On Edel Garcellano (1): Philippine Literature and Class War

This is not a lecture note but is a part of a shelved project, a monograph on Edel Garcellano’s criticism which I can’t continue at the moment. I’ll share what I have at hand in the meantime.

Edel Garcellano’s practice of literary criticism centers on locating literature as produced in the Philippines on the larger context of class struggle, or what he specifically calls class war. This follows a clearly articulated political line when it comes to writing: Garcellano invokes the use of Marxism in literary criticism not just an academic exercise but as an extension of the inevitable participation of the author and his words in this war. It is not within discourse, as much as Garcellano himself worried of, that the function of the word will be determined, but of who’s going to claim victory from this war. The class war isn’t invoked here as a merely discursive frame, but in the inverse, it is only through the class war that discourse is possible.

This critical frame follows a materialist approach to history. In this frame, literary production is looked at from the backdrop of what Amado Guerrero identified in his influential book, Philippine Society and Revolution, as the semifeudal and semicolonial society.[1] For Guerrero, this condition determines the relationship between the country’s economic base and superstructural relations. Or essentially, the relations of production. This status is determined by “U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism” the “three historical evils” which afflict the Philippine Society. Garcellano extends this analysis on his criticism of the function of the literary text under these conditions of imperialist, feudalist and bureaucratic domination as manifested by the institutions which enable the production of such texts. This thought came from a long history of understanding how institutions “enforce the code or ideology of the ruling class,”[2] from Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony to Louis Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatuses. These institutions come in the form of workshops, publication networks, academic institutions, etc.

The institutions noted reproduces dominant social (exploitative) practices as much as it reproduces dominant ideology through the literary texts. Literary workshops, for example, reproduces its own “patriarchs” in the form of the workshop “elders.” A veteran writer, for example, also a resident workshop facilitator in a lot of writing soirees, is fond of being called by a word synonymous to “father,” reinforcing the feudal character of the society at large. Tilde Acuna remembered an instance when he was casually asked by someone during his attendance at the 2017 Philippine Writers Festival whether his “father” or “mother” is this or that professor.[3] These “godfathers” and “godmothers” gatekeep the dominant literary aesthetic through their “cult of mentorship.”[4]

Literary wards similarly look at the same gatekeeping. Garcellano looks at awards as “symbolic capital in the economy of exchange”[5] in the same manner as acceptance to literary workshops are a validation of capital as represented by its conveners. Awards and its winners enforces “a canon of what is possibly literature” by virtue of “particular school of writing and philosophizing[.]”[6] Further limiting any possibility of emergence of actually new forms is the gatekeeping under the canons of award-giving bodies what can only be considered and be accepted as literature.

Academic institutions further reproduce these conditions. Recent developments on the education of literature from primary to secondary school-levels solidify the institutionalization of literature by limiting what can be taught to what is identifiable only at the level of acknowledgment in National Artist circles. The Department of Education’s curriculum guideline on teaching the subject 21st Century Literature from the Philippines and the World specifically outlines as one of its goals to have the students learn of the “canonical authors and works of Philippine National Artists in Literature.”[7]

The thread of thought of which Garcellano’s critique of literary institutions flows functions also as an interrogation of the function of writing. The author, as produced by these institutions, also determines what the function of writing is. As already pointed out by Caroline Hau, the author in Garcellano’s critiques functions more as a “principle” which is “responsible for authorizing statements in and about literature.”[8] But this pronouncement of the role of the author does not really work towards his salvation for a possible revolutionary role, as Hau would state, Garcellano “uses the very concept of authorship to debunk the cult of authorial personality.”[9] This stance is reflective of Garcellano’s poststructuralist leanings throughout time but is grounded on the necessities specific to the character of the class struggle in the Philippines.

This practice of questioning the author also questions the function of the word.

As historically seen, writing works in parallel with functioning authority. As taught in primary education, archaeologists devoted a significant amount of time deciphering codes written in fossilized cuneiform and tablets. These codes are laws determining how the population of the earliest of the civilizations will be organized. Most popularly known of these is the Babylonian Law promulgated by the Sumerian King, Hammurabi who began his rule about 1750 BC.[10] The oldest yet discovered writing, is also a code, propagated by Ur-Nammu around 2050 BC.[11] The latest developments on the researches of the origins of writing further illuminate the historical use of writing for the official functions of authority. As one of the earliest written texts from Uruk provides a list of names of authorities and specialists, economic data, political and scholarly writings.[12]

The origins of the better known phonemic writing, the Alphabet, in itself has a similar function. The etymology itself of the term “alphabet” refers to the first two letters of the Greek writing system – the alpha and the beta – which indicates a sequence – a syntax, a rule. The Alphabet song concludes with the lines “Now I know my ABCs” which essentially refer to the basics of knowing by following a set of rules.

Garcellano’s structural critique of literature and literary institutions bears with it a theory of the function of the word: that writing is historically a functionary of authority. The source for the word author itself bears with him this history, the author as the originator, promulgator of laws, similar to the Lacanian name of the father in the oedipal relations of institutions.[13] Garcellano methodologically extended this analysis in three categorizations which he stated in his critique of Azucena Grajo Uranza’s Bamboo in the Wind. For Garcellano, the text must be read as: “1) a legitimate construction of ideological position, which realism dissimulates, or seemingly diffuses, 2) a possible extension and/or subversion of state ideological apparatus, which the establishment has already nullified, anyway, and 3) a perpetuation of universalizing discourse in Philippine hermeneutics.”[14] In this method, Garcellano follows an Althusserian approach to critical discourse analysis, that is, his method isn’t strictly that of the Foucauldian one, which underscores the exposure of structural construction of ideology through discourse, but rather one which brings critical discourse analysis back to a Marxist analysis of class structures.

Ideology, as understood here, isn’t simply a “belief-system” or as Engels’ false consciousness, but leaning towards the Althusserian understanding. For Althusser, ideology functions concretely at “the level of individual ‘subjects:’ that is, people as they exist in their concrete individuality, in their work, daily lives, acts, commitments, hesitations, doubts, and sense of what is most immediately self-evident.”[15] Ben Brewster clarified Althusser’s notion of ideology as “the ‘lived’ relation between men and the world,”[16] which is less of a metaphysical subject.

Mao Tse-tung has noted that “every form of ideology, has its own particular contradiction and particular essence.”[17] Garcellano’s criticism maps out the formations of totalizing and authoritative statements of writers, institutions, and literature as ideologically situated to the specific historical realities of the Philippines (as their particularity). Ideology is not here fleshed out in the writings as if hermeneutically embedded in poetry, but rather as practically manifested in their own words. As a critic, Garcellano underlines: “But where do we start but from the word?”[18]

But this, however, does not invite for a merely formalist mode of reading. As Garcellano continues, “the speaker of the word […] had to be resurrected,” to distance himself from Barthesian structuralism whose author has died (or was killed),[19] “because his pre-mature dissolution […] was, it turned out later, the contradiscourse of detractors who were terrified by the October revolution and those “mobs” that slew the Tzar.”[20] Garcellano here salvages formalism from its vulgarity and resolved it with structural analysis of the text – not with the linguistic structure, but the text as a product of literary labor and hence, being placed on the larger structure of mode of production, of base and superstructure relations. It must be acknowledged here that in Garcellano’s criticisms, the products of literary practice (the literary piece) and the practice of literary production (how one writes) are being scrutinized as one as they are being united by the text. And the text, the material, has its own origin in the author who “articulates from his own specific site/sight, his domain of power[.]”[21]

This site is the location of both the author and the text in the larger map of class structure. In his criticisms, Garcellano often ask, from where does the author/text speak? Garcellano treats literary criticism as “a rendering of reality mediated by a text that must be deconstructed and reconstructed to frame a truth in its own specificity and historic placement,” although, he warned that, “[y]es, every truth is a possible reading [or misreading]” which necessitates for the critic to also be read.[22] Surveying the field of class struggle, the author, critic, and the text are found not arbitrarily, but historically, serving the interest of their own class on their manner of reading/rereading and writing/rewriting.


[1] Amado Guerrero, Philippine Society and Revolution (Manila: Aklat ng Bayan, 2006), ##.

[2] Edel Garcellano, “Marxism, Feminism and the Literary Text: “The Difference of View, The Difference of Standard”” from First Person, Plural, (Quezon City: Edel E. Garcellano, 1987), 138-139.

[3] The complete passage is in strike-through text. See Tilde Acuna and Arlo Mendoza, Terorismo ng Texto & Ang Manunulat sa Panahon ng Sentimentalismo (Quezon City: Tilde Acuna, Arlo Mendoza, 2017), 31.

[4] For a longer discussion of the gangster-esque practice in literary circles, see Rogelo Braga, “Philippine Literary ‘Mafia’,” Facebook, October 7, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/notes/rogelio-braga/philippine-literary-mafia/195693597523775/

[5] Edel Garcellano, “Hopefully, the Last Word,” from Interventions (Manila: Polytechnic University of the Philippines Press, 1998), 159.

[6] Edel Garcellano, “A Reductive Letter to Imaginary Warriors: Or, Minor Subversions for Our Times” from Interventions (Manila: Polytechnic University of the Philippines Press, 1998), 8.

[7] See K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum for 21st Century Literature from the Philippines and the World, 2013. 1. <https://www.deped.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/SHS-Core_21st-Century-Literature-from-the-Philippines-and-the-World-CG.pdf&gt;

[8] Caroline Hau, “Introduction” from Edel Garcellano, Knife’s Edge: Selected Essays (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2001), xvi.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Samuel Noah Kramer, History Begins at Sumer (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981), 51.

[11] Ibid, 52.

[12] See Ira Spar, “The Origins of Writing,” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–), <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/wrtg/hd_wrtg.htm&gt; (October 2004).

[13] “It is in the name of the father that we must recognize the basis of the symbolic function which, since the dawn of historical time, has identified his person with the figure of the law.” Jacques Lacan, Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006). 230.

[14] Edel Garcellano, “Bamboo In The Wind and The Strategy of Containment,” from Interventions (Manila: Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1998), 21.

[15] Louis Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (London: Verso, 2006), 176.

[16] Ben Brewster, “Glossary” from Louis Althusser, For Marx (London: Verso, 2005), 265.

[17] Mao Tse-tung, “On Contradiction” from Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung Vol. 1, (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1965), 320.

[18] Edel Garcellano, “The Filipino as Critic in a Time of War” from Intertext (Manila: Kalikasan Press, 1990), 107.

[19] See Roland Barthes, “Death of the Author” from Image, Music, Text (London: Fontana Press, 1977) 42-48.

[20] Garcellano, “The Filipino as Critic in a Time of War,” 107

[21] Edel Garcellano, “Hermeneutics for our Time: From Where do We Speak?” from Intertext (Manila: Kalikasan Press, 1990), 46.

[22] Garcellano, “The Filipino as Critic in a Time of War,” 109.

Dystopia and Other Bourgeois Fantasies

Notes on Star Cinema’s Block Z

Block Z Trailer - 'Block Z' - Mikhail Red - YouTube.mkv_snapshot_00.56.391

There is a scene from Star Cinema’s Block Z where we see soldiers barricading the school campus exit / entrance, blocking anyone who attempts to go out, as an act to commit a command. The living people who are blocked from escaping the campus are threatened to be fired at the moment they attempt to get closer to the gate. These living people, of course, are running from swarming zombies who are out to get their necks. The panicking people run towards the gate. The commander present clearly shouted to hold fire, however, panic has also reached the soldiers and they continue to indiscriminately fire at the people who are running, then the zombies.  Continue reading “Dystopia and Other Bourgeois Fantasies”

“Cinema is not made of flesh”: an interview by Mara Valle

Around late November last year, a student by the name Mara Valle (MV) approached me for a written interview for her undergraduate (?) thesis. Her topic has something to do with the films directed by Olivia Lamasan and representation of women in her films. I asked for her permission if I can post it here. I revised some of the points I made, mainly due to clarity concerns.

The decision to post these answers to her questions came with the realization that the answers actually map the groundwork of my thoughts with regards to cinema. The content mainly revolves around my general theory of the function of cinema as determined by its historical practice as a medium of illusion. And that it is within this framework that we can understand what cinema is doing to us and its main contribution to history and our lives. These were all fleshed out by Valle’s seemingly basic questions which never really occurred to me to write at all. So, I’m using this opportunity to have these available here, at least as a point of personal reference.

I’d like to thank Mara Valle for reaching out and asking these questions.


MV – What was your drive behind making film reviews?

– I’m not sure if you can call it drive. But I do it because I don’t know what else I can write. Or what else I can do. I write fiction from time to time. I also make films if time and resources permits.

But what I’m most comfortable with (with regards to my skill and knowledge scope, despite my handicap in grammar) is my capability to process my interaction with cinema and visual culture through criticism. There is an attempt of course, to broaden my interests. I’ve wrote a political pamphlet once for the Mass Organization I’m with (my work there is currently focused on production). Recently, I’m less interested with film in a manner that can’t consider myself as a cinephile anymore. But herein lies the contradiction that I’m already in the middle of it both as a creator and a commentator. The most I can do to validate my existence (and even with my “official” line of work since in the University, your tenure as a faculty gets more secured if you produce more “researches”) is to continue writing film reviews and criticism.

There is an advantage with not being interested with cinema while engaging with it: you see aspects of the medium which are mostly disregarded by those who proclaim that loves it. There are limits for people who love when they theorize and historicize: that they theorize and historicize to redeem that certain thing they love. This disinterest with cinema made my criticism more observant with what constitute its existence from the simplest to the most complex: from the illusory motion of frames to the military-industrial complex’s use of cinema as instrument of war.


MV – As a film critic who despite the fact that you are most likely to see different films almost every day, do you have a favorite movie? What is the movie’s title?

– As I’ve mentioned, recently, films do not interest me. So, as of late, I only see films whenever permitted. I do not watch much films lately. Probably before, I see different stuff almost every day but realizations from 2016 made me pause and take my time on consuming motion pictures. I still find Johnnie To’s Life Without Principle interesting enough to be called my favorite. But more as a narrative and as humanist critique of global capitalism than a movie. Well, formally, it is also compelling. Recently I’ve been going back to films I used to love and some of them I still like to some extent: Un Chien Andalou, Meshes of the Afternoon, Throw Away Your Books Rally in the Streets, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Inland Empire, Shaolin Soccer, Throw Down, Man with a Movie Camera.


MV – What is your basis when determining whether a film is good or bad?

– My criteria is more of whether the film is effective or not in providing an illusion. Cinema’s technology, basing with Muybridge’s motion studies in the late 19th century, reveals to us this very basic function of cinema: to provide illusions of any kind. Whether an illusion of motion, of time or of affect. A technology to replace the phantasmagoria, the magic lantern and even the vaudeville.

As a medium of illusion, cinema in the mid-20th century became what Louis Althusser called as Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). I highlight more on my reviews and criticism the role of cinema in propagating ideology than to concern myself on whether a film is “good” or “bad.” There really is no such thing as a good or bad film, but rather an effective or ineffective propaganda.

Of course there is ugly filmmaking, but even mishandled craft is still to be considered with its overall message. Say, for example, the overly “polished” single-take action scene from Buy Bust (2018). News is saying that they took them 52 takes to get that shot. When you see that scene, it still looks like a rehearsal video. If that’s the 52nd take, something must be wrong with the way it was handled. But the sequence being clumsy worked for its overall propaganda as a film which abhors both the action genre and the poor.


MV – When evaluating films, how do you handle if you feel you have a bias for or against the subject matter of a film. How do you manage to temper your review?

– At present, I am against any form of “subjectivation” (cinema sa an ISA means it constructs the audience as state’s subject) with regards to filmic representation. But cinema itself, at least its industrial part under bureaucrat capitalism, maintains subjectivation as its basic point: it shows what’s proper, it tells you what to buy, it tells you to subvert (but in a limited scope since industrial cinema can’t promote extreme subversions), but not in a very commanding way. Like how Slavoj Zizek say it: cinema teaches you how to desire.

So how do I handle being against cinema itself? I write criticism. My criticism is directed at two points: at the film and at film production under bureaucrat capitalism. I manage my temper by escalating it. There’s really no point of suppressing your anger over something that you should really be angry at. For example, Heneral Luna, is an effective propaganda on distributing semi-feudal ideas and liberal cynicism, since they appeal towards those who are disappointed over the incompetence of the Aquino administration but they opportunistically do so to promote their own degenerate and reactionary ideas. Isn’t that something that you should be angry about? Who are these people to tell us that we are our own enemy as if actual colonialism and imperialism never happened and is not happening?


MV – On your perspective, has digital cinema destroyed realism? Why?

– As mentioned earlier, cinema’s basic function is to provide illusions. Being mechanically called as “motion picture” in the twentieth century validates this function. Cinema works through a flowing assemblage of images which are being ran at a relatively fast speed. On the average industry standard, 24 frames per second. Having provided an illusion of motion through the projection of a set of images at a certain speed, realism will fail to take base. The first artist of cinema, Georges Melies, made cinema an art by incorporating with moving images not social realism, nor romanticism, but his practice of magic, which was his craft before he became fascinated with the cinema machine. Even the so-called “social realism” of the twentieth century, from Italian practice to the Filipino Melodrama, cannot even claim for a certain realism. Psychoanalytically speaking, the most cinema can depict is not a social real, but a social symbolic.

Cinema being a medium of representation, can never get hold of the real. It is an ideologue’s tool: most it can grasp is an idealism.

The digital medium, if anything, did not destroy realism, since it’s not even there in the first place. The fact that the use of digital medium has escalated from marginal use towards being the new convention means that it adds something quite positive in the realm of capitalist driven production of cinema. As such, it helped create more “realistic” scenes: isn’t it with digital cinema that the Bing Lao-Brillante Mendoza clique first deployed their “real time” “found story” aesthetics? Through the easier manipulation of digital images, it’s easier to make images as close to ‘real.’ Cinema, being born in the era of early cybernetics, guaranteed that the real that we know from the enlightenment – the humanist real – can never cross the realm of the reels. What is unfair is that cinema affects the real, as much as the developments in the mode of production and means of production affected it too. Cinema is not made of flesh. Its real is synthetic.


MV – What are your views on lead and supporting actresses in films that are being produced today? Personally, do you think women are still seen as Maria Clara or a damsel in distress in films? Do you think directors that produce films nowadays are gender sensitive?

I’ll be answering the three questions above in one go. From how I see it, the depiction of women in Philippine Cinema today borders between traditional and liberal, but both with conservative tendencies. Cinematic representation, at least in the industrial sense, do not really care much about the accuracy or political necessity of progressive stance if it do not guarantee profit. There are audiences for damsels in distress, there are audiences for depiction of independent women. It’s a matter of whose perversion is the studio catering with at a given moment.

The studio system in the 21st century rely a lot on speculation, like most venues of contemporary art market. If they feel the tendency of the time sway on traditional end, they’ll do it. Social media makes it easy to calibrate with what the consumers want. This is less of audience participation than expectation exploitation. There are no real modernists existing right now, at least among those who positively reinforce cinema and its production. Any demand for what ought to be represented in the cinema screens are probably western-white culture whims than actual intellectual demand. There are demands for gender sensitivity but not, say, abolition of conditions which enable violence against women and other genders which includes feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism.

This non-addressing of social, historical and political conditions which enable violence is what makes such moves on cinema conservative. A conservation, in the literal sense, of existing status quo. That as long as these demands are met, further extortion and expropriation of surplus value from workers can be justified. By the end of the day, it’s consumerism forming ‘safe spaces’ out of cinema.

It’s this idea of forming a safe space out of cinema houses which exposes two things about the concept of such spaces. First, safe spaces only pose for a temporary remedy which do not really solve anything, as such it is only supposing a politics of comfort. Second, that such calls for safe spaces contributes more to the conditions which actually violates rights of women, children and other minorities, as it only address comfort and do not call for struggle.

Not really sure whether directors nowadays are gender sensitive. But I am highly suspicious of those who pose as one. Especially, if they’re looking at women, gays, lesbians, and other identities outside of the basic contradictions and only bank on personal ones. The personal isn’t necessarily political.


MV – In the following films:

  1. Minsan Minahal Kita
  2. In the Name of Love
  3. The Mistress
  4. Milan
  5. Starting Over Again
  6. Barcelona: A Love Untold

Do you think the women characters are portrayed as empowered or weak?

– From the titles you mentioned, I only remember four of them. The best that I can remember is In The Name of Love, and I don’t really recall the film having any care whether they depicted Cedes (Angel Locsin) as empowered or not. And I think that’s how it goes too with Milan and Starting Over Again. I vaguely remember The Mistress.

Though, they are not really portrayed as weak too. Remember, these are studio films. Most that they are concerned with are the affects these characters and films generated. As studio films, they are backed with the most reactionary, backward and profit-driven narrative decisions. There may have been attempts from writers to subvert their materials, but subversions has always been ineffective, even if those supposed subversions made it to the final cut of the film. Studio filmmaking practice never really endorse any kind of empowerment, most especially in a film produced in a semifeudal country like ours. There will always be dependence of any sort, on the status quo mostly. The films mentioned above, being produced by Star Cinema, under the corporate blanket of ABS CBN, promotes the notion of the family as the most important aspect of life. This ideological dispersion run on two sides: it promotes the value that maintains the stature of the ruling class as ruling class, and it ensures to generate more profit.

Here’s the thing: most of 21st century productions of Star Cinema tend to cater the female market more, some of which may have a notion of empowerment from time to time. This is because by the turn of the century, the buying power of single young-adult and middle aged women has significantly grown due to the global necessity for more corporate-skilled and outsourced workers. If Star Cinema will try to do more of these women empowerment themes on their films, this isn’t because they really do advocate for it. After all, they’re still one of those larger companies which practices non-regularization through their outsourcing of clerical workers from agencies, a lot of whose are women, hence disenfranchising working class women on their end. This is on top of their crazy hours of working days (from 12 hour to 30 hour shooting days) which is unfair, for both of their men and women workers, from their cinema production to their news production. Any campaign brought about by mainstream media for any sort of empowerment or advocacy, they do so with capitalistic opportunism. And I think this go along with all other filmmakers and not just Olivia Lamasan, who, after all, is just another corporate employee with a fat paycheck.


MV – Do you think the image of women characters in films perceive how people see them in real life?

– Sometime they hit it by the nail. Most especially on the earlier sequences of their films, when they establish women as troubled and busy despite of all of their other necessities in life. It is on their establishment of narrative conflict and resolution – when they are actually becoming stories – that their films start to become fictional.

The Years of Permanent Midnight and other unedited essays



Starting today, my first anthology, The Years of Permanent Midnight and other unedited essays will be available for online download via archive.org.


The physical copies are mostly self-printed which is why I was only able to release 12 copies of the first printing. Some copies are still available, probably, at Cinema Centenario, along with my other work, Krisis at Pelikula.

You may also email me if you are interested on getting printed copies of both, but I can’t assure you that it will come around fast.

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts about these works. thanks for reading in advance.

28 Years Into the End of History

28 years into the end of history, we are experiencing eternal contemporaneity. What the recent times has assured with Mark Fisher’s declaration of the ‘slow cancellation of the future’ is the making-contemporary of what was 5 years ago can be considered as nostalgia.

Nostalgia does not exist anymore, 28 years into the end of history.

Renato Constantino did not help stop the flow of his feared ‘synthetic culture’ with his critique. His fault mainly lies on the assumption of an organic development, when, in the first place, culture, being a human invention, is already synthetic. What he helped clarified is that transnational capital’s synthetic culture brings in itself death of some sort. The end of history, however, championed under liberalism, guaranteed an extended life-span, albeit, not temporal, but spatial expansion. Transnational capital’s synthetic culture only initially focused on urban centers. It is only recently, 28 years into the end of history, that it expanded beyond urban centers. Post-crisis consumerists drunk with Zen of culture coming from all over the gaia- and cyber-space anoint themselves warriors of Apo Whang-od’s tribe by availing themselves a tattoo made by her. Citizens of the world aiming to be either archives of extinct cultures or necromancers of dead ones.

The jouissance of reliving the time has become a general encounter of everyday lives. From pop radio to franchise cinema. Kenneth Goldsmith’s cybernetic conceptualism will still insist on the critique of these than with attempts to break with novelty. Not that novelty has become impossible: with the rapid expansion of information technologies, more and more of the limits of ‘creation’ are being exposed: repurposing has become a general practice sans the subversion of intellectual property. Post-crisis cybernetics is a franchise, cyberpunk is a brand.

The lack of imagination beyond our time, beyond the end of history, has also set the limit of imagination of imperialism. Imperialism is still a spatial act: historico-temporal imperialism is yet to succeed. Which is why time-travel still fascinates us.

Time-travel, however, is yet to become science-fiction again.

Time-travel seems to fill our hauntological yearnings. As a plot device, time-travel seems to be the cure for a flawed denouement. To kill the tyrannical cabesa, in Babylon, to “correct” history; or as a turning point in Unli-Life. Time-travel has become a mechanism to ensure and reproduce the fantasy of historical singularity in favor of the end-of-history in the Philippines.

Reluctance to acknowledge contradictory forces, in the denial of actual complications in the construction of history, is but an effect of a declining and effacement of materialist conception of history. Time-travel, which has its most potential in dialectics, is becoming a senile reactionary tool of excuse for Zen cynicism. For psychopolitics. For capitalist realism. Time-travel, 28 years into the end of history, is just another experience of eternal contemporaneity.

Contemporaneity and psychopolitical immateriality supplements each other with the recent promotion of psychologism. Best reflected in the experience of Okabe Rintaro of a million time-leaps looking for the right time line to save everyone. It can be easily reduced that the struggle itself by Rintaro for confronting time is not historical, but personal-affective-psychological. His multiple time-leaps is accompanied by his flowing in and out of the channels of Akihabara – jouissance-machine par excellence. While moving in time, albeit only hours and days ago, Okabe is assured by the contemporaneity of the glow of idol cafe, strips of electronics stores, and busy people passing through.

Eternal contemporaneity’s greatest symptom can be found yet again in a flow — rather, a wave. Flowing from Imperialist America’s greatest ally in the far east, Hallyu crashed into the shores of the world, with everywhere it touched decayed into extreme consumerism.

A friend of mine reacted some months ago: “I hate the K-Pop of today. They seem fake.” Little did he realize that it is this syntheticity which brought Hallyu to its height. We are engrossed of the images of impossible gloss of hypersexed conservatives, hyper-kinetic dances and beats which haunts us with a lot of familiarity. None of these are comfort in strangeness but a welcoming overfamiliarity and attractiveness. Our contradictions and guilt packaged as a huggie doll. K-pop is the great jouissance.

As a tool for the retention of eternal contemporaneity, k-pop reassures. Kept within the confines of the acceptable, your desires are fine. You can desire the attractive humans whom you can see dance but they are too good to be yours. They are at best seen at a distance, with the pain of reflexively understanding all these. You listen to them be edgy, but not too edgy. Mandatorily, one of the tracks on the mini-EP has moderate tempo. Mix of influences assures your desired multiplicity: you can now experience them all in one. They make you want to die, but never to the point of death. They keep you at ease, and they keep you busy. They keep us safe of our guilt of desire by assuring that these are just all entertainment: they after all sing of love while they themselves are not allowed to experience love at all.

Unlike other forms of jouissance, K-pop relieves you from death drive. The accelerationist mode of escape, towards collapse — supposedly to flow both from the synapses to the fiber optic cables — is being halted by the Hallyu. Hallyu is the present’s attack to the rest of time: against Landian schizoanalysis and sino-futurism, is the Silicon Valley backed Korean capital. This does not bring capitalism into a collapse. Nor does Hallyu bring the corporate scientific utopia in this third world nation. It’s effect is in reverse: the revival of culture industry and its vitalism against the allure of escape and death.

The only reason why the function Duterte-China remains on the sidelines of the imperialist equation is this apparent imperialist move by US-South Korea’s world media system. Both favors however, the retention of the templexitous tendency of the Duterte administration to perfect the dreams of Marcosian Maharlika: the autocratic nationalism favoring neoliberal economics. A project which was started in the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA Drama. (Recent accelerations in crisis will soon result to the completion of Greater East Asia’s imperialist triage: Duterte bootlicking imperialist US-S.Korea-China).

Eternal contemporaneity makes materialism appear passe. Psychopolitics assume such immateriality: since labor is automated, none of digital processes are material — as far as humans are concerned. K-pop falls into this logic too, of immateriality : that is, K-pop exists as if always-already in the realm of the imaginary. Beyond meanings, K-pop bear with it an un-human experience of the image. Songs are mere vectors: none of them are lived. K-pop has been the result of desires psychopolitically processed through automation. Which is why it is so calculated and familiar: we already imagined and desired them somewhere.

The ‘decline of symbolic efficiency’ of postmodernism brought to us the re-intensification of imaginary constructs. K-pop brings us back to our mirror phases: to see again an image of the self we don’t know and we don’t acknowledge, but never get rid of since the imaginary is all we know. Images in eternal contemporaneity also reflects life as such: life without resolve. A vitalism without a path. A condition of mere existing. It sees conflict not as a movement but a mode of existence. Which is why Philippine romance post-K-pop mostly concludes with unresolved hang-ups and what-ifs. Hugot exists in the same vectoral manner as k-pop on which none is lived. Eternal contemporaneity brings an embarrassment to speculative thought: of merely thinking speculatively about banal things.

The word lies, 28 years into the end of history. K to 12 education brought up cyborgs which process words on their personalized softwares. Favoring immanent lexical reduction, everything is an opinion. The decline of the word brought about the a signification without a signified. One student has said of a poem: “the lines have deeper meaning, which would be based on your own interpretation.” Eternal contemporaneity brought about the birth of non-hermeneutics. Semiotic machine has failed. The assemblage are just informatic machines which processes on definite algorithm of indefiniteness. K to 12 education is a producer of non-cynics: doubters without an object of doubt. A troubled mind fueled by Born again christian inner peace and mental health campaigns.

28 years into the end of history, eternal contemporaneity is templexity in the form of Zen mantra. History, 28 years into the end of history, appears as if it is in peace with itself: the resolved conflict, the triumph of liberalism, at last found its inner peace. We are not back in the age of 80s new age and 90s alien hoaxes and early internet conspiracy theories: we never left them.

Rhizomes everywhere

I’m merely repeating Deleuze and Guattari.


Just a while ago, my 7 year old nephew woke up crying. I can’t comprehend what he was trying to say to me. He probably woke up from a nightmare. Then he started talking clearly, and pointed out something below the couch where he was sleeping. I asked him again to talk clearly. He said something about an 11, then a 21. I still couldn’t grasp his words. At first, I figured that he’s talking about a money which he probably left at school. Then, he cried mumbling words I can’t comprehend. Then started drawing in air a rectangle. He said: “magulo yung ginawa ko” (what I did was messy). I asked again if it’s about money, he said, “alam ko twenty-one saka labing-isa yon. Akala ko dalawa yung gagawin.” I now got it then that it was about the quiz results.

The younger generation has been blamed for their fragility. Oftentimes I make fun of their older counter parts (fuck me, but millennials really do suck with their safe spaces and all) but only those who do not really have any sense of struggle in life. But for someone like my nephew, who barely know anything outside of his home, who barely know what a good work is because no one has said it to him, he probably have a lot in mind about being a disappointment. He later on cried about being upset to himself, but never really articulated it as such, only adding up to his pain.

If anything is to be blamed for the fragility of the younger ones, it isn’t much of the parents’ mistakes, but they do partake in it. This society of control, as Deleuze and Guattari once called it, has broken down its formerly hierarchical power to redistribute surveillance and disciplinary authority towards to what we call the basic unit of society: the family. Church-goers lessen in numbers by the year, not because there are lesser believers now, but because the church (as an embodiment of religious guilt) now has a strong presence inside the home. Which also explains the high approval of the law enforcement and the military from the common households.

But these never really started at home. Rather, this redistribution of control breed upon a new culture of consent towards state violence. Deleuze and Guattari’s dream of a rhizomic society came true in the appropriation of it by the state. The state, even with its multiple crises, survived by having its disciplinary authority distributed among its population. But the society of control is still arborial only as much as each social unit is concerned. Neoliberalism enabled the distribution of bureaucracy to a larger number of populace which in effect, gave out an illusion of freedom.

The irony of the society of control being rhizomic is its fullest form.

It is understandable that this kind of environment breeds anxiety. The fast-paced lifestyle requires one to be in control of almost anything, which includes other people’s behaviors. Now that the competition for the control of one another, is not just against each other human being, but also against machines. While it is indeed troubling, the situation of higher rate of anxiety and depression among the youth is not at all surprising if we are to consider the historical progressions of technology along-side with the growth of the society of control. The young ones were left to devices as a form of entertainment while both of their parents are at work make their thinking process accelerated. They could have been thinking faster than you are that you can no longer catch up with them. But being the control freak adults that we are, we intervene. And these multiple interventions are what breeds this wide-spread anxiety.

We received the note: democracy is control.

Let’s boast about diversity while the Department of Education, on their school curriculum, highlights mostly the ruling class and their interest on their arts, literature and humanities subjects. The platform is freer for the instructor, more democratic, but still within the limits of class control.

Would a child be lesser without them knowing who the national artists are? How about the newly passed House bill about the national anthem? Why should this obsession over music formalism any of our basic concern?

Let’s wait for new forms of anxiety to emerge.


Corruption fundamentally does not, and cannot afford to live in tree-like hierarchy/oligarchy anymore. Historical development on the flows of capital moved machine assemblage towards creating a body without organs. Such as most “organizations” no longer involve decreasing power distributions down the line, but of connecting functionalities. These functionalities are settled via contracts. Its limits are only the limit needed of a certain machine assemblage, but it does not mean it gets stuck. Rhizomes, unlike a tree’s trunk, expands horizontally. Its nutrients are made to multiply the organism, not to make it larger. It functions by decentralization, in a sense, democratic. It is in such that corruption function. It could be said that it’s even an “advanced” or a “true” mode of democracy. Organized crime groups, by the virtue of the first two words, follows suit through codes accepted and agreed upon by its members. Like bulbs, for a group’s code not to expand would cost its life-line to deplete.

Bilibid and its 13 gangs, function as a rhizome.

The power relations between the Bureau of Corrections, its affiliate offices, and the gangs cannot be understood hierarchically but only through looking at it solely as a roots-based structure. Like grassfields, insects and wind needing each other to spread the grass lands and live.

Offices and organizations obviously have their own little hierarchy in place but it is only to support a wider relations beyond their own. It is not without irony when Sigue-Sigue Commando chairman, Jaybee Sebastian claimed that he’s more or less a king and a servant at the same time. An argument also raised by most business and NGO leaders. They function in the same way. But this isn’t because it is “the nature” of things, but this is enabled by the system which encapsulates them. Late Capitalism only require a certain authoritarianism to function and sustain itself, more or less, a managerial one. It is in such reality (or realism) that the Bilibid Gangs live. I can argue that they are actually function in a more ideal mode of capitalism.

And why not? Jaybee himself run a foundation to help the families of his constituent-co-inmates. Herbert Colangco also argues the same way that he wants to retain his recording studio to “appease the feelings of his fellow inmates.” The idea of philanthropy from excess capital sustains the system, also itself, a rhizomatic process. It deterritorializes the capital from the inside and reterritorializes it out to the families. In return, the families became part of it and supports whatever system they made out to be.

The Bureau of Corrections chief interviewed by Discovery Channel rationalizes the manner they run things inside the Bilibid as a maintenance of “peace and order”. To say, a maintenance of their status quo. So, if anyone gets replaced within the structure, it is not due to some antagonism, but for the maintenance of this peace and order. We can trust Sebastian when he mentioned that he was elected “democratically” as a chairman just 2 years after he entered prison. Every movement is decided not because of a grand evil scheme, but actually to sustain and broaden the system. In business terms, for expansion.

The same could be said on the incarceration of Sen. Leila de Lima. It is not to defend that de Lima may have nothing to do with it, but, like any system of corruption, it is a rhizomatic move. She is to be replaced since the structure requires her to be. The function, then, of the President Rodrigo Duterte, is not much to give justice or expose injustices (surely, most government officials from the higher positions know the structure of corruption they are in), but to replace de Lima by another piece of machine assemblage. The president’s campaign to uphold the “rule of law” and “peace and order” echoes the rationale of the BuCor chief. The mandate itself, is not for justice, but for maintenance of the existing order.

A theory: the council of chair persons in the Bilibid were told after President Duterte was inaugurated that a change must be done if they want to retain whatever they have inside. Due to the 2014 raids, the chairpersons decided to drop de Lima from the structure and let the President appoint anyone he likes so that the links of capital flows will run smooth for the new administration. The president, then, exposed in a privilege speech about de Lima knowing about the drug trade in the prisons. Senate investigation followed suit.

The seemingly scripted scenario of the happenings is not without its structure. Something is surely being protected. And this is not to cause any ruptures or discontinuity on the capital flows in the prison market.

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Kawts Kamote will be no more

You are now here and not in that dark-themed Kawts Kamote blog.

I’ve been trying for a long time to switch to WordPress. Fucking blogger templates are not hipster-friendly and they eat a lot of bandwidth. I only had the time and the “wit” (yikes) to think of a blog name.

So this is now “Missing Codec” which, as you may know, a common error for those who were starting to use PCs to run media (films, music, whatever) files they have downloaded over the internet or for those who are editing videos using old versions of Video Editor for PCs. Recently, these thought of errors by missing supporting files have been attractive to me as much as it irritates me back then, goes to show how much further does the science of computing need to go to attain the Ultimate Stand-Alone program to be released. But, as you may have realized now, stand-alone programs are for the lazy, codec packs are still the way to go, and they are fucking open-source, so, better.

The title, I think, also is going to be the central idea that would unite all of those which I’ve written before and what I would write in the future. I’ll be transferring some posts (especially recent ones) from Kawts Kamote, (which, by the time of this post, is going to be disabled and unpublished) with supplemental editing and commentaries for some.

This will be the new domain, and I thank you for visiting my new mistake.