopya ng dokumento ng isang biktima ng tortyur at pagsipi sa midya at diskursong antropologo (tungkol sa alegorikong pahiwatig, konsultahin si Buchloch.47

Mailap ang dating/resepsiyon sa neokolonya. Puna ng ilang guro na mahirap mabatid ang pinakabagong eksperimentasyon ng mga estudyanteng nasanay sa sukat at tugma nina Jose Corazon de Jesus, Ildefonso Santos, Baylen, Hernandez, Abadilla, Antonio, at iba pang putahe sa mga teksbuk. Ibig sabihin, nagumon sa tradisyonal at makalumang sining/panitik ang lasa’t ulirat ng kasalukuyang awdiyens sa paaralan, huwag nang idamay ang hain ng Anvil Publishing Co., at iba pang lathalaing pangkomersiyal. Sintomas ito ng malaking agwat sa pagitan ng libo-libong kabataang sanay sa Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, at mayoryang nakaabot lamang sa elementaryang 4th grade. Bantog tayo sa texting at malling sa buong mundo. Sanay na tayo sa blogging, remix, plagiarism, pagmudmod ng “fake news” ng rehimeng Duterte. Nasa gitna na tayo ng “postconceptual condition,” ayon kay Osborne kung saan ang kinabukasang virtual ay narito na sa aktwalisasyon ng karanasang umiigkas.48 Nahihimbing pa rin ang madlang kamalayan sa ilusyon ng malahimalang espiritu ng guniguni, ng malayang imahinasyon, ng biyaya ng mga anghel at dwende, ng kalikasang walang maliw …. Magdasal at magtiwala sa kapalaran, sa mapanuksong tadhanang magpapadala ng remitans mula Saudi, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Hong Kong, Los Angeles. … Subalit paano tayo makaaahon mula sa kumunoy ng gawi’t ugaling mala-piyudal at burgis, palasuko at taksil sa bayan?

Philippines Matrix Project (26 May 2015), <https://philcsc.wordpress.com/2015/o5/26/review-of-e- san-juans-ambil>.

46 E. San Juan, Wala (Manila: PUP Press, 2016), 47–51.

47 Benjamin Buchloch, “Allegorical Procedures: Appropriation and Montage in Contemporary Art,” in Art After Conceptual Art, ed. by A. Alberro and Sabeth Buchmann (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2006); Tony Godfrey, Conceptual Art.

48 Peter Osborne, The Postconceptual Condition (London: Verso, 2018).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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22 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

Ano Ngayon ang Dapat Gawin?

Makitid at mababaw pa ang kabatiran sa proseso ng avantgardistang sining tulad ng matutunghayan sa saliksik nina Burger, Poggioli, Raymond Williams, Berger, atbp. Postmodernistang pakulo ang hilig ng mga intelektwal sa U.P., Ateneo, De La Salle University, at iba pang babaran. Dumulog tayo sandali sa forum ng Daluyan (Espesyal na Isyung Pampanitikan 2016) tungkol sa “Mga Proseso ng Paghagilap sa Bago at Eksperimental.” Hinagap nating makatagpo ng ilang manunulat na interesado sa konseptwalismong pagsubok sa gitna ng pagkarahuyo sa Internet, elektronikong midya, Visprint, naglipanang workshops. Nabigo kami, tila nasayang ang pagkakataong iyon.

Sari-saring lifestyle/fashion ang pinagkakaabalahan liban na sa krisis ng neokolonyang lipunan. Pinagtuunan ng pansin ang elektronikong midya at kontra-gahum na estilo. Hindi iniugnay ang praktika ng sining/panulat, at institusyon ng gobyerno, akademya, atbp., sa sitwasyon ng bansa (liban na sa nakahiligang pagsambit sa programa ng Kaliwa). Sumasalamin ito sa limitasyong nasulyapan sa praktika ni Goldsmith. Hinimay ni Roland Tolentino ang hanay ng mga sektaryang grupo o barkada (Rejectionists,Reaffirmists) ng mga ilang pribilehiyong nilalang sa daloy ng pakikibaka, pero walang diagnosis kung bakit nagkaganoon, at ano ang nararapat gawin upang makabuo ng kontra-hegemonyang mobilisasyon ngayon.

Naipayo nina Marx at Engels na ang kasaysayan ay “tendentious” bunga ng engkwentro ng sala-salabid na puwersa—katambal ng homo faberang homo ludens sa mga larong panglinggwistikang sinubaybayan ni Wittgenstein.49 Kaya kung realistikong reporma ang kailangan, hindi ito nangangahulugan na itatakwil o magbubulag-bulagan sa mga bumubukong pagsisikap bumalikwas sa kalakaran. Kailangan ng realismo ang propetikong bugso ng mapagpalayang sensibilidad. Napatunayan na sa diskursong historikal-materyalistiko ni Max Raphael50 na diyalektikal, hindi tuwiran, ang pagsulong ng kasaysayan at ang trajektorya ng mapanlikhang dunong ng tao. Bagamat sa analisis nina Marx at Engels hinggil sa “tipikal” na sitwasyon (isang kongkretong yunibersal, susog ni Georg Lukacs [1970]), hindi singkronisado ang katotohanang relatibo sa partikular na bagay at ang absolutong katotohanan na sumasaklaw sa malawak na bahagi ng

49 Morawski, Marx and Engels on Literature and Art, 46.

50 Max Raphael, Proudhon, Marx, Picasso (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1980); naisakatuparan sa mga dula ni Bertolt Brecht.

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E. SAN JUAN 23

kasaysayan. Resulta nga ang sumablay na neoavantgardismo ni Goldsmith51at postmodernistang art-komoditi na inilalako sa Sotheby, Amazon.com, Bloomingdale, at Facebook.

Sa pangwakas, ang lokal na artikulasyon ng postkonseptwalistang proyekto, sa palagay ko, ay nabuhos sa masang pagkilos—demo laban sa kontraktwalisasyon, EJK, drug war, pagbomba sa Lumad, atbp.—maliban sa namumukod na akda ni Angelo Suárez, Philippine English.52 Gayunpaman, hindi masasagkaan ang daluyong ng transpormasyong lumalaganap, sa ekonomya, politika, kultura. Maaring walang katubusan sa ating panahon. Paurong ang ibang saray, pasulong ang iba—sa magulong prosesong umaandar, ang triyadikong elemento ng realidad, senyas/signifier, atinterpretant (signified) na bumubuo ng kahulugan sa komunikasyon (ayon sa semiotika ni Peirce53), ay muli’t muling magbabanyuhay at magdudulot ng panibagong pagkilala sa praktika ng sining katugma sa bagong sitwasyon ng buhay. Kasaysayan at kolektibong pagsisikap ng sambayanan ang magtatakda sa direksiyon ng kasalukuyang pakikipagsapalaran at destinasyon sa kinabukasan.

University of Connecticut, USA

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China Policy Study Group, 1974).
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the Neo-avant-garde” in Spheres of Action: Art and Politics, ed. by Eric

Alliez and Peter Osborne (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013). Wilkinson, Alec, “Something Borrowed,” The New Yorker (7 October 2015),

<https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/07/something-

borrowed-wilkinson>.
Zafra, Galileo, ed., Mga Lektura sa Kasaysayan ng Panitikan (Metro Manila:

Aklat ng Bayan, 2013).

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© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

Sining Konseptwal/Post-konseptwal–Kritika ni E. San Juan, Jr.


KRITIKE VOLUME THIRTEEN NUMBER ONE (JUNE 2019) 1-26Featured Essay

Sining-Konseptwal, Panitikang Post-Konseptwal: Pilosopiya at Politika ng Postmodernong Sining

Epifanio San Juan, Jr.

Abstract: Controversies regarding conceptual art and post-conceptual practices are central to the understanding of cultural trends in globalization. The case of post-conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith illustrates the various ramifications of this development. The essay introduces this aesthetic field into Filipino Studies, exploring local commentaries and examples.

Keywords: Goldsmith, sining-konseptwal, post-konseptwal, postmodernismo

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

—Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks

The class struggle, which is always present to a historian influenced by Marx, is a fight for the crude and material things without which no refined and spiritual things could exist …. There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.

—Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History

Malubhang sitwasyon ng kulturang kontemporaryo—sintomas ng masahol na kondisyon ng kabuhayan sa Pilipinas. Bagamat maitatambuli na tayo’y nakarating na sa saray ng mga modernisadong kalinangan sa panahon ng globalisasyon at paghahari ng neoliberlismong kapital, nakalubog pa rin tayo sa piyudal at neokolonisadong kumunoy, Hindi lamang ito totoo sa ekonomiya at pulitika. Kaagapay rin ang pagkabimbin sa lumang tradisyon ng burgesiyang pananaw, kaakibat ng mapagsunurang gawing minana sa kolonyalismong Espanyol. Magkatuwang ang pagkakulong sa lumang pananampalataya— utos/ritwal ng simbahang Katoliko ang nananaig—at indibidwalistikong asta at malig ng pagkilos. Hindi ko tinutukoy ang atrasadong teknolohiya kundi

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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ang inaaliping mentalidad/saloobin ng mga mamamayan sa neokolonyang sinakop dito sa Timog-Silangang Asiya.

Mapanghamong tanong: maaari kayang malunasan ang di-pantay na pagsulong kung babaguhin natin ang kamalayan? O lagi ba itong tagasunod lamang sa ekonomiyang pagbabago, ayon sa nakasanayang modelo ng “base/superstructure”? Idinaramay ko rito hindi lamang mga alagad-ng- sining at intelihensiya kundi lahat ng mamamayang nag-aangkin ng budhi at pintig ng pagkalinga sa kapwa-tao.1

Subukan nating ipanukala ang pag-aaral at paghalaw ng ilang leksiyon sa konseptwalisting kaisipan na sumibol sa Kanluran noong dekada 1960 at 1970, hanggang sa postkonseptwalistang epokang isinaad ni Peter Osborne sa kanyang The Postconceptual Condition (2018). Ang mga pagbabagong naganap matapos ang Digmaang Pandaigdig II (WW II) ay kaalinsabay ng mga kilusang Civil Rights, anti-Vietnam War, at pakikibaka ng mga kabataan at kababaihan na sumukdol sa Paris 1968 rebelyon. Sumiklab rin ang anti-imperyalistang giyera sa Aprika, Palestine, at Latino- Amerika (Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada), at sa Pilipinas sa paglunsad ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan at paghuhunos ng Partido Komunista sa ilalim ng Kaisipang Mao Tsetung. Hindi maihihiwalay ang materyalistikong basehan ng mga pulitiko-ideolohiyang pagsulong na taglay ang diyalektikang (hindi tuwirang) pagtutugma. Gayunman, dapat isaloob na masalimuot ang ugnayan ng mga elemento sa totalidad ng anumang politiko-ekonomiyang pormasyon.

Krisis ng Sistema, Sigalot sa Kaluluwa

Pangunahing nawasak ang banghay ng modernisasyong sekular (alyas kapitalismong pampinansiyal). Isiniwalat ng 1917 Bolshevik Revolution ang di-mapipigilang pagbulusok ng kapitalismo- imperyalismong orden. Lumala ang krisis nito sa 1929 Wall Street bagsak, at pagkatapos ng WW II, ang pagtamo ng kasarinlan ng dating kolonisadong bayan, pati na Vietnam at Cuba. Nabuwag ang naratibo ng walang-taning na pag-unlad ng kapitalismong naka-sentro sa kompetisyon ng bawat indibidwal, sa walang patid na akumulasyon ng tubo (surplus-value) at dominasyon ng Kalikasan. Kaagapay nito ang pagtakwil sa ilang paniniwalang aksyomatiko sa larang ng sining, tulad ng: 1) Isang tiyak na hiyerarkya ng kahalagahan nakabatay sa isang matatag na kaayusang global; 2) dogma na nakasalig ang sining sa pagsalamin/pagkopya sa realidad; 3) pag-aari ng artista/manlilikha ang isang galing/birtud, talino at kasanayang

1 E. San Juan, Lupang Hinirang, Lupang Tinubuan (Manila: De la Salle University Publishing House, 2016).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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inaruga sa disiplinang personal; 4) namumukod ang artistang henyo, kaakuhang taglay ang mahiwaga’t banal na imahinasyon/dunong; 5) ang diskurso sa sining ay nakasalig sa tatlong kategoryang magkalangkap: artista, likhang-sining, awdiyens.

Sa kanluran, ang paglunsad ng kilusang avant-garde laban sa modernismo (binansagang postmodernismo, dekonstruksiyon, poststrukturalismo) ay tumingkad sa taong 1966–1972. Panahon ng “dematerialization of the art object,” hinalinhan ang romantikong aura/fetish ng obra-maestra (mula Michelangelo hanggang Cezanne, Picasso, Pollock) ng idea/information art, sa kalaunan, conceptual art. Naging isang tipo ng art- labor ang pagmumuni o pagninilay na inilaan sa interogasyon ng problema ng sining.2

Kung tutuusin, ang kaisipang tinutukoy ay pagsisiyasat at pag- analisa sa kondisyon, haka-haka, pala-palagay, prehuwisyo na namamahala sa pagyari, sirkulasyon at pagpapahalaga sa sining. Mithiin nito ang buwagin ang modernismong pangitain (Weltanschauung) katalik ng burgesyang ideolohiya’t ekonomyang pampolitika. Kalakip ng burgesyang modernidad ang malubhang alyenasyon at reipikasyong bunga ng pagsikil sa uring manggagawa at pagsasamantala sa mayorya. Adhikain nitong wasakin ang hangganang humahati sa araw-araw na ordinaryong buhay at katas-diwa ng sagradong sining—ang pinakabuod na hangarin ng makaproletaryongavantgarde sa kasaysayan. Huwag kalimutan na mayroon ding reaksyonaryo’t pasistang avant-garde (Marinetti, Dali), kaya dapat kongkretong analisis sa masalimuot na pagsalikop ng mga puwersa sa iba’t ibang antas ng galaw ng lipunan sa tiyak na yugto, hindi mekanikal na paghimay sa habi ng historya.3

Kongkretong Imbestigasyon sa Milyu

Matutunghayan ang mga paniniwalang nabanggit sa kasalukuyang dominanteng panlasa ngayon. Kalagayang neokolonyal pa rin bagamat nayanig na ang status quo sa 1986 Pebrero, “People Power” rebelyon at masiglang pagbanyuhay ng pambansang-demokratikong pakikibaka. Mistulang hindi naaapekto ng sunod-sunod na krises pampolitika ang mga guwardya ng elitistang istandard. Ihanay natin ang ilang ebidensiyang kalunos-lunos.

2 Michael Corris, “Black and White Debates,” in Corrected Slogans, ed. by Lucy Ives and Alexander Provan (Brooklyn: Triple Canopy, 2013).

3 Stefan Morawski, “Introduction,” in Marx and Engels on Literature and Art (St. Louis, MO: Telos Press, 1973).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Sa pambungad ni Virgilio Almario sa kanyang Hiyas ng Tulang Tagalog, inatupag lamang ang kaibahan ng tema o paksang naghihiwalay kina Teo Baylen at Amado Hernandez, walang puna sa tunggalian ng mga puwersang historikal. Makitid at mababaw rin ang makasektaryang pagwari sa tatak modernismo dahil gumagamit ng “malayang taludturan … at kaisipang pribado’t indibidwalista.”4 Sa kabilang dako, ayon kay Rene Villanueva, ang dula “ay laging nagtatangkang isaayos ang isang tiyak na karanasan upang mapaghanguan ng manonood o mambabasa ng mga pananaw tungkol sa buhay.”5 Lumalayo sa moralistikong tingin ni Villanueva si Gary Devilles sa pinamatnugutan niyang antolohiya, Pasakalye.Mapagwawari na ang talinghaga ng paglalakbay, punto at kontrapunto, ay liberalismong pagsukat sa “muhon ng panitikan” na hindi maikukulong sa simbolo ng transportasyon o hulagway hango sa teknolohiya.

Hindi pa tumatalab ang kuro-kurong radikal ng mga Minimalista’t konseptwalista.

Isang parikala na masisinag natin ang estetika ng mga sinaunang pantas (tulad nina Inigo Regalado, Lope K. Santos, Julian Cruz Balmaseda6na hango sa klasikong modelo nina Aristotle at Horace sa militanteng panunuri ni Bienvenido Lumbera. Sinuyod ni Lumbera ang pagsulong ng kritisismo mula sa pormalistikong pananaw hanggang sa realismong sosyal. Itinakwil na ang tradisyonal na pamantayan ng “ganda,” “lalim” o “kinis,” subalit kay Lumbera, mas importante ang “bisa” ng pagpapahayag o pagpapadama, “pagtatampok sa nilalaman,”7 na di tinitiyak kung sa anong layon o adhika nakatutok ang bisa, at kung anong kontekstong historikal nakaangkla ang nilalaman. Sina Isagani Cruz at Soledad Reyes ay nagpatuloy sa kanilang empirisistikong talaan ng mga awtor na marunong makibagay sa kalakaran, tulad nina Nemesio Caravana at A.C. Fabian na batid “kung paano pawiwilihin ang mga taong basahin ang kanilang mga akda.”8 Lahat ng nabanggit na opinyon ay nakasandig pa rin sa lumang tatsulok ng artista, likhang-sining, awdiyens—ang padron ng aprubadong panulat.

4 Virgilio Almario, ed., Hiyas ng Tulang Tagalog (Metro Manila: Aklat ng Bayan, 2015), xxv.

5 Rene Villanueva, “Ang Dula: Introduksiyon,” in Paano Magbasa ng Panitikang Filipino: Mga Babasahing Pangkolehiyo, ed. by Bienvenido Lumbera, Joi Barrios, Rolando Tolentino, and Rene Villanueva (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2000), 103.

6 Galileo Zafra, ed., Mga Lektura sa Kasaysayan ng Panitikan (Metro Manila: Aklat ng Bayan, 2013).

7 Bienvenido Lumbera, Suri (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2017),

36.
8 Isagani Cruz and Soledad Reyes, eds., Ang Ating Panitikan. (Manila: Goodwill

Trading Co., 1984), 258.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Oryentasyong Pangkasaysayan

Uminog at umalimbukay ang kosmos ng diskursong mapanuri sa epoka ng neoliberalisasyon. Pagkaraang lagumin ang tradisyonal na konsensus tungkol sa mga katangian ng likhang-sining, kuro-kuro ni Stefan Morawski na hindi esensyal na sangkap ang ekspresyon, techne, at porma: “Conceptualism is but the final step on the journey ‘beyond’ art”9—ibig sabihin, iyong tipong nakagawian. Ilang bagong pangyayari ang “theatricalization” sa sining, ang ritwalistikong paglalaro sa “performance art,” collage sa pelikula (Godard) at musika (Stockhausen). Salungat naman ang dulang walang dulaan nina Jean Genet at Beckett, sampu ng mga nobela nina Robbe-Grillet, Butor, Calvino, Garcia Marquez—ang estruktura nito ay bunga ng partisipasyon ng mambabasa o nanonood.

Tigmak ng ikonoklastikong hakbang ang postmodernistang improbisasyon. Dito lumantad na ang politika ng distribusyon ng “sensibles,” dalumat at danas, na tinalakay ni Jacques Ranciere sa The Politics of Aesthetics(2004), ay makatuturan pa rin bagamat ang tuon ng pansin ay nailipat sa yugto ng kaisipang humihikayat at umaantig patungong praktika/aksyon.

Umabot na tayo sa nagpagkasunduang punto. Ang prinsipyong umuugit sa bisa ng representasyon sa iba’t ibang midya at sa nakasentrong- sabject sa rason/katwiran ay inusig, nilitis, at hinatulang walang silbi sa pagpapaliwanag sa krisis ng modernismo. Hindi lumaganap ito. Nakakulong pa rin ang akademikong teksbuk nina P. Flores at Cecilia de la Paz (1997) sa pagdiin sa pormalistikong paradigm kung saan “teknik at imahinasyon” ang nakatampok. Bagamat nakadawit sa panlipunang usapin, mahigpit pa rin ang bigat ng subhetibong pagkiling mula kina Kant kung saan ang hatol- estetika “cannot be other than subjective.”10 Napapanahon na ang paghuhunos. Kailangang sariwain ang kamalayang pangkasaysayan upang matalikuran ang dogmatikong ugali ng sistemang umuugit sa paninindigang makasarili at pananalig sa batas ng negosyo’t pamilihan.

Simula pa ng kilusang Dada, suryalismo, Constructivism, Cubismo, hanggang Pop Art, Fluxus (kabilang na si Yoko Ono) at Minimalism, unti- unting naagnas ang pagtitiwala sa isang ordeng matiwasay kahit nambubusabos. Sumalisi ang udyok ng aksidente at pagbabakasakali kaakibat ng anarkiya ng walang regulasyon sa kalakal. Sumaksi ang pagtutol sa estetisismo at komoditi-petisismo nina Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg,

9 Stefan Morawski, Inquiries into the Fundamentals of Aesthetics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1974), 120.

10 Immanuel Kant, Analytic of the Beautiful, trans. by Walter Cerf (New York: The Bobbs- Merrill Co., 1969), 4. Tingnan din Collingwood, R.G., “The Expression of Emotion,” in The Problems of Aesthetics, ed. by Eliseo Vivas and Murray Krieger (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1953).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

E. SAN JUAN 5

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atbp. Ibinasura na ang prinsipyong expresyonista nina Bosanquet at Croce mula pa nang ipanukala nina Walter Benjamin at Lewis Mumford (circa 1930) ang mapanghamong kalidad ng makina sa reproduksiyon ng art-object. Pinagtibay din ng mga saliksik hinggil sa sining ng Silangan at primitibong kabihasnan na kailangan lamang ng ulirang halimbawa, huwarang balangkas at panuntunan upang makayari ng artipak/bagay na makasasapat sa depinisyong napagkasunduan hinggil sa likhang-sining.

Argumentong Magkatumbalik

Dumako tayo sandali sa yugto ng Minimalism na tumiwalag sa naghaharing Abstract Expressionism ni Pollock.11 Tanyag na halimbawa ang “Lever” ni Carl Andre, “Series A” ni Sol Lewitt, ang mga “Untitled” nina Robert Morris at Donald Judd, potograpiya ni Dan Graham, atbp. Kalakip ang tendensiyang anti-expressionist, sumubaybay din sila sa konstruktibistang inhinyera ng naunang Bauhaus at Proletkult. Dagling bumulas ang konseptwalismo upang paigtingin ang depersonalisadong padron/paradigma ng konstruktibismo’t mapanirang ugali ng Dada at mapagbirong Fluxus. Hindi nagtagal, isinusog ng konseptwalistang artista na ang kanilang aktibidad/gawa ay isang pagsisiyasat sa magusot at malabong katayuan ng sining. Sumbat nila sa elitistang alipores na humuhubog ng kodigo: wala kayong katuwiran kundi puwersa ng kombensyon at minanang ugali. Tumalikod sila sa palengke/pamilihan at publikong nagumon sa konsumerismo, nakaugat sa hedonismong mapinsala—rahuyong pinakaubod sa pusod ng problematikong pangitaing burgis sa mundo ngayon.

Balangkasin natin ang trajektorya ng konseptwalismo sa apat na bugso ng pakikipagsapalaran nito. Una, pinalawak nito ang aralin hinggil sa kaisahan at materyalidad ng obhetong tinaguriang sining. Karugtong ito ng self-reflexivity ng modernismong pumoproblema’t tumitimbang sa iba’t ibang salik at sangkap ng sining. Pangalawa, tinanggihan nito ang kostumbreng biswal ng praktikang pansining. Isinaisantabi na ang isyu ng midya. Pangatlo, inilapat ang sining sa lugar at konteksto ng pagbilad nito sa publiko. Pang-apat, sinipat ang kalagayan ng uri ng distribusyon at pakikibahagi ng sining sa lipunan—ang usapin ng demokrasya’t pagkakapantay-pantay.

Tunay na masalimuot ang hibla ng pinagbuhatan ng konseptwalismo, pati na ang estratehiyang pagbabago nito. Buhat pa nang itanghal ni Marcel Duchamp ang kanyang urinal at iba pang “ready-made”

11 Tingnan ang Gregory Battcock, Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1968).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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bilang art-object simula 1913, gumana na ang generic modernismong humiwalay sa pribilehiyong midya. Wala nang espesyal na katas-diwang estetiko; impormasyon, dokumentasyon, at iba pang determinadong negasyon ng institusyonalisadong sining ang itinataguyod sa sari-saring praktikang dinudukal sa kasalukuyan. Walang partikular na materyales o pamamaraan ang iniririserba para sa paghubog sa likhang-sining.

Ikintal natin dito ang ilang tagpo sa naratibo ng konseptwalismo. Mag-umpisa muna sa lingguwistikong palitang-kuro nina Joseph Kosuth at ang Art & Language Group sa UK circa 1968–69. Itinakwil nila ang talinong teknikal sa pagyari ng bagay na taglay ang integral na kalidad. Naglaho ang materyal na bagay na nakikita, ang biswal na produkto na nagdulot ng kabuluhan sa pagsasanib ng tiyak at alanganing sangkap nito. Binalewala na ng “ready-made” ni Duchamp ang morpolohiyang artipak nina Cezanne, Manet, atbp. Idiniin ang konsepto ng kahulugang hindi nakaangkla sa reperent. Ang sining ay isang analitikong proposisyon, hindi sintetikong hugot sa karanasan—proklama ni Kosuth. Sa sipat nina Atkinson at Baldwin, ang sining ay pagdeklara ng kontekstong pansining sa metalingwistikang metodolohiya. Sinibak ang pormalismo at kognitibong biswalidad ng tradisyonal na sining, dagling pinalitan ng impormasyon/dokumentasyon at iba pang hulmahang hiram sa pinagtambal na kodigong analog/digital.

Gunitain ang proseso ng reduksiyon o demateryalisasyon ng bagay na binansagang “art-object”12 Tulad nang nabanggit, nailunsad ito sa paglagay sa galerya ng mga bagay na nagsasarili. Pagkatapos, inilapat iyon sa pook o lugar hanggang ito’y mawala. Sa kalaunan, idiniin ang lamang-isip o konsepto sa halip na ituon ang atensiyon sa masasalat na sisidlan na kinaluluklukan ng kahulugan. Hindi pagmasid kundi pagkapa at paghinuha ng kahulugan mula sa anumang bagay na dinanas. Matindi’t mabalasik ang mga argumento sa diskursong metalingwistikal hinggil sa sining; ang gamit sa wika bilang makahulugang materyal/laman ay bininyagang ideya-sining.

Sining Bilang Kabatiran/Wari

Sapagkat laging sinisipi ang dokumentong “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” (1967) ni Sol LeWitt, nais kong talakayin ang ilang tema nito. Kabilang ang mga kagrupong Mel Bochner, Hann Darhoven at iba pa, si LeWitt ay hindi sang-ayon sa “linguistic conceptualism” nina Kosuth at Art & Language. Binura ni LeWitt ang namamatyagang bagay at ibiniling ang sipat sa prosesong konseptwal na kaiba sa expresyonistang atitudo na nakabatay sa anyong biswal. Pinupukaw at inuuntag ang isip, hindi mata, ng

12 Lucy Lippard and John Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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konseptwalistang artista na nakapokus sa ideya/hinagap ng dinamikong makinang yumayari ng sining. Lahat ng pagpapasiya tungkol sa kung paano lilikhain ang bagay ay naisakatuparan na sa proseso ng pag-iisip/pagninilay. Hindi na kailangan ang intuwisyon o pangangatwiran dahil nailatag na ang lohikang susundin, ang tinaguriang “OS” (Operating System).

Sa iskemang apriori, wala nang papel na gaganapin ang henyong indibidwal, ang saloobing personal, na dinakila ng mga romantikong pilosopo (Coleridge, Goethe, Schiller, Croce). Pahayag ni LeWitt: “To work with a plan that is pre-set is one way of avoiding subjectivity … The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product …. Those that show the thought-process of the artist are sometimes more interesting than the finished product.”13 Napalitan ang kamalayang interyor ng prosesong mala- matematika na gumitaw sa ulirat, may angking lohikang nag-uudyok sa mambabasa o nanonood na lumahok sa pabrikasyon ng danas.

Sa pagkilatis ni Fredric Jameson, ang espasyo/lunan ang importante sa konseptwalistang kadalubhasaan:

Conceptual art may be described as a Kantian procedure whereby, on the occasion of what first seems to be an encounter with a work of art of some kind, the categories of the mind itself—normally, not conscious, and inaccessible to any direct representation or to any thematizable self-consciousness or reflexibility—are flexed, their structuring presence now felt laterally by the viewer like musculature or nerves of which we normally remain insensible, in the form of those peculiar mental experiences Lyotard terms paralogisms.14

Pakiwari ko’y mali ang positibistikong akala ni Jameson. Limitado ni Kant ang ideya sa palapag na penomenal, kaya di makaakyat sa kongkretong yunibersal ng sining. Dapat intindihin na hindi ang anatomya o biyolohiya ng utak ang nakataya rito kundi ang proseso ng hinuha (inference) na mahuhugot sa nailahad na direksiyon/instruksiyon ng artista.

Pagkawala ng rasyonalistikong sabjek/awtor, sumupling ang depersonalisadong sining sa danas at panlasa ng nakararaming tao. Malaya na ang sinumang nais magpahalaga at magpakahulugan sa anumang bagay o pangyayari na pwedeng kabitan ng etiketa, “sining ito.”

13 Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,”in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 13-14. Sa paksang ito, knsultahin din ang kuro-kuro ni Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All. New York: Verso, 2013).

14 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 157.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Dalawang halimbawa ang maiuulat dito. Sa Following Piece (1969) ni Vito Acconci, yumari ng isang listahang naglalarawan ng publikong pagsubaybay ng isang taga-lungsod sa sinuman hanggang makarating ito sa kanilang destinasyon. Tila prinsipyong apriori ang metodo ng pagsunod sa isang iskema kasangkot ang katawan ng artista ay tuwirang notasyon ng ilang insidente. Walang naratibo, komposisyon, o pagpapasiya ng saloobin ang mamamalas dito. Sinuman na nasa lungsod ay makagaganap ng papel ng artista kung susundin ang tagubilin at panutong nailahad.

Isa pang makatuturang dating ng konseptwalistang paraan ay mamamasid sa demokratikong pagpapalaganap ng sining sa nakararaming tao, sa pagbuo nito at pagtanggap ninuman. Mapapatunayan ito sa sining ni Lawrence Weiner. Sa halip na lumikha ng mararamdamang bagay, pinahayag lamang niya ang impormasyon tungkol sa sining na aayusin. Matris ng proyekto ang mga pangungusap niya na nagtatakda ng estrukturang materyal at metodo ng paggawa. Halimbawa, “One hole in the ground Approximately 1’ x 1’ x 1’ One Gallon Water-based White Paint Poured into this Hole.” Ginamit ang pandiwaring pasado sa patalastas upang ipahiwatig ang pagkatiyak ng paglalarawan at posibilidad ng pagsasakatuparan nito sa hinaharap. Ang serye ng mga ginawa ni Weiner sa Statements (1968) ay siya mismong nakadispley na sining sa exibisyon. Kahalintulad nito ang mga avant-garde iskor, “Three Aqueous Events” (1961) sa musika ni George Brecht ng Fluxus (tungkol sa Le Magasin de Ben ni Ben Vautier, tingnan si Kearney [1988]), o mga notasyon sa musika ni John Cage. Kahawig din ang mga iniulat na “happenings” ni Yoko Ono sa Grapefruit, pinaka-pioneer ng sining- konseptwal—kasabay sa pag-unawa sa patalastas o habilin ang performans/pagsasadula nito.

Kahit tagubilin pasalita, o kilos na inirekord sa dokumento, ang naisagawa ay isang kawing lamang sa isang mahabang kadenang metonimiko. Dapat unawain ang sinkroniko’t diyakronikong galaw hitik ng indeks-senyas at sagisag. Kasangkot doon ang komunikasyong oral, ang inilathalang instruksiyon, ang proseso ng paglabas ng deklarasyon, ang kinahinatnan, ang dokumentasyong potograpiko, atbp. Sa maikling salita, iba’t ibang anyo o hugis pisikal ang maaaring manipestasyon ng konsepto. Nararapat ikabit dito ang kasaysayan ng sining, hindi estetikang ideyalistiko ni Kant o Lyotard. Pagnilayin ang matatag na “declaration of intent” ni Weiner na modipikasyon ng simulaing ipinahayag ni LeWitt:

  1. The artist may construct the piece
  2. The piece may be fabricated
  3. The piece need not be built

    © 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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10 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.15

Simbiyotika ng Teorya at Praktika

Higit na radikal kaysa kina Kosuth at Lewitt ang panukala ni Weiner. Bukod sa pagbaklas sa mito ng paglikhang depende sa awtoridad ng awtor/artistang bukal ng orihinalidad, ang pagkasangkot ng awdiyens, ang demokratikong paglahok ng tumatanggap/nakatanggap ng sining, ay nakabuwag sa tradisyonal na pananaw. Lumalim at tumalas ito sa sumunod na uri ng konseptwalismo nina Daniel Buren, Hans Haacke, Marcel Broodthaers. Pinuntirya nila ang kondisyong ideolohikal ng institusyong pansining (museo, galerya, midyang sosyal), ang mga regulasyon at batas, ang kanonisadong doktrinang upisyal na nagpapasiya kung anong bagay ang ituturing na sining. Halimbawa, sa Gallery-Visitors-Profile, isiniwalat ni Haacke ang sistemang nagtatakda kung ano ang kahulugan at kabuluhan ng bagay na tinaguriang likhang-sining.16

Alalahanin na iba ang sitwasyon ng Global South sa Global North. Asymetrikal ang tayo ng neokolonyang Pilipinas kumpara sa industriyalisadong Europa o Norte Amerika. Sa Latino-Amerika, iniangkop ang “Media Art” sa krisis ng lipunan. Halimbawa, ang Grupo de Artistas de Vanguardia sa Argentina ang nagpropaganda sa “Nasusunog ang Tucuman,” kung saan ang pagtipon ng impormasyon at pagpapalaganap nito sa midya (tungkol sa panunupil at pagsikil sa mga taga-Tucuman) ay magkabuklod na praktika sa sining at politika. Ibinunyag nila ang kasinungalin ng Estado. Isinakdal ang institusyon ng pag-aaring indibidwal, pati na ang ilusyon ng aliw at kariktan mula sa pambihirang art-object. Pwedeng gawing modelo ang aksyon ng mga aktibista sa Argentina. Ngunit dapat tandaan o isaalang-alang na ang sitwasyon ng neokolonyang Pilipinas ay kaiba sa iba pang bansang hindi sinakop ng imperyalismong U.S. at nagtamasa ng biyaya ng industriyalisasyon at repormang pang-agraryo.

Nang pumasok ang dekada 1970–1980, isinaisantabi na ang linguwistiko-analitikong konseptualismong nauna. Yumabong ang tipo ng postkonseptualismo nina Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Mary Kelley, at iba pa, na nagproblema sa palasak na pormalistikong relasyon ng imahen/wika/suhetibidad. Pinuna sila ng grupo nina Martha Roseler, Alan Sekula, atbp. Ipinaliwanag ng huli na ang ideolohiyang identidad ay hindi hiwalay sa lenggwaheng ginagamit. Kaya kung natanggal man ang ahensiya

15 Sinipi ni Alberro sa Alexander Alberro, “Reconsidering Conceptual Art, 1966-1977,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), xxii.

16 Tony Godfrey, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon Press, 1998).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 11

o kalooban ng ulilang artistang nasukol ng puwersa ng kapaligiran at nabalaho sa bangin ng “art-for-art’s sake,” pwede pa ring bumuo ng estratehiya ng interbensiyon.

Bukod sa masidhing performans ni Adrian Piper na nakasentro sa sabwatang rasismo/machismo sa Norte Amerika’t Europa, magandang halimbawa ang “The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems” (1974) ni Martha Rosler. Maimpluwensiya pa rin ang reduktibismo’t reflexibidad-sa- sarili, mabisa pa rin ang “ready-made” sa Pop Art at Minimalism. Ngunit ang pangunahing tagumpay ng konseptwalismo, sa pangkalahatan, ay naisuma ng dalubhasang Benjamin Buchloch17 sa kritika ng institusyon, ang demistipikasyon ng burgesyang pananaw tungkol sa midya, impormasyon, publisidad, at sining. Anumang sitwasyon ay tigib ng sapin-saping kontradiksyong nagsisilbing motor sa pagsulong ng kasaysayan.

Pagbuno sa Palaisipan & Suliranin

Sa pagbabalik-tanaw sa kasaysayan ng konseptwalismo sa sining, idiniin ni Craig Dworkin, na impresario ng konseptwalistang panulat, ang pagpanaw ng awtor, ang imbentor ng orihinal na likhang-sining (naibalita na nina Roland Barthes at Michel Foucault ang pagkamatay ng awtor). Naipasinaya ng pagburol ng malikhaing awtor ang pagsilang ng “uncreative writing” sa bagong milenyo, sa epoka ng “War on Terrorism” pagkaraan ng pagsabog ng Twin Tower sa New York, USA, noong ika-11 Setyembre 2001.

Sa gayon, nararapat iangkop ang tendensiya ng panulat sa daloy ng kapaligiran. Halaw sa eksperimentasyon sa wika nina Dan Graham, Mel Ramsden, Robert Barry at John Baldessari, naisuma ni Dworkin ang ilang katangiang gagabay sa makabagong panulat: hindi na kailangang magsikap tumuklas ng orihinal na gawa. Tratuhin ang wika bilang datang mabibilang, materyal na limbag. Pwedeng kumopya o gumagad ng ibang teksto na magiging iba o bago dahil iba o bago na ang konteksto—isang takdang panahon at lugar—ng artistang sumusunod sa isang procedure o iskema. Kaya ng minakinilya muli ni Kenneth Goldsmith sa kanyang Day ang isang isyu ng New York Times, ang tanskrispyon ay pagsasakatuparan ng kanyang ideya/konsepto ng sining. Kahambing ito ng After Walker Evans ni Sherrie Levine, o ang mga collage Nina Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, atbp.

Appropriation/pag-angkin, pagkumpiska/pang-aagaw, ang namamayaning estilo at modo ng pagkatha ngayon sa literaturang nangunguna. Sa milyung umaapaw ng kompyuter, elektronikong teknolohiya, sumagana’t kumalat ang “remix culture” ng hip-hop, global DJ

17 Benjamin Buchloch, “Conceptual Art 1962-1969: From the Aesthetic of Adminstration to the Critique of Institutions,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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kultura, sampling, mash-up, montage, cut-up, atbp. Ginagagad ng manunulat ang “database logic” ng bagong midya,” ayon kay Dworkin, “wherein the focus is no longer on the production of new material but on the recombination of previously produced and stockpiled data. Conceptual poetry, accordingly, often operates as an interface—returning the answer to a particular query; assembling, rearranging, and displaying information; or sorting and selecting from files of accumulated language according to a certain algorithm.”18 Ayon kay Walter Benjamin, sa reproduksyong mekanikal ng modernong kabihasnan, natanggal ang “aura” sa mga pribadong pag-aaring signos ng pribilehiyo/kapangyarihan, at diumano’y naging demokratiko ang pagtatamasa ng ligayang dulot ng sining.19 Totoo ba ito?

Kung tutuusin, walang panganib o hamong nakasisindak sa status quo ang konseptwalismong lumaganap at hinangaan. Nasaring nga ni Robert Smithson na naging aliporis ng sistemang kapital ang dating avantgarde: ginawa ni Warhol ang kapitalismo bilang isang alamat/mito pagsuob sa “production for production’s sake.”20 Yumaman ang mga artistang dating pariahsa Establisimyento. Samantala, ang “uncreative writing” ni Goldsmith ay nagtamo ng mayamang tagumpay, naging bantog at kinilalang sopistikadong biyaya ng pambihirang moda. Pinarangalan sila. Pihikang panlasa?

Hintay, isang araw, inanyayahan si Goldsmith na bumigkas ng isang tula sa isang program sa Brown University, ang “The Body of Michael Brown,” na dagling naging kontrobersiyal. Hintay muna …. Pinatindi ang reaksyon sa balita na nagbunsod ng umaatikabong tuligsa, pati banta ng pagpatay sa makata. Pakli ni Goldsmith: “There’s been too much pain for many people around this, and I do not want to cause anymore.”21

Sa dagling pagtaya, ang performans ni Goldsmith ay simple lamang. Ito’y pagbasa ng ilang talatang sinipi sa autopsy report ng pulisya ng Ferguson, Missouri, na pumaslang kay Michael Brown, isang 18 taong gulang na Aprikano-Amerikanong lalaki, noong 13 Marso 2014. Pumutok ang maraming demonstrasyon sa buong bansa laban sa awtoridad. Sa itaas ng entablado ng unibersidad pinaskil ang malaking graduation photo ni Brown. Walang emosyon ang pagbasang tumagal ng 30 minutos, walang imik ang nakinig. Pagkaraang kumalat ang balita sa Internet, umarangkada ang

18 Craig Dworkin, “The Fate of Echo,” in Against Expression, ed. by C. Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2011), xlii.

19 Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” inIlluminations, trans. by Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 2007), 217-251.

20 Robert Smithson, “Production for Production’s Sake,” in Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, ed. by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 285.21 Alison Flood, “US poet defends reading of Michael Brown autopsy report as a poem,” The Guardian (17 March 2015), <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015

/mar/17/michael-brown-autopsy-report-poem-kenneth-goldsmith>.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 13

batikos at tuligsa: “tacky,” “new racist lows,” “white elite institutions pay … another white man holding the corpse of a black child, saying “Look at what I’ve made.”22 Pinag-initan ang Puting pagsamsam sa kahirapan ng mga Itim, ang paghamak at pagkutya sa kamatayan ng isang inosenteng biktima ng marahas na paghahari ng White Supremacy.

Masusing pag-aralan ang matapang at mahayap na komentaryo ni Anne Waldman:

I was not present, but by all reports what we seem to have is a solipsistic clueless bubble of unsupportable ‘art’ attitude and privilege. What was Kenny Goldsmith thinking? That it’s okay to self-appoint and perform the autopsy report of murdered black teenager Michael Brown and mess with the text, and so “own” it and get paid for his services? No empathy no sorrow for the boy, the body, the family, ignorant of the ramifications, deaf ear to the explosive demonstrations and marches? Reeks of expoitation, of the ‘racial imaginary.’ Black Dada Nihilismus is lurking on the lineaments of the appropriated shadow of so much suffering.23

Alingawngaw sa Kaharian ng Arte

Dagling nawala ang pretext ng kontrobersiya. Biglang inurong ni Goldsmith ang tula sa Web, at pinalitan ng isang pagtatanggol (sa Facebook) ng signature estilong pagkopya, pagputol, pagdikit, pag-angkin ng digital text mula sa cyberspace. Ikinatwiran ang ethos ng sampling, reblogging, mimesis, replikasyon, procedure ng pagmanipula, paglilipat at pakikibahagi ng impormasyon na primaryang imbakan ng konseptwalistang panulat. Maingat nating pagliripin ang paliwanag (hindi apologia) ni Goldsmith sa kanyang pagsala, paghimay at pagsasaayos ng isang publikong dokumento na pinamagatang “The Body of Michael Brown”—pinagsamantalahang ipuslit ang autopsy report upang makaani ng pansariling “symbolic capital”:

In the tradition of my previous book Seven American Deaths and Disasters, I took a publicly available document from an American tragedy that was witnessed first-hand (in this case by the doctor performing the autopsy) and simply read it. Like Seven American Deaths, I did not editorialize. I simply read it

22 Ibid.

23 C.A. Conrad, “Kenneth Goldsmith Says He Is an Outlaw,” Poetry Foundation (June 2015), <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2015/06/kenneth-goldsmith-says-he-is-an- outlaw>.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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14 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

without commentary or additional editorializing. Many of you have heard me read from Seven American Deaths. This reading was identical in tone and intention. This, in fact, could have been the eighth American death and disaster. The document I read from is powerful. My reading of it was powerful. How could it be otherwise? Such is my long- standing practice of conceptual writing: like Seven American Deaths, the document speaks for itself in ways that an interpretation cannot. It is a horrific American document, but then again it was a horrific American death.24

Pagtugis sa Katunayan at Kabulaanan

Masinop na imbestigasyon ang kailangan. Kabulaanan ang igiit ni Goldsmith na hindi niya binago ang dokumento. Tandisang litaw na pinili niya, sinipi at niretoke ang ilang detalye ng postmortem examination at ipinasiyang magwakas sa maselang bahagi. Narito ang nakasulat sa report: “Male Genital System: There is foreskin present near the head of the penis. The remaining male genitalia system is unremarkable” (galing sa Office of the Medical Examiner, Dr Gershom; 2014 # 5143). Bakit dito piniling huminto ang akda ni Goldsmith?

Bukod sa pihikang komentaryong inilagay ni Goldsmith sa Facebook, ang pagbigkas noon ng isang puting Amerikano, sa kontekstong wala pang napagkasunduang pagsisiyasat at paglilitis kung makatarungan ang pagpaslang sa kanya, ay mapupuna. Lumalabas na editorializing at panghihimasok ang ginawa. Ipinasiya ni Goldsmith na idaos ang teatro niya sa Brown University, isang ivy-league na institusyon na dating pasimuno’t yumaman sa tubo ng kalakal ng mga esklabong Aprikano noong siglo 1700– 1800. Batid din ni Goldsmith na magulo’t matinik pa ang usapin tungkol sa karahasan ng pulisya—hindi maiwawaglit ang kontekstong ito, na sa tahasang asersyon ni Goldsmith, ay personal na pag-ani ng “cultural capital.”25. Tunay na hindi makatotohanan ang pangangatwiran ni Goldsmith. Maiging suriin ang dugtong niya (mula sa kanyang Facebook post):

I altered the text for poetic effect. I translated into plain English many obscure medical terms that would have stopped the flow of the text; I narrativized it in ways that made the text

24 Flood, “US poet defends reading of Michael Brown autopsy report as a poem.”

25 Kenneth Goldsmith, “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” Against Expression, ed. by C. Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2011), xviii.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 15

less didactic and more literary. I indeed stated at the beginning of my reading that this was a poem called “The Body of Michael Brown”: I never stated, “I am going to read the autopsy report of Michael Brown.” But then again, this is what I did in Seven Deaths and Disasters. I always massage dry texts to transform them into literature, for that is what they are when I read them. That said, I didn’t add or alter a single word or sentiment that did not preexist in the original text, for to do so would be to go against my nearly three decades’ practice of conceptual writing, one that states that a writer need not write any new texts but rather reframe those that already exist in the world to greater effect than any subjective interpretation could lend. Perhaps people feel uncomfortable with my uncreative writing, but for me, this is the writing that is able to tell the truth in the strongest and clearest was possible.

Ecce homo. Behold the man.

Walang pasubali, hindi ito salitang humihingi ng paumanhin. Sa katunayan, isang rasyonalisasyon ito sa pagtatanggol sa kanyang tipo ng panulat. Samakatwid, ang “reframing” o pagmasahe sa dokumento ni Goldsmith ang nakataya rito. Sa malas, talaga bang na-defamiliarize ang Estadong rasista’t pasista, ang layunin ng makata na ipahayag ang katotohanan sa pinakamabisang paraan?

Umuukilkil ang ilang tanong hinggil sa dating, sa impak ng impormasyong naipaabot. Binago niya, amin ng makata, upang magkaroon ng bisang matulain. Anong kahulugan o kabuluhan ng estetikang naipahatid nito? Ito ba ang birtud ng pagkamakatotohanan ng konseptwalismo? Katunayan ba kaninuman, sa lahat ng oras, saanmang lugar? Anong damdamin, atitudo, saloobin, ang inaadhika ng “unoriginal genius” ng makata? Kung ilalapat natin ang haka o hinuha nina Vanessa Place at Robert Fitterman na “Conceptual writing is allegorical writing,”26 anong klaseng mensaheng literal at matalinghaga ang isinadula ni Goldsmith sa pagkasangkapan niya ng postmortem report—barokong alegorya, hybrid simulacra, o tusong pagkukunwari?

Sa anu’t anoman, mahirap maipaghiwalay ang interogasyong pang- estetika sa politikal, etikal at moral na suliraning bumabagabag sa publikong konsiyensiya.

26 Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman, Notes on Conceptualisms (New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), 13.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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Diskurso ng Pagkilala o Pagwalang-pansin

Tulad ng nabanggit na, binatikos si Goldsmith, ang poet laureate ng Museum of Modern Art, ng maraming kolega at manunulat sa website ng Poetry Foundation.27 at iba pang lugar sa Internet at lathalain. Sa marahas na bintang na ang akda ni Goldsmith ay dokumento ng “white supremacy poetics,” kung saan naroon ang “white power dissecting colored body,” sulyapan ang website ng “Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo”: “The murdered body of Mike Brown’s medical report is not our poetry, it’s the building blocks of white supremacy, a miscreant DNA infecting everyone in the world. We refuse to let it be made literary.” 28

Kaunting repaso. Magsimula muli tayo sa pagtutugma ng sining at situwasyon ng mundo, ang yugto ng krisis ng kapitalismong global/neoliberal. Masahol ang kalagayan ng mga taong-may-kulay, lalo na ang Aprikano-Amerikano sa mga nabubulok na urbanidad ng pasistang U.S. Mapanganib na rin ang lagay ng petiburgesyang edukado; walang trabaho karamihan ng graduweyt sa humanidades, sampu ng mga manunulat-artista, atbp. Ginagamit ang sining bilang investment, tulad ng pagtitinda ng mga likha nina Warhol, Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter sa Sotheby at iba pang organo ng komodipikasyon. Hinirang na propesor sa University of Pennsylvania, si Goldsmith ay isa sa mga mapalad na konseptwalistang awtor na kinilala ng Establisimyento (naimbita pa ni dating Pangulong Obama sa White House).

Mapaparatangan bang nagkasala si Goldsmith sa komodipikasyon ng bangkay ni Brown? Nagkasala ba siya sa pagbebenta ng tekstong ninakaw sa Internet, at pagpuslit ng simbolikong kapital bilang “meme macho”?29 Ano ang kahulugan ng pangyayaring ito sa larangan ng politikang digmaan sa U.S. at ligalig na dulot ng krisis internasyonal sa pagtutunggalian ng kapitalistang bansa?

Sa perspektibang historiko-materyalistiko, matatarok na may tatlong panig ang problemang hinarap ni Goldsmith (kahit hindi niya ito dama o alam). Una, ang kontradiksiyon ng pagkatao ng Aprikano-Amerikanong grupo (si Brown ay kinatawan nila) at paglait sa bangkay (“quantified self” ni Brown). Nananaig pa rin ang aparatong ideolohikal ng Estado sa

27 Conrad, “Kenneth Goldsmith Says He Is an Outlaw.”

28 Sinipi ni Wilkinson sa Alec Wilkinson, “Something Borrowed,” The New Yorker (7 October 2015), <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/07/something-borrowed- wilkinson>.

29 Kenneth Goldsmith, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Writing,” University of Buffalo Webpage, <http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/goldsmith/conceptual_paragraphs.html&gt;.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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pagpapanatili ng rasismo/makismo. Pangalawa, sa harap ng dumaragsangmemes, bulto-bultong dami ng datos digital, labis-labis na “disposable data- basing,” blogging, identity ciphering, mabilisang programing, paano maisasaayos ng makata ang kumplikadong penomena upang magkaroon iyon ng halaga sa buhay natin? Pangatlo, paano malulutas ang hidwaang nabanggit kung ang paraang konseptwal ay makina-ng-ideyang walang silbi, hindi utilitaryan, matipid, mahigpit ang paghawak, nais lamang pukawin ang isip, walang balisa sa pagsasakatuparan ng konsepto? Tatlong problemang dapat lutasin upang makahulagpos sa bilanggo ng burgesyang orden.

Sa gitna ng ating pagkalito, iginiit ni Goldsmith: “Arbitrary or chance decisions would be kept to a minimum, while caprice, taste and other whimsies would be eliminated from the making of the text.”30 Sa gayon, hindi awtomatikongcollage, pastiche, o transkripsyon ang ginanap na pagbigkas ni Goldsmith. Tunay na iyon ay interbensiyong marahas, wangis gahasa ng puting lahi sa bangkay ng aliping kulay-itim, tanda ng barbarikong nekropilya. Sa tatlong kontradiksiyong nabanggit, anong pinili’t hinulmang paraan ang sinubok ng awtor sa paglutas ng inilatag na suliranin?

Totoong hindi niyutral o walang pakialam ang manunulat sa paraan at estilo ng paglalahad. Puna ni Marjorie Perloff, masinop si Goldsmith (tulad ni Duchamp) sa paghakot at pagsasalansan ng inilipat na tekso sa kanyangTraffic: “What Goldsmith wants us to see is what the world we live in is actually like.”31 Bilang isang pormang ideolohikal, nakapaloob sa kathang binigkas ni Goldsmith ang paglalarawan ng lohika ng rasistang lipunan bilang oposisyon ng kantidad (abstraktong pagkilatis sa bangkay ni Brown gawa ng Estado) versus makataong pagtransporma ni Goldsmith sa paraan ng satirikong pagmasahe sa autopsy report. Samakatwid, lumabag siya sa mungkahi ng kasamang Dworkin na ang konseptwalisting bricolage ay nakapako sa “recontextualizing language in a mode of strict citation.”32

Maselan ang detournement o paghuhugis ng nakumpiskang teksto sa Internet. Hindi naiba ng “reframing” ang konteksto ng diskursong kumbensyonal. Nakapokus din sa reduksiyon ng liping Aprikano sa sukat ng genitalia, kaya ipinabulaanan ni Goldsmith ang stereotype sa pagwakas ng kanyang pag-ilit sa medikong ulat na normal lamang ang seks ni Brown— “unremarkable” genitalia.33 Sa mismong pag-uulit ng rasismong kategorya, salungat sa kanyang tangka, dinulutan ng positibong bantas ang gawing rasista: ang tao ay katumbas ng kanyang anatomya/biyolohiya.

30 LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” 13.

31 Perloff, Marjorie, Poetics in a New Key: Interviews and Essays (Manila: De La Salle University Publishing House, 2013), 160.

32 Craig Dworkin, “The Fate of Echo,” xlvii.33 Wilkinson, “Something Borrowed.”

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18 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

Subersiyong Radikal o Kompromisong Liberal?

Kakatwa ang kinalabasan sa ronda ng impormasyong kumalat. Sa kumpas ng diumano’y pagdaramay ni Goldsmith sa trahedyang pagkabaril sa inosenteng sibilyan, nabigyang-buhay rin ang liberalismong ideolohiya ng burgesyang uri—isang ironikal na pagbalikwas ng balak, parikalang di tangka. Ipinagtibay ang teorya nina Balibar at Macherey na ang literatura ay “imaginary solution of ideological contradictions.”34 Nadulutan ni Goldsmith ng isang tanghalan, mise en scene, ang di-malulutas na kontradisiyon ng burgesyang lipunan sa paraang huwad: ang rasismo ay bunga lamang ng teknolohiya/abstraksyon, na maireresolba sa humanistikong pagtingin kay Brown bilang ordinaryong tao. Mapinsalang ilusyon ito. Alalaong-baga’y hindi kailangan ang transpormasyon ng institusyon, ang di-makatarungang paghahati ng poder at yaman, ng karapatan at katungkulan, sa lipunang naghihiwalay sa mga may-ari ng kapital/produktibong kagamitan at pulubing uri ng mga trabahador, pati gitnang-uring petiburgis. Samakatwid, pinaikot lamang ni Goldsmith ang neokonserbatibong doktrina ng mga panginoon ng sistemang kapitalismong global.

Sa perspektibang ideyalistiko/metapisikal, maituturing na repormista ang prinsipyo ni Goldsmith (sampu nina Dworkin at mga kapanalig) sa pagtutol sa ortodoksiya ng romantiko’t mistikal na pagkilala sa awtor. Ang tipo ng mapanghamig na suhetibidad ay batayan ng burgesya- kapitalistang orden. Makatwiran din ang tatlong negasyon (ng obhetibidad ng likhang-sining, ng midyum biswal, at ng autonomiya ng art-object) na iniulat ni Osborne.35 Nagbunga iyon ng uri ng sining/panitikan na gumagamit o kumakasangkapan sa umiiral na diskurso/teksto sa midya upang mabago ang mga institusyong pang-araw-araw. Kabilang si Goldsmith sa pag-repunksiyon at sirkulasyon ng normatibong doxa tungkol sa identidad at karapatang pantao na masasagap sa cyberspace.

Ngunit, sanhi sa limitadong kaalaman, natigil doon sa produksiyon para sa sariling kapakanan. Nasaksihan ang kaunting “defamiliarization,” birtud ng mapanghimagsik na kritika, pero walang pagtakwil sa institusyon at estrukturang pampolitika. Walang pasubaling may simpatiya si Goldsmith sa protesta ng mga biktima ng karahasan ng pulisya. Ngunit hindi magkapareho ang sinulat na preskripyon at ang aktwal na pagsasagawa nito. Hindi nagampanan ni Goldsmith ang tungkuling isinabalikat nina Rosler, Haacke, at iba pang sumuri, gumalugad, at kumilatis sa di-makatarungang

34 Etienne Balibar and Pierre Macherey, “On Literature as an Ideological Form,” inMarxist Literary Theory, ed. by Terry Eagleton and Drew Milne (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996),

285.
35 Peter Osborne, Conceptual Art (New York: Phaidon Press, 2002), 18.

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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E. SAN JUAN 19

relasyon ng kapangyarihang nakapaloob sa sistema ng institusyong nangangasiwa’t kumokontrol sa sining/panitikan, sa buong aparato ng kultura/ideolohiya. Naibunyag na ni Charles Harrison ang “utopian fantasy”36ng rebolusyonaryong programa ng avantgarde kilusan na nagsimula pa kina Andre Breton, Duchamp, Mondrian, Joseph Beuys, Minimalism, Fluxus, hanggang kina Adrian Piper, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, atbp.

Mapanganib na suliranin ang pagkaligta sa mediyasyong diyalektikal ng gawaing manwal at intelektwal. Walang direktong korespondensiya ang transpormasyon sa literatura at sa ekonomyang pampulitika. Maisusulit dito na ang malaking kamalian nina Dworkin at Goldsmith, pati na rin ang kanilang taga-suportang si Marjorie Perloff, ay walang pakundangang pananatili sa burgesyang kuwadrong humahatol: ang awtor bilang “unoriginal genius,” at wika/diskursong kumbensyonal bilang niyutral o sariwang salik/sangkap na maihuhugis sa anumang direksiyon, di alintana ang nagtatakdang kasaysaya’t ideolohiyang nakabuklod doon.

Bukod dito, partikular din na hindi iniuugnay ng konseptwalismong aprubado ang institusyon ng museo, galerya, mass media, at akademyang makapangyarihan sa pagtakda ng paghahati ng lakas-paggawa ayon sa means-ends rasyonalidad ng burgesyan orden. Ito nga ang dahilan ng bangguwardyang pagsisikap na siya ring nagtutulak sa konseptwalistang eksperimento.37 Sa kabilang dako, maihahalintulad ang transisyonal na katangian ng kalakarang ito sa trahedyang Griyego na, sa loob ng reaksyonaryong porma, sinikap nina Aeschylus, Sophocles, at Euripedes na ipasok doon ang pinakarasyonal, demokratiko’t materyalistikong paninindigan ng progresibong uri ng panahong iyon.38 Masinop na pagliripin ang diyalektikang pagsusulit na matutuklasan sa mga nobela nina Lope K. Santos, Faustino Aguilar, Amado Hernandez, Lazaro Francisco, Efren Abueg, Lualhati Bautista, Jun Cruz Reyes, atbp.39

Tungo sa Palatuntunan ng Pananagutan

Siyasatin natin ang ibang semiotika bukod kay Saussure at mga dekonstruksyonista. Ang malaking pagkukulang ng kritikang institusyonal ay isang bagay na mapupunan kung susundin ang pragmatikong tagubilin ni Charles Peirce hinggil sa kahulugan ng konsepto/ideya:

36 Charles Harrison, Conceptual Art and Painting (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 38.

37 Peter Burger, “Theory of the Avant-garde and Critical Literary Science,” inContemporary Marxist Literary Criticism, ed. by Francis Mulhern. (London: Longman, 1992).

38 Tingnan ang George Thomson, The Human Essence: The Sources of Science and Art(London: China Policy Study Group, 1974), 88-100.

39 E. San Juan, Himagsik: Pakikibaka Tungo sa Mapagpalayang Kultura (Manila: De La Salle University Press, 2004).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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20 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

a conception, that is, the rational purport of a word or other expression, lies exclusively in its conceivable bearing upon the conduct of life; so that, since obviously nothing that might not result from experiment can have any direct bearing upon conduct, if one can define accurately all the conceivable experimental phenomena that the affirmation or denial of a concept could imply, one will have therein a complete definition of the concept.40

Ipinag-uugnay nito ang teorya at praktika, udyok na pumapatnubay din sa avantgardistang awtor. Nakaugat din ito sa paniwalang ang sining na buod ng mapanlikhang simbuyo’t kakayahan ng tao ay hindi mauunawaan sa pagkahumaling sa intuwisyon, bisyon, organikong porma ng ekspresyon, atbp. Sa halip, dapat idiin ang konsepto/ideya ng sining bilang “polysignificant language dealing with specific types,” at walang silbi ang dakdak tungkol sa porma/anyo/hugis kung walang “eidos or dianoia or idea or concept,” susog ni Galvano della Volpe.41

Sa Pilipinas, bukod sa nasubukan nina Angelo Suárez at kapanalig, pambihirang makakita ng masugid na pagdukal sa konseptwalistang teritoryo. Ipauubaya ko sa iba ang pag-ulat sa iba pang pagsubok postkonseptwal. Magkasya na munang banggitin dito ang ilang proyekto ng awtor sa gilid ng pagsasalaysay sa naratibo ng konseptwalismong Kanluran, na baka makatulong sa kilusan laban sa imperyalismo’t oligarkyang kasabwat nito.42

Malayo na ang nalakbay natin mula sa katipunang Alay Sa Paglikha ng Bukang-Liwayway (2000). Alinsunod sa panukala nina Peirce at Della Volpe, sinikap naming umpisahan ang konseptwalismong pakikipagsapalaran sa ilang tula sa koleksiyong Sapagkat Iniibig Kita (2004)43at Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan (2014),44 at lubos na nilinang sa Ambil (2015)45 at sa Wala (2018). Tinasahan din ang paraang Oulipo sa kathang

40 Charles S. Peirce, The Essential Writings (Amherts, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998), 264. Ineksamin and kumplekadong semantik ng konspekto ni Lewis. Tingnan ang Clarence Irving Lewis, The Mind and the World-Order (New York: Dover, 1929), 411.

41 Galvano Della Volpe, “Theoretical Issues of a Marxist Poetics,” in Marxism and Art, ed. by Berel Lang and Forrest Williams. New York: David McKay, 1972), 180.

42 San Juan, Himagsik.

43 E. San Juan, Sapagkat Iniibig Kita at Iba pang Bagong Tula (Quezon City: University of the Philippines, 2004).

44 E. San Juan, Kundiman sa Gitna ng Karimlan (Quezon City: University of the Philippines, 2014).

45 E. San Juan, Ambil (Connecticut, USA: Philippines Cultural Studies Center, 2015). Tingnan ang rebyu ni Labayne sa Ivan Emil Labayne, “Review of E. San Juan’s Ambil,” The

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E. SAN JUAN 21

“Trahedya/Komedyang Moro-Moro sa Mamasapano.”46 Mula sa panghihimasok sa typograpikal na bihis ng tula (imitasyon ng praktika ng concrete poetry, Mallarme, Weiner), suryalismong eksperimentasyon, at iba pang sinubukang palatuntunan, tumawid tayo sa paghiram/pagkumpiska sa mga salawikain at sampling ng bugtong, pati na modipikasyon ng ilang kanonikal na akda. Sa paraan ng alegorikong montage, sinubok ding ilapat ang minimalistikong metodo ng serye o reduksiyon, parikalang pagputol sa kanonisadong teksto, pagkopya ng dokumento ng isang biktima ng tortyur at pagsipi sa midya at diskursong antropologo (tungkol sa alegorikong pahiwatig, konsultahin si Buchloch.47

Mailap ang dating/resepsiyon sa neokolonya. Puna ng ilang guro na mahirap mabatid ang pinakabagong eksperimentasyon ng mga estudyanteng nasanay sa sukat at tugma nina Jose Corazon de Jesus, Ildefonso Santos, Baylen, Hernandez, Abadilla, Antonio, at iba pang putahe sa mga teksbuk. Ibig sabihin, nagumon sa tradisyonal at makalumang sining/panitik ang lasa’t ulirat ng kasalukuyang awdiyens sa paaralan, huwag nang idamay ang hain ng Anvil Publishing Co., at iba pang lathalaing pangkomersiyal. Sintomas ito ng malaking agwat sa pagitan ng libo-libong kabataang sanay sa Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, at mayoryang nakaabot lamang sa elementaryang 4th grade. Bantog tayo sa texting at malling sa buong mundo. Sanay na tayo sa blogging, remix, plagiarism, pagmudmod ng “fake news” ng rehimeng Duterte. Nasa gitna na tayo ng “postconceptual condition,” ayon kay Osborne kung saan ang kinabukasang virtual ay narito na sa aktwalisasyon ng karanasang umiigkas.48 Nahihimbing pa rin ang madlang kamalayan sa ilusyon ng malahimalang espiritu ng guniguni, ng malayang imahinasyon, ng biyaya ng mga anghel at dwende, ng kalikasang walang maliw …. Magdasal at magtiwala sa kapalaran, sa mapanuksong tadhanang magpapadala ng remitans mula Saudi, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Hong Kong, Los Angeles. … Subalit paano tayo makaaahon mula sa kumunoy ng gawi’t ugaling mala-piyudal at burgis, palasuko at taksil sa bayan?

Philippines Matrix Project (26 May 2015), <https://philcsc.wordpress.com/2015/o5/26/review-of-e- san-juans-ambil>.

46 E. San Juan, Wala (Manila: PUP Press, 2016), 47–51.

47 Benjamin Buchloch, “Allegorical Procedures: Appropriation and Montage in Contemporary Art,” in Art After Conceptual Art, ed. by A. Alberro and Sabeth Buchmann (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2006); Tony Godfrey, Conceptual Art.

48 Peter Osborne, The Postconceptual Condition (London: Verso, 2018).

© 2019 Epifanio San Juan, Jr. https://www.kritike.org/journal/issue_24/sanjuan_june2019.pdf ISSN 1908-7330

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22 SINING-KONSEPTWAL, PANITIKANG POST-KONSEPTWAL

Ano Ngayon ang Dapat Gawin?

Makitid at mababaw pa ang kabatiran sa proseso ng avantgardistang sining tulad ng matutunghayan sa saliksik nina Burger, Poggioli, Raymond Williams, Berger, atbp. Postmodernistang pakulo ang hilig ng mga intelektwal sa U.P., Ateneo, De La Salle University, at iba pang babaran. Dumulog tayo sandali sa forum ng Daluyan (Espesyal na Isyung Pampanitikan 2016) tungkol sa “Mga Proseso ng Paghagilap sa Bago at Eksperimental.” Hinagap nating makatagpo ng ilang manunulat na interesado sa konseptwalismong pagsubok sa gitna ng pagkarahuyo sa Internet, elektronikong midya, Visprint, naglipanang workshops. Nabigo kami, tila nasayang ang pagkakataong iyon.

Sari-saring lifestyle/fashion ang pinagkakaabalahan liban na sa krisis ng neokolonyang lipunan. Pinagtuunan ng pansin ang elektronikong midya at kontra-gahum na estilo. Hindi iniugnay ang praktika ng sining/panulat, at institusyon ng gobyerno, akademya, atbp., sa sitwasyon ng bansa (liban na sa nakahiligang pagsambit sa programa ng Kaliwa). Sumasalamin ito sa limitasyong nasulyapan sa praktika ni Goldsmith. Hinimay ni Roland Tolentino ang hanay ng mga sektaryang grupo o barkada (Rejectionists,Reaffirmists) ng mga ilang pribilehiyong nilalang sa daloy ng pakikibaka, pero walang diagnosis kung bakit nagkaganoon, at ano ang nararapat gawin upang makabuo ng kontra-hegemonyang mobilisasyon ngayon.

Naipayo nina Marx at Engels na ang kasaysayan ay “tendentious” bunga ng engkwentro ng sala-salabid na puwersa—katambal ng homo faberang homo ludens sa mga larong panglinggwistikang sinubaybayan ni Wittgenstein.49 Kaya kung realistikong reporma ang kailangan, hindi ito nangangahulugan na itatakwil o magbubulag-bulagan sa mga bumubukong pagsisikap bumalikwas sa kalakaran. Kailangan ng realismo ang propetikong bugso ng mapagpalayang sensibilidad. Napatunayan na sa diskursong historikal-materyalistiko ni Max Raphael50 na diyalektikal, hindi tuwiran, ang pagsulong ng kasaysayan at ang trajektorya ng mapanlikhang dunong ng tao. Bagamat sa analisis nina Marx at Engels hinggil sa “tipikal” na sitwasyon (isang kongkretong yunibersal, susog ni Georg Lukacs [1970]), hindi singkronisado ang katotohanang relatibo sa partikular na bagay at ang absolutong katotohanan na sumasaklaw sa malawak na bahagi ng

49 Morawski, Marx and Engels on Literature and Art, 46.

50 Max Raphael, Proudhon, Marx, Picasso (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1980); naisakatuparan sa mga dula ni Bertolt Brecht.

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E. SAN JUAN 23

kasaysayan. Resulta nga ang sumablay na neoavantgardismo ni Goldsmith51at postmodernistang art-komoditi na inilalako sa Sotheby, Amazon.com, Bloomingdale, at Facebook.

Sa pangwakas, ang lokal na artikulasyon ng postkonseptwalistang proyekto, sa palagay ko, ay nabuhos sa masang pagkilos—demo laban sa kontraktwalisasyon, EJK, drug war, pagbomba sa Lumad, atbp.—maliban sa namumukod na akda ni Angelo Suárez, Philippine English.52 Gayunpaman, hindi masasagkaan ang daluyong ng transpormasyong lumalaganap, sa ekonomya, politika, kultura. Maaring walang katubusan sa ating panahon. Paurong ang ibang saray, pasulong ang iba—sa magulong prosesong umaandar, ang triyadikong elemento ng realidad, senyas/signifier, atinterpretant (signified) na bumubuo ng kahulugan sa komunikasyon (ayon sa semiotika ni Peirce53), ay muli’t muling magbabanyuhay at magdudulot ng panibagong pagkilala sa praktika ng sining katugma sa bagong sitwasyon ng buhay. Kasaysayan at kolektibong pagsisikap ng sambayanan ang magtatakda sa direksiyon ng kasalukuyang pakikipagsapalaran at destinasyon sa kinabukasan.

University of Connecticut, USA

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the Neo-avant-garde” in Spheres of Action: Art and Politics, ed. by Eric

Alliez and Peter Osborne (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013). Wilkinson, Alec, “Something Borrowed,” The New Yorker (7 October 2015),

<https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/07/something-

borrowed-wilkinson>.
Zafra, Galileo, ed., Mga Lektura sa Kasaysayan ng Panitikan (Metro Manila:

Aklat ng Bayan, 2013).

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Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

Speaking Filipino/Teaching Filipino in the U.S.


 

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Inventing Vernacular Speech-Acts: Articulating Filipino Self-Determination in the United States􏰀

E. San Juan, Jr.

From the time Filipinos arrived in the United States as “colonial wards” or subaltern subjects in the first decade of the twentieth century, the practice of speaking their vernacular tongues (whether Ilocano, Cebuano, Tagalog, or any of the other dozen regional languages) has been haunted by an interdiction. This accompanied the defeat of the revolutionary government of the first Philippine Republic at the end of the Filipino–American War (1899–1903) and the institutionalization of English as the official medium of communication in government, business, education, and so on. American English became an instru- ment of political and ideological domination throughout colonial rule (1898–1946) and neocolonial hegemony (1946–). With competence in English as the legal and ideological passport for entry of Filipinos into the continental United States as pensionados and contract laborers, the native vernaculars suffered virtual extinction in the public sphere. In exchange, the Philippines acquired the distinction of belonging to the empire of English-speaking peoples, texting messages intelligible at least to the merchants of global capitalism if not to George W. Bush and the Homeland surveillance agents at the airport. That is also the reason why Filipina domestic workers are highly valued in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and other countries in Europe and the Middle East.

U.S. linguistic terrorism has continued via subtle cooptation and juridical fiat. Up to the last quarter of the twentieth century, the custom of speaking the vernacular in the workplace was discouraged if not prohibited. Filipino nurses and government employees talking in Filipino/Pilipino were penalized, triggering legal suits by the aggrieved immigrants or naturalized citizens. “English Only” prevails.

􏰀A shorter version of this article appeared in DANYAG (June 2002).

Socialism and Democracy, Vol.19, No.1, March 2005, pp.136–154
ISSN 0885-4300 print/ISSN 1745-2635 online
DOI: 10.1080=0885430042000338462 # 2005 The Research Group on Socialism and Democracy

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Filipinos need not be heard or listened to so long as they performed according to expectations. Why learn or study the Filipino vernaculars when “they” can speak and understand English? With the sudden increase of Filipino migrants after 1965 and the growth of the multi- cultural ethos of the ’80s and ’90s, Filipinos discovered anew that they have always been speaking their native languages even while they ventriloquized in English. Filipino (usually referred to as “Pilipino”) has indeed become a lingua franca for recent immigrants in the “land of the free,” making it possible for the newly arrived from the “boondocks” to read post-office guidelines and tax regulations in Filipino.

But Filipino is still an exotic language, despite its vulgarization and accessibility via Internet and satellite media. While today courses in Arabic have become necessary aids for preparing all students for global citizenship, a college course in Filipino is a rarity. In the ’50s and ’60s, when the Huk insurgency disturbed the peace of the Cold War Establishment, courses in Tagalog were introduced in the univer- sities as part of Area Studies; experts were trained at least to read cap- tured documents from the underground, if not to assist in the propaganda and psy-war effort of the local military (San Juan 2000). In the ‘70s, politicized Filipino Americans successfully initiated pro- jects to teach Tagalog inside and outside the academy. With the displacement of the Philippines as a contested zone in Southeast Asia (despite the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), administrators have shifted resources to the study of Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese cultures. After all, isn’t the Philippines now a suburb of California? And hasn’t the current Arroyo administration reversed the trend of Filipinization by promulgating English as truly the privi- leged language for individual success, prestige, and acceptance?

Historical necessity has once more intervened in the “belly of the beast.” Filipinos have become the largest group in the Asian American ethnic category and are slowly beginning to realize the political impact of this demographic trend. With the upsurge of Filipino-Americans entering college and moving on to graduate schools, and given the heightened racial and ethnic antagonisms in this period of the border- less war against terrorism (recall the hundreds of Filipinos summarily deported in handcuffs and chains immediately following the 9/11 cat- astrophe), a new “politics of identity” seems to be emerging, this time manifesting itself in a demand for the offering of credited courses in Filipino as part of the multiculturalist program (San Juan 2002). In Spring 2002, I was requested by the community of Filipino and Filipino American students at the University of California, Irvine, to share my

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ideas about the “language question.” The following provisional theses attempt to address this question in the context of the struggle of the Filipino nationality in the U.S. for democratic rights and the Filipino people in the Philippines and in the diaspora for national self- determination. It goes without saying that there are other still undiscerned factors overdetermining this complex conjuncture, particularly in this stage of the advanced corporatization of the U.S. university in late modernity; the following observations are meant to induce an exploration of the totality of social relations subtending this issue.

I

In dealing with the issue of linguistic freedom and bondage, I begin with the thesis that language cannot be separated from material-social activity, from human interaction. Marx and Engels write in The German Ideology: “Language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other humans.” Language is essentially a social phenomenon, embedded in collective human activity. Con- sciousness and language cannot be divorced; both are social products; they originate from work, from the labor process, whose historical changes determine the function of language as a means of communi- cation and as an integral component of everyday social practice, a signifier of national or ethnic identity.

Work or social labor then explains the structural properties of language. This does not mean, however, that given the unity of thought and language, linguistic structures imply different ways of thinking, world outlooks, etc. Contrary to Hitler’s idealizing slogan “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Sprache,” race, culture and language are not equivalent. We do not live in isolated language compartments with singular “takes” on reality. Forms of thought manifest a certain universality that are not affected by linguistic differences, even though speech acts derive their full import from the historical contexts and specific conditions of their performance. “Ideas do not exist sepa- rately from language” (Marx, Grundrisse, 1973, 163). And since the ideas of the ruling class prevail in every epoch as the ruling ideas, the uses of a particular language often reveal the imprint of this ruling class. Various classes may use the same language or operate in the same lin- guistic field, hence this domain of sign usage becomes, to quote Bakhtin/Voloshinov, “an arena of class struggle” (1986, 23). For exam- ple, Rizal used Spanish to counter the corrupt abuses of the friars and

reach his Spanish-speaking compatriots as well as reform-minded liberals in Spain. Likewise, Tagalog and other vernaculars were used by the Filipino elite in persuading peasants and workers to conform to American policies and ideas.

In sum, language as a practice of signification is not only reflective but also productive and reproductive of antagonistic social relations and political forces. It is a vehicle and an embodiment of power. Language usage manifests the pressure of contradictory class relations and concrete ideological structures that are registered on the level of special subcodes and idiolects.1 Language then is a socio-ideological phenomenon whose empirical manifestation can be investigated with scientific rigor.

Using this frame of inquiry, let us examine the status of Filipino/ Pilipino vis-a`-vis English within the Filipino community (totaling nearly 3 million) in the United States. A historical background is imperative in assessing the worth of languages relative to each other, specifically in the context of the fraught relations between the Philippines as a former colony, now a neocolony, of the United States, and the hegemonic nation-state, now the “only remaining super- power” in this period of “endless war” against terrorist multitudes.

With the violent conquest of the Philippines after the Filipino– American War of 1899 to 1914 (I include the wars that tried to pacify the Moros), which cost 1.4 million Filipino lives, the U.S. imposed colo- nial institutions on the subjugated natives. The process of what Renato Constantino famously called “the mis-education of Filipinos” began with the imposition of English as the chief medium of instruction. This was not, as one historian puts it (Arcilla 1971), because the teacher-volunteers who arrived on the St. Thomas in 1901 knew no Spanish, but rather because English was the language of the U.S. ruling class, the vehicle for inculcating the American “way of life,” its institutions and normative practices, in their colonial subjects (see Martin 2002). Contrary to the supposed intention of democratizing society, the use of English “perpetuated the existence of the ilustra- dos—American ilustrados” loyal to the United States, analogous to the Spanish-speaking Filipino elite who sought reforms within Spanish

1. While “idiolects” refer to those aspects of an individual’s speech pattern that deviate from group norms, the idiolect of, say, a Christian or Islamic fundamentalist believer represents a code of free variants mimicking certain sociocultural patterns of thought (Ducrot & Todorov 1979, 57). An idiolect then becomes intelligible as a departure from the normal usage of words (Riffatere 1983) and resembles what Mikhail Bakhtin calls “ideologeme” or “utterance” amenable to rational semantic analysis (1981).

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hegemony. Constantino cites Simoun’s denunciation of the latter in Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo:

You ask for equal rights, the Hispanization of your customs, and you don’t see that what you are begging for is suicide, the destruction of your nationality, the annihilation of your fatherland, the consecration of tyranny! What will you be in the future? A people without character, a nation without liberty— everything you have will be borrowed, even your very defects! . . . What are you going to do with Castilian, the few of you who will speak it? Kill off your own originality, subordinate your thoughts to other brains, and instead of freeing yourselves, make yourselves slaves indeed! Nine-tenths of those of you who pretend to be enlightened are renegades to your country! He among you who talks that language neglects his own in such a way that he neither writes it nor understands it, and how many have I not seen who pretended not to know a single word of it! (quoted in Constantino 1966, 55)

In 1924, the American scholar Najeeb Saleeby deplored the attempt to impose English, in the manner of Alexander the Great and Napoleon, on multitudinous groups speaking different tongues. It was already a failure twenty-five years after the U.S. established schools in the pacified regions. But in preserving imperial hegemony, the policy was not a failure at all. It has proved extremely effective: English as linguistic capital has functioned to sustain the iniquitous class hierarchy and maintain the subordination of the nation-state to the power that monopolizes such capital in the form of control over the mass media, information, and other symbolic instruments and resources in a globalized economy. I think the purpose was to make English-speakers not out of all Filipinos, but just out of those classes—the elite and intelligentsia—that have proved crucial in reinforcing and reproducing consent to U.S. imperial rule.

The historical record is summed up by Constantino: “Spanish colo- nialism Westernized the Filipino principally through religion. Ameri- can colonialism superimposed its own brand of Westernization initially through the imposition of English and the American school system which opened the way for other Westernizing agencies” (1978, 218). Superior economic and technological power, of course, enabled the American colonizers to proceed without serious resistance. Inscribed within the state educational apparatus, American English as a pedagogical, disciplinary instrument contributed significantly to the political, economic and cultural domination of the Filipino people. American English performed its function in enforcing, maintaining, and reproducing the values and interests of the imperial power and the dominant native class. Its usage was not neutral nor merely prag- matic; it was a deliberately chosen ideological weapon in subjugating

whole populations (including the Muslims and indigenous commu- nities), in producing and reproducing colonial—and later neocolo- nial—relations of production.

As I have said, no language (like English) as a system of signs is by itself exploitative or oppressive. It is the political usages and their his- torical effects that need evaluation. Consequently, the use of the coloni- zer’s language cannot be separated from its control of the educational system, the panoply of commercial relations and bureaucratic machin- ery which instill consumerist values, white supremacy, and acquisitive individualism within the procedural modus operandi of a so-called “free enterprise” system. Over half a century of tutelage de-Filipinized youth and “taught them to regard American culture as superior to any other, and American society as the model par excellence for Philippine society” (Constantino 1974, 39). Individual and public consciousness had been so Americanized that a Filipino national identity was aborted, suppressed, unable to emerge fully except in outbursts of revolt and insurrection—a durable tradition of revolutionary resistance that we should be proud of.

What of Filipino and the other vernaculars? When the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status in 1935, an attempt was made to develop a national language based on Tagalog. This exemplifies the kind of language planning where a colonial state engages in the forma- tive task of constructing a formalistic notion of nationality using one of the local languages as a means of authentiticating the legitimacy of the Americanized elite (Fishman 1972). Pilipino evolved despite the objec- tions of other regional ethnolinguistic groups, a hostility born from the “divide-and-rule” strategy imposed by U.S. colonial tutelage that undermined the hegemonic ambitions of the minority elite. Note that, of course, the ruling bloc of local landlords, compradors and bureaucrats was completely subservient to U.S. dictates even up to and beyond formal independence in 1946. Up to now, it is no secret that the Philippine military is completely dependent on U.S. largesse for its weaponry and logistics, including the training of its officers in counterinsurgency warfare (as witness the prolongation and systema- tization of joint training exercises against the Abu Sayyaf and other insurgents in violation of the 1986 Philippine Constitution which prohi- bits the active participation of foreign troops in local law enforcement). Over 80% of Filipinos can speak or understand Filipino in everyday transactions throughout the islands. While some progress has been made today in institutionalizing the use of Filipino as an intellectual medium in university courses, English remains the preferred language of business and government, the language of prestige and aspiration.

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Decolonization of the Filipino mind has not been completed, hence Filipino remains subordinate, marginalized, or erased as a language of power and self-affirmation of the people’s sovereign identity.

Like other colonized parts of the world, the Philippines was a mul- tilingual society during the heyday of Spanish imperialism. While formal colonialism no longer obtains, a linguistic imperialism con- tinues, with English employed as the international language of science, technology, business and finance, world communications and international academic studies—despite some nativization of American English in the Philippines. This will continue unless the poli- tical economy and power relations in the whole society are changed.

II

The rise of the U.S. Empire in Asia beginning with the defeat of Spanish power translated into a reassertion of Anglo-Saxon “manifest destiny.” This is a continuation of a long saga of territorial expansion from the Eastern seaboard of the continent. When Filipinos entered U.S. metropolitan territory, first in Hawaii as recruited plantation workers in the first three decades of the last century, the U.S. was already a racial polity founded on the confinement of the indigenous Indians, the slavery and segregation of blacks, the conquest of Spanish-speaking natives, and the proscription of Asian labor. The U.S. was and is a multi- lingual polity, with English as the hegemonic language.

A language community is not by itself sufficient to produce an ethnic or national identity. English cannot by itself define the American national identity as such, even though it is within this linguistic com- munity that individuals are interpellated as subjects, subjects as bearers of discourse—persons defined as subject-positions sutured within discourses of law, genealogy, history, political choices, pro- fessional qualifications, psychology, and so on. This construction of identity by language is open to incalculable contingencies; what makes it able to demarcate the frontiers of a particular people is a prin- ciple of closure or exclusion. And this fictive ethnicity is accomplished in the historical constitution of the U.S. nation-state based on the dis- courses of the free market and white supremacy.

Etienne Balibar has shown how the French nation initially gave pri- vileged place to language or linguistic uniformity as coincident with political unity; the French state democratized its citizens by coercively suppressing cultural particularisms, the local patois. “For its part,” Balibar observes, “the American ‘revolutionary nation’ built its original

ideals on a double repression: that of the extermination of the Amerin- dian ‘natives’ and that of the difference between free ‘White’ men and ‘Black’ slaves. The linguistic community inherited from the Anglo-Saxon ‘country’ did not pose a problem—at least apparently— until Hispanic immigration conferred upon it the significance of class symbol and racial feature” (Balibar & Wallerstein 1991, 104). In other words, the phantasm of the American race defined as English speakers materialized when the Spanish-speaking indigenes of the Southwest were defeated in the war of 1848. Thus, the national ideology of the ‘melting-pot’ of a new race emerged “as a hierarchical combination of the different ethnic contributions,” based on the inferiority of Asian labor immigrants and “the social inequalities inherited from slavery and reinforced by the economic exploitation of the Blacks” (Balibar & Wallerstein 1991, 104). It is within this historical process of ethnicization of the American identity under an assimilative or plural- ist ideology that we can then locate the supremacy of American English over the other languages of various ethnic groups within the polity. It is also in this historical context of the formation of the American multicul- tural pluralist imaginary that problems of citizenship, equality of rights, multilingualism, neocolonialism, nationalism or international- ism, should be placed and analyzed.

In the United States today, we have various languages spoken and practised everywhere—Spanish being the most widespread, Black English vernacular (BEV), creole in Louisiana and New York City, Russian in Brooklyn, and so on—testifying to a multilingual society. But as studies have demonstrated, the failure of the school authorities in the U.S. to recognize BEV as a separate language has continuously retarded the educational progress of black children (Spears 1999). BEV, like the varieties of Spanish, functions as a symbolic marker sig- nifying membership in a particular ethnic group.

Why is one’s use of a particular language important? Language usage or behavior is closely connected with one’s perception of self and one’s identity. The British sociolinguist Robert Le Page has pro- posed a theory of language use in terms of acts of identity. According to Le Page, “the individual creates his or her own language behavior so that it resembles that of the group or groups with which he wishes to be identified, to the extent that: he can identify the groups; observe and analyze such groups; is motivated to adapt his behavior; and is still able to adapt his behavior. By so doing the individual is thus able to locate himself in the ‘multi-dimensional’ space defined by such groups in terms of factors such as sex, age, social class, occupation and other parameters for social group membership, including ethnicity”

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(Cashmore 1984, 173). In Britain, the use of a modified Jamaican creole by second-generation Britishers of Caribbean descent is an example of acts of identity-formation, an assertion of an ethnic identity associated with such cultural interests as rastafarianism, reggae music, and so on. By consciously adopting this creole or patois, the youth are expressing their solidarity, ethnic pride, and symbolic resistance to what they perceive as a repressive and racist society.

One may ask: Has the Filipino community in the U.S. considered language as one of the most important social practices through which they come to experience themselves as subjects with some critical agency, that is, not merely as objects trained to consume and be con- sumed? Have Filipino scholars examined language as a site for cultural and ideological struggle, a mechanism which produces and reproduces antagonistic relations between ethnic immigrant communities and the dominant EuroAmerican society? In my forty years in the U.S., I have not encountered among our ranks—except for a few academics influ- enced by the late Virgilio Enriquez—any special awareness of the importance of Filipino and the other vernaculars.

In the dismal archive of ethnic studies of Filipino Americans, we encounter a species of identity politics that is unable to escape the hege- monic strategies of containment and sublimation. Ironically, this poli- tics is really designed for encouraging painless assimilation. For example, Antonio Pido’s The Pilipino in America (1986) is a repository of scholastic cliches and rehash of received opinions, at best an eclectic survey that tries to coalesce the contradictory tendencies in the research field as well as those in the community during the Marcos dictatorship. Recently, the collection Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity(1997) edited by Maria P.P. Root, tried to advance beyond the Establish- ment banalities, but to no avail, although gays and lesbians have suc- ceeded in occupying their niches amid cries for “healing the cultural amnesia and sense of shame.” I have no problem celebrating Filipino firsts, but I think historical memory of this ingratiating kind cannot decolonize our psyches since we use such memory to compete with other people of color in grabbing a piece of the American pie. Pido’s contribution to this anthology compounded the muddle of pseudo- egalitarianism afforded by “melting” into the multiracial “pot” that still informs Establishment versions of multiculturalism. This is particularly lamentable in the neoconservative climate of the ’90s when one encountered everywhere the wish-fulfilling belief that Filipinos have transcended their ethnicity in assuming some kind of mutant or freakish existence. The ideological basis of assimilation by keeping one’s ethnic identity may be gleaned from this version of

constructing a hybrid figure: “Such solidarity did not happen to the Pilipino Americans because they are Pilipinos who are in America, as their parents and grandparents were, but rather because they are Americans who are Pilipinos” (Pido 1997, 37). An ambivalent opportu- nist indeed if not an enigmatic trickster figure. None of the essays, if I recall, deal with the discrimination of Filipinos on account of their speaking Pilipino/Filipino at the workplace, or elsewhere.

In a study on Filipino Americans, Pauline Agbayani-Siewert and Linda Revilla comment on the Filipino group’s lack of a “strong ethnic identity.” They give a lot of space to the issue of whether Filipino should be spelled with an F or P. In spite of disagreements among post- 1965 and pre-1965 immigrants, they note that Filipinos are distin- guished by their adherence to “traditional Filipino values” relating to family togetherness and respect for elders. So what else is new? What is interesting about their survey is that they touch on the issue of language, remarking that “language is a questionable indicator of Filipino immigrants’ acculturation,” without adding that of course their country of origin has been thoroughly Americanized in language, if not in customs and habits. They cite a study which indicated that 71% of Filipinos speak a language other than English at home, although 91% of them claimed being able to speak English well or very well. Their conclusion: “This suggests that most Filipinos who have been natura- lized citizens [Filipinos have a 45% naturalization rate, the highest among Asian groups] and who can speak English well still prefer to speak their native language at home” (Siewert & Revilla 1995, 152). What does this signify? In general, third generation children no longer speak the languages of their grandparents.

One interpretation is that of Yen Le Espiritu, author of the ethno- graphic collection, Filipino American Lives. While conceding that Filipinos, despite some mobility and cultural adaptation, are still not fully accepted as “Americans,” Le Espiritu claims that this is not bad because Filipinos are really “transmigrants,” that is, they resist racial categorization and at the same time sustain “multistranded relations between the Philippines and the United States” (1995, 27). This hypoth- esis is flawed. Espiritu wants Filipinos to have their cake and eat it too. While some may succeed in manipulating their identities so that they both accommodate and resist their subordination within the global capitalist system—a tightrope performance not really warranted by the biographies she presents—they do not constitute the stereotype. Especially in the case of those who came in the last two decades, Filipinos have not really become the full-blown hybrids conjured by postmodernist-postcolonial academics. The majority of the testimonies

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gathered by Espiritu provide incontrovertible proof that despite sly forms of resistance, institutional racism has continued to inflict damage on the lives and collective psyche of the Filipino community, whether some of them are perceived as transmigrants or not.

In fact the transmigrant paradigm cannot explain adequately the linguistic behavior of Filipinos. Siewert and Revilla report that Filipinos have begun to challenge the “English only” policies at the workplace. They cite one case in the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where seven Filipino workers filed a grievance after being penalized for failing to use only English for business purposes (on the assumption that “only English” use facilitates the efficient perfor- mance of mandated routine tasks). The policy was eventually rescinded, but we are not informed what the views of the experts are. Since they are obsessed with acculturation or cultural assimilation, they probably feel that the case was not really significant since Filipinos are bilingual anyway, and they can be flexible or versatile in adapting to the exigencies of their minority situation. Never mind that they have to suppress their need to speak in Filipino.

To recapitulate: The development of U.S. capitalism concomitant with the growth and consolidation of American English has proceeded from the onset of imperial expansion in the U.S. victory over Spain, to the conquest of world hegemony during the Cold War (1947–1989). The Civil Rights movement succeeded (through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later the Bilingual Education Act of 1968) to mandate the use of non-English voting ballots and the funding of bilingual edu- cation programs serving primarily Hispanics to expedite their tran- sition to competent English users. Due to various revisions, bilingual education programs (which started in 1963 in Miami, Florida, to help the children of Cuban exiles) only serve a small proportion of the total population. And yet some were alarmed by the increase of Hispa- nics in many states. One of them, Senator S.I. Hayakawa, a naturalized Canadian immigrant of Japanese descent, founded the organization U.S. English in 1983 after sponsoring a bill in 1981 to make English the official language of the U.S. (Fischer et al. 1997). In a penetrating critique of the ideological scaffolding of the “English-Only” movement, Andrew Hartman traces its genealogy to the “historical racism” and white supremacy that continue to legitimize the hierarchical class division in U.S. society. With perspicuous documentation, Hartman not only emphasizes the racist ideology of colonialism underlying the subjugation of Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and other nationalities, but also underscores how the English-Only campaign “reinforces the divisive effects of capitalist stratification,” undermining

labor solidarity and scapegoating immigrants; in effect, “the English- only movement embodies the colonial model of language as oppres- sion” (Hartman 2003, 199; see also Emerman 1991).

On the whole, I agree with Hartman that this phenomenon of lin- guistic nationalism may be construed as a symptom of the sharpening contradictions in U.S. hegemonic maintenance. In addition I would suggest that the program to subtly institutionalize English as the official language of “free-market” capitalism may be construed as one plank of the IMF/World Bank/WTO neoliberal agenda for continued transna- tional domination which has been effectively challenged by antigloba- lization forces (Mazrui 2003; San Juan 2003). In actuality, what has been happening in the last decades involves an implicit “reorganization of cultural hegemony” by the ruling elite faced with a sharpening politi- cal, social and economic crisis of the system since the end of the Vietnam War. We may interpret this English-Only movement as an index to the resurgent nativist hostility to the recent influx of immi- grants from Latin America and Asia—aliens that supposedly disunite America and threaten the supremacy of the “American Way of Life” (Nunberg 2000). The English First anti-immigrant phenomenon can easily be demystified and translated as the symptom of a moral panic, a fanatical zeal to preserve the status quo, “a fear of cultural change and a deep-seated worry that European Americans will be dis- placed from their dominant position in American life” (Douglas Massey quoted in Zelinsky 2001, 192). This symptomatic reading finds its rationale in Antonio Gramsci’s insight:

Each time that in one way or another, the question of language comes to the fore, that signifies that a series of other problems is about to emerge, the for- mation and enlarging of the ruling class, the necessity to establish more “inti- mate and sure relations between the ruling groups and the popular masses, that is, the reorganization of cultural hegemony (1971, 16).

III

In 1985 then Education Secretary William Bennett judged bilingual education a failure because it only promoted ethnic pride despite the fact that programs like the Transitional Bilingual Education program and the Family English literacy programs no longer seek to fund classes conducted in the original ethnic languages. Four million language-minority students are now herded to monolingual “immer- sion” English classrooms which, according to one expert, often fail to teach anything but English. And this avoidance of using English as

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the only medium of instruction is supposed to explain why they don’t have equal educational opportunities and become complete failures.

One opponent of the bills to make English the official language, Rep. Stephen Solarz, expressed a sentiment shared by many liberals who endorse pluralism or multiculturalism under the shibboleth of a common civic culture. Language is a matter of indifference, these liberals argue, so long as the cement of the civic culture holds the market-system, individual rights, and private property together. Solarz argued that the proposals “represent a concession to nativist instincts and are incompatible with the cultural diversity and ethnic pluralism that constitute fundamental strengths of our nation . . . We are…a tapestry of many races, creeds, religions, and ethnic back- grounds—each independent, but all interwoven with one another . . .The glue that bonds these diverse communities together is not com- monality of language, but a commitment to the democratic ideals on which our country was founded” (1997, 251). Aside from these banal- ities, Solarz also opined that those proposals could pose significant threats to the civil and constitutional rights of citizens with little or no English proficiency.”

In this he was right because English triumphalism signifies a mode of racialization: the institutional subordination of other communities and other languages to white supremacy and its cultural hegemony. This was in part the thrust of the challenge made in the class-action suit of 1970, Lau v. Nichols, in which 1,790 Chinese children enrolled in the public schools in San Francisco argued against the SF Unified School District that they were not being provided with an equal edu- cation because all instruction and materials were in English, which the children did not understand. Futhermore, the plaintiffs contended that English-only education for non-English-speaking children was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment, which guar- antees to all citizens the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, such education was illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which rules that “no person in the United States shall be . . . subjected to dis- crimination under any program receiving Federal financial assistance” (the District was receiving funds from the federal government). The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Chinese students, but only on the basis of the Civil Rights Act; the Constitutional issue was avoided and the Court left the remedy to local school boards (Fischer et al. 1997, 242–5).

It is this 1974 Lau decision that can serve as the basis for litigation against public educational institutions that refuse to provide language services to students of limited English-speaking ability. It is a legal

precedent on which institutions receiving federal money can be held accountable. But it is not one which engages the question of injustice, discrimination, and inequality in a racial polity such as the United States. It is not one which addresses, more specifically, the subordina- tion of nationalities (like Filipinos) and their diverse languages as a consequence of the past colonial subjugation and present neocolonial status of their countries of origin. This is not a matter of personal opinion, feeling or subjective speculation, but a matter for historical inquiry and empirical verification.

Following the mandate of federal laws, Tagalog or Filipino is now being used in census forms, ballots, postal notices, and even in public announcements of flights to the Philippines in some airports. Is this a sign that the racial polity has changed and abolished institutional impediments to the recognition of the identity and dignity of the Filipino as a cultural-political subject? Are we now living in a classless and race-blind society? Scarcely. Such events as Filipino History Month or Independence parades in fact confirm the hierarchical placing of the various ethnic communities within the pluralist schema that repro- duces monolingualism and Anglocentrism in everday life. Even the concession to fund classes in Filipino, or, to cite a recent trend, Arabic—suddenly classes in Arabic multiplied after 9/11—may be a deceptive means of convincing a few that linguistic, racial and sex dis- crimination are amenable to such piecemeal reforms.

Apart from the neoconservative backlash of the ’80s and ’90s, the advent of post-9/11 hegemony of the “only remaining superpower” entrenched in a National Security State, the imperilled “Homeland,” almost guarantees a regime of unmitigated surveillance and policing of public spaces where ethnic differences are sometimes displayed. Filipinos speaking Tagalog make themselves vulnerable to arrest— recall the case of 62 overstaying Filipinos deported in June 2003, handcuffed and manacled like ordinary criminals throughout the long flight back to Clark Field, Philippines; and subsequently, the case of eight Filipino airport mechanics in Texas, victims of racial pro- filing and suspected of having links with Arab terrorists.

Filipino sounds completely unlike Arabic or Russian. What has made Filipino or Tagalog visible in our multicultural landscape is of course the huge flow of recent immigrants who are not as proficient in English as the earlier “waves” after 1965. Movies, music and other mass-media cultural products using Filipino are more widely dis- seminated today than before. In addition, the resurgent nationalist movement in the Philippines, despite the lingering horrors of the Marcos dictatorship (1972–86), has brought to center-stage the nightly

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televised images of rallies where the messages of protest and rebellion against U.S. imperialism are often conveyed in Filipino. The nationalist resurgence in the Philippines, as well as in the diaspora of 7–9 million Filipinos around the world, has rebounded miraculously from the sixties and has continued to revitalize Filipino as the language of critical protest and nationalist self-determination. I don’t have to mention the anxiety and tensions provoked when children cannot understand their parents who, as Siewert and Revilla indicate, prefer to use Filipino or other vernaculars at home.

IV

We are surrounded now by a preponderance of newly-arrived Filipinos who use Filipino to make sense of their new experiences, a necessary stage in their arduous life here, before they are able to gain mastery of standard English and feel more capable of directing their lives. But learning English language skills alone does not automatically translate to access to limited opportunities, not to mention genuine empowerment, as witness the plight of black Americans, or the 60 million functionally illiterate citizens in this affluent, technically superior society. Meanwhile, these Filipinos feel dispossessed and mar- ginalized, completely alienated, either resentful or more servile, depending on the complex circumstances of daily life. If and when they enter school (formal or informal), their language experience (in Filipino or other indigenous languages) is delegitimized by a pedago- gical system which operates on the assumption that knowledge acqui- sition is a matter of learning the standard English, thus abstracting English from its ideological charge and socioeconomic implications.

I don’t recall anytime when Filipinos have demanded access to bilin- gual education in the same way that Latinos and Chinese Americans have. And I know that the request for classes in Filipino/Tagalog is nothing compared to the substantial programs in bilingual education among Hispanics. Still, it might be useful to quote the educational scholar Donaldo Macedo’s comments on the current philosophy:

The view that teaching English constitutes education sustains a notion of ideol- ogy that systematically negates rather than makes meaningful the cultural experiences of the subordinate linguistic groups who are, by and large, the objects of its policies. For the education of linguistic minority students to become meaningful it has to be situated within a theory of cultural production and viewed as an integral part of the way in which people produce, transform and reproduce meaning. Bilingual education, in this sense, must be seen as a medium that constitutes and affirms the historical and existential moments of lived culture . . . [S]tudents learn to read faster and with better

comprehension when taught in their native tongue. The immediate recognition of familiar words and experiences enhances the development of a positive self- concept in children who are somewhat insecure about the status of their language and culture. For this reason, and to be consistent with the plan to con- struct a democratic society free from vestiges of oppression, a minority literacy program must be rooted in the cultural capital of subordinate groups and have as its point of departure their own language (2000, 309).

Macedo rightly emphasizes the daily lived experiences of linguistic minorities rooted in collective and individual self-determination. He considers their language as “a major force in the construction of human subjectivities,” since language “may either confirm or deny the life histories and experiences of the people who use it.” We need to underscore the role of language as cultural or symbolic capital, a theme on which Pierre Bourdieu (1991) has elaborated.

Literacy must be based on the reality of subaltern life if it is to be effective in any strategy of real empowerment, in the decolonization of schooling for a start. Only by taking into account the language of everyday lived experience—and connecting this with the community’s struggles to survive and maintain its integrity and autonomy—can we fully grasp what role the use of Filipino plays in the nationality’s pursuit of a truly dignified and creative life as full-fledged citizens. This is, to my mind, a pursuit that cannot be achieved except as part of the collective democratic struggles of other people of color and the vast majority of working citizens oppressed by a class-divided, racial- ized and gendered order.

And this system—globalized or neoimperialist capitalism—is the same one suppressing the possibilities for equality, justice and auton- omy in the Philippines. There is as yet no truly sovereign Filipino nation. I believe it is still in the process of slow, painful becoming. If so, how do we size up or assay persons who claim to be Filipinos, or whose geopolitical identities are somehow linked to the nation-state called the Philippines? Benedict Anderson theorized that modern nations are “imagined communities” made possible by print-capital- ism and the “fatal diversity of human language” (1994, 95). If that is true, then the Philippines was imagined through American English mediated in schools, mass media, sports, and other cultural practices. Both the institutions of print capitalism and the schools were controlled and administered by the United States for half a century; even after formal independence, most of us dream and fantasize in English mixed with Tagalog (Taglish), or one of the vernaculars.

We see then that language and the process of thinking form a dia- lectical unity. While Filipino has become the effective lingua franca, the

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152 Socialism and Democracy

community in the Philippines is still imagined in a babel of languages, with Cebuanos, for example, refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance unless it is in Cebuano. Less a political gesture than a symptom, this situation reflects the inchoate or abortive project of constructing a Filipino national identity, the clearest proof of which is the failure to develop one language through which the intellectual, political and economic development of the masses can be articulated.

We have no alternative. We need to continue the task of reshaping our cultural identity as Filipinos whether in the U.S. or in the Philippines, in this perilous age of anti-terrorism. I want to quote Paolo Freire, the great Brazilian educator, whose work Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been a profound influence everywhere. Freire reminds us:

At a particular moment in the struggle for self-affirmation, when subordinated to and exploited by the ruling class, no social group or class or even an entire nation or people can undertake the struggle for liberation without the use of a language. At no time can there be a struggle for liberation and self-affirmation without the formation of an identity, and identity of the individual, the group, the social class, or whatever . . . Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle. I will only fight you if I am very sure of myself . . . This is why colo- nized peoples need to preserve their native language . . . They help defend one’s sense of identity and they are absolutely necessary in the process of strug- gling for liberation (1985, 186).

Whether here or in the Philippines, we are still, whether we like it or not, entangled, caught, implicated, in this ongoing process of struggling for liberation. A liberatory and radical approach to language, as part of cultural production and pedagogical praxis, is in order. How can we tell our stories in our own words? How do we retrieve the lost voices of our people, valorize their lived experiences, and in the process trans- form the way Filipinos as a group are treated in the metropolis?

To re-appropriate the submerged or erased revolutionary legacy of our people, we need a language that is an integral and authentic part of that culture—a language that is not just “an instrument of communi- cation, but also a structure of thinking for the national being” (Freire 1985, 184), that is, a tool for self-reflection and critical analysis, a crea- tive and transforming agent committed to solidarity, social responsibil- ity, and justice for the masses. That language needed to reconstruct our history and reappropriate our culture cannot be English but must be an evolving Filipino, which draws its resources from all the other vernacu- lars. If we allow English to continue in the Philippines as a hegemonic cultural force, this will simply perpetuate the colonial legacy of class- racialized inequalities—need I remind you that we are still a genuine neocolony—and allow imperial ideology to determine the parameters

of our historical and scientific development, not only for the Philip- pines but also for those who choose to leave and settle in other lands within the inescapable globalized market system. The challenge that faces us today, and for as long as we speak English, is to request or demand that the teaching and learning of Filipino be given space at every level of the educational system.

Allow me to conclude with quotes from Lenin on the question of the equality of languages:

Whoever does not recognize and champion the equality of nations and languages, and does not fight against all national oppression or inequality, is not a Marxist; he is not even a democrat . . . For different nations to live together in peace and freedom or to separate and form different states (if that is more convenient for them), a full democracy, upheld by the working class, is essen- tial. No privileges for any nation or any one language! . . . such are the prin- ciples of working-class democracy (1983, 100, 116).

References

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Arcilla, Jose S. 1971. An Introduction to Philippine History. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination. Ed. Michael Holquist. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

& N. Voloshinov. 1986. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Tr. L. Matejka & I. R. Titunik. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Balibar, Etienne, & Immanuel Wallerstein. 1991. Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities. London & New York: Verso.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Cashmore, E. Ellis. 1984. Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations. London: Routledge.

Constantino, Renato. 1966. The Filipinos in the Philippines and other essays. Quezon City, Philippines: Malaya Books.
. 1974. Identity and Consciousness: The Philippine Experience. Quezon City, Philippines: Malaya Books.

. 1978. Neocolonial Identity and Counter-Consciousness: Essays on Cultural

Decolonization. White Plains, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Ducrot, Oswald, & Tzvetan Todorov. 1979. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Sciences

of Language. Tr. Catherine Porter. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Univer-

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Emerman, Jimmy. 1991. “War of Words: Language, Colonialism and English

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Fisher, William C. et al. 1997. Identity, Community, and Pluralism in American Life.

New York: Oxford University Press.

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Fishman, J.A. 1972. “The Sociology of Language,” in Language and Social Context. Ed. Pier Paolo Giglioli. Baltimore: Penguin Books.

Freire, Paulo. 1985. The Politics of Education. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey. Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from Prison Notebooks. New York: Inter-

national Publishers.
Hartman, Andrew. 2003. “Language as Oppression: The English-only Move-

ment in the United States.” Socialism and Democracy 17.1: 187–208.
Le Espiritu, Yen. 1995. Filipino American Lives. Philadelphia, PA: Temple

University Press.
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and Ethnicity in the United States. Ed. Stephen Steinberg. Oxford, UK:

Blackwell.
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Colonial Educators in the Philippines.” In Kritika Kultura <http:www.

kritikakultura.org/html.1-8>.
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Mazrui, Alamin. 2003. “The World Bank, the Language Question and the

Future of African Education.” In The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader.

Ed. Roxy Harris and Ben Rampton. London and New York: Routledge. Nunberg, Geoffrey. 2000. “Lingo Jingo: English-Only and the New Nativism.” In Race and Ethnicity in the United States. Ed. Stephen Steinberg. New York:

Blackwell.
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United States.” In Filipino Americans. Ed. Maria P.P. Root. Thousand Oaks,

CA: Sage.
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Confrontations. Boulder, CO: Rowman and Littlefield.
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Siewert, Pauline Agbayani, & Linda Revilla. 1995. “Filipino Amerians.” InAsian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues. Ed. Pyong Gap Min. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Solarz, Stephen. 1997. “Against Official English: A U.S. Representative Explains Why There Should not Be an English Language Constitutional Amend- ment, 1988.” In Identity, Community, and Pluralism in American Life. Ed. Fisher et al. New York: Oxford University Press.

Spears, Arthur K. 1999. Race and Ideology. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Zelinsky, Wilbur. 2001. The Enigma of Ethnicity. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press.

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Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

TULA: Pagbubulay-bulay ni E. San Juan, Jr.


PAGBUBULAY-BULAY NG INTELEKTWAL

NA SAMPAY-BAKOD

ni E. San Juan, Jr.

 

 

Nang ika-10 gulang, nagnais akong matuto’t maging marunong

Nang ika-15 gulang, nabatid kong tama ang gurong Mang Andoy

                        Yapos ang ibong pumailanlang at isdang sumisid 

                                                                                    sa pusod ng kaluluwa—

Makaabot pa kaya ako sa kasukdulang biyaya ni Maria Makiling 

                                     nabighani sa salimbayan

                                                                       ng mga kalapating dumaragit?

                                                            —E. SAN JUAN, Jr.dscn0114

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

PEIRCE/MARX–Dialogue of Pragmatism and Marxism by E. San Juan, Jr.


Picasso-Les Demoiselles d'AvignonPeirce/Marx: Project for a Dialogue between Pragmatism & Marxism

E. San Juan, Jr.

 

If we can trust to the lessons of the history of the human mind, of the history of habits of life, development does not take place chiefly by imperceptible changes but by revolutions… That habit alone can produce development I do not believe. It is catastrophe, accident, reaction which brings habit into an active condition and creates a habit of changing habits.—Charles Sanders Peirce, The New Elements of Mathematics, ed. by Carolyn Eisele (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1979): 142.

 

Why Peirce and Marx? But why not?  As weapproach the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution and the death anniversary of the United States’s most insight- ful philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), it might be a wise ecumenical gesture to review the fraught, even contentious, relation between Marxism and prag- maticism. A precautionary word: I use Peirce’s “ugly” rubric “pragmaticism” to distinguish it from the vulgar- ized co-opted use of the term to classify the world-views of William James, John Dewey, Richard Rorty, and lat- ter-day saints of neoconservative instrumentalism. Indeed postmodern neopragmatism—despite Cornel West’s (1993) conciliatory defense—serves today as the ideology of globalized predatory capitalism par excellence. Peirce who subtly denounced U.S. imperialist annexation of the Philippines in 1899 would be appalled by Rorty’s uncon- scionable jingoist ethnocentrism.

Early on Peirce felt scandalized that he had become an overnight celebrity due to James’s popularization of selected formulas and idioms ostensibly derived from Peirce. In 1878, Peirce qualified the Cartesian require- ment for ideas to be clear and distinct with a third criteri- on for propositions to be meaningful, namely, practical consequences. The phrase “practical consequences” (in the sense of a guide to future practice, not current useful- ness for private ends) has become the source of persistent misconstruals. Peirce stated: “Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings, we con- ceive the object of our conception to have. Then our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object” (1998, 146). In one of his last caveats on how to interpret the maxim, he stipulated that the ele- ments of every concept in logical thought enter “at the gate of perception and make their exit at the gate of pur- posive action” (998, 241) or “controlled conduct” with
an ethical rationality. In this context, John Dewey’s term “instrumentalism” is not only rebarbative but inappropri- ate for Peirce’s world-view.

In the widely-quoted Pragmatism, William James offered a cheap psychological fix: “Ideas become true just so far as they help us get into satisfactory relations with other parts of our experience” (1955, 12). This is a feel- good recipe for mass consumption. James’s valorization of self-centered expediency or pivate utility compelled Peirce to disclaim any complicity with it. The lesson seems clear. We need to rectify not only our terms
but also their references or designata, better yet, their interpretants if we hope to rescue pragmaticism from transmogrification, and re-establish a fruitful dialogic transaction between these two streams of radical or non- conformist thought.

Amateur of Suspicion

Suspicion if not outright hostility has characterized the participants of this dialogue. Obviously the task of comparison cannot be done outside already sedimented parameters, doctrinally charged contexts, and polemical presuppositions. One can try only at the risk of exacer- bating, or even confounding, the motives and goals of such a dialogue. Perhaps the most provocative scholarly review of this fraught relation to date was Brian Lloyd’sLeft Out: Pragmatism, Exceptionalism, and the Poverty of American Marxism 1890-1922 (1997), which aroused predominanly adversarial reactions. Obviously Lloyd restricted himself only to a limited period and well- known protagonists, not even seriously engaging with Peirce’s theses and arguments. As Michael Denning cor- rectly remarked, Lloyd begged the question of pragma- tism’s originality by subjecting the “theoretical acumen” of one of its applications, Debsian socialist program, to the “litmus tests of the European war and the Bolshevik Revolution.” Lacking the historical specificities ground- ing the emergence of such phenomena as revolutionary industrial unionism, Veblen, radical Darwinism, etc., Lloyd failed to explain the exact measure in which such theories acquired their rationale from the interplay of

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social forces, intellectuals, and historical legacies. That is why Lloyd excludes such players as W.E.B. Du Bois and C.L.R. James in his narrative of anti-capitalist ideas and movements, not to speak of late-nineteenth century anti- colonialists such as the Filipino Isabelo de los Reyes and the Cuban Jose Marti.

Right off, I should warn the reader that I am not concerned here with elaborating on the virtues or inade- quacies of Lloyd’s work (which deserves a separate essay). The point simply is to underscore the importance of this heuristic attempt to find analogues, if not echoes, of materialist dialectics in Peirce’s speculations. A cognate enterprise focused on a single figure which may prof- itably be compared with Lloyd is Christopher Phelps’Young Sidney Hook: Pragmatist and Marxist (1997). Again, I will refer to Hook only insofar as his inflection of prag- matist motifs might be useful in demarcating it from Peirce’s innovative proposals..

This schematic mapping also involves the more trou- bling question of Marxism and its historical interpreta- tion and concrete realization. This pertains to the multiple marxisms, not just “Western Marxism” (Lukács, Gramsci, Adorno). Aside from disavowing any longing for some authentic or true marxism, I believe something can be gained by socialist militants becoming familiar with Peirce’s semiotics and the value of his normative realism in the critique of fashionable Nietzschean/ Heideggerian avantgardism, for example, or its parodies. We cannot escape Karl Korsch’s advice that Marxism be grasped as centered on historical specification (1971). This coincides with Lukács’ own insight that Marxism
is really the unity of theory and practice hinging on
the dialectical/historical method of analyzing systemic change (1971). Neither Lenin’s axioms nor the Bolshevik paradigm can serve as the universal measure of the potential value of Peirce’s original discoveries. Nor can the failures of its alleged proponents be considered deci- sive in spelling the end of a complex research program first envisioned by Peirce as the clarification of meaning or of the purport of propositions claiming to be substan- tive knowledge (on the Peircean linkage of theory and praxis, see Apel 1995).

We are engaged here with the history of ideas/theo- ries in their historical grounding and sociopolitical reso- nance. Just as Marx sought to fuse theory and practice, dismantling the conventional disjunction of traditional materialism and pietistic idealism, Peirce conceived his task as a singular if necessary one: it is that of defining the proper vocation of the philosopher/public intellectual as the discoverer of testable knowledge by a community of inquirers. To put it another way, it is essentially the resolution of philosophy’s salient and enduring problems by reconstructing the foundations of logic, of the scien- tific method, within an evolutionary communal perspec- tive. By the same token, pragmatism also has to be judged in terms of historical specificity and local efficacity. Its practictioners, from Peirce and James to Dewey, Mead,

and others, need to be framed in the historical context of the cultural, political and economic conflicts of their times, that is, the concrete contradictions in the U.S. social formation within the global historical process. Accordingly, our itinerary will be tentative and provision- al, treated basically as steps in the interminable road of inquiry, heeding Peirce’s slogan not to block that road.

Expelled from the Orthodox Sanctuary

We might inquire less on how pragmatism became the object of attack by Marxist critics as on what key ideas seem most objectionable. A history of misconstruals can eventually be drawn up after sketching the “bones of contention.” Elaborations of these crucial anathemas and oppositions may be cited here. Apart from the somewhat inept condemnation of pragmatism as a “philosophy of imperialism” mounted by Harry K. Wells in 1954, one may cite the Trotskyite George Novback’s treatise, “Dialectical Materialism vs. Pragmatism: The Logic of John Dewey” (1974; later published as a book in 1975) and the orthodox British Marxist’s Maurice Conforth’sScience Versus Idealism: In Defense of Philosophy against Positivism and Pragmatism (1962; reprinted in 1975).
As late as 1976, John Hoffman lumps pragmatism as a species of “subjective idealism” (145) similar to empiri- cism, phenomenalism, and positivism. This is long after the 1967 publication of Karl-Otto Apel’s judicious sum- ming-up of Peirce’s philosophy and its refutation of neopositivism and crude empiricism ascribed to Peirce. A survey of the attacks against pragmatism as consolidated in John Dewey’s instrumentalism, but also implicating William James, will be attempted on another occasion.

For a start, let us look at the definition given by the Soviet authorities. The 1967 edition of A Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by M. Rosenthal and P. Yudin, sets a standard for delimiting pragmatism as subjective idealism or obscurantism. Peirce is charged for being responsible for the principle of determining the value of truth by “its practical utility.” To William James is ascribed the prac- tice of solving philosophical disputes “by means of com- paring ‘practical consequences; truth, for pragmatists, is ‘what works best in the way of leading us, what fits every part of life best and combines with the collectivity of experience’s demands” (1967, 357). The tendentious manner of quoting is revealing. The Soviet authors fur- ther ascribe a subjectivist understanding of practice and truth to pragmatists, making a concept an instrument of action (Dewey) and “cognition as the sum total of subjec- tive truths,” as in the humanism of British philosopher F.C.S. Schiller. The Dictionary posits the belief that prag- matists uphold the “subjective interests of the individ- ual,” which are equated with “practical utility.” The pragmatists are labelled “radical empiricists,” identifying objective reality with experience in which subject and object are permanently disjoined and polarized.

The Soviet text thus indicts pragmatism as subjec- tivist because it limits truth to practical utility viewed

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from an individualist optic, from crass expediency. James is dismissed as an open irrationalist, Dewey a covert
one who regards the laws and forms of logic as useful fictions. The brunt of the charge is uncompromising: “Pragmatism subscribes to meliorism in ethics, while in sociology it varies from the cult of “outstanding individu- als” (James) and apology for bourgeois democracy (Dewey) to an outright defence of racism and fascism (F.C.S. Schiller)” (1967, 358). Sidney Hook is then charged for anti-communism, for his “experimental natu- ralism.” Other manifestations are condemned: C.W. Morris’ semantic idealism, P. W. Bridgman’s opera- tionism (sic) , and the equally reprehensible logical for- malism of C.I. Lewis, R. Carnap and W. Quine. Finally the Soviet experts conclude that pragmatism has given way to neo-positivism and religion as the dominant influ- ence on the spiritual life of the United States.

A clue to the stubborn fixation on characterizing pragmatism as subjectivism may be found in the entry on Peirce in the Dictionary. Peirce allegedly decreed the law that “the value of an idea lies in its practical results” (1967, 335). And because results are identified with sen- sations, Peirce becomes a follower of Berkeley. This sub- jective-idealist theory of knowledge is then tied to the three methods of pragmatism: the methods of persist- ence, of authority, and the scientific method. The last statement was a blatant error, so it was omitted in the 1984 reprint. Finally, the authors acknowledge that Peirce also worked out an objective-idealist theory of development based on the principle of “chance” and “love” as guiding forces. Nonetheless Peirce is credited with having made significant contributions to semiotics, the theory of probability and the logic of relations.

Genealogy of Distortions

How the Soviet experts can completely mis-read Peirce’s texts, may be clarified by examining the possible source of this muddle. In his polemic Pragmatism: Philosophy of Imperialism, Harry K. Wells identified the three methods of fixing belief that Peirce outlined as those of pragmatism. Clearly Peirce rejected the first two traditional methods, tenacity and authority, and proposed the third, the method of science. But Wells dismissed this as demagogy and solipsism, charging Peirce with posi- tivism. This tack is often repeated in numerous “Marxist” judgments of pragmatism implicating Peirce’s early essays of 1877-78, “The Fixation of Belief” and “How To Make Our Ideas Clear” (1998), without reference to the more substantial expositions of pragmaticism in the last decades of his life.

Peirce’s pragmaticism needs to be historically speci- fied to distinguish the early nominalist leanings and the later realist conviction. His early formulations (expressed originally in those two foundational essays but modified later in 1903 Harvard Lectures on pragmatism) seem to be so enigmatic that they generate the opposite of what they purport to convey. When Peirce argues that scientif-

ic beliefs depend on “some external permanency” not dependent on any single individual consciousness, Wells interprets this as a denial of the objective material world. When Peirce asserts that “Reality, like every other quali- ty, consists in the peculiar sensible effects which things partaking of it produce…” and that in turn “cause belief” when reworked in consciousness, Wells accuses Peirce of reducing reality to a belief or a habit of action in which “we act as though a thing were real” (1954, 37). While Peirce was striving to emphasize that reality does not depend on individual interest, Wells adamantly insists that Peirce was proposing a “doctrine of sheer expedien- cy in means and ends, the doctrine that the end justifies the use of any means” (39). Such distortions are typical, replicated and inflected in various ways.

One would think that after a decade or more, Peirce’s ideas would finally receive a more intelligent reading. The highly acclaimed Marxist thinker Leszek Kolakowski follows the trend of labeling Peirce a posi- tivist and, more flagrantly, a nominalist. He focuses on Peirce’s pragmatic test of meaning. The meaning of any statement lies in “what practical consequences it involves. Peirce explicitly goes so far as to say that the meaning of a judgment is entirely exhausted in its practical conse- quences” (1968, 151). But practical testability did not constitute truth, Kolakowski explains, since for Peirce, truth was “a relation of correspondence between judg- ments and actual states of affairs” which empirical criteria help humans to discover. While correctly estimating Peirce as chiefly concerned with “perfecting knowledge, not with its possible immediate benefits,” Kolakowski insists that Peirce’s denial of essences or any authentic reality behind phenomena distinguish him as a positivist, a “champion of scientism,” who holds that all questions that cannot be settled by the natural and deductive sci- ences be ignored or relegated to the realm of nonsense. This is directly contradicted by Peirce’s belief that “our logically controlled thoughts compose a small part of the mind (1998, 241). The fact is that Peirce posited in Firstness the source of inexhaustible qualities, not a Kantian incognizable essence but a real generality retro- ducted or abducted by intersubjective communication (Habermas 1971, 135-37). This is the cognizable reality behind primitive sense-data which by inference become perceptual judgments, the outcome of intellectual opera- tions. Moreover, Peirce emphasized that the act of con- ceiving effects translatable into habits of action allows “any flight of imagination, provided this imagination ultimately alights upon a possible practical effect” (1998, 235), with the imagination operative in the “general pur- posiveness” of action immanent in the category of Thirdness.

Why was Peirce engaged in examining the formation of beliefs (rules of action), habits of action, the interface between rationality and conduct? Kolakowski cannot rec- oncile the larger ethical and political implications of Peirce’s inquiry, a task fully explored by the German

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philosophers Apel (1967; 1995) and Jurgen Habermas (1971). Nonetheless, Kolakowski concludes that in his theory of meaningfulness, Peirce belongs to the school
of the Vienna logical positivists, associating him with Bertrand Russell, Alfred Ayer, and the early Ludwig Wittgenstein. Ayer, however, astutely separates James’s notion of the “cash value” of words evoking sense-experi- ences from Peirce’s scientific standards of fixing the meaning of words based on publicly repeatable proce- dures and evolving changes in our apprehension of the laws of nature (1982). However, this is not merely abstract formal verification as performed by the Vienna School and their followers; it involves prediction of out- comes of possible action, with social values and purposes invested in the logical clarification of meanings. As Kaplan puts it, pragmatist knowledge is not just a record of the past but “a reconstruction of the present directed toward fulfillments in the emerging future” (1961, 27).

Specifying Peirce’s Pragmaticism

Before proceeding further in correcting wrong construals and one-sided glosses, let us review the funda- mental theorems behind Pierce’s pragmaticist interven- tion.

The distinctive feature of Peirce’s theoretical stance is his affirmation of the reality of generals, of concepts that enable thought and the production of knowledge. This conviction regarding real general forces and objects constitutes Peirce’s realism (of the moderate kind aligned with the scholastic realism of Duns Scotus). He describes his position thus: “No collection of facts can constitute a law, for the law goes beyond any accomplished facts and determines how facts that may be, but all of which never can have happened, shall be characterized. There is no objection to saying that a law is a general fact, provided that it be understood that the general has an admixture of potentiality, so that no congeries of actions here and now can ever make a general fact” (1.420). For Peirce, “What anything really is, is what it may finally come to be known to be in the ideal state of complete information, so that reality depends on the ultimate decision of the community” of inquirers (5.316). In the key notion of “potentiality,” which functions in Peirce’s analysis of the shifting roles of chance and determination, one may dis- cern the motive-force of change, novelty, and sociohis- torical transformations in people’s lives. Not only is the new always in the process of emerging; movements in reality are prefigured and anticipated in the deployment and articulation of signs.

This realism is diametrically opposed to nominalism which characterizes the foundational platform of posi- tivists, idealists, neopragmatists. The nominalists are concerned only with particulars, dismissing generals or universal concepts as mere names, arbitrary fictions use- ful for language-games. Thus for nominalists there is no such thing as beauty or virtue, only particulars with prop- erties that can be designated beautiful or virtuous. Facts,

events, objects are entirely disconnected, for the nomi- nalists; only the mind unites them. This also explains the voguish rejection by deconstructionists and transnationl- izing scholars of all generalities stigmatized as essential- ism or universalism, or any claim to discovering knowledge applicable to societies across a range of cul- tures, times and places. An agnostic relativism ensues, with its attendant politics of nihilism or opportunism, at best of charitable pluralism and its latter incarnation, humanitarian imperialism (the refurbished version of the old “civilizing mission” of European empires).

But how do we define a concept? Peirce holds that
if we act in a certain manner, then we will have certain experiences providing ideas—the practical result; these ideas constitute the meaning of the concept or general being defined. According to Peirce: “In order to ascertain the meaning of an intellectual conception one should consider what practical consequences might conceivably result by necessity from the truth of that conception, and the sum of these consequences will constitute the entire meaning of the conception” (5.9). Note that “conse- quences” here simply means the process of connecting antecedents and consequents; the sum-total of those con- nections, sense-experiences eventually arranged into beliefs and habits of action, will enable the discovery of the relation between general ideas and reality (outside of any one’s mind), which Peirce’s realism privileges as the goal of experimental inquiry.

Peirce’s realism underlies his theory of the scientific method. In this way belief is fixed by the pressure of real- ity, not our consciousness, by means of publicly observ- able modes of investigation leading to some agreement, a social consensus. This socialized cooperative endeavor ultimately leads to the achievement of “concrete reason- ableness.” It advances knowledge and the human control of the social and natural environments. To be sure, the charge of subjectivism immediately dissolves when we bear in mind Peirce’s stricture: “The real is that which is not whatever we happen to think, but is unaffected by what we may think of it” (8.12). This coincides with the Marxist principle of epistemic realism, with theory as “empirically controlled retroduction of an adequate account of the structures producing the manifest phe- nomena of socioeconomic life” (Bhaskar 1983, 434). Knowing what is true is then not a result of copying of appearances (the reflectionist or correspondence view of truth) but a product of a process of systematic inquiry. Theory, the field of generals for Peirce, involves the making of hypothesis, more precisely abduction (the pragmatic maxim, in short) as the positing of universal propositions about structures (generals) inferred from perceptual judgments in experience (more on abduction later).

Always Historicize

Realism (inflected as naturalism and materialism) embraces both epistemology and a research program,

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Peirce’s “logic of inquiry.” Antithetical to Alex Callinicos’ (1985) claim that Marx’s realism holds that reality is independent of all interpretive activity, the second thesis on Feuerbach proclaims that “the question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but a practical question” (Marx- Engels 1978, 144). Marx concurs with Peirce provided “practice” is broadened to include the whole repertoire of logical-semiotic experimentation, with its ethical and aesthetic resonance. Both Marx and Peirce recognized an objective reality independent of consciousness, but they also subscribed to the historicity of knowledge.

Analogous to Marx and Engel’s reliance on organic intellectuals of the proletariat, Peirce also emphasized the community of knowledge-seekers, not solitary geniuses, committed to the pursuit of knowledge. It is a collective project sustained by publicly shared results and the falli- ble process of verification: “The opinion which is fated
to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real” (5.407). Truth then is the outcome of social agreement, subject to the test of falsifiability, and open to correction; a truth-claim refers to the real, to objective reality. Peirce’s theory of reality emerges from communal agreement adjusted to the needs of society.

Accordingly, reality is defined in terms of correlated human experiences, common deliberations, and compar- ative testing of results governed by rationally agreed rules of action. The process of knowing thus is a practical activity, though this does not reduce science to merely an epiphenomenal expression of the historical Zeitgeist and consequent ethical relativism. Nature and social forms are transitory and emergent, but their appearances can- not be fully cognized or comprehended without positing structures/theoretical ensembles via abduction, hypothet- ical inferences, and evaluating them via deduction, induc- tion, and even intuitive guesses. Marx and Peirce are agreed on this methodical principle. When Marx’s his- toric rationalism (its progressive impetus informs Peirce’s “concrete reasonableness”) is combined with Peirce’s epistemic realism, we obtain the most creative transac- tion between Peirce’s pragmaticism and Marx-Engel’s practical materialism and its singular mode of dialectical reasoning based on what John Bellamy Foster calls “the logic of emergence” (2000, 233; for an early review of the conflicted relation between scientism and Marxism, see Aronowitz 1988).

For Peirce the critical realist, the actual regularity of the universe can be explained by the action of forces act- ing in accordance with laws, but also accounting for devi- ations. In Marx’s view, the phenomenal appearances in the universe can be understood only from hypothetical structures (for example, value) which are irreducible to phenomena or sense-data. The concrete real can be grasped in thought by a critical transformation of pre- existing theories and conceptions constitutive of the phenomena being analyzed. Marx, however, required

the testing of hypothesis through praxis. Likewise, Peirce subjected hypotheses to tests and practical results con- verging in common agreement. Perhaps this impelled Peirce to posit mind (later, a non-psychic Interpretant) as basic when it is linked to habits that assume natural law- like behavior; however, such habits are never precise nor rigid, hence the intervention of absolute chance in the universe. This is the dimension of historicism that “Western Marxists” (such as Adorno, Marcuse, etc.) adopted in reaction to a deterministic, positivist science that dominated the triumphalist technocrats of the Stalinist epoch.

One needs to stress here that Peirce’s science is defi- nitely not mechanistic, without feedback checks, teleo- logical, nor hermeneutically opaque to humanistic traditions and social exigencies. Nor is it premised on Enlightenment meliorism tied to Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. One can speculate that Peirce’s doc- trine of tychism (enabled by the categories of Firstness and Secondness) emerged in diametric opposition to var- ious forms of scientistic determinism. Because habits congregate and form larger networks, totalities, wholes (his theory of synechism), Peirce holds that the universe is moving from domination by chance at the start toward complete order through habit-formation and its purpose- directed mutations. This process of evolution impelled by an inner principle of creative love, leading to a stage in which everything is infused with “Reasonableness,” the universe becoming “a vast representamen, a great symbol of God’s purpose, working out its conclusions in living realities” (5.119). So much for Pierce’s metaphysi- cal speculations that resemble those of Alfred North Whitehead and other scientific thinkers engaged in cos- mological extrapolations.

The Three Modalities of Being

Generality and potentiality are linked together in Peirce’s theorizing of knowledge and the horizon of inquiry. This parallels Marx’s interface of mode of pro- duction and social relations in the analysis of historical development. The moot point is how change or motion proceeds and is grasped on various levels of abstraction. How to describe and interpret the import of matter in motion, history, this logic of emergence of social life in nature, not only the past and present but also the future, both potentiality and actuality—all these can be illumi- nated and charted by Peirce’s semiotics along the path that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and others have traced, provided we take into account the historic origin and limits of Peirce’s metaphysics within the epoch of the United States’ transition from industrial capitalism to imperialism, from the end of the Civil War, the Spanish- American War, the annexation of Cuba and the Philippines, and World War I.

Before we pursue this theme further, it is necessary to expound Peirce’s epistemology, closely tied to his semiotics or triadic theory of signs. Next to the nominal-

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ist-realist demarcation which clears up the muddle caused by tagging Peirce as a positivist, Peirce’s categori- al scheme might be the best key to unfolding what may be his immanent dialectics, one much more infinitely complicated than Engels in its articulation of the inter- weaving of complex varieties of signs or signifying processes that comprise patterns of experience, including variations or changes in cultural styles, tastes, norms—in short, the stratified and differentiated reality that Marx treated in Capital. In both the Grundrisse and Marx’sNotes on Adolph Wagner (Carver 1975), we encounter Marx’s methodological principle that while transhistori- cal structures or concepts are necessary, the experience and institutions of specific societies at different periods, as well as the complex of historical determinations that comprise its concrete reality, need to be carefully investi- gated and meticulously analyzed. That lesson was drawn from criticizing the reductionist fallacies vitiating the political economy of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, etc.

While analytically distinct, Peirce’s ontological cate- gories of Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness are articu- lations of modes of being, not transcendental dogmatic absolutes. They operate differently in logic, metaphysics, epistemology, language analysis, etc. These three modes of being may resemble the casuistry of scholastic meta- physics, but their application in semiotics and social cri- tique differs from Christian apologetics. They provide the rationale for the pragmatic method of ascertaining the real meaning of any concept, doctrine, proposition, word or other signs. Their connections and transitions spell out the actual configuration of change in observable phenomena, calibrating the play of contingency and determination in the passage and vicissitudes of events, peoples, and their interaction with the biosphere.

The three categories are not hierarchical but inter- penetrative or interactive. In summary, Firstness refers to the potentiality of an actual idea, a possibility. It is not the domain of Plato’s hypostatized Forms nor scholastic essences, but a transitional moment between nothing and an existent thought or object; not a nothing but less than an actual thought, only its possibility. Firstness may be a color sensation, not yet red or blue, but only its possibili- ty. The sense experiences are possibilities that may become actualized in the next step of understanding.
In terms of the triadic sign-system, Firstness refers to a mere quality, a presence, a sin-sign or icon in relation to its object, the site of novelty and emergences. Firstness is the prelogical, intuitive feature of immediate appearances that defy description.

Secondness designates an actually existing object or event analyzable into qualities and properties of matter. It involves reaction or brute actuality, “the blind force [that] is an element of experience distinct from rationality or logical force” (1.220). This is the realm of conflict, antagonism, resistance. In terms of signs, Secondness is
a token or sin-sign, an object or event, with indices as

signs with dynamic or causal relations to their objects. Qualities of bodies belong to Firstness, but they are actu- alized when only they are experienced, thereby generat- ing a percept in the mind. In turn this sense-percept or sense-data, the result of a psychological process, appears in consciousness as a feeling or image, already an intel- lectual judgment. While Peirce asserted that “the percept is the reality” (5.568), to make full sense, immediate per- ception undergoes modification when the mind confronts linkages and crossings of percepts and begins to abstract concepts expressed in symbols, the realm of Thirdness, of conventions, transhistorical paradigms and structures.

We then move to Thirdness, a meaning or general concept, derived from percepts through the power of abstraction (exemplified in the mind’s capacity to infer by induction, deduction, and abduction). This is the sphere of generals that constitute meaning; they are real because they have verifiable, external counterparts in the per- cepts. In the percept one encounters Firstness in the perceived object become actualized. To be meaningful, every abstract concept or idea must refer to a percept (Secondness). All men are mortal, but mortality is not the same for all men; the mortality that belongs to each man is similar to the mortality that belongs to each of his fel- low men. It is the same with Marx’s concept of value, the two-fold character of labor concretized historically into use-value and exchange value (Marx-Engels 1978, 308- 328).

We confuse similarity with identity when we handle concepts as pure abstractions, or pure Firstness, without reference to their actualization. Peirce made the same point when he noted that for nominalists, “man” is appli- cable to something real, “but he believes that there is beneath this a thing in itself, an incognizable reality. His is the metaphysical figment… The great argument for nominalism is that there is no man unless there is some particular man” (5.312). Early on Peirce rejected Kant’s unknowable thing-in-itself (in the 1868 essays on “Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man” [1998b, 64-118]). Peirce remarks that the species “man” is real because it may be found in any man by abstracting it from his accidental or particularizing char- acteristics. We make a distinction between the species in any man and his other accidental characteristics, by the process of abstraction (logical inferences). The nominal- ists are the positivists who dare not proceed further than the realm of sense-data, fictional names, atomistic facts. We can see clearly here a parallel with Marx’s discrimina- tion of value into use-value and exchange-value, value itself being a real general comprehensible apart from its varied historical incarnations and without which the vari- able phenomena—for example, the fetishistic commodi- ty-form—cannot be made intelligible for any purposive research program.

What are some consequences of this mode of cogniz- ing reality when compared with Marxist historicizing epistemology? Is Peirce’s formulation idealistic or materi-

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alist, grounded in Hegelian ideas or empirical observa- tions and rational hypothesis? Is Peirce’s pragmaticist theory of meaning inconsistent with the dialectical schema of investigation as delineated by Bertell Ollman, for example? I have already suggested parallels or ana- logues between Peircean pragmaticism and Marx’s struc- turalist-historical dialectics earlier, but a few more affinities may be mentioned here for future elaboration.

Envisioning Comparative Dialectics

By consensus, Marx’s method in analyzing capitalism as a historical system is materialist dialectics with a line- age dating back to Heraclitus and Epicurus up to Diderot and Hegel. Marx criticized the idealist basis of Hegel’s dialectics in various works: Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of the State, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, The Holy Family, The German Ideology, and The Poverty of Philosophy. In demystifying Hegel’s method and rescuing its rational kernel, Marx emphasized the autonomy of nature and the historicity of social forms. In Roy Bhaskar’s formulation, Marx counterposed to Hegel’s idealist inversion “a con- ception of universals as properties of particular things, knowledge as irreducibly empirical, and civil society (lat- er modes of production) as the foundation of the state.” Marx replaced Hegel’s “immanent spiritual teleology of infinite, petrified and finite mind” with “a methodologi- cal commitment to the empirically-controlled investiga- tion of the causal relations within and between historically emergent, developing humanity and irre- ducibly real, but modifiable nature” (1983, 123). In effect, Firstness (potentialities) and Secondness (actuali- ties) were privileged in grasping the concrete determina- tions of Thirdness, the lawful regularities inferrable by hypothesis or abduction from perceptual judgments.

Overturning the topsy-turvy world of Hegel’s Geist, Marx rejected Hegel’s absolute Spirit and its tacit link with atomistic empiricism, conceiving matter and motion as irreducible to thought. Marx valued differentiation and complexity (as in the notion of uneven and combined development), causal and not conceptual necessity, and empirically verified totalities. This was demonstrated particularly in his discovery of the two-fold character of labor and the existence of surplus labor (a generality) apart from its particular sociohistoric embodiments. He initiated a science of history thickened with nuanced ontological stratification, analysis of rational purposes in social praxis, and a flexible apparatus for charting the vicissitudes of sociohistorical becoming or change (Farr 1991). This way of “doing science differently,” as Daniel Bensaid observed, shown in Marx’s critique of classical political economy “aspires to a different rationality… Constrained by its object (the social relations and eco- nomic rhythms of capital), by the non-linear logic of its temporalities, by disconcerting ‘laws’ that contradict themselves,” Marx’s science deploys “a strategic thought” attentive to what is hidden, obscure, irrational—in short, to chance, as Peirce located it in an open-ended, evolving

universe: “The premisses of Nature’s own process are all the independent uncaused elements of fact that go to make up the variety of nature, which the necessitarian supposes to have been all in existence from the founda- tion of the world, but which the Tychist [partisan of chance] supposes are continually receiving new accre- tions” (1998a, 194).

Masks of Dialectics

The core of Marxian dialectics has been the subject of numerous expositions. For this occasion, we can attach it to the way Marx defined the contradictions of capital- ism as deriving from the structural contradictions between the use-value and the value of the commodity, between concrete, useful and abstract social aspects of labor, and their expressions in class antagonisms. Reciprocal interaction, subsumptions, and playful alter- nations characterize opposites. The fundamental struc- tural contradictions of any social formation (between forces and relations of production, between production and valorization process, etc.) are inclusive oppositions, interpenetrating with each other, all sprung from the his- torical legacy of the separation of the immediate produc- ers from the means and materials of production and from the nexus of social relations with nature.

Contending that dialectics is universally applicable, Fredrick Engels proposed that it is “the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought” (1931, 39). In his Dialectics of Nature, Engels summed up the three main laws of mate- rialist dialectics, often converted into scriptural dogmas by party fanatics: 1) the transformation of quantity into quality and vice-versa; 2) the interpenetration of oppo- sites, and 3) the negation of the negation (1940, 26). In my undergraduate days (to add a personal note), these three laws were condensed in Mao’s aphorism, easily car- ried out by subaltern vulgarizers: To know what a pear is, just eat it, QED! Pears in the Philippines were imported from the neocolonial power, the masters of U.S. corpo- rate agribusiness. Needless to say, such “laws” or tenden- cies also need to be made concrete in thought by spelling out manifold determinations involving the three modali- ties that Peirce outlined in order for their meaning to be socially proved via hypothetical inferences, validated by logical rules of deduction, induction, etc.

Since I am mainly doing an exploratory survey in finding out how Peirce’s thinking can help strengthen and sharpen the way Marxists have analyzed social change, I will limit myself to the theme of contradiction. Bertell Ollman has aptly stressed the critical and revolu- tionary nature of the Marxist dialectic, critical because it helps us learn and understand our situation as victims and actors with power (if mobilized and organized) to change things, and revolutionary because it grasps the present as a moment of transformation. Science becomes a causal agent when translated by a community with an activist program: scientific understanding of the laws of motion

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of bourgeois society forces us to comprehend where present capitalist society came from and where it is head- ing, and our role in this transformation. Marx’s dialectical critique of reality (alienated in capitalism) concentrates on four kinds of relations (identity/difference; interpene- tration of opposites; quantity/quality, and contradiction). Elucidation of these relations enabled Marx “to attain his double aim of discovering how something works or hap- pened while simultaneously developing his understanding of the system in which such things could work or happen in just this way” (Ollman 1993, 13).

Notwithstanding its ambiguous nuances, I submit that Peirce’s Thirdness is the sphere where contradiction, which is most vivid in Secondness, finds appropriate mediation. Thirdness is mediation or intelligibility, for Peirce, instanced in the legi-sign, and the symbol which functions as a sign of an object by virtue of a rule or habit of interpretation. While Firstness (presence) is unthink- able, and Secondness (brute actuality) is unintelligible— an element of experience distinct from rationality or logical force, the experience of Thirdness is the experi- ence of the intelligible, of “concrete reasonableness.” Once Marx has explained the ineluctable contradictions in the motion of socialized capital, its necessary dissolu- tion in crisis and the emergence of class consciousness in its victims, we reach the moment of Thirdness. The dis- covery of general laws of motion—by Lenin in the rise of capitalism in Russia, by Mao in the possibilities of peas- ant uprising contributing to proletarian mobilization— ushers us to a feasible point of grasping the import of phenomena synthesized by general laws. Thirdness, to the Marxist sensibility, designates the hazardous unpre- dictable course of revolution, with its contingencies, necessities, and ineluctable vicissitudes.

Totality and Process

Using a Peircean method of abduction–hypothetical inferences tested by historical testimony and evidence, Marx discovered the general laws of motion in capitalist society. In accord with ongoing political struggles and theoretical praxis, he drew out their implications and entailments in the political-ideological crisis of bourgeois hegemony. The interpretation of these laws were in turn refined, enriched and developed by Lenin in the imperi- alist stage, and by Gramsci, Mao, W.E. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Che Guevara, Frantz Fanon, and Amilcar Cabral in the dependent, peripheral outposts of Empire. The interpretants (linking the present and future, the actual and potential) included the organic intellectuals and the popular struggles in each social formation.

One of the first scholars to link Peirce’s method of abduction to Marx’s critical-dialectical method is Derek Sayer. In abstracting the essential relations from the phe- nomenal forms of the commodity, as well as the historical instantiations of surplus value, Marx applied not deduc- tive apriorist thinking nor a posteriori inductive reason-

ing. Instead, as Sayer demonstrates, he mobilized a realist mode of explaining the empirical correlations, “the mechanisms through which they are brought about, and behind them their conditions” (Sayer 1983, 114). This is the logic of hypothesis formation (N.R. Hanson’s retro- ductive scheme, for Sayer), positing mechanisms and conditions that would explain how and why the phenom- ena observed come to assume the forms they do.

Following this abductive or retroductive analytic, Marx attempts a dialectic mode of presentation which Sayer calls Kantian but which is more properly described as comic, cathartic, demystifying narrative. It historicizes the allegedly transcendental forms fetishized by bour- geois, classical political economy. In his commentary on the 1857 introduction to the Grundrisse and 1879-80Notes on Adolph Wegner, Terrell Carver (1975) also high- lighted Marx’s dialectical synthesis of phenomena and structures to generate the concrete universal concerning value, social relations of production, surplus value, and, in particular, the historic singularity of capitalist society. Rejecting eternal verities and the Robinson-Crusoe archetype of bourgeois economists, Marx began with the hypothetical premise that “the socially determined pro- duction carried on by individuals,” when thoroughly ana- lyzed, can elucidate the changes and development in various aspects (both universal and specific) of social life. His task involved both a critique of previous theories and an empirical investigation of sensory and intellectual experience of whole societies in the process of transition.

Historical materialism seems to confirm Peirce’s the- sis that these laws were not just mere conjunctions of actual individual instances, as empiricists would posit. The totality of relations—both social and international— that Lukacs privileged and that Engels crystallized in
the interpenetration of opposites (unity, not identity, of opposites) functions within the category of Thirdness. Peirce’s view was part of his synechism or doctrine that the universe contains genuinely continuous phenomena. Continuity does not imply linear causal determinism, or a closed universe of necessity; it allows the role of chance (Peirce’s tychism), spontaneity, and an evolutionary cos- mology premised on regularities of nature and mind as products of growth. Chance evinced in the Darwinian play of heredity and adaptation is accepted by both Peirce and Marx (for Christopher Caudwell’s contribu- tion, see Foster 2000).

Synechism, Peirce’s doctrine of continuity, holds that “ideas tend to spread continuously and to affect certain others which stand to them in a peculiar relation of affectability. In this spreading they lose intensity, and especially the power of affecting others, but gain general- ity and become welded with other ideas” (6.104). Peirce explains further that synechism is “founded on the notion that coalescence, the becoming continuous, the becom- ing governed by laws… are but phases of one and the same process of the growth of reasonableness” (5.4). The

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interanimation of ideas epitomized by synechism led Sidney Hook (1962) to associate it with Hegel’s dialecti- cal synthesis of thesis and antithesis, the temporal unity of opposites via sublation (Aufhebung). Peirce, however, grounds his dialectical ontology of internal relations in sociohistorical praxis (Sayer 1987), not in the transcen- dental domain of Absolute Spirit. The ideological refusal to appreciate these laws (tendencies, if you like) of motion and their outcome leads to the irrationalism and self-destructive impulses in bourgeois rule and its toxic ideology disseminated by sophisticated media and State apparatuses, e.g. spreading freedom and democracy in Afghanistan by drones, torture, subjugation of the popu- lace the U.S. is claiming to save and enlighten. Illusions bred by reality reinforce the ideological persistence of deceptive facts taken to be common sense, normal, busi- ness-as-usual routine.

There is an exciting reservoir of dialectical insights hidden in Peirce’s tychism that allows novelty, irregulari- ty, complexity and change in the universe (Brent 1998, 208). Because chance operates in the universe, the basic laws of nature and history are not apodictic but inexact, probabilistic, fallible. Peirce’s world-view allows the kind of revolutionary ruptures that utopian Marxists like Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin would prophesy in moments of apparent harmony in bourgeois systems. It encourages prediction of what is unexpected, unlikely, implausible; it entertains the unpredictable momentum of hidden forces behind the fetishized appearances of quotidian, commod- ity-oriented life.

The Real as Actual

Realism becomes the germinal anchor of hope. Believing that reality cannot be identified with actuality, Peirce asserts that there are real, objective possibilities ‘based on his realization that many conditional state- ments, for instance, the ‘practical’ conditionals expressing the empirical import of a proposition… cannot be con- strued as material or truth-functional conditionals, but must be regarded as modal (subjunctive) conditionals” (Hilpinen 1995, 568). In this framework, hope is deemed as real as any weapon in the class struggle. Such objective possibilities pervade Marx and Engels’ speculations on a future communist society (first prophesied in The Communist Manifesto), Rosa Luxemburg’s foresights on women’s liberation, and C.L.R. James’s anticipatory poli- tics of an evolving socialist era.

Aside from the semiotic triad of sign-production and the logic of abduction, I think Peirce’s notion of poten- tiality is the closest to the idea of dialectical sublation
or Aufhebung in Hegelian idealism. While possibility belongs to Firstness, potentiality belongs to Thirdness, the realm in which “an actualized sign’s potentiality for becoming what it is within its nature to come into inter- relation and interaction with all other signs. Potentiality is future-oriented, while possibility is present oriented” (Merrell 2000, 130). This notion of potentiality can

prove to be the most creative, versatile tool for a Marxist activist intellectual desiring to appropriate what is useful in Peirce’s pragmaticism for transformative praxis. We have seen that the pragmaticist maxim valorizes the total- ity of modes of rational conduct triggered by a practica- ble concept, taking into account also “the possible different circumstances and desires” of the participants involved in interpretation. Meaning is not indefinitely deferred; rather, as Leroy Searle observes, it “accepts meaning (as it does thought and reality itself) as a contin- uous process, which we determine, with arbitrary preci- sion (depending on ‘different circumstances and desires’) in communities of inquiry” (1994, 562). We can envisage a united front, a counter-hegemonic bloc of classes, gen- ders, sexualities, peoples, etc., their diverse interests and motivations articulated under the aegis of interminable Peircean inquiry.

One may venture that the final logical interpretant (the mediating catalyst between object and signifier or representamen) in Peirce’s semiotics may be figured as the leading or decisive force in the community of researchers. It may be the revolutionary agent, bearer
of intelligibility, aware of qualities (Firstness), immersed in existential agony (Secondness), but specifically removed in comprehending the totality of the situation (Thirdness) (Liszka 1996) and in synthesizing the meas- ures needed to change the situation. This allegorical translation speaks volumes if translated into the function of intellectuals/leaders in popular mass organizations seeking thoroughgoing, radical change.

In Marxist dialectics, the resolution of a contradic- tion proceeds through spirals and swerves that defy pre- cise calculation and final judgments. The potential order of evolving society is immanent in the conjuncture of events and their sequences. Given Peirce’s realism, the idea of general potentiality is as real as individual particu- larity. Continua or the continuum of events bear unactu- alized possibilities (Murphey1993, 394). Richard Robin paraphrases Peirce by saying that potentiality is part of reality and cannot be defined simply as future actuality, in the sense that revolutionary rupture is a potential quality in U.S. society but it can be actualized only in the future by way of fortuitous actions and organized interventions.

If pursued correctly, Peirce’s critical realism becomes a pedagogical heuristic for a kind of prophetic politics. If Marxists as revolutionaries seek to prefigure, anticipate and invent the future, just as scientists aspire to predict what’s to come, then their task is to assert meaningful propositions about events not yet actualized. In doing so they seek to prepare for the coming of these events. We therefore take the position that the realia are not just par- ticular undecidable individuals, as nominalists and posi- tivists hold, but also real indeterminate potentialities (on its application to communicative problems (see Apel 1995). Communism is already an extant if not nascent potential, so to speak, not just the seeds whose death spells the birth of new life and order. In short, it is

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already an emergent actuality in people’s everyday lives. Peirce’s idea of potentiality may already be present in

the Marxist concept of praxis enunciated in “Theses on Feuerbach.” It may also be embedded in Gramsci’s organic intellectual as the fusion of interpretation and action, or Lenin’s idea of a revolutionary party, educator and mobilizer of masses of people. Knowledge entails actionable or practicable assumptions. Richard Robin suggests that if “the function of knowledge is to enable us to control the future, then we must take potentialities seriously, for the future as known in the present consists entirely of potentialities, some of which will be actualized and some of which will not… An epistemology that takes into account the facts of human behavior and the work- ing practices of science must recognize that potentialities, while they cannot be identified with any class of individu- als, are nevertheless real. And the reason they are real is because, as Peirce first showed us, the world is general” (1998, 42).

The Crucible of Experience: Assaying Politics, Ethics, Morality

As partisans of radical inquiry, Marx and Engels worked all their lives to educate and inspire a community of inquirers (analogous to that envisaged by Peirce) that would join theory and practice, knowledge and action, to produce significant changes in society for the better: to liberate human potential, to enhance the domain of free activities, to promote beauty and self-fulfillment for all (see “Critique of the Gotha Program”). These changes precede and follow the pragmaticist call for habits or dis- positions founded on rational activities. For Peirce, as James Hoopes notes, “thinking is behavior,” an action just as real and historical as operating a machine or fight- ing a war (1991, 9). Peirce’s final reflection on the inter- face of ethics, politics and his brand of pragmaticist epistemology conveys a trenchant emancipatory message:

Just as conduct controlled by ethical reason tends toward fixing certain habits of conduct, the nature of which… does not depend upon any accidental circumstances, and in that sense may be said to be destined, so, thought, controlled by a rational experimental logic, tends to the fixation of certain opinions, equally destined, the nature of which will be the same in the end, however the perversity of thought of whole generations may cause the postponement of the ultimate fixation (CP 5.430, 1905)

For “perversity of thought,” one can substitute irra- tional social practices and institutions, and for the “ulti- mate fixation,” “concrete reasonableness” arrived at in the fated convergence of inquiry fulfilling the paramount ends of truth, rightness and beauty via logic, ethics and aesthetics. The last three normative sciences Peirce regarded as the foundation of pragmaticism (1998 a, 371- 397). In 1898, James gave a lecture entitled “Philosophy and the Conduct of Life” (1998a). This was also the peri- od in which he sympathized with the goals of the Anti-

Imperialist League of William James, Mark Twain, and others denouncing U.S. imperialist aggression in Cuba and particularly the Philippines. On various occasions Peirce alluded to the barbaric effects of U.S. colonial invasion of the Philippines (see Brent 1993). In his lec- ture, he contended that for advancing scientific knowl- edge, reason is key but for the vital concerns of morality and ethics, sentiment and instinct suffice. This has led many to consider Peirce an ambivalent if not inconsistent thinker.

But all the evidence points to the contrary. Eugene Rochberg-Halton connected Peirce’s notion of “instinc- tive mind” of the inquirer with purpose as a transaction in a complex environment susceptible to growth and cor- rection: “Instincts are accordingly, in their proper envi- ronment, true ideas” (1986, 10). As Cheryl Misak (2004) has cogently shown, Peirce adhered to a cognitivist, falli- bilist standard which subjects any belief to the test of experience and rational argument. Consequently, moral and ethical deliberations are responsive to the broad range of experience, including “the spontaneous conjec- tures of instinctive reason” underlying abduction. Mizak reminds us that Peirce conceived of logic as normative, ethical, thought under self-control: “Thinking is a kind of action, and reasoning is a kind of deliberate action, and to call an argument illogical, or a proposition false,
is a special kind of moral judgment” (Peirce quoted in Mizak 2004, 170). Writing at the beginning of the Cold War, Donald S. Mackay summed up the original intent of pragmatism: “Instead of elaborating theories about ‘pas- sive’ states of knowledge in a knowing mind, or ‘contents’ of knowledge within its own fixed and immutable forms, pragmatism offered a working hypothesis concerning the practice of knowledge in ‘the real business of living’” (1950, 398).

Finally, one can venture the “musement” (Peirce’s term for imagination) that Peirce’s socialism inheres in his trust in the moral universalism of the scientific com- munity. Cornel West noted Peirce’s “agapastic theory of evolution” as a critique of Darwinian mechanical necessi- tarianism and its implied individualism (1989, 52-53; see also Smith 1963, 32-37). If thinking is already practice, then all humans—as Gramsci reminded us—are already intellectuals in one degree or another, functioning according to their capacities and social situations. In effect, all citizens are protagonists in the shaping of their everyday lives and, as collectives, in the reconstruction of their societies. Peirce would concur with this notion of a communal enterprise striving toward “concrete reason- ableness” in the reconstruction of the old decadent, oppressive, iniquitous society. This hypothesis captures the essential relevance of Peirce’s pragmaticist realism for Marxist intellectuals whose program of research and its implementation coincides with the problematic of their effective and feasible intervention in the revolutionary process of their time.

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Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

DILIMAN SOUVENIRS by E.San Juan, Jr.


VintaDILIMAN SOUVENIRS: Charles Sanders Peirce’s Interpretants and the Return of the Suppressed

(Lecture delivered on 13 Feb 2018 at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, QC)

Magandang Hapon sa ating lahat!

First of all, I would like to thank Chancellor Michael Tan and Dr. Lily Rose Tope for giving me the privilege of teaching again in the classroom of my alma mater, and for Dr. Ruth Pison for being the helmsman, the experienced cartographer, charting the troubled waters of our graduate seminar in literary theory. It has been a learning experience for me, rereading Saussure, Jakobson, Lacan, Barthes, Irigaray, Derrida, etc. who have provoked, alarmed, or bewildered our smart students.—one of them coming all the way from Nueva Ecija to attend our Wednesday sessions. If I use the personal pronoun here, please consider it also as an allegorical stand-in for the generation that grew up after Liberation, from 1945 to 1965.

Historicizing from the Dustbin

This is not the first time I have engaged in teaching here. After I graduated in 1958, the patriarchs of the Department Prof Cristino Jamias and Leopoldo Yabes hired me as an instructor from 1958 to 1960.  In due time, the patriarchal order was fortuitously changed; my contemporaries Pete Daroy, Ernie Manalo, Max Ramos Jr. and others departed long ago for the other shore; and so too, mentors like Alfredo Lagmay, Cesar Majul, etc. After finishing graduate school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I taught again in 1966-67 when famous Amboy Carlos P. Romulo was president. I taught again here in 1987-88 as a Fulbright teaching fellow, and in 2008 sheperded the theory seminar with Prof. Preachy Legasto. This may be my last stint, a memorable one, thanks to all our colleagues and assistants in the Department.

Just a snapshot of the Fifties: My first teachers in English 1 were Prof Elmer Ordonez whose memorable assignment was to comment on Ivan Bunin’s “The Gentleman from San Francisco” included in the old pocketbook anthology of short stories; and Prof. Franz Arcellana, who wrote slowly on the blackboard, with his left hand, the definition of “precis” taken from the big Harry Shaw textbook. 

But it was the textbook Approach to Literature by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, the archpriests of American New Criticism, which, I think, made a lasting impact on me as an English major then. After that, I switched my interest to philosophy (Alfred Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic became our treasured scripture, which did not prevent me from reading Sartre, Camus, Kierkegaard, Malraux, etc.), having made friends with students and teachers in that department, in particular Armando Bonifacio and other heretics, whose periodical Inquiry published Franz’s comment on my poem which I will refer to later. 

A short parenthesis: my textbook learning faded, but one lesson that stuck was the time Prof. N.V.M. Gonzalez, whose writing courses was dominated by one single book, Herbert Read’s English Prose Style, took members of the class to attend the Manila Court hearing of the libel suit againt Estrella Alfon for the obscenity of her story, “Fairy Tale of the City.” That conveyed to me the undeniable embeddedness of art, disciplinary institutions (aside from the classroom), and the sociopolitical regime affecting human conduct. Later on, when I wrote a review of Signatures (edited by colleagues Alex Hufana and Rony Diaa) at  Franz’s request, I was threatened with a lawsuit filed by the poet Oscar de Zuniga enraged by my comments.

Interlude

What intervened after my apprenticeship with formalist New Criticism–my book on Oscar Wilde, despite the philological-historicist bent of my advisers Jerome Buckley and Douglas Bush, is basically formalist, not really contextualized in the gender wars then brewing in the early sixties–was the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement culminating in May 1968–as well as the First Quarter Storm, the Diliman Commune, and the imposition of the Marcos dictatorship in 1972. My U.P. Press book, Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle, was still largely traditional formalist commentary, evincing a lag, nonsynchronized with the structuralist and post-structuralist tide that swept the academy from 1968 to 1986.  

The influence of the changes that occurred, in particular the revision of the canon, and the transformation of critical standards–the eruption of feminist, ethnic, and subaltern/people-of-color agencies in the social text–overturned my previous empiricist, New Critical horizon.

Marks of its effect may be found in the much-attacked book from left and right, Subversions of Desire: Prolegomena to Nick Joaquin in 1988. Unbeknowst to many, it will be reprinted by the University of Santo Tomas, since the Jesuits are no longer interested in the unorthodox, difficult and eclectic discourse filled with references to Lacan, Foucault, Benjamin, Jameson, Deleuze-Guattari. and Kristeva. This will be my excuse to transit to the problem of semiotics based on the Saussurean paradigm that

orients both structuralist and postmodernist thinking (including postcolonial criticism) so fashionable still, though Derrida has been replaced by Butler, in the metropolitan and neocolonized institutions of higher learning

Signifiers Galore

     Even before May 1968, the deluge of the dancing signifiers began.  A crucial event is the 1967 Johns Hopkins Conference on “The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,” where the archpriests of poststructuralism (Lacan, Derrida, Barthes, etc.) entered the scene, literary theory and criticism suffered a sea-change, as it were. In After Theory. Terry Eagleton summed up the historic contexts of 1965-1980–“the age of civil rights and student insurgency, national liberation fronts,anti-war andanti-nuclear campaigns, the emergence of the women’s movement, and the heyday of cultural liberation,” in which the sensibility of society had “shifted from the earnest, self-disciplined andd submissive to the cool, hedonistic and insubordinate. If there was widespread disaffection, there was also visionary hope” (825).  

The present seemed then “the herald of a new future,t he portal to a land of  boundless possibility”–until 1989, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, shock therapy for the Soviet system, followed closely by the Iraq War, 9 /11 and the global war on terrorism, and the erosion of the Neoliberal dispensation from the 2008 global capitalist earthquake and the explosions in Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and the entire Middle East. We are still living the aftershock of those events.

To understand this re-arrangement of the landscape, I urged our graduate students to review Saussure’s foundational remarks on the dyadic structure of the sign, and the larger frame of Jakobson’s six functions of language in communication.  What has become salient is the arbitrary nature of the signifier-signified nexus and meaning as produced by systematic differences. Its divorce from objective reality seems assumed, though parole/speech seems somewhere out there defying lawful order and any fixed rule. Bakhtin was unheard of, and Jakobson forgotten. Meanwhiile, the entrance of Lacan signaled the advent of deconstruction, with signifiers shifting over the signified, meaning not only deferred or undecidable, but virtually impossible to pin down.

Another parenthesis: when I took a class with I.A. Richards in poetics in my first year at Harvard–I recall Ching Dadufalza exulting over her acquaintance with the founder of close formalist reading–he of course

assigned his book Coleridge on Imagination, as expected. But what surprised me was his emphasis on Jakobson’s 1958 landmark essay, “Linguistics and Poetics,” given at a conference in Indiana University, but only published later in 1960 in the book Style in Language, which Richards also assigned. 

I reminded the students not to forget Jakobson’s linguistic analysis. If Jakobson’s diagram on the functions of language were absorbed and popularized, it would have exerted some brake on the prevalence of Nietzschean/Heideggerian theorizing applied by Derrida, De Man, Hartman, Spivak, and their huge academic following. Jakobson’sformula on the axis of similarity (metaphor) imposed on the axis of contiguity (metonymy), remains unexplored. To quote Jakobson: “The poetic function projects the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection into the axis of combination” (39). But instead of this linguistic knowledge used by teachers, it is Lacan’s “floating signifiers” that have ruled the day ever since it was given in 1957 and publicized in translation in 1966. Students’ perplexity over Lacan persists, despite Jacobson and Peirce.

Absent the Author

      It is no longer news to learn of the author’s demise (announced by Roland Barthes) in between the interstitial locus of differance. By author, Barthes referred to the empiricist and rationalist conception of the individual origin of the text, its final signified. This classical idea of author presumably encloses the text within a single meaning enshrined in the author’s biography, instead of allowing its intertextuality to induce a variety of readers to produce multiple readings. From the modernist, avantgarde perspective, the texts of Mallarme, Joyce, etc. are the occasions of language speaking; they are not the author’s psyche, or a representation of its subjectivity. The narrators of Proust’s novel, or of Ulysses, are generated by the textual machine. 

In “What is an Author?” Michel Foucault has also informed us that the author-function is historically variable. It is defined by a variety of discourses and institutions (for example, copyright laws). Ancient epics or medieval romances do not have authors in the modern construal of individual originators or artificers. Foucault’s argument is tied to the death of the human subject, the Cartesian ego, determined not by conscience but by historically specific structures circumscribing its socio-political existence. Thus writing is not something that can be completed and appropriated but an interminable practice, a postmodern theme epitomized by Samuel Beckett’s character saying: “What does it matter who is speaking,” someone said, what does it matter who is speaking?”

Can Peirce’s Intervention Identify the Speaker?

Posted in DISCOURSES ON CONTRADICTIONS

SPEAKING/TEACHING FILIPINO IN THE U.S.–Filipino as a Mode of Self-determination–by E. San Juan, Jr.


VintaInventing Vernacular Speech-Acts: Articulating Filipino Self-Determination in the United States􏰀

E. San Juan, Jr.

From the time Filipinos arrived in the United States as “colonial wards” or subaltern subjects in the first decade of the twentieth century, the practice of speaking their vernacular tongues (whether Ilocano, Cebuano, Tagalog, or any of the other dozen regional languages) has been haunted by an interdiction. This accompanied the defeat of the revolutionary government of the first Philippine Republic at the end of the Filipino–American War (1899–1903) and the institutionalization of English as the official medium of communication in government, business, education, and so on. American English became an instru- ment of political and ideological domination throughout colonial rule (1898–1946) and neocolonial hegemony (1946–). With competence in English as the legal and ideological passport for entry of Filipinos into the continental United States as pensionados and contract laborers, the native vernaculars suffered virtual extinction in the public sphere. In exchange, the Philippines acquired the distinction of belonging to the empire of English-speaking peoples, texting messages intelligible at least to the merchants of global capitalism if not to George W. Bush and the Homeland surveillance agents at the airport. That is also the reason why Filipina domestic workers are highly valued in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and other countries in Europe and the Middle East.

U.S. linguistic terrorism has continued via subtle cooptation and juridical fiat. Up to the last quarter of the twentieth century, the custom of speaking the vernacular in the workplace was discouraged if not prohibited. Filipino nurses and government employees talking in Filipino/Pilipino were penalized, triggering legal suits by the aggrieved immigrants or naturalized citizens. “English Only” prevails.

􏰀A shorter version of this article appeared in DANYAG (June 2002).

Socialism and Democracy, Vol.19, No.1, March 2005, pp.136–154
ISSN 0885-4300 print/ISSN 1745-2635 online
DOI: 10.1080=0885430042000338462 # 2005 The Research Group on Socialism and Democracy

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Filipinos need not be heard or listened to so long as they performed according to expectations. Why learn or study the Filipino vernaculars when “they” can speak and understand English? With the sudden increase of Filipino migrants after 1965 and the growth of the multi- cultural ethos of the ’80s and ’90s, Filipinos discovered anew that they have always been speaking their native languages even while they ventriloquized in English. Filipino (usually referred to as “Pilipino”) has indeed become a lingua franca for recent immigrants in the “land of the free,” making it possible for the newly arrived from the “boondocks” to read post-office guidelines and tax regulations in Filipino.

But Filipino is still an exotic language, despite its vulgarization and accessibility via Internet and satellite media. While today courses in Arabic have become necessary aids for preparing all students for global citizenship, a college course in Filipino is a rarity. In the ’50s and ’60s, when the Huk insurgency disturbed the peace of the Cold War Establishment, courses in Tagalog were introduced in the univer- sities as part of Area Studies; experts were trained at least to read cap- tured documents from the underground, if not to assist in the propaganda and psy-war effort of the local military (San Juan 2000). In the ‘70s, politicized Filipino Americans successfully initiated pro- jects to teach Tagalog inside and outside the academy. With the displacement of the Philippines as a contested zone in Southeast Asia (despite the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), administrators have shifted resources to the study of Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese cultures. After all, isn’t the Philippines now a suburb of California? And hasn’t the current Arroyo administration reversed the trend of Filipinization by promulgating English as truly the privi- leged language for individual success, prestige, and acceptance?

Historical necessity has once more intervened in the “belly of the beast.” Filipinos have become the largest group in the Asian American ethnic category and are slowly beginning to realize the political impact of this demographic trend. With the upsurge of Filipino-Americans entering college and moving on to graduate schools, and given the heightened racial and ethnic antagonisms in this period of the border- less war against terrorism (recall the hundreds of Filipinos summarily deported in handcuffs and chains immediately following the 9/11 cat- astrophe), a new “politics of identity” seems to be emerging, this time manifesting itself in a demand for the offering of credited courses in Filipino as part of the multiculturalist program (San Juan 2002). In Spring 2002, I was requested by the community of Filipino and Filipino American students at the University of California, Irvine, to share my

E. San Juan, Jr. 137

138 Socialism and Democracy

ideas about the “language question.” The following provisional theses attempt to address this question in the context of the struggle of the Filipino nationality in the U.S. for democratic rights and the Filipino people in the Philippines and in the diaspora for national self- determination. It goes without saying that there are other still undiscerned factors overdetermining this complex conjuncture, particularly in this stage of the advanced corporatization of the U.S. university in late modernity; the following observations are meant to induce an exploration of the totality of social relations subtending this issue.

I

In dealing with the issue of linguistic freedom and bondage, I begin with the thesis that language cannot be separated from material-social activity, from human interaction. Marx and Engels write in The German Ideology: “Language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other humans.” Language is essentially a social phenomenon, embedded in collective human activity. Con- sciousness and language cannot be divorced; both are social products; they originate from work, from the labor process, whose historical changes determine the function of language as a means of communi- cation and as an integral component of everyday social practice, a signifier of national or ethnic identity.

Work or social labor then explains the structural properties of language. This does not mean, however, that given the unity of thought and language, linguistic structures imply different ways of thinking, world outlooks, etc. Contrary to Hitler’s idealizing slogan “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Sprache,” race, culture and language are not equivalent. We do not live in isolated language compartments with singular “takes” on reality. Forms of thought manifest a certain universality that are not affected by linguistic differences, even though speech acts derive their full import from the historical contexts and specific conditions of their performance. “Ideas do not exist sepa- rately from language” (Marx, Grundrisse, 1973, 163). And since the ideas of the ruling class prevail in every epoch as the ruling ideas, the uses of a particular language often reveal the imprint of this ruling class. Various classes may use the same language or operate in the same lin- guistic field, hence this domain of sign usage becomes, to quote Bakhtin/Voloshinov, “an arena of class struggle” (1986, 23). For exam- ple, Rizal used Spanish to counter the corrupt abuses of the friars and

reach his Spanish-speaking compatriots as well as reform-minded liberals in Spain. Likewise, Tagalog and other vernaculars were used by the Filipino elite in persuading peasants and workers to conform to American policies and ideas.

In sum, language as a practice of signification is not only reflective but also productive and reproductive of antagonistic social relations and political forces. It is a vehicle and an embodiment of power. Language usage manifests the pressure of contradictory class relations and concrete ideological structures that are registered on the level of special subcodes and idiolects.1 Language then is a socio-ideological phenomenon whose empirical manifestation can be investigated with scientific rigor.

Using this frame of inquiry, let us examine the status of Filipino/ Pilipino vis-a`-vis English within the Filipino community (totaling nearly 3 million) in the United States. A historical background is imperative in assessing the worth of languages relative to each other, specifically in the context of the fraught relations between the Philippines as a former colony, now a neocolony, of the United States, and the hegemonic nation-state, now the “only remaining super- power” in this period of “endless war” against terrorist multitudes.

With the violent conquest of the Philippines after the Filipino– American War of 1899 to 1914 (I include the wars that tried to pacify the Moros), which cost 1.4 million Filipino lives, the U.S. imposed colo- nial institutions on the subjugated natives. The process of what Renato Constantino famously called “the mis-education of Filipinos” began with the imposition of English as the chief medium of instruction. This was not, as one historian puts it (Arcilla 1971), because the teacher-volunteers who arrived on the St. Thomas in 1901 knew no Spanish, but rather because English was the language of the U.S. ruling class, the vehicle for inculcating the American “way of life,” its institutions and normative practices, in their colonial subjects (see Martin 2002). Contrary to the supposed intention of democratizing society, the use of English “perpetuated the existence of the ilustra- dos—American ilustrados” loyal to the United States, analogous to the Spanish-speaking Filipino elite who sought reforms within Spanish

1. While “idiolects” refer to those aspects of an individual’s speech pattern that deviate from group norms, the idiolect of, say, a Christian or Islamic fundamentalist believer represents a code of free variants mimicking certain sociocultural patterns of thought (Ducrot & Todorov 1979, 57). An idiolect then becomes intelligible as a departure from the normal usage of words (Riffatere 1983) and resembles what Mikhail Bakhtin calls “ideologeme” or “utterance” amenable to rational semantic analysis (1981).

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hegemony. Constantino cites Simoun’s denunciation of the latter in Rizal’s novel El Filibusterismo:

You ask for equal rights, the Hispanization of your customs, and you don’t see that what you are begging for is suicide, the destruction of your nationality, the annihilation of your fatherland, the consecration of tyranny! What will you be in the future? A people without character, a nation without liberty— everything you have will be borrowed, even your very defects! . . . What are you going to do with Castilian, the few of you who will speak it? Kill off your own originality, subordinate your thoughts to other brains, and instead of freeing yourselves, make yourselves slaves indeed! Nine-tenths of those of you who pretend to be enlightened are renegades to your country! He among you who talks that language neglects his own in such a way that he neither writes it nor understands it, and how many have I not seen who pretended not to know a single word of it! (quoted in Constantino 1966, 55)

In 1924, the American scholar Najeeb Saleeby deplored the attempt to impose English, in the manner of Alexander the Great and Napoleon, on multitudinous groups speaking different tongues. It was already a failure twenty-five years after the U.S. established schools in the pacified regions. But in preserving imperial hegemony, the policy was not a failure at all. It has proved extremely effective: English as linguistic capital has functioned to sustain the iniquitous class hierarchy and maintain the subordination of the nation-state to the power that monopolizes such capital in the form of control over the mass media, information, and other symbolic instruments and resources in a globalized economy. I think the purpose was to make English-speakers not out of all Filipinos, but just out of those classes—the elite and intelligentsia—that have proved crucial in reinforcing and reproducing consent to U.S. imperial rule.

The historical record is summed up by Constantino: “Spanish colo- nialism Westernized the Filipino principally through religion. Ameri- can colonialism superimposed its own brand of Westernization initially through the imposition of English and the American school system which opened the way for other Westernizing agencies” (1978, 218). Superior economic and technological power, of course, enabled the American colonizers to proceed without serious resistance. Inscribed within the state educational apparatus, American English as a pedagogical, disciplinary instrument contributed significantly to the political, economic and cultural domination of the Filipino people. American English performed its function in enforcing, maintaining, and reproducing the values and interests of the imperial power and the dominant native class. Its usage was not neutral nor merely prag- matic; it was a deliberately chosen ideological weapon in subjugating

whole populations (including the Muslims and indigenous commu- nities), in producing and reproducing colonial—and later neocolo- nial—relations of production.

As I have said, no language (like English) as a system of signs is by itself exploitative or oppressive. It is the political usages and their his- torical effects that need evaluation. Consequently, the use of the coloni- zer’s language cannot be separated from its control of the educational system, the panoply of commercial relations and bureaucratic machin- ery which instill consumerist values, white supremacy, and acquisitive individualism within the procedural modus operandi of a so-called “free enterprise” system. Over half a century of tutelage de-Filipinized youth and “taught them to regard American culture as superior to any other, and American society as the model par excellence for Philippine society” (Constantino 1974, 39). Individual and public consciousness had been so Americanized that a Filipino national identity was aborted, suppressed, unable to emerge fully except in outbursts of revolt and insurrection—a durable tradition of revolutionary resistance that we should be proud of.

What of Filipino and the other vernaculars? When the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status in 1935, an attempt was made to develop a national language based on Tagalog. This exemplifies the kind of language planning where a colonial state engages in the forma- tive task of constructing a formalistic notion of nationality using one of the local languages as a means of authentiticating the legitimacy of the Americanized elite (Fishman 1972). Pilipino evolved despite the objec- tions of other regional ethnolinguistic groups, a hostility born from the “divide-and-rule” strategy imposed by U.S. colonial tutelage that undermined the hegemonic ambitions of the minority elite. Note that, of course, the ruling bloc of local landlords, compradors and bureaucrats was completely subservient to U.S. dictates even up to and beyond formal independence in 1946. Up to now, it is no secret that the Philippine military is completely dependent on U.S. largesse for its weaponry and logistics, including the training of its officers in counterinsurgency warfare (as witness the prolongation and systema- tization of joint training exercises against the Abu Sayyaf and other insurgents in violation of the 1986 Philippine Constitution which prohi- bits the active participation of foreign troops in local law enforcement). Over 80% of Filipinos can speak or understand Filipino in everyday transactions throughout the islands. While some progress has been made today in institutionalizing the use of Filipino as an intellectual medium in university courses, English remains the preferred language of business and government, the language of prestige and aspiration.

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Decolonization of the Filipino mind has not been completed, hence Filipino remains subordinate, marginalized, or erased as a language of power and self-affirmation of the people’s sovereign identity.

Like other colonized parts of the world, the Philippines was a mul- tilingual society during the heyday of Spanish imperialism. While formal colonialism no longer obtains, a linguistic imperialism con- tinues, with English employed as the international language of science, technology, business and finance, world communications and international academic studies—despite some nativization of American English in the Philippines. This will continue unless the poli- tical economy and power relations in the whole society are changed.

II

The rise of the U.S. Empire in Asia beginning with the defeat of Spanish power translated into a reassertion of Anglo-Saxon “manifest destiny.” This is a continuation of a long saga of territorial expansion from the Eastern seaboard of the continent. When Filipinos entered U.S. metropolitan territory, first in Hawaii as recruited plantation workers in the first three decades of the last century, the U.S. was already a racial polity founded on the confinement of the indigenous Indians, the slavery and segregation of blacks, the conquest of Spanish-speaking natives, and the proscription of Asian labor. The U.S. was and is a multi- lingual polity, with English as the hegemonic language.

A language community is not by itself sufficient to produce an ethnic or national identity. English cannot by itself define the American national identity as such, even though it is within this linguistic com- munity that individuals are interpellated as subjects, subjects as bearers of discourse—persons defined as subject-positions sutured within discourses of law, genealogy, history, political choices, pro- fessional qualifications, psychology, and so on. This construction of identity by language is open to incalculable contingencies; what makes it able to demarcate the frontiers of a particular people is a prin- ciple of closure or exclusion. And this fictive ethnicity is accomplished in the historical constitution of the U.S. nation-state based on the dis- courses of the free market and white supremacy.

Etienne Balibar has shown how the French nation initially gave pri- vileged place to language or linguistic uniformity as coincident with political unity; the French state democratized its citizens by coercively suppressing cultural particularisms, the local patois. “For its part,” Balibar observes, “the American ‘revolutionary nation’ built its original

ideals on a double repression: that of the extermination of the Amerin- dian ‘natives’ and that of the difference between free ‘White’ men and ‘Black’ slaves. The linguistic community inherited from the Anglo-Saxon ‘country’ did not pose a problem—at least apparently— until Hispanic immigration conferred upon it the significance of class symbol and racial feature” (Balibar & Wallerstein 1991, 104). In other words, the phantasm of the American race defined as English speakers materialized when the Spanish-speaking indigenes of the Southwest were defeated in the war of 1848. Thus, the national ideology of the ‘melting-pot’ of a new race emerged “as a hierarchical combination of the different ethnic contributions,” based on the inferiority of Asian labor immigrants and “the social inequalities inherited from slavery and reinforced by the economic exploitation of the Blacks” (Balibar & Wallerstein 1991, 104). It is within this historical process of ethnicization of the American identity under an assimilative or plural- ist ideology that we can then locate the supremacy of American English over the other languages of various ethnic groups within the polity. It is also in this historical context of the formation of the American multicul- tural pluralist imaginary that problems of citizenship, equality of rights, multilingualism, neocolonialism, nationalism or international- ism, should be placed and analyzed.

In the United States today, we have various languages spoken and practised everywhere—Spanish being the most widespread, Black English vernacular (BEV), creole in Louisiana and New York City, Russian in Brooklyn, and so on—testifying to a multilingual society. But as studies have demonstrated, the failure of the school authorities in the U.S. to recognize BEV as a separate language has continuously retarded the educational progress of black children (Spears 1999). BEV, like the varieties of Spanish, functions as a symbolic marker sig- nifying membership in a particular ethnic group.

Why is one’s use of a particular language important? Language usage or behavior is closely connected with one’s perception of self and one’s identity. The British sociolinguist Robert Le Page has pro- posed a theory of language use in terms of acts of identity. According to Le Page, “the individual creates his or her own language behavior so that it resembles that of the group or groups with which he wishes to be identified, to the extent that: he can identify the groups; observe and analyze such groups; is motivated to adapt his behavior; and is still able to adapt his behavior. By so doing the individual is thus able to locate himself in the ‘multi-dimensional’ space defined by such groups in terms of factors such as sex, age, social class, occupation and other parameters for social group membership, including ethnicity”

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(Cashmore 1984, 173). In Britain, the use of a modified Jamaican creole by second-generation Britishers of Caribbean descent is an example of acts of identity-formation, an assertion of an ethnic identity associated with such cultural interests as rastafarianism, reggae music, and so on. By consciously adopting this creole or patois, the youth are expressing their solidarity, ethnic pride, and symbolic resistance to what they perceive as a repressive and racist society.

One may ask: Has the Filipino community in the U.S. considered language as one of the most important social practices through which they come to experience themselves as subjects with some critical agency, that is, not merely as objects trained to consume and be con- sumed? Have Filipino scholars examined language as a site for cultural and ideological struggle, a mechanism which produces and reproduces antagonistic relations between ethnic immigrant communities and the dominant EuroAmerican society? In my forty years in the U.S., I have not encountered among our ranks—except for a few academics influ- enced by the late Virgilio Enriquez—any special awareness of the importance of Filipino and the other vernaculars.

In the dismal archive of ethnic studies of Filipino Americans, we encounter a species of identity politics that is unable to escape the hege- monic strategies of containment and sublimation. Ironically, this poli- tics is really designed for encouraging painless assimilation. For example, Antonio Pido’s The Pilipino in America (1986) is a repository of scholastic cliches and rehash of received opinions, at best an eclectic survey that tries to coalesce the contradictory tendencies in the research field as well as those in the community during the Marcos dictatorship. Recently, the collection Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity(1997) edited by Maria P.P. Root, tried to advance beyond the Establish- ment banalities, but to no avail, although gays and lesbians have suc- ceeded in occupying their niches amid cries for “healing the cultural amnesia and sense of shame.” I have no problem celebrating Filipino firsts, but I think historical memory of this ingratiating kind cannot decolonize our psyches since we use such memory to compete with other people of color in grabbing a piece of the American pie. Pido’s contribution to this anthology compounded the muddle of pseudo- egalitarianism afforded by “melting” into the multiracial “pot” that still informs Establishment versions of multiculturalism. This is particularly lamentable in the neoconservative climate of the ’90s when one encountered everywhere the wish-fulfilling belief that Filipinos have transcended their ethnicity in assuming some kind of mutant or freakish existence. The ideological basis of assimilation by keeping one’s ethnic identity may be gleaned from this version of

constructing a hybrid figure: “Such solidarity did not happen to the Pilipino Americans because they are Pilipinos who are in America, as their parents and grandparents were, but rather because they are Americans who are Pilipinos” (Pido 1997, 37). An ambivalent opportu- nist indeed if not an enigmatic trickster figure. None of the essays, if I recall, deal with the discrimination of Filipinos on account of their speaking Pilipino/Filipino at the workplace, or elsewhere.

In a study on Filipino Americans, Pauline Agbayani-Siewert and Linda Revilla comment on the Filipino group’s lack of a “strong ethnic identity.” They give a lot of space to the issue of whether Filipino should be spelled with an F or P. In spite of disagreements among post- 1965 and pre-1965 immigrants, they note that Filipinos are distin- guished by their adherence to “traditional Filipino values” relating to family togetherness and respect for elders. So what else is new? What is interesting about their survey is that they touch on the issue of language, remarking that “language is a questionable indicator of Filipino immigrants’ acculturation,” without adding that of course their country of origin has been thoroughly Americanized in language, if not in customs and habits. They cite a study which indicated that 71% of Filipinos speak a language other than English at home, although 91% of them claimed being able to speak English well or very well. Their conclusion: “This suggests that most Filipinos who have been natura- lized citizens [Filipinos have a 45% naturalization rate, the highest among Asian groups] and who can speak English well still prefer to speak their native language at home” (Siewert & Revilla 1995, 152). What does this signify? In general, third generation children no longer speak the languages of their grandparents.

One interpretation is that of Yen Le Espiritu, author of the ethno- graphic collection, Filipino American Lives. While conceding that Filipinos, despite some mobility and cultural adaptation, are still not fully accepted as “Americans,” Le Espiritu claims that this is not bad because Filipinos are really “transmigrants,” that is, they resist racial categorization and at the same time sustain “multistranded relations between the Philippines and the United States” (1995, 27). This hypoth- esis is flawed. Espiritu wants Filipinos to have their cake and eat it too. While some may succeed in manipulating their identities so that they both accommodate and resist their subordination within the global capitalist system—a tightrope performance not really warranted by the biographies she presents—they do not constitute the stereotype. Especially in the case of those who came in the last two decades, Filipinos have not really become the full-blown hybrids conjured by postmodernist-postcolonial academics. The majority of the testimonies

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gathered by Espiritu provide incontrovertible proof that despite sly forms of resistance, institutional racism has continued to inflict damage on the lives and collective psyche of the Filipino community, whether some of them are perceived as transmigrants or not.

In fact the transmigrant paradigm cannot explain adequately the linguistic behavior of Filipinos. Siewert and Revilla report that Filipinos have begun to challenge the “English only” policies at the workplace. They cite one case in the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where seven Filipino workers filed a grievance after being penalized for failing to use only English for business purposes (on the assumption that “only English” use facilitates the efficient perfor- mance of mandated routine tasks). The policy was eventually rescinded, but we are not informed what the views of the experts are. Since they are obsessed with acculturation or cultural assimilation, they probably feel that the case was not really significant since Filipinos are bilingual anyway, and they can be flexible or versatile in adapting to the exigencies of their minority situation. Never mind that they have to suppress their need to speak in Filipino.

To recapitulate: The development of U.S. capitalism concomitant with the growth and consolidation of American English has proceeded from the onset of imperial expansion in the U.S. victory over Spain, to the conquest of world hegemony during the Cold War (1947–1989). The Civil Rights movement succeeded (through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later the Bilingual Education Act of 1968) to mandate the use of non-English voting ballots and the funding of bilingual edu- cation programs serving primarily Hispanics to expedite their tran- sition to competent English users. Due to various revisions, bilingual education programs (which started in 1963 in Miami, Florida, to help the children of Cuban exiles) only serve a small proportion of the total population. And yet some were alarmed by the increase of Hispa- nics in many states. One of them, Senator S.I. Hayakawa, a naturalized Canadian immigrant of Japanese descent, founded the organization U.S. English in 1983 after sponsoring a bill in 1981 to make English the official language of the U.S. (Fischer et al. 1997). In a penetrating critique of the ideological scaffolding of the “English-Only” movement, Andrew Hartman traces its genealogy to the “historical racism” and white supremacy that continue to legitimize the hierarchical class division in U.S. society. With perspicuous documentation, Hartman not only emphasizes the racist ideology of colonialism underlying the subjugation of Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, and other nationalities, but also underscores how the English-Only campaign “reinforces the divisive effects of capitalist stratification,” undermining

labor solidarity and scapegoating immigrants; in effect, “the English- only movement embodies the colonial model of language as oppres- sion” (Hartman 2003, 199; see also Emerman 1991).

On the whole, I agree with Hartman that this phenomenon of lin- guistic nationalism may be construed as a symptom of the sharpening contradictions in U.S. hegemonic maintenance. In addition I would suggest that the program to subtly institutionalize English as the official language of “free-market” capitalism may be construed as one plank of the IMF/World Bank/WTO neoliberal agenda for continued transna- tional domination which has been effectively challenged by antigloba- lization forces (Mazrui 2003; San Juan 2003). In actuality, what has been happening in the last decades involves an implicit “reorganization of cultural hegemony” by the ruling elite faced with a sharpening politi- cal, social and economic crisis of the system since the end of the Vietnam War. We may interpret this English-Only movement as an index to the resurgent nativist hostility to the recent influx of immi- grants from Latin America and Asia—aliens that supposedly disunite America and threaten the supremacy of the “American Way of Life” (Nunberg 2000). The English First anti-immigrant phenomenon can easily be demystified and translated as the symptom of a moral panic, a fanatical zeal to preserve the status quo, “a fear of cultural change and a deep-seated worry that European Americans will be dis- placed from their dominant position in American life” (Douglas Massey quoted in Zelinsky 2001, 192). This symptomatic reading finds its rationale in Antonio Gramsci’s insight:

Each time that in one way or another, the question of language comes to the fore, that signifies that a series of other problems is about to emerge, the for- mation and enlarging of the ruling class, the necessity to establish more “inti- mate and sure relations between the ruling groups and the popular masses, that is, the reorganization of cultural hegemony (1971, 16).

III

In 1985 then Education Secretary William Bennett judged bilingual education a failure because it only promoted ethnic pride despite the fact that programs like the Transitional Bilingual Education program and the Family English literacy programs no longer seek to fund classes conducted in the original ethnic languages. Four million language-minority students are now herded to monolingual “immer- sion” English classrooms which, according to one expert, often fail to teach anything but English. And this avoidance of using English as

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the only medium of instruction is supposed to explain why they don’t have equal educational opportunities and become complete failures.

One opponent of the bills to make English the official language, Rep. Stephen Solarz, expressed a sentiment shared by many liberals who endorse pluralism or multiculturalism under the shibboleth of a common civic culture. Language is a matter of indifference, these liberals argue, so long as the cement of the civic culture holds the market-system, individual rights, and private property together. Solarz argued that the proposals “represent a concession to nativist instincts and are incompatible with the cultural diversity and ethnic pluralism that constitute fundamental strengths of our nation . . . We are…a tapestry of many races, creeds, religions, and ethnic back- grounds—each independent, but all interwoven with one another . . .The glue that bonds these diverse communities together is not com- monality of language, but a commitment to the democratic ideals on which our country was founded” (1997, 251). Aside from these banal- ities, Solarz also opined that those proposals could pose significant threats to the civil and constitutional rights of citizens with little or no English proficiency.”

In this he was right because English triumphalism signifies a mode of racialization: the institutional subordination of other communities and other languages to white supremacy and its cultural hegemony. This was in part the thrust of the challenge made in the class-action suit of 1970, Lau v. Nichols, in which 1,790 Chinese children enrolled in the public schools in San Francisco argued against the SF Unified School District that they were not being provided with an equal edu- cation because all instruction and materials were in English, which the children did not understand. Futhermore, the plaintiffs contended that English-only education for non-English-speaking children was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment, which guar- antees to all citizens the equal protection of the laws. Moreover, such education was illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which rules that “no person in the United States shall be . . . subjected to dis- crimination under any program receiving Federal financial assistance” (the District was receiving funds from the federal government). The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Chinese students, but only on the basis of the Civil Rights Act; the Constitutional issue was avoided and the Court left the remedy to local school boards (Fischer et al. 1997, 242–5).

It is this 1974 Lau decision that can serve as the basis for litigation against public educational institutions that refuse to provide language services to students of limited English-speaking ability. It is a legal

precedent on which institutions receiving federal money can be held accountable. But it is not one which engages the question of injustice, discrimination, and inequality in a racial polity such as the United States. It is not one which addresses, more specifically, the subordina- tion of nationalities (like Filipinos) and their diverse languages as a consequence of the past colonial subjugation and present neocolonial status of their countries of origin. This is not a matter of personal opinion, feeling or subjective speculation, but a matter for historical inquiry and empirical verification.

Following the mandate of federal laws, Tagalog or Filipino is now being used in census forms, ballots, postal notices, and even in public announcements of flights to the Philippines in some airports. Is this a sign that the racial polity has changed and abolished institutional impediments to the recognition of the identity and dignity of the Filipino as a cultural-political subject? Are we now living in a classless and race-blind society? Scarcely. Such events as Filipino History Month or Independence parades in fact confirm the hierarchical placing of the various ethnic communities within the pluralist schema that repro- duces monolingualism and Anglocentrism in everday life. Even the concession to fund classes in Filipino, or, to cite a recent trend, Arabic—suddenly classes in Arabic multiplied after 9/11—may be a deceptive means of convincing a few that linguistic, racial and sex dis- crimination are amenable to such piecemeal reforms.

Apart from the neoconservative backlash of the ’80s and ’90s, the advent of post-9/11 hegemony of the “only remaining superpower” entrenched in a National Security State, the imperilled “Homeland,” almost guarantees a regime of unmitigated surveillance and policing of public spaces where ethnic differences are sometimes displayed. Filipinos speaking Tagalog make themselves vulnerable to arrest— recall the case of 62 overstaying Filipinos deported in June 2003, handcuffed and manacled like ordinary criminals throughout the long flight back to Clark Field, Philippines; and subsequently, the case of eight Filipino airport mechanics in Texas, victims of racial pro- filing and suspected of having links with Arab terrorists.

Filipino sounds completely unlike Arabic or Russian. What has made Filipino or Tagalog visible in our multicultural landscape is of course the huge flow of recent immigrants who are not as proficient in English as the earlier “waves” after 1965. Movies, music and other mass-media cultural products using Filipino are more widely dis- seminated today than before. In addition, the resurgent nationalist movement in the Philippines, despite the lingering horrors of the Marcos dictatorship (1972–86), has brought to center-stage the nightly

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televised images of rallies where the messages of protest and rebellion against U.S. imperialism are often conveyed in Filipino. The nationalist resurgence in the Philippines, as well as in the diaspora of 7–9 million Filipinos around the world, has rebounded miraculously from the sixties and has continued to revitalize Filipino as the language of critical protest and nationalist self-determination. I don’t have to mention the anxiety and tensions provoked when children cannot understand their parents who, as Siewert and Revilla indicate, prefer to use Filipino or other vernaculars at home.

IV

We are surrounded now by a preponderance of newly-arrived Filipinos who use Filipino to make sense of their new experiences, a necessary stage in their arduous life here, before they are able to gain mastery of standard English and feel more capable of directing their lives. But learning English language skills alone does not automatically translate to access to limited opportunities, not to mention genuine empowerment, as witness the plight of black Americans, or the 60 million functionally illiterate citizens in this affluent, technically superior society. Meanwhile, these Filipinos feel dispossessed and mar- ginalized, completely alienated, either resentful or more servile, depending on the complex circumstances of daily life. If and when they enter school (formal or informal), their language experience (in Filipino or other indigenous languages) is delegitimized by a pedago- gical system which operates on the assumption that knowledge acqui- sition is a matter of learning the standard English, thus abstracting English from its ideological charge and socioeconomic implications.

I don’t recall anytime when Filipinos have demanded access to bilin- gual education in the same way that Latinos and Chinese Americans have. And I know that the request for classes in Filipino/Tagalog is nothing compared to the substantial programs in bilingual education among Hispanics. Still, it might be useful to quote the educational scholar Donaldo Macedo’s comments on the current philosophy:

The view that teaching English constitutes education sustains a notion of ideol- ogy that systematically negates rather than makes meaningful the cultural experiences of the subordinate linguistic groups who are, by and large, the objects of its policies. For the education of linguistic minority students to become meaningful it has to be situated within a theory of cultural production and viewed as an integral part of the way in which people produce, transform and reproduce meaning. Bilingual education, in this sense, must be seen as a medium that constitutes and affirms the historical and existential moments of lived culture . . . [S]tudents learn to read faster and with better

comprehension when taught in their native tongue. The immediate recognition of familiar words and experiences enhances the development of a positive self- concept in children who are somewhat insecure about the status of their language and culture. For this reason, and to be consistent with the plan to con- struct a democratic society free from vestiges of oppression, a minority literacy program must be rooted in the cultural capital of subordinate groups and have as its point of departure their own language (2000, 309).

Macedo rightly emphasizes the daily lived experiences of linguistic minorities rooted in collective and individual self-determination. He considers their language as “a major force in the construction of human subjectivities,” since language “may either confirm or deny the life histories and experiences of the people who use it.” We need to underscore the role of language as cultural or symbolic capital, a theme on which Pierre Bourdieu (1991) has elaborated.

Literacy must be based on the reality of subaltern life if it is to be effective in any strategy of real empowerment, in the decolonization of schooling for a start. Only by taking into account the language of everyday lived experience—and connecting this with the community’s struggles to survive and maintain its integrity and autonomy—can we fully grasp what role the use of Filipino plays in the nationality’s pursuit of a truly dignified and creative life as full-fledged citizens. This is, to my mind, a pursuit that cannot be achieved except as part of the collective democratic struggles of other people of color and the vast majority of working citizens oppressed by a class-divided, racial- ized and gendered order.

And this system—globalized or neoimperialist capitalism—is the same one suppressing the possibilities for equality, justice and auton- omy in the Philippines. There is as yet no truly sovereign Filipino nation. I believe it is still in the process of slow, painful becoming. If so, how do we size up or assay persons who claim to be Filipinos, or whose geopolitical identities are somehow linked to the nation-state called the Philippines? Benedict Anderson theorized that modern nations are “imagined communities” made possible by print-capital- ism and the “fatal diversity of human language” (1994, 95). If that is true, then the Philippines was imagined through American English mediated in schools, mass media, sports, and other cultural practices. Both the institutions of print capitalism and the schools were controlled and administered by the United States for half a century; even after formal independence, most of us dream and fantasize in English mixed with Tagalog (Taglish), or one of the vernaculars.

We see then that language and the process of thinking form a dia- lectical unity. While Filipino has become the effective lingua franca, the

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community in the Philippines is still imagined in a babel of languages, with Cebuanos, for example, refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance unless it is in Cebuano. Less a political gesture than a symptom, this situation reflects the inchoate or abortive project of constructing a Filipino national identity, the clearest proof of which is the failure to develop one language through which the intellectual, political and economic development of the masses can be articulated.

We have no alternative. We need to continue the task of reshaping our cultural identity as Filipinos whether in the U.S. or in the Philippines, in this perilous age of anti-terrorism. I want to quote Paolo Freire, the great Brazilian educator, whose work Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been a profound influence everywhere. Freire reminds us:

At a particular moment in the struggle for self-affirmation, when subordinated to and exploited by the ruling class, no social group or class or even an entire nation or people can undertake the struggle for liberation without the use of a language. At no time can there be a struggle for liberation and self-affirmation without the formation of an identity, and identity of the individual, the group, the social class, or whatever . . . Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle. I will only fight you if I am very sure of myself . . . This is why colo- nized peoples need to preserve their native language . . . They help defend one’s sense of identity and they are absolutely necessary in the process of strug- gling for liberation (1985, 186).

Whether here or in the Philippines, we are still, whether we like it or not, entangled, caught, implicated, in this ongoing process of struggling for liberation. A liberatory and radical approach to language, as part of cultural production and pedagogical praxis, is in order. How can we tell our stories in our own words? How do we retrieve the lost voices of our people, valorize their lived experiences, and in the process trans- form the way Filipinos as a group are treated in the metropolis?

To re-appropriate the submerged or erased revolutionary legacy of our people, we need a language that is an integral and authentic part of that culture—a language that is not just “an instrument of communi- cation, but also a structure of thinking for the national being” (Freire 1985, 184), that is, a tool for self-reflection and critical analysis, a crea- tive and transforming agent committed to solidarity, social responsibil- ity, and justice for the masses. That language needed to reconstruct our history and reappropriate our culture cannot be English but must be an evolving Filipino, which draws its resources from all the other vernacu- lars. If we allow English to continue in the Philippines as a hegemonic cultural force, this will simply perpetuate the colonial legacy of class- racialized inequalities—need I remind you that we are still a genuine neocolony—and allow imperial ideology to determine the parameters

of our historical and scientific development, not only for the Philip- pines but also for those who choose to leave and settle in other lands within the inescapable globalized market system. The challenge that faces us today, and for as long as we speak English, is to request or demand that the teaching and learning of Filipino be given space at every level of the educational system.

Allow me to conclude with quotes from Lenin on the question of the equality of languages:

Whoever does not recognize and champion the equality of nations and languages, and does not fight against all national oppression or inequality, is not a Marxist; he is not even a democrat . . . For different nations to live together in peace and freedom or to separate and form different states (if that is more convenient for them), a full democracy, upheld by the working class, is essen- tial. No privileges for any nation or any one language! . . . such are the prin- ciples of working-class democracy (1983, 100, 116).

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