Brian & Other Side Shows

1.  

Brian Gorrel, the Aussie who exposed the swindle by his Filipino lover, has reportedly earned since March 4 two million hits for his blog – making him “the J.K. Rowling of blogs.” 

Which reminds us all about the latent voyeurism among bloggers who are predisposed to display tabloid revelations about the shenanigans of the rich & famous. The confession of “being there, done that” leads credibility to the tattler, & woe to the personae of his high-society drama who’d get whupped by his electronic tele-novela.  

It is not so much the authenticity of his truths that had dazzled the furious living on the fast lane: after all, racy gossip is the staple of high-society & even your lower class ghettos, as if affirming Schopenhauer’s disdain about mediocre minds who concern themselves with people, not with ideas; but the fact that he confirms the underclass suspicion that those high-society dregs, & not they the sans cullotes, are the scum of the earth.  

It is their subconscious desire that is met by Brian’s blog: they maybe cheap shabu users but they’re not as vulgar as the ecstasy-driven crowd — a case of inverse shaudenfreude, wherein we gloat to hide ourselves.   


2.   

The two teeners who were decently dressed – you’d mistake them for kids out to go malling – belie the statistical projection of the government that “economic fundamentals” – whatever they mean by that, like the oft-repeated slogans “God is love” or “truth shall make you free” – are sound.  

From my window, I saw them scrounge among the bags of garbage lined up at the front gates for salvageable carton boxes & plastic bottles… People scavenging for food – no matter how bizarre or duplicitous their motives are – is argument enough that governance sucks, & GMA & her gang must go…  

But if only people were not as catatonic as they pretend to be, then the future is still negotiable. & actionable.  

What must it take to convince Filipinos that they’re dirt poor? Only a few are up in arms, as if life would take care of itself.  

It only hurts when we laugh. Alas, but “bleeding hearts also run dry.”  


3.   

The goddess, Justitia, “did not always,” according to Martin Jay, have her eyes covered. “The woman with the sword in one hand, representing the power of the State, & the scales in the other, derived from weighing of souls in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.” & medieval images of justice based on figures of Christ, St. Michael, or secular rulers “likewise provided them with the ability to make their judgments on the basis of usual evidence…” 

“But suddenly at the end of the fifteenth century, a blindfold began to be placed on the Goddess’s eyes, producing what has rightfully been called ‘the most enigmatic of the attributes of justice’.”  

Various negative implications were attributed to this shift, but the most positive would be the emblematic of “partiality & equality before the law.” 

The permutations have, of course, slipped the mind of most jurists in their judicial practices: the pragmatic consideration that their branch of governance no longer distances itself from the ruling executive office (as if we return to the original image of Justitia with blazing eyes) is too well-known to be denied – & law which is the refuge of the violated is, in common imagination that has never run out of proof, the impregnable shelter of scoundrels who must pretend to formulate a notion of justice independent, on surface, of the dictates of state apparat.  

The celebration that attends bar examinations & the subsequent cultic idolization of the elite ten is not, after all, an exercise in the upholding of the rule of law, but valorization of a nexus to the central power. Justice & truth are mere incidentals in the pursuit of their alleged exemplary career. A barrister is not necessarily trained to contradict the law, or excise it of its infirmities to shake the foundation of discourse, but to find within the interstices of schemes & textual logic that will secure victory on the ladderboard of the bourgeoisified practitioners. Of course, where law is proclaimed – & judicial intervention makes for alleged substantive moral arbitration – the option for street violence, nay the specter of revolution, is exorcised, or provisionally stalled inasmuch as the rule of civilization, of rationality in organization, must be observed. Despite misgivings that are usually construed as rebellion, ignorant or counterproductive. The law preens itself as repository of the legacy of the age of enlightenment, of the wise counsel of patriarchs of past generations.  

But law is part & parcel of the superstructure, which is discursive, cultural & historical, that is relatively autonomous in relation to the systemic base, or mode of production in any functioning society: that is to say, if for instance capitalism were to execute its own reproductive processes, it sources its strength on property rights & appropriation of surplus value, where conflict inevitably arises.  

Hence if private property is abolished – or the notion of it serves as a precondition for sociality of relationships – how would litigation prosper or be conducted? How would the court project its own authority? We are proposing here Law as the enunciation of provisions that emanate from a vacuum & exist unto itself, which may reduce it to a structuralist anti-humanism. 

On this side of the world that is contaminated by colonial politics yet prides itself of its alleged postmodernist objectivity & spectral judicial collage (note the importation of Watergate doctrine in the ponente) lawyers who man the ramparts of the state simply defend its rules & regulation with noxious superficiality, hushing the litigants to abide by the disciplinary import of their statements. & we can only appeal for reason from the very panel that has erroneously given the half-truth of legitimacy. Can the institution be entrusted to philosophers, even poets whom Plato derides because they usually stumble on truths that accidentally present themselves? 

Definitely not, for the practice of truth in language is very much a formalized, almost occultic concern among the robed defenders of power who are customarily armed with textual ambiguities to camouflage the failure of reason.  

The Supreme Court is a priesthood: its language adds up to its sacerdotal mystique. 

The nine jurists who proclaimed the majesty of executive privilege – thereby absolutizing in effect the power of the President & her cohorts – were simply mimicking Papal Bull of previous centuries where the religious monarchs would ordain the universal framing of good & evil for mankind – & no one would dare question it lest he suffers the punishment of burning at the stakes as a heretic or child of Lucifer. They have actually done a formalist reading that is close & autonomous of intervening variables of history & contexts, so much so that it would appear as if governance is floating on a bubble of air. The fundamentalist prescription is what the ponente projected, as if the signified of any signifier is singular & transparent. (Language theorist could very well lecture a thing or two to these court denizens.) 

& who would dare argue with the Supreme Court? 

No streetsmart kid could just enter its august hall & exchange polemics with the body that represents human wisdom through the ages; that they, like emperors, do not wear clothes is something that would not be entertained by most who are beholden to anything that seemed imperious & divine.  

The combatant should be from their own ranks who have been cleared by the profession & talk the talk, as it were. They cannot simply declare the truth as plain & simple: there must be a complex of decisions & interpellations that have caused the possible evolution.  

Truth is a product of gestation, they would aver, & its verifiability takes a long, long time.  

It doesn’t matter therefore if the Goddess Justitia has her eyes covered or not. The monkeys in robes have made sure she wouldn’t be of consequence inasmuch as law is purified of interfering ideologemes. All is numbers game.  

Anyone with an encyclopedic recall of facts, rules & procedures can be a lawyer, but is his intellectual stewardship beyond critique? Everyone is ideologized precisely because one is situated in a community according to class, gender, ethnicity. His subjectivity is predetermined by all the elements of living within a particular time, place & socius. Hence, it seems to be pure acrobatics for a jurist who can move within the confining space of the prisonhouse of his mind. But his cage wreaks havoc on us all.  

Alas, as a general axiom, bar exams merely reproduce factotums for institutional servitude. No matter the motherhood sentiment that lawyering is a noble profession… We take note of the contradiction that the country is in a crisis of misrule, yet we have a surfeit of law practitioners who seem to be of little relevance at all.  

That lawyering & the pugilistic art should occupy the popular imagination merely tells us that this wasteland of our lives hasn’t progressed beyond the first baby steps of civilizing mission itself – no matter how we flatter ourselves that we have a corps of graduates to show for the modernist development of the Commonwealth which has been held hostage by an elite that represents the popular will.   


4.   

“Pablo Neruda for Us: An Intervention” by E. San Juan, Jr. was written in connection with the international festschrift of the Chilean poet in 2004. It traced “Neruda’s inscription into the historical thickness of this cultural maelstrom between ‘wars’ whose climax was the materialist vision of the heights of Macchu Picchu in Canto General.” Moreover, it was “as if Neruda anticipated the searing vision of Antonio Gramsci, his Italian contemporary, who in a way provided the ethical & aesthetic rationale for radical anti-capitalist surrealism.” 

Briefly, & most pointedly, it is his announced & poeticized communism “that underlies his protean, versatile & metamorphic art that Belitt, Costa & others celebrate.” San Juan adds: “neoconservative scholars & even post-colonial critics [praise] Neruda [for his] surrealis[m], sophisticated humanis[m] – every persona or mask assumed by Neruda is fetishized.” 

Everyone is creating him according to his own appropriated pragmatics.  

Even Virgilio S. Almario, who is leery of Marxism, would translate him & claim Neruda has influenced the honing of his aesthetics.  

But which Neruda is he bannering? 

In his “Marxism & Revisioning of His Poetry,” Almario would confess to having diametrically shifted direction, adding that his “instant Marxism” led him eventually to his “Bagong Formalismong Filipino” (New formalism is contrapuntal to the early Russian formalists who ushered in poetics during the advent of the revolutionary years & gave a fresher vision to the agitprop of orthodox partisans) “to invite other critics & scholars to be more acquainted with Philippine tradition.” But this call for tradition reminds us of Eliot’s whose conservatism & nihilism were all in defense of the tradition of the Catholic church. Hence, we could argue, it is rather the nativism of the exulted colonial mind – as proposed in Gemino Abad’s, where the purity of the first layer in the essential spirit of the native – that would serve as the bedrock of the framed truth that will be a countervailing force to the threat of Marx or Mao.  

Almario denounces Marxism for the wrong reason: he would theorize that the early Marxism he was exposed to was simplistic, & dogmatic, to the extent that it was almost coeval with the grim & gory, as in: “Masyadong tense ang kapanalig ko. Nakalimutan nang tumawa.” He didn’t know, of course, the Bakhtinian notion of the carnivalesque, which allows laughter & festivity to rule the transition to paradigm shift.  

His provincial simplification of Marxism as mechanically class-ist is not a repudiation of Marxism itself, but a gross misunderstanding the heterogenous direction Marxism has offered since the turn of the century. It’s rather a relatively formalist recuperation that eschews political polarization, thus in a way enabling him tactically to embrace Marcos & claim him to be a more viable alternative in the electoral struggle between the strongman & the feudal figure in Cory Aquino, who to this day is slowly touching base with the liberal democrats of the opposition force.  

No marxist can tell you how to write. Why implicate Marxism or a stonewall to ecriture itself? 

According to Christopher Caudwell, whom Almario considered as virtually sophomoric, poetry “is where we find the entire history of feelings crystallized in every phantasy or intuition that condenses the whole society’s dream of release, fulfillment & happiness amid hunger, torture, exploitation & death the dream of boredom through the ordeal of physical & historical necessities.”  

Was Almario simply expecting a primer on the interdisciplinary texts that relate to Marx’s political economy? A treatise on literature that Marx virtually elided? 

Almario’s brief about his limited academic exposure had apparently caused him nights of grief. That he lacked the alleged expertise is certainly a big deal for him to assess reality & its prismatic images. Yet despite the apologia of incompleteness he was quick to support the fascism of Marcos in his voyage from the dogmatism of his youthful commitment, & this is something that we could formulate as truly a coming home to roost.  

He never really wandered off his original turf, laughing at his development as something like a boy’s nightout he would rather forget.  

Neruda, for San Juan, Jr., “took sides” – & fought with the republicans in Spain during the civil war.  

Almario did likewise, like everybody else anyway. He sought refuge in the New Society & that is the subliminal reading that should be read between the lines of his literary output, as in Macherey’s the unsaid or Jameson’s political unconscious.  

J. Neil Garcia would align this National Artist of the CCP with Gemino Abad in their ideological forays into poetics, as if there’s a hairline of difference between the two. But Garcia simply focused on the technicism, barely scratching the surface of their ideological play. Leery of Bakhtin because antiseptically anti-marxist himself, Garcia would fail to reveal the latent anti-leftism in the handiwork of the two lionized icons of the establishment. Fittingly enough, they would grace well-funded workshops to propagate their dikta & reproduce themselves in little Abads & little Almarios, even little Garcias, among the starry-eyed adolescents who crave for instant recognition of their infantile genius.

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