Thursday, 27 March 2014

Through the Pinsel: a quest for ContemporAntiquity

Through the Pinsel:
A quest for ContemporAntiquity 

Set of writings related to ContemporAntiquity
 By Lualhati Madlangawa Guererro 

It was years ago in this site when writeups about ContemporAntiquity had been dealt upon. 

Influenced by the aspirations of the past and progressive thinking, ContemporAntiquity tries its so-called idea to bridge both the antiquated and the contemporary in reviving domestic culture from being buried in the mud of wholesale westernization thanks to globalization and neoliberalism. To some people would call it both as desperate, idealistic, or even strange to deal with matters concerning present day culture particularly those of modern art presented by modern-inclined artists, illustrators, playwrights mostly from mainstream media, and its relevance to reality, as in the sickening truth contrary to what is been presented also by that same mainstream media. 

Trying to echo a lost spirit

In a fast changing world comes with a realization of what was deemed imaginative. From electronic gadgets to high rise buildings trying to exceed the limits, mankind had least trying to take advantage anything all in pursuit of social advancement, that communities be sufficient in all of its needs, and everyone least trying to be satisfied, happy with its newfound products of idea and practise. It had invoked time and again a future that is promising, most of which were once laid by the books, scratch papers till one, two, or three persons willing to realize those things, undergone experimentation if not formulating designs using existing tools and knowledge all in pursuit of attaining higher goal such as an edifice or any other artwork. 

But despite these consistent march of time lies forgetfulness, most if not all had been end rotting and eventually demolished regardless of its significance, tools and ideas being replaced with new ones and hence be foregotten; and people whom chose to "join the flow" found to be confused, having blurred ideas as they chose to content in their self-gratifications a so-called "modern" day society had offered to its inhabitants. 

As what the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said:

"When history and circumstances cause a blurring of the past, the result is confusion of tradition and values. A people with National amnesia suffer a lack of balance and sense of direction. Rootless and purposeless, they must find firm traditions or ideals, and grasp the solid sedimentation of ancestral aspirations or they will wither and die..."

Sorry to use Marcos as source of these quotes, but the fact that people, contenting in the vicious cycle of wholesale westernization such as those of consumerism, lies an inconvenient fact that the society trying to assert its independence had been in a state of "amnesia" for generations; in which people had forgotten its heritage, if not reducing heritage to those what is presented to tourists and the rest goes to the wrecking ball amd calling it "development." 
Much more that in reducing change into a mere figment of imagination, and favoring meaningless development sponsored by exploiters, such as those of destroying heritage sites in Manila and even greeneries like Manila Seedling Bank at Quezon City, it had blurred peoples aspirations and instead be replaced by illusions presented by the profit seeking order. Yes, the order that also includes those of Marcos himself and his successors, often using patriotism for the sake of appeasing the people while kissing the arses of foreign overlords promising good interest loans.

How come most leaders, even the "assuming nationalists" such as Marcos had failed to instil patriotism and instead contented to the dictates of the west? The latter had treated patriotism or any other crap as a propaganda tool the way he use discipline as his alibi for his Martial Rule. The edifices of Locsin and the artworks of Malang had invoked both modernity and at the same time patriotism as it tries to idealise the "New Filipino" with its newfound vigour, identity and artistry.But in reality, regardless of its assuming "nationalism" Marcos and his like trying to invoke, still remained contented to the dictates of the "developed" and "progressive". One has to remember that the "developed" and "progressive" west had rather forced the developing countries to remain backward, or having a semblance of development such as roads, edifices creating a modern façade where businesses thrive, all in exchange of keeping themselves contented in imports while exporting its raw and semi-processed goods, including cheap labor to most developed countries, that somehow made patriots and nationalists alike consistently oppose their moves and instead favor a nation capable of its own self; writers such as Henares and Lichauco would say that Patriotism insists self reliance that is truly different from those who assume as "patriots" had insisted: that instead of contentment in making semi-processed goods and exporting raw materials, has to be creative and develop new things using the raw materials supposedly for export, this time for domestic consumption; and ContemporAntiquity favors development the way it adheres keeping firm in its roots, as in genuine development in pursuit of asserting its independence, social liberation, and revival of its so-called "national spirit" just like Soviet Russia in its earlier days had to develop from its existing foundations, its factories and tools a society brought forth from its aspirations, trying to resurrect a spirit that was lost by the nobles and those failed to lean towards the future.

The edifices made by Locsin and the artworks of Malang, despite made in a period where anything was all but a charade of progress and a showcase of Filipino improvement least tried to visualise that is ContemporAntiquitarian. The Batasang Pambansa, as a structure showed least the idea of a modern yet tempered by the near-lost heritage of the people, yet the system had turned it different from what the architect had desired such as a place where traditional politicians justify the rotten status quo with pseudo-populist aspirations, or an artwork that is displayed in an edifice frequently visited by those who can afford.
Anyways, this writer doesn't mean to say that the nation has to return to its past, but instead reclaim and revive, improve and realize what was once just aspirations or ideas left in blueprints, sketches, books and barren mindsets, all through modern means yet keeping intact once lost spirits left just like what this writer stated, knowing that the ruling order had nonetheless cares less its own sanity as it cares more about grandeur that is illusory.

Of detractors and apologetics 
of the so-called monsters

Yet still as time goes by, seems that there are those whom chose to contented in the atmosphere of nonsense. With detractors whom too obsessed with their concept of progress and modernity are trying to malign reviving national spirit by equating to those of the oligarchs also being abhorred by the people? 
Detractors had been much indulged with wholesale westernization such as those from the United States or even Japan and Korea, and at the same time reducing patriotism into a mere flag waving event and an exaggeration of pride such as those featured by mainstream media. Much more that they are praising rootless cosmopolitanism in the guise of "internationalism" and all its illusions depicted, but their so-called "internationalism" of peoples is in fact, "globalization" of ruling systems, that obviously benefits its ruling gentries while hastingly negating cultures, turning it into a mish mash of sorts, a pseudo-culture that exploits, bleeds people dry and unconsciously as it features the glorification of the mere self, mimicing those of the west and its modern-day leanings.

Much more that, with all their obsession in what that "modern" world had offered, comes with the blurring, forgetfulness, apathy towards their respective culture, heritage, discipline. As what the dictator Marcos said, without a sense of direction and hence getting confused over ideas and aspirations, such as those whom being peddled by the system Marcos himself participated. They afford to banner patriotism of ancient ancestors and freedom fighters and at the same time speaking wholeheartedly positive about globalization coming from international moneylenders and foreign overlords, even making a mishmash of these contradictions, making new terminologies and ideas in order for the people "understand" about it. 

But still, most people still confused on that mishmash, hodgepodge of sorts the system and its apologetics had offered, worse, aggravates age old crisis as that mishmash of contradicting ideas obviously benefits the ruling gentries instead of the people whom supposed to benefit in that bullshit. The world, with its respective societies can't withstand the tremors made by those whose real intention is to exploit mind and brawn so as to bleed them dry, while revolting against these exploiters meant hell regardless of its justification such as an expression of an exolited after decade of being flogged and driven into endless slavery.

Just like what the "İstiklâl Marşı", the Turkish National Anthem, had said in its fourth verse:

Garbın âfakını sarmışsa çelik zırhlı duvar,
Benim iman dolu göğsüm gibi serhaddim var.
Ulusun, korkma! Nasıl böyle bir imanı boğar,
"Medeniyet!" dediğin tek dişi kalmış canavar?

Or in English:

The land is surrounded by the West and armoured with walls of steel,
But I have borders guarded by the mighty chest of a believer.
Let it howl, do not be afraid! And think: how can this fiery faith ever be killed,
By that battered, single-fanged monster you call "civilization"?

Oh yes! That single-fanged monster called "civilization" of today is what these "detractors", "apologetics", had consistently insisted especially in a form of mass media and its illusions being peddled thoroughly. For this person's view, right was Ersoy to say that part as the decadent societies, clothed in a garb known as modernity and presenting as civilization that obviously trying to reduce, if not destroy a thriving domestic culture and calling it as modernization. Old yet remarkable houses and other edifices being demolished in favor of near meaningless ones "in pursuit of currying potential investors", or building roads, bridges whilst keeping the same old feudal "traditions" of Landlords staying and absentee alike, these are all but tolerating rootless, rotting nonsense and everyone hadn't notice thoroughly the inconvenient truth that is behind the edifice of glass and steel.

Come to think of this, since society had assumed itself as modern, how come it had failed to stimulate production regardless of its presentation shown to the people? Factories such as those in Pasig had once invoked aspirations of a self sufficient society, in which the system and its apologetics abhor and tried to exorcise. The run-down yet well-made buildings of the past been threatened by interest seeking fools same as preserving buildings to be treated as museum pieces, eye candies rather than to revive what is this writer stated such as a modern yet tempered by its own aspiration, its own heritage. Ataturk had used both past and present to create a Turkey that was different from its Ottoman predecessor, there may be buildings inspired by both traditional Turkish, Hittite yet carries a purpose that is modern; Stalin's Russia had to fuse classicism and modernity that resulted to the creation of the skyscrapers in Moscow; these aren't mere eye candies as presented by modern day entities but built with a purpose of developing a modern day society and a realization of an idea once written, drawn or spoken by the old.

Anyways, Detractors and Slanderers may continue to abhor many times the aspirations of the common man in building a just community, while at the same time presenting theirs as better for "they think" compared to the common man who "deserved to be ruled"; not knowing or just aloof that the common man, with its hardships, develops a consciousness that is realistic than those whom are "thinking". They may have called for foreign investments, dependency on cheap imports, and the foreigner's right to own property, but how about industrialization and utilization of its own resources by its own people and its own communities?
So much for "Change starts from the self" being parroted by today's "modern" people is obviously reducing social change into a mere matter of an individual, of that "self" alone with all its so-called "contributions" that as if can resolve the issue (but more of pacifying). That ironically, spoken by those whose societies speak much of communitarianism (and collective effort).

For a future forged by revolutionary heritage
 and age old aspiration

Perhaps, like a tree one has to cut the rotting and the sick in order the plant to survive. So is the society.

People should destroy the rotting social order whilst creating a new one that is modern but tempered by its true, revolutionary heritage. The French Revolution isn't a mere revolt of the bourgeois inspired by Voltaire and Rousseau, but a continuation of earlier peasant and artisan revolts, whose despite its failure had kept its spirit alive by those who cling to their forefather's principles: they don't just fight merely for freedom, equality, and fraternity, but land, bread, and justice to those who are oppressed, dispossessed and disenfranchised by the privileged few. The Chinese struggle isn't all about Mao Zedong and his Communist party alone, nor Sun Yat Sen and his Guomindang, but a continuation of earlier struggles, of utopian-and-messianic oriented peasant revolts with promises of justice and retribution against the greedy landlords and wretched-minded nobility; so was the unfinished Philippine revolution, this time in a modern type yet tempered by its tradition coming from the era of Silang, Rizal and Bonifacio, with its people sick and tired of age old realities such as corrupt bureaucrats, exploiter compradore and landlords, and a backward society behind the glass and steel edifices and numerous projects made primarily to support a  "cult of personality" with the corrupt ruling gentry initiated and developed thoroughly.

Otherwise, of what is struggle for change if it is not based from the actual aspirations of the people from past till present? People does not aspire for freedom and so-called "democracy" peddled by mainstream media, but instead struggle what is inheritly embedded thanks to the realities that triggers the creative urge to destroy and recreate a new one, as what the quote made by the late Pablo Picasso said:

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."

And that quote makes those who favour the status quo trying to negate over and over, trying to tame those who had yearned for a tomorrow where opportunities laid in store for them; ContemporAntiquity may had been inspired by old edifices like old churches, establishments or old factories and buildings that captures the imagination of those who lean to a promising future, so are the aspirations of the common man that had been struggled for generations. 

Least been realized through art to inspire anyone taking the guts against the rotting status quo. Every edifice that carries both heritage (untarnished by pseudomodernity) and reality (meeting the demands of the people) is a cathedral, temple to commemorate the realization of the people such as a modern, developed society born from the ruins of its "past", and that "past" includes the aspirations of the people that is, contrary to the wishes of the rotten status quo.  Hannes Mayer, Van Molyvann had did the idea what this writer expressed in this writeup.

Anyways, as long as there are those who had wanted to revive the Filipino spirit, so is the idea of having its culture a chance of improving itself, whilst keeping firm in its good roots.

That's all for now, 

Thank you.