I begin with Borges who vilified a simplistic view of reading-as-transaction in The Library of Babel:
“You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language? The methodical task of writing distracts me from the present state of men. The certitude that everything has been written negates us or turns us into phantoms. I know of districts in which the young men prostrate themselves before books and kiss their pages in a barbarous manner, but they do not know how to decipher a single letter.”
At the onset, I fel like I should offer a small thanks to the title of Tilde’s essay which recently appeared here (already out there for weeks): “Alang-alang sa Alinlangan: Tiwala[g] sa Salita.”
The piece critically raises questions about the positions of our many writings and as a corollary, the many sites where they are positioned; mentions “self-reflexivity” as keyword; and seems to enact its chant: “Mabuway ang walang-katiyakan!”
From the piece:
“Walang duda namang aparato ng institusyonalisasyon ang mga national writing workshop at mga gawad. Walang gaanong masama rito, kung may sapat na demokratikong espasyo, tulad nito, upang mabanggit na, sa institusyonalisasyon, may mga isinasaisantabi, lalo at wala ang “rehiyunal” sa tinatayang pinaka-prestihiyosong palihang “nasyunal” tulad ng magka-edad na UPNWW at SUNWW, lalo at walang sapat na tsansa ang mga “walang-tinig” na makapagpadala man lang ng aplikasyon, lalo at walang puwang na maibibigay sa akin sa espasyong ito kung hindi ko naabot ang minimum sa checklist: gawad, aklat, fellowship (mas tataas ang pagkakataong makamit ang mga rekisitong mapabilang sa manunulat na nasa gitnang-karera kung, sa minimum, ay kabilang na sa gitnang-uri). Walang dudang kailangan nating pana-panahong magduda.”
At this moment: a need to contain a thoughtless, if not moronic glee. GEEZ, man. How previously peripheral symbols such as “” have now taken on a weightier importance. Double meanings have multiplied even more, thanks to the miracle of the .
I’m a bit sarcastic,
I’m a bit sincere
If this comes as a tic
Maybe stay with me here.
Ano ang halaga, ano ang kagandahan ng alinlangan? Saan ito mas madidikit: sa ambiguity o sa ambivalence, sa antinomy, sa antagonism, sa antabayanan (na nagsa-suggest ng deferral, paghihintay)? Ano ang ibig sabihin nang sabay na pagtitiwala at pagtiwalag sa salita? Postmodernist anything-goes, everything-in-equal-footing or a more critical simultaneity?
There were spurts like the one happening at this the moment I was writing this which courted irony because they contained nothingness, blankness, lack of productivity in writing. MAKE SURE TO CHANGE THIS INTO THE PAST TENSE (I’ve written this sometime in May I guess, in our Caloocan house. Today, two months hence, I am adding this parenthetical insertion in Pasay)
The multiple ideas shaping and colliding in my head are greeted with perpetual hesitations to pin them down in paper outside my body. Simple questions betray simplicity: Words, what use are they? Less romantically: who reads my words? What effects do my words have on people? What do my words do? The last one is a key question. It hints at an underlying belief. It is not enough for words to be written; words must not rest on the page, they must invade heads, they must instigate limbs and arms to act. Too tall a task, too demanding a demand? I think so, and rightfully so. Words are not inert, and they should at least shake the inside of our heads.
Sometimes, these questions—multiple and complex as they are—literally stop me from writing, which I think is kind of okay since it allows me to check and reflect on my “faith” with words. Ang pagtitiwala sa salita ay sinasaluhan ng pagtiwalag. Nagsasalitan ang pagtiwalag at pagtitiwala. To me, this can lead to better things. Our writing practices can be sharpened. We are likely to be more responsible for what we are writing, more aware of it. It becomes a more thought-of practice, and less a hastened act that contributes more to the unexamined surplus of words, especially seductively, especially hollowing until the interment of the Internet.