Ene 12, 2013

BAKUNAWA: Prelude to the Annotations

In a few hours, Carcosite's Tilde shall share the first image for a certain collaborative project. The image may (or may not) look like this:


Pared down to its broad strokes, the Bakunawa's story tells us of a celestial serpent that swallows the moon, thereby causing the lunar eclipse. That's half the story. During the eclipse, the people pull out their pots and pans, the children their noise-makers, and they make as much noise as they can, stomping their feet too, for good measure, and raising their voices. The Bakunawa then slinks away from its meal, restoring us the moon, whatever "moon" was to us then: a diwata, or her souvenir, or her sadness.

The moon is the epitome of distance, and the Bakunawa was perhaps a method of bridging the gap. Unable to influence the moon—to make it go red or dance to our songs—we instead bestow a name upon the shadow that descends upon it. We perceive a body in that shadow, perhaps a will. And with our voices, we dispel that will.

We could not reach the moon, but we "touched" the thing that came close.

I am interested in that noise. Was it a trick? That a bigger monster was coming, that the pots and pans of the land were its scales? How self-aware was this process? Was it a matter of out-bogeying a bogey?

Maybe the noise was a lure: there is bigger prey, something more interesting than the moon. And much less obvious. Something in the darkness, Bakunawa, that will put up a fight.

I am keen on shadows that become serpents and voices that become monsters, and moons that emerge unscathed. These shadows and voices, they entered history and arrive in print, in textbooks of folklore, in recycled syllabi—and this is a strange form, ink on paper. Pots and pans make more sense. But we take what we can get.

This coming project, that's what it's all about. Over-reading unheard voices, over-drawing the shadows, a godawful merry clanging. Taking what we can get.