Acclimatizing myself again after a year of being out of Baguio, I am thinking dangerously nostalgic, dangerously reductive things: missing things/experiences/colors that are ‘Baguio.’ Baguio in relation to me, that is: the library of institutions with some meagre resources, maybe university life, our friends here, past collectives, communities, and organizations where we lived our days.
I think of Pedantic Pedestrians and how I used to take much pride in describing it as a “Baguio-based collective” to which I belong. We were talking of beer, and drinking rallies, joining poetries, amassing dusty textual wealth, mixing Mao with Fyodor fruitcakes and futuristic flavours from Marxist, Lacanian, modernist pasts.
One by one last year, we had to Manila ourselves because of varied reasons: school, work, a-dolting, summarily: maybe to submit to the exigencies of the system we wanted fucked but not in simplistic, easy ways.
I never conceived of it as an error. I had to roar against this mushiness that beckons to keep it together. As a reader of Walter Benjamin and very recently Hakim Bey, I had to be ashamed of myself.
When he “dreamt about the workshops of the future,” Levi was ruggedly romantic, or romantically rugged, what do you call this wordplay, not alliteration right? He wrote about “autonomous workshops” that “shall exist all over, created spontaneously by the artists who are involved in their own communities. They shall be many and they shall be useless except for their own right. … They shall follow the rules that the participants themselves have agreed upon, and these rules shall be broken if the group decides to.”
An antidote to a kind of sentimentalist, a kind of dogged, if not also lazy attachment to handkerchiefs, movements, affiliations, ways of doing things, ways of eating fried chicken? The permanent recognition of transience and the attendant task to do work, to establish ties, to meet doors—magpunyagi, atupagin ang kung anuman!
Transience is at work not only because things are always in the process of being-constituted, in all those philosophical, mystical, materialist senses. Transience also applies in the sense of the literal extermination of things: alliances dying, effigies burning, flower vases running dry, noses losing balm, collectives dissolving, revolutionary tactics changing. All that is solid smelts air.
Akin to rules being “broken if the group decides to,” Hakim Bey likened temporary autonomous zones” in an essay of the same title to “an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to reform elsewhere/elsewhen…”
With this (temporary) dissolution, the group has morphed and formed elsewhere as clues to the future.
Cheryl Weaver, in “Pedestrian Errors,” weaves lines together in order to draw mostly street-talking mistakes that are sometimes cute, sometimes detrimental. More than this though, she pulls off a move a la Transformational Grammar move and a disciplinary swag a la Stein. When you encounter something erratic, you thought it was madness; the underlying motive and form and technique usually invisible.
My favourite is “stepping on shoestring,” because there is no noun in there, no explicated ‘receiver’ of the action, to use traditional grammar’s terms; you just imagine that it was you, it was the person in the writer’s head, that there was someone with whom the actions befell. It is also visually appealing, because the line where the shoestring fell somehow looks like a shoestring, especially if teddy bears look dolphins to you.
Second best is the Stein quote in the end because up until reading that I did not really know that “then” can be used instead of “than.” More than that, the quote allowed me to imagine Gertrude, that little screwy genius, holding a cigarette through her toenails, lit with Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, slowly burning (like) its pages.