Tuesday ∗ 24 Jan 2012

silence

because i’d be lying if i said that Maria Ressa throwing the words libel and malicious my way didn’t render me speechless, literally and figuratively.

but maybe what was worse than throwing that my way was the fact that it was also retracted with a brush-off: filing a case would be too much for too little. i haven’t been patronized like this publicly, have never felt let down by someone i respect since, oh i don’t know, i applied for a job at UP Diliman and got a version of this from an ex-teacher. but this is different from the latter in that i was not applying for a job with Ressa, and there is no — there is no — notion of seniority that should have mattered here. of course randomsalt has so succinctly pointed out that it isn’t what it seems from where Ressa stands.

meanwhile i was working with the fact — the fact — that i am no journalist. never was, never considered myself one. i’m a writer first and foremost, and i say that with more humility than you can imagine. i write essays, in what i hope are in its different permutations. anyone who reads my work would know that i do not deny the fact of my subjectivity, in fact always highlight how this is all about my spectatorship of texts. it is here that what i say must and always necessarily be a reading of what’s in front of me, an assertion of what it is based on my experience of it. here is where i refuse to do press conferences, because my tendency is to treat it as an event to be critiqued and not one to be covered and reported about.  here is where anyone can go see the same texts and disagree with my readings of them, where productive discourse might arise.

there was nothing productive about Ressa throwing libel my way, especially since she retracted it with a put-down, and then refused to even engage in discussions that were being had about it. worse, i realized that what it put into question was criticism period. where suddenly i am forced to think in terms of asking first: is this what you mean when you write this? is this what you mean with this art work? is this what you meant to do in that stage production? what you intended for the movie to be?

if i asked those questions before i did a review of something — anything! — then no piece would have an opinion. there would be no review. it would all be press releases, or reportage, or propaganda. take your pick.

elsewhere in the world the death of criticism is a product of media outlets cost-cutting or shifting priorities. in these shores where criticism is already few and far between because (1) the circles of media, arts, culture, etc. are small and operate on notion(s) of friendship or sameness, (2) people would rather fall silent if it might risk their present and future friendships and employment, and (3) catholicism tells us we must not cast the first stone (hah!). in these shores, where criticism is already a rarity, it is also slowly being, and will be, killed by people like Ressa.

Posted in: bayan, komentaryo, media

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5 Comments/Pingbacks

  1. benign0
    January 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Imprisonment in a clique creeps up on you, and before you know it you are inhaling and exhaling a muck of inbred ideas. Check out of society and you become a better writer. Too many friends makes one a prisoner of niceties. ;)

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