Read Aldous Huxley. Good for the soul - not Aldous Huxley, but the relaxation of reading and getting one's mind off the daily track. We are, after all, although bureaucrats, human beings. And no human beings can go on for ever chained to a wheel: it's bad for him and he becomes rotten. Must relax, cynically, if you like.
October 29, 2004
Just got home from a wordless place.
May I speak with you publicly, Childe, before I leave again?
In your recent posts, I read the struggle of one of the eloquent young men of the country, well, with his country. I here reply because I fear I've not given you sufficient sober answers during our costly binge.
I don't agree that it is initially or essentially an issue of sympathy or loyalty. I don't believe it's about right or wrong or the figures that will help you consider which is which. Those questions have their place. First, for me, the basics.
We need to go beyond that cliche of a passive, whining Inang Bayan crying out for her sons to rush to her defense. The child (why oh why should heroism be reserved to the phallus?) must know by now that the Bayan (and why the feminine for the great collective?) is also to be her begotten.
Should the child choose to acknowledge this fundamental twin identity as heir and parent, a host of other queries arrive. What is 'nation'? What is 'state'? 'Nation-state'? Who are the people? And so on and so forth going on to basic relations to all these constructs making all the aired (and somewhat airy) questions all questions of identity. These other questions are all volumes unto themselves.
The first question is choice. Not yet the particulars of language, government, currency, revolution, or diaspora. Ah, we have all the expanse of 'later' for that horrendous muck.
At the outset, I want a basic engagement of the question of choice. The first answer that our current situation asks of us (who possess the luxury or burden of idealism, net hours, nationality, and time for Q&As) is whether we choose or a nation not. If you don't then that's it, you're out of the whole damned discussion, or, as Henares so tastelessly put it: "hasta la bye-bye!" See, if you don't choose affiliation with a nation, it doesn't matter whether you have (had or will forever have) taxes, visas, ballots, state-college education, pambansang awit, sinigang, or an uncanny grasp of Rizaliana. Without choice, all that you can consider coercion that can you rebel against or culture that you can fashionably deconstruct (or both, to be negotiated with). You can have all these abstracted as things that you'll just have to live with. Or you can place them so near ourselves so as to be beneath your skin (like maybe the Pasyon or Filipinoness) imposed upon us but can be later transcendentally denied. In any case, the question of nation can be avoided by not even asking the question of yourself. One way or another, it just does not exist for you.
Choose nation though (whether pro-, anti-, or to be negotiated), then we dance with definitions and relations.
Shed notions of the country (the Andersonian heimat) justifying your presence in or out of its territory like a lady obliging you, son or gentleman caller, to fix your feet on its ground and fight for her. The point is to deny that 'corruption' or a page of Malachi will give you a way out of the troubles of this nation (or a fresh way in). The point is to choose it first. Then we talk about change.
Nation, that modern construct, was never always on the earth and may cease to be at some point, giving way to region or globe when the material conditions and the change in human consciousness so come. This you know my friend, but you are also painfully aware (much more so than I am, I feel) that in the span of or remaining 10 or 60 years on this earth, we deal with people and pain, kin and enemies, and enemies among kin or within our very selves. With what terms do we define who's who? Class, gender, race? Nation is one with and among these considerations.
Who are you for?
You know full well that I have the luxury to torment you with these questions, being in the shelter of the academe and all. If and when I'm out and I find everything I am a weak currency in the world, these questions I expect you to fling my way to make breathing more difficult and possibly more interesting. Were our situations reversed, I would hope I can welcome a same interrogation from you of the empire within (even here in the academe, it is within, and, with some characters in mind and using Joaquin's phraseage in 'Candido's Apocalypse', "very much in"). However, since I see that you've been playing a chess game against yourself, may I sit with you so that you won't tire of too many pieces? There's always room for the infernal advocate, eh?
I say, in maybe hopelessly Romantic terms, that there is a nation and an initial stand to be taken. We choose for ourselves to acknowledge a field or discourse such as 'nation'. This is a choice now much harder to make, burdened as we are with the world. Yet, this is our legacy. Will you allow a thief high or low to take this from you? Will they choose for you or push you to a choice?
Only after we choose this 'nation' can we deal with it. I assert though that even with this choice, we step up against despair. We rise, so to speak. Hence it is the stamp of our time that, even by just choosing 'nation', we declare 'hindi aco patay' and infuse it with fresh meaning.