The Invisibility of the Im/migrant

If I want to describe in a few words what has become of my life as a im/migrant in the last three years that I have been here in this land of my exile of my own choosing, I would borrow Paula Wood's definition of invisibility in her review of Frank Cancian's anthopological account of the housecleaners of Orange County, "Orange County Housecleaners": 'There but not there; invisible.'

There but not there; invisible.

Really so now. I was here for more than three years, in this 'there' that is 'here' but is going to be a 'there' when I shall have moved to some place else.

I was here but I was not here as well because nobody knew, nobody ever noticed except the anonimity of it all as if I was just a clown sent in to engage the crowd so they would not see the sorrow and despair and desolation that goes with being an exile.

Three years of invisibility is all what I can offer.

You are not seen and thus, you do not matter.

In this Los Angeles world where seeing matters, where to be seen is the only way by which your existence is affirmed like that Hollywood crap of what a good image constitutes, like a flick sold because of the dubious definition of what moving images should be, these three years of invisibility were years of learning and unlearning.

I call it my fieldwork, my long ethnographic journey, the method and methodology conscious and yet participatory, the subject position a fusion of the objective and the subjective and sometimes a confused world of both.

Well, clarity does not always come to the ethnographer. It is enough that he is conscious of the opacity of experience when the deeep dark of the night comes to play its ghostly tricks on him and say, Hey, hey, dude, go home, go home, and plant camote!

But you have collected fieldnotes, the number of notebooks containing all the 'was-here' running to thirtly now, all accounts of what you have gone through to make your life long and your art long in defiance of the Romans' plagiarism of the Greeks: vita longa, ars longa--life is long, art is long.

In a few weeks, I will call it quits with California, at least temporarily, to take a real life somewhere else in an island country much like my island country, the one county I have got back home.

I will call Honolulu my home for a time as I try to embark on another project to committing to paper a dubious sequel of "America is in the Heart" which I promised my teacher Bien Lumbera in a rather tongue-in-cheek way.

More on this, more on this...babalik....

A. S. Agcaoili
Torrance, CA
June 14, 2006

No comments: