Toadying to Ilokano Totalitarian Aestheticism--or the Case of the Ilokano Literary Imaginary
The Ilokano literary imaginary today is in big trouble.
And this trouble is serious as it challenges the freedoms we have won for ourselves after offering Ilokano writing to the services of a dictatorial regime for a long time.
Many have forgotten, but those in the know refuse to kowtow to the wishes, whimsical and wrong, of the many who see greatness where greatness is utterly absent. None. Zilch. Nunca, nada, awan.
I can imagine a worst-case scenario: many of the award-winning poets and fictionists and essayists and those who are so-so riding on that bandwagon of illusory greatness will take an oath of alliance, swearing fidelity to one and only one form of a tribe, one and only one form of an organization that has gone moribund because it has not gone past its decades of discourses that run the limited gamut of "How to write a poem?" or "How to write a short story?" or "How to write an essay?"
The people in this tribal ritual must have thought--and they did this for years and years on end--that the rest of us are dimwits, unable to distinguish raindrops from dew.
Granting that the rest of us the Ilokano writers are dimwits, don't we have the right to take part in that sacred act of going through a marketplace of ideas so that in that creative abandon to the forces of the vast possibilities ideas offer us, we could go figure how to distinguish dew from the raindrops?
Let us continue with the literary imaginary: A swearing in will be inaugurated at the time when the King Herod was about to declare to all and sundry that henceforth, all new-born males shall be finished off, rendered actively dead, executed, salvaged, murdered because they pose a grave threat to the powers of the reigning kingdom.
What an appropriate parallelism!
What an appropriate metaphor to what is about to happen to Ilokano writing!
Let the tribe begin to play out its power so that other Ilokano writers who do not belong to this propped-up tribe of the best and the finest and the 'coolest' will have fear in their hearts, will succumb to the seductions of this power of this tribe, and will, in the end, say, To you we offer our poems, their titles, their lines, their themes, their words! O to you, we give praise! O to you we give our salutations, and to you and to you alone!
What a life, this!
Ilokano writing is going to the dogs even as we fight for a space in the nation's public sphere of discourse and existence and validation.
We can argue for argumentum ad misericordiam now, praying that this fallacy makes sense. The reason is simple: The task of rallying to fight for the existence of our language, culture, and identity is left with those who are allowed to go wild and free in their aesthetic imaginary and not in this totalitarian model this swearing in--as a form of loyalty check--is about to effect.
We do not learn--we do not know how to learn.
In cases like this, we might as well learn how to swear our fidelity to the tribe.
So make that ritual universal for all Ilokano writers, and let the mantra be one of divide et tempera, as it has always been when we refuse to understand and take it upon ourselves that the sacred obligation of creative writing is to allow human freedom to sprout and bloom: "Are you for us or against us?"
A, we have seen so much of this, this offering of art and its promises to totalitarian ideas of the tribe, The Tribe.
Loyalty check, well, there you go.
Let this document the contours of Ilokano creative writing today so that in the future, those coming after us will be graced to know better than what our dimwit capabilities can lead us.
Why don't we pass the 'bay-ong' with the two holes for the eyes the way the Filfilmis did during the Japanese period so we all can divine who is not loyal to the tribe, The Tribe? Or the black 'bonete' during the dreaded regime of the dictatorship so we can summarily execute--'salvage' is the Philippine term now--those who are traitors of our totalitarian aesthetics?
There is so much dramatic possibilities in this. The telling of a good tale about this should come in next.
And ladies and gentlemen, another abracadabra, as in the past, begins.
Mabati latta a kakaasi--ken iti sulsuli--dagiti pada a mannurat nga awan koneksionda, nga awan kuartada, nga awan kumadre ken kumpadreda, nga awan un-unida.
A Solver Agcaoili
Hon, HI/ Dec 6, 2007