Unang banggit sa “Last Page of a Google Search” ng Pedantic Pedestrians


Noong ikawalo ng Mayo 2014, inilabas ng Pedantic Pedestrians (pangunahin, kung hindi man, essentially ni L) ang “Last Page of a Google Search,” ang pinakahuling proyekto ng grupo.

Pinag-usapan agad ito ng mga miyembro kinabukasan, sa table ng isang restaurant na matatagpuan sa pinakamatandang hotel sa Baguio. Ngunit bago pa pala ito pag-usapan nang harap-harapan, na-like at nai-share na ito ng bawat isang miyembro. May pahiwatig na ukol sa gawi ng mga taong ito at sa uri ng mundo nila.

Nabanggit in passing ni J ang pagkakahawig ng proyektong “Last Page of a Google Search” sa ideya ng Unoriginal Genius na mukha namang ang kay Marjorie Perloff ang pinanggagalingan. Nasa isip ba ito ni L nung “kinu-curate” (o kaysarap maging meta) itong proyekto niya? Kung anuman, pwedeng i-push na shine-share ng “Last Page of a Google Search” ang ilang masasabing mapag-balikwas na ideya sa likod ng Unoriginal Genius ni Perloff.

genius

Sa sinulat ni Vaclav Paris tungkol sa akdang ito ni Perloff, si-nite niya ang citation ni Charles Bernstein na axiom daw ni Walter Benjamin (para na ring performance iyon ng citation!): “To write history is to cite history.” Kung susundin natin ito, masasabing ang pag-sa-“cite” ng “Last Page of a Google Search” sa mga literal na last pages ng iba’t-ibang Google Searches ay isang proyekto ng pagsusulat ng, o pakikisangkot sa kasaysayan. Pero dahil malamang given na ito dahil anong gawi ba ng sino ang labas sa kasaysayan, mas mahalaga ay ang pagtingin na hindi lamang basta nag-sa-cite ang “Last Page of a Google Search.” Ito rin ay proseso ng pagku-curate; ito ay isa ring proseso ng pagpoporma. Kung ganito nga, ano ang tinitingalang ideya ng pagpopormang ito — kung ang sa authors ay “dramatic” o “literary” expression at sa Google naman ay “relevance” tulad ng binanggit sa 166-word na ‘introduksyon’ ng proyekto – ano ang sa “Last Page of a Google Search”? Itatanong ko ito kay L ‘pag nagkita kami. O dahil may cyberspace rin naman siyang katauhan, siguro pwedeng sagutin niya na rin dito.

*

Bakit “last pages” ng Google searches ang pinili ni L para sa proyektong ito? Pwedeng pagtindig ito laban sa criteria ng ‘relevance’ ng Google. Ano ba ang batayan ng ‘relevant’ para sa Google? Ano ang batayan ng kung ano ang mga unang lalabas ‘pag nag-search ka ng something sa Google? Iyong ano yata, ‘yung occurrence ng mga salitang si-nearch mo sa libo-libong (milyon-milyong?) website sa internet. Kaya nga merong SEO. Tadtarin mo yung articles mo ng maraming ganito o ganyang salita para ‘pag nag-search ang netizens ng ganito o ganyang salita, lalabas agad iyong site kung saan ipo-post yung article. At ano ang nirerepresenta ng mga matatagpuan sa ‘last pages’ ng isang Google Search? The most worthless scum among the vast information in the World Wide Web as searched by Google? Ganito lang ba ito kasimple? Imbes na i-feature natin ang nanalong Miss Universe, ang i-feature natin ay iyong hindi man lang pumasok sa Top… 30? Basta yung tipong unang elimination tanggal agad. Ano pa ang maaaring pagtingin dito?

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*

Sabi ni K, parang tamad yung proyekto pero at the same time laborious, or something like that, hindi naman ito verbatim. Gaano ito ka-tenable? Nasaan ang ‘labor’ sa “Last Page of a Google Search”? Ika nga sa 166-word na intro nito, “It is fortunate that Google is less pretentious in its curatory criteria that we can “SIMPLY” copy and paste into a reliable word processing program and call it art.” Simple lang pala ang proseso eh. Nasaan ang labor? Hindi maiwasang maalala si Sol Lewitt at ang luma pero parang bago pa rin niyang Paragraphs on Conceptual Art. Primary ang ideya kesa execution at ika nga ni Lewitt, (Conceptual art) “is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman.” Pwede kaya nitong suportahan ang ‘katamaran’ at the same time ‘labor’ ng “Last Page of a Google Search”? Laborious ang pag-iisip at paghuhulma ng konsepto at matapos ay pag-iisip ng porma para ipakita ito habang parang effortless na lang mismo ang execution? In that sense, medyo radikal sapagkat taliwas sa traditional na privileging ng ‘finished’ artistic product o object, na hindi necessarily coupled with ‘lazy’ conceptualization.

Nadako na rin kay Lewitt,ituloy-tuloy na. Tinawag ba talaga ng proyekto ang sarili nito bilang ‘art’? Mahihinuha ito sa parte ng intro na nabanggit na sa itaas. Panghuli sa 35 “sentences” ni Lewitt “on conceptual art” ay ito: “These sentences comment on art, but are not art.” Pretentious lang ba o quasi-subversive si Lewitt kaya niya sinabi ito o sarcastic at mapang-uyam lang din si L kaya niya naman tinawag na art ang proyektong kaniyang binigyang-porma? Kelangan pa ba itong klaruhin? At least, wala sa kanila ang nag-claim na ‘anti-art’ – ang pinaka-walang kwentang attempt maging radikal sa mga usaping art-art.

*

Panghuli, ilang araw matapos ilabas ni L ang “Last Page of a Google Search,” nakita ko ang link na “Displacement is the New Translation” ni… ehem! Kenneth Goldsmith na shi-nare ni J (Hindi pa sa akin malinaw ang pagkaka-ugnay ni Goldsmith kay Lewitt sa tradisyon ng conceptual writing, o art in general). May ilang pahayag si Goldsmith na uncannily nagpaalala sa akin ng “Last Page of a Google Search.” Sabi ni Goldsmith (mahaba-haba ito): “Globalization engenders displacement. People are displaced, objects are displaced, language is displaced. In a global circulatory system, components are interchangeable; there is no time — and certainly not enough energy — for understanding. Instead, there is begrudging acceptance and a blinkered lack of understanding, ultimately yielding to resignation.” Maaari bang isiping modelo ng displacement ang sinusunod ng “Last Page of a Google Search?” Kaiba sa ideya ng translation na ipipilit hanapan ng equivalent ang bawat salita sa isa at iba pang lenggwahe, ang displacement ay mas mapaglaro at mas malikot, at siguro, mas mapagpayaman. Siguro parang postmodern; siguro parang post-structural. Ngunit paano kung ang presyo nito ay ang paglupaypay ng understanding tulad ng sabi ni Goldsmith? Paano hindi mauulit ang mga naging sanhi ng ‘failure’ ng mga traditional na avant-garde, mula kay Rimbaud hanggang kanila Andre Breton? O hindi ba concern kung mag-fail man tulad ng Dada at nila Marinetti?

Kuha naman ang produktibong pag-kocontrast ng ‘displacement’ sa ‘translation’ lalo na kung ikukunekta ang ‘fixity’ na wet dream ng translation sa continued entrenchment at perpetuation ng prevalent na social order (ito na!) at ang ‘displacement’ bilang bahagi ng critique sa translation at mga ideyal nito. Ngunit anong dini-displace ng “Last Page of a Google Search” at kung meron man, what does it put in place of the one it displaced?

Malamang hindi ang “prevalent social order” ang tinatangkang i-displace ng “Last Page of a Google Search.” Malamang. Para lamang sa meatspace ang mas authentic at makabuluhang pag-displace sa social order na ‘yan. Sakto lang kung ganun, sapagkat may katapatan naman yata ang “Last Page of a Google Search” pagdating sa nais nitong (o hindi nito binalak) gawin: I-displace ang ‘information’ na nasasagap natin sa Google, i-displace ang mga ‘aral’ ng mga naunang avant-garde;” i-displace ang ‘art.’

Ang hirap mag-isip ng mas mabigat na ending statement.

 

Asterisks


De Certeau cites Kant, “If theory has still little effect on practice, it is not theory’s fault; it is rather that there is not enough of the sort of theory that one should have learned from experience” (from: The Practice of Everyday Life, 1988).

*it can also be theory’s fault, in a way, for being envisaged as separate from practice. or it is not theory’s fault that it is being envisaged as such.

**the theory that comes before practice is as important as the theory that comes after it; conversely, the practice that comes after theory is as important as the practice that comes before it.

***some words are more evanescent than others.

You talk too much

You talk too much

Two variants on/of Friday the 13th


Self-conscious Friday

 It is Friday the 13th and who else to remember but you

Yes you, eye-tied, tongue-wagging reader

Who languishes in your bed on an early morning chilly sauce

The calendar says 13 and it’s Friday and naknangputsa

‘di ako lalabas ngayong araw!

(Pero actually, nakalabas na ako ngayong araw)

Ngunit paano kung ang kahulugan ng kalendaryo ay pagsilang?

For instance: potentials for poetry like the sound of Lupang Sinilangan

Or: potentials for heroism a la Diego Silang

Maybe cringe in your chocolate crinkles breakfast

And your chocolate-flavored cigarette and caramel coffee

            While all the people go about the sexy day.

 

It’s Friday the 13th and I remember you pretty-faced reader

And you don’t believe those words because you are

not flattered and you keep reading, suspending disbelief

 

It’s Friday the 13th and I remember you and you are reading

this and the world outside your world is a world

who fancies with luscious lips that this Friday

is just another day.

 

So get up, get up, and don’t fall for that One Direction song

Maybe remember The Cure’s song with a Friday I’m in love.

Or leave this page now.

 

Sleepless Friday

 

It is Friday the 13th and who else to remember but you,

Yes you, blue-fingernailed, ensaymada cheekboned,

loneliness assassin.

 

Can we repeat the lyrics of The Doors?

When I stare at your thinking and you dandruff, I wish there were no doors.

And we are locked in a turtle-paced universe that

will abruptly give up and stop moving.

And 2014 won’t come and you won’ turn 21.

 

It is Friday the 13th and as a halt plunges on us,

Let the books of Carter and the phrases of Auden

embody themselves in us:

Embraces will be annihilations.

Sleepless will be fucks.Blessings from Jesus

Yum yum yum festering wound


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Festering, festering wound. Right there in our liver drowned in all the excess of pain killers we took. Right there in our lungs drowned in all the excess of cigarettes we took, malevolent and magical, like the sorcerer’s manner of denying the disparate, turning handkerchief to dove, dove to handkerchief. Right there in our heart drowned in all the excess of love we took, malevolent and magical, like the sorcerer’s manner of denying the disparate, bringing the enlightened ones closer to the ‘masses,’ bringing the chauvinistic lover closer to the damsel-in-distress, bringing my reticence closer to your reticence.

*

The fragility of body and skin. A split-second carelessness turning into a swabbing of suture. Suddenly, the future is sutured. You count your remaining blood and you feel ashamed that they are greater than the number of loves you have lost and then you think that perhaps you are fortunate. You count the stitches that wound your wound further and I think that I can lose a finger but not your hands on my hands.

*

The hospital is not for the faint-hearted. The faint-hearted can survive Insidious 1 and 2 and Conjuring and the Saw series but not the hospital. The hospital is real and close. The blood and the fragility are real and close. There is no ending, no cuts. All cuts cut right through the wounds of the wound; in the end: festering.

*

Being in the ‘trauma room,’ undergoing a minor, no-life-and-death operation gives an excuse to fantasize at full strength. I was lying there, with two ‘surgeons’ attending to my almost-festering wound, and there were needles and gauze and a billion bottles of blood. There was little pain. There was the ceiling too, white, well-lit, not like the world of Hemingway. In the ceiling were my fantastic imaginings while my right, pointing finger is being nursed with its wound in reality. In the ceiling were beer and the Palanca and a book launch where everyone will drink and throw up after, very slovenly and very indecorously. In the ceiling were a PhD soaked in blood and a nice veranda overlooking the trees of the province; in the ceiling were all of my bourgeois dreams and my bourgeois honesties. It feels good to get stitches and to see blood. The ceiling looks good.

*

I needed a surgery, and not photoshop.

I needed blood, and not fancy beauties in my luxurious lunches and winsome wines.

I needed wounds, and not a picture in front of Bohol or Kuala Lumpur.

I needed the truth of fragility, not the falsity of truth.

I needed to be slapped with my body’s flimsiness, not to be slapped with the potential of heroism.

I needed to be humbled, not to be dishonestly elated.

I needed blood and blood and wounds, and not the immaculateness of the world.

I needed a festering wound, gnawing the fiber of my self-stability.

The festering wound tastes and looks delicious.

Yum yum yum yum yum, festering wound.

Yum yum yum yum yum, festering wound.

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On the last day of classes, the anomaly in “vivid memories” and Baudelaire saying, “Get drunk”


On the last day of classes, there were beautiful things. In my 9am class, Sir said, Don’t write poetry that lacks sincerity. In my 2pm class, Sir refused to give us an extension for a paper initially set to be due on Wednesday. In my 5pm class, a more composed presentation, and then some picture-taking. This is how October gets a thick spread of vegetable and tuna, which is to say: a healthy bread against the perenniallity of starvation. Here, I will try to be sincere in writing.

*

At 9am, we were curious about the usefulness of theory. How inseparate is the academy from its society, even though the academy won’t even own this society sometimes. For instance:

Academy (wearing fancy clothes, driving fancy cars, clutching eighty-eight books (now Ipads and tablets for many, pretending to be avaricious, or for others, really minding their tasks as ‘technicians,’ to borrow R’s word): “I have my own world. I AM a world in itself. What society, what poverty, what social injustice you’re talking about?”

Today, in between preparing the outline for that paper-due-Wednesday, concerning Lakambini Sitoy and her fiction, I remember Walter Benjamin and Fredric Jameson and even Terry Eagleton, and all those people the jeepney drivers won’t even have a care (following a consensus in yesterday’s 9am class) and then I also remember a tacit consensus (the usually half-participative class was its normal self yesterday) in the 2pm class: scholars/academics just repeat each other, contributing not much new stuff to our body of ‘knowledge.’

I will refuse to cluster Benjamin and Jameson and Eagleton together, under a group of ‘scholars’ who fervently accentuates the significance of getting at/getting back to the root of things (I remember here the “radix” word again, a lot of times mentioned in the 9am and the 2pm classes), seriously getting back to the past and salvaging it for arranging, for making sense of the present, and the future.

To Benjamin: “that is why we don’t believe in derivations and sources, we never remember what has befallen us” (The Metaphysics of Youth, in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings Volume 1, page 12).

To Jameson: “…the retrospective dimension indispensable to any vital reorientation of our collective future – has meanwhile itself become a vast collection of images…” (In Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of Late Capitalism, page 66).

To Eagleton: the “absence of memories of collective and effective, political action” (In After Theory, page 7)

This, I read, is neither the operation of a collective unconscious nor whatever of that sort: Benjamin wrote that in the early 20th century; Jameson in the 80s most probably, and Eagleton just two, three years ago. This I think with more certitude is the operation of a collective experience, and a similar manner of making sense of that experience.

So maybe not all theory is highfalutin after all, highfalutin and eventually doubtable because of their seeming lack of ‘immediate usefulness,’ another phrase from yesterday’s 9am class. We can forget Derrida, sure, especially when frantically asking ourselves how do we find money to be able to enroll for the next semester; or we can dispose of Lacan and his Imaginary-Symbolic-Real triad (despite the bright interests it can spur) especially when what is realest to us are the rising prices of sweet potatoes and our long-coveted book or that dress in the mall we don’t have enough money to buy. But some theory hovers above the ground not just because they are ‘esoteric,’ but because they manifest the potential of zooming out, getting above the immediate, seemingly disordered and unrelated phenomena, and render them more comprehensible, more sensible, however ironic that is. After all, it is ironies that define our being here in the world (my favorite: think of billionaire Henry Sy and his thousands of eight-hours-a-day employees).

*

I remember Bazin yesterday, when the 5pm class finally lapsed to its end and there were merry moments of picture-taking. Photographs capture memories, freeze events in time, so that memories will have a more tangible form, and not just something that exists in the mind. This is why I think there is something anomalous, something perverted with the term “vivid memories.” For I think memories are by default dead, memories are not vivid; the only things vivid are the things that are concrete and in-here, in-our-time, right now. I guess to say ‘vivid memories’ is to confer to memories an illusionary kind of power, of charm, an antidote against its default deadness. It is okay; it is understandable. We need to have an anchor; memories are a good candidate.

*

On the last day of classes, my classmates were already looking forward to a drink next week, when exams will be over and at least two of the three remaining papers will have been submitted. Exactly, this is how I would like to end, with Baudelaire, and his famous lines from his famous poem which I first heard from my Literature professor in the undergrad, during the sendoff for graduating students two years ago:

“Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!”