Ricky de Ungria: “<…> perhaps because we have not shaken off our feudal cast of mind and psyche that inhibits us from critiquing the ideas of the “elder statesmen” in our fields as a result of a kind misplaced measure of deference or respect for elders, and that allows us to accept conveniently their word as “law” so we don’t have to bother with it anymore as we go on quietly with our own desperate lives?”
this and a lot of other critical questions for the bakasyon coming up, particularly in light of: (1) being told that some things need not be written because we already know these to be true; (2) being reminded of the value of freedom by this conversation with Red and Ken, filipino freethinkers both — who surprised not just with their groundedness in nation, but even more so in their ability to admit to limitations and answer questions critical; (3) being shown the possibilities for democratic disagreement by Leloy who wrote this after this, and allows for engagement that isn’t at all caustic when it usually is; and (4) being thankful for Rogue, the editors of which asked for that piece on the literati that’s in the April issue. theirs are braver souls actually (along with my editors over at gmanewsonline, pulse, pinoytuner), for daring to publish and trust and value this kind of writing, full stop.
i swipe this from stuartsantiago, sections of poet Ricky de Ungria’s speech on publishing in the regional languages delivered in cebu’s academic publishing fair in July 2008. it can only resonate.
“I refer not only to the appalling lack of criticism or critical frameworks by which standards of quality, excellence in craftsmanship, good judgment and taste are defined and observed in the production and appreciation of works.
. . . . for good or ill, our country appears to be a place where everybody is or wants to be an artist and no one wants to be a critic. A good ninety percent or more of the literary books published are creative works; the rest, on a good year, would be critical work.
. . . . this is an unhappy situation: for without the rigor and passion of critical thought that puts up certain standards of excellence in literary productions and points at directions that our many literatures could take, all we will have would be back-patting and mutually admiring literary coteries producing more of the same year after year, contest after contest.
. . . . the fact that of the total number of higher academic institutions wehave in the country, only three or four regularly make it to the lower rungs of the top universities in the world should tell us something about the state of affairs in our education sector.
Would it be too much to conclude from these that there is no viable intellectual or artistic climate in our country where ideas come freely and are grist for the mill of the mind- except for the political that passes off as an activity of the mind?
Would it be too much to put down as a corollary that we don’t have an intellectual climate, nor can we bear to support one simply because we have lost the passion for truth because truth has turned out to be manipulable and changeable and undependable?
Or perhaps because we have not shaken off our feudal cast of mind and psyche that inhibits us from critiquing the ideas of the “elder statesmen” in our fields as a result of a kind misplaced measure of deference or respect for elders, and that allows us to accept conveniently their word as “law” so we don’t have to bother with it anymore as we go on quietly with our own desperate lives?
. . . . year after year, we hold conferences and workshops on the state of this or that industry in the country, and we end up hearing more or less the same old things being said as if anew.