NOTORIOUSLY, infamously, Borges, and Zizek too, turned to fabulations to beef up their writings. I could not find the specific text to cite but I recall Borges “inventing” books which he then analyzed, inventing literary works which will then be the stuff of his “literary criticisms.” Maybe this detail about Borges is also invented? U Eliserio’s paragraph offers some reassurance:
“Ngunit ang pinakamadaling paraan kung paano masigurado kung metafiction nga o hindi ang binabasa/pinapanood ay ang paghahanap sa mga linyang metafictional. Minsan tago, minsan isinisigaw, kindat sa mambabasa na ang kanyang binabasa’y kuwento lang, at kung paniniwalaan ma’y pagdudahan din. Halimbawa, mula sa ‘The Lottery in Babylon’ ni Jorge Luis Borges, sinabi ng narrator: ‘The scribe who writes a contract almost never fails to introduce some erroneous information. I myself, in this hasty declaration, have falsified some splendor, some atrocity.’ (1964, 35). Sa madaling salita: ang binabasa mo’y maaaring mali” (Kami Sa Lahat ng Mataba, p. 122).
Can we feel wronged, having read that passage? How do we pass from veracity to variation, accuracy to acumen? Some straightforwardness then, via Zizek’s more well-documented creative dishonesties: in the Youtube video “Slavoj Zizek on The Avengers (2012),” uploaded in the channel Emporium, Zizek confessed “that more than half of the movies that I’ve written about, I haven’t seen them” [interviewer laughs]. “Like for example, I criticized Titanic and Avatar… Avatar it’s so boring, after ten minutes I jumped to the end and said ‘life is finite, I don’t have time for this kind of stuff.”
I wished I had the time (among other resources) to watch the play Mac-liing staged in UP Baguio earlier this month. But all I had were countless posts about the play, about people’s experiences of watching the play, about people’s mini-“reviews” (mostly celebratory, mainly congratulatory) after watching the play. It was in the midst of such scrolling, of cursorily reading people’s post about Mac-liing that Jesa initially (and I, after her) wondered, in full-blown Tagalog: sinama kaya nila ‘yung part na nagpakita ng dibdib yung mga babae bilang protesta? There were no mentions, let alone picture, of that in the posts we’ve been reading. No hints whatsoever (ang powerful nung pakita-dibdib scene!); neither commentary nor annotations on that.
Without empirical bases, Jesa and I pursued further wondering. What would it imply if that pakita-dibdib part of history was NOT included in the play? Would it be too forward to label that as “self-censoring”? If I embrace that forwardness and ask further, why the self-censoring (no more air quotes), why the exclusion?
I had to admit that at first I was not so certain about that detail: I have heard of this tale of Cordillera women baring their breasts as an act of protest, warding off either the local military or foreign colonizers, but I was not sure of its context. Did it happen during the anti-Chico Dam protests during the Marcos dictatorship? Or maybe it took place much earlier? What if I am confusing timelines and historical events? The reference in Walang Rape sa Bontok – the film spoke of the same female resistance in the form of baring their chests – also misled and confused me. Sa Kalinga nga ba ‘yun nangyari, during the Chico Dam protests? Baka naman sa Bontoc nga? This time, it was not a chapter from Eliserio’s book, but an article from Innabuyog’s site that will reassure:
“At another time, during the height of the struggle, women tried to prevent the entry of a truck that was bringing in more construction materials. We laid down on the road so that the trucks would not be able to pass. When they tried to bring the materials down from the truck, others tried to physically struggle with the men – the men were becoming more aggressive – many among us were hurt – we cried but at the same time we fought back and kicked them. All the women who were there did what they thought was best to prevent any move by the men to construct the dam or set up their tents. In desperation – one woman removed her clothes – others followed. One lactating mother had to squeeze out milk from her breast to prevent a soldier from getting near her.”
These are the flights of thinking and lines of questioning spurred by our absence when Mac-liing was staged at Himnasyo Amianan in UP Baguio earlier this month. Jes and I fancy calling this piece an “absent review,” quite literally referencing the situation of the write-up, the reviewers’ absence when the happening/text/materials being discoursed on was transpiring. But there are other materials and works that can be accessed, recalled, or invoked, relating to the primary text, the primary event. With enough cobbling and coddling, these secondary materials can be the stuff of the review, even if the ones doing them are—in terms only of physical presence, but not of emotional and discursive investments—absent.