Reading Capital as Media Studies | Upcoming Events| Some Research Updates

rEADING CAPITAL AS MEDIA STUDIES (4)

Karl Marx celebrated his 200th birthday last May 5, 2018. The best way to celebrate his legacy is organizing a reading group that revisits Capital. Some graduate students in the University of the Philippines working on their respective theses thought of revisiting the text in order to help them flesh out Marx’s systematic approach to the study of the capitalist mode of production and to find a tangent on how Capital can be read from the Media Studies lens, for the purpose of drawing a dialectical materialist analysis of the current power structure of the media industry in our country.

Last August 24, the students had their very first session on Reading Capital as Media Studies. I gave an lecture on the condensed ideas of Ernest Mandel’s long introductory essay of the book. Another graduate student provided a historical narrative on the trajectory of Marxism as impacted by Capital. The narrative also provided historical and political context on how the group can situate their activity of reading Capital in the continuing social movement against capitalism and its contradictions in the Philippines.

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A Revolutionary Anti-Drug War Theater Piece: ‘Sa Digma ng Halimaw’ on Sept 22

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Sining Kadamay will host a documentary theater on Duterte’s drug war titled Sa Digma ng Halimaw (The Monster’s War) which will premiere on September 22 and will run until December 10 in different venues Metro Manila-wide. In an article published in Bulatlat, it says:

“In the upcoming Sa Digma ng Halimaw, the group under the artistic direction of Edwin Quinsayas tackles the war on drugs through the point of view of people directly affected by it in the form of documentary theater. According to Quinsayas, “Documentary theatre is a form of theatre in which interviews, sworn statements or texts from other related documents are used as the material for the script.” For “Sa Digma ng Halimaw,” the scripts come in a form of a series of monologues of mothers of victims, a daughter whose parents were killed on the same day, a social worker, and of survivors. “So far, we have seven stories we are working on but it’s a work in- progress so there can be more. We plan to stage the monologues as separate stand-alone pieces, as a full-length play and we are also exploring monodrama,” Quinsayas added.” (link)

I hope I can watch this soon!

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1st Edel Garcellano Conference on Literary & Cultural Studies 2018: The Contemporaneity of Marxist Criticism on Sept 20

Last August 25, I joined a bunch of rad, (all-black wearing), ka-EGS local intellectuals  in a meeting for this upcoming conference for Edel Garcellano. Garcellano, one of the most original radical Filipino Marxist thinker, emerged during the 1990s as the bearer of a particular strand of Marxist-Lacanian literary and cultural studies in the local scene along with contemporaries Domingo de Guzman among others.

Edel Garcellano at 72 years old

Edel Garcellano at 72, still strong. (Photo by Led Villafuerte)

The impact of Garcellano’s writings in the local pedagogical sphere in the Philippines needs to be qualified.  How did his writings provide methodological and contextual resources to young Filipino thinkers during the 1990s up to now, especially in literary and cultural studies field? What are the future trajectories of his writings? These are some of the main questions I want to ask during the conference, if only I could attend  that day. 

Meanwhile, here’s the photo that transpired during last night’s meeting:

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ALL BLACK IN ATTENDANCE. (Clockwise from the bottom): Rogelio Braga, Arlo Mendoza (off cam), Vinch Santos, Me, Ruben Garcia, Angelo Oryado, Vince Dioquino, Epoy Deyto, and the convenor, Led Villafuerte. (Photo by Rogelio Braga)

 

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Some Research Updates: Long Duration x Capitalist Duration

 

One of the longest video in youtube: A guy counting for 24 hours. 

I am currently in the process of writing my thesis proposal on long duration. I’m still actually in the Introductory part, which is meant to introduce the general problem of long duration in relation to capitalist duration. So I’m planning to do that today and tomorrow.

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Badiou on Forcing

Lessons

Te Ipu Pakore: The Broken Vessel

“There are two labyrinths of the human mind: one concerns the composition of the continuum [consistent multiplicities], and the other the nature of freedom [the event], and both spring from the same source—the infinite [inconsistent multiplicities].”

—G.W. Leibniz (“On Freedom,” in G.H.R. Parkinson (ed.), Philosophical Writings, trans. Mary Morris and G.H.R. Parkinson [London: J.M. Dent, 1973] 107)

Fraser on the subject

Zachary Fraser, “The Law of the Subject: Alain Badiou, Luitzen Brouwer and the Kripkean Analyses of Forcing and the Heyting Calculus,” Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 2.1-2 (2006): 94-133:

Abstract [reformatted]: One of the central tasks of Badiou’s Being and Event is to elaborate a theory of the subject in the wake of an axiomatic [assumed] identification of ontology with mathematics, or, to be precise, with classical Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory. The subject, for Badiou, is essentially a free project that originates in…

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July 2018: Round-Up

August 2, 2018

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In memory of Alice Guillermo (1938 – July 29, 2018)

July 2018 is a month of struggle for the Filipino people. This month, military forces under US-Duterte administration continued to inflict development aggression to its people, especially the Lumad, who once again evacuated their ancestral lands last July 16 due to threats of the military. This development aggression against the Lumad allows mining companies to operate in their ancestral lands.

Aside from this, human rights activists and religious leaders were arrested in General Santos City. They were just doing their program consultations for the Lumad . The height of this month’s struggle is the solidarity walk during United People’s SONA, the people’s show of force against the tyrannical rule of US-China-Duterte.

It is also this month that anti-worker, union-busting forces continue to pillage the working class of its rights. The another violent dispersal of striking NutriAsia workers last July 30, 2018 marked the manifestation of the full installation of bureaucratic capitalist fascism in the US-China-Duterte Regime. Contractual laborers of NutriAsia, PLDT and Jollibee and their supporters are demonized, hurt, beaten, dispersed, imprisoned, humiliated and neglected by these capitalists and state-sanctioned forces. Meanwhile, the courts continue to favor the unjust practices of the capitalists by reversing DOLE order to regularize the workers, adding more insult to the injury.

The worsening contradiction in Philippine society today emerging from every worsening gap between the proletarian working class and the ruling class, the people and the State, will eventually lead to a seizure of power. The people will come to know their place. As we transition to August, another month of struggle, and to the latter part of the year, it is our task to sharpen these contradictions by affirming the revolutionary culture that continue to burn in these dark times.

Support workers’ plight!

No to contractualization!

Boycott NutriAsia Products!

Boycott Jollibee Brands!

US-China Out now!

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JULY 2018 | Best Reads of the Month

This month, I have not read extensively read non-thesis materials except for a few blurbs and articles shared in the social media. Here are some of the worth titles I’ve read last month.

  1. The Fate of the People’s War: An Interview with Jose Maria Sison by Denis Rogatyuk
  2. The Geology of Morals – A Neomaterialist Interpretation by Manuel Delanda
  3. or, on being the other woman by Simone White

Some thesis-related essays I read last month:

  1. Metaphysics and the Critique of Metaphysics by Alain Badiou
  2. The False Movements of Cinema by Alain Badiou
  3. Preface of Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II by Alain Badiou

 

JULY 2018 | Favorite Films of the Month

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Tu Pug Imatuy (2017)

This month of July is a downtime for me. I am even less engaged with cinema than before. This is largely due to the two conferences the bookends the beginning and the end of the month. In between breaks, I continued to read my related lit list for thesis while writing my conference papers as well as my thesis proposal. Surprisingly, I managed to watch some of the best films I have seen this year so far, thanks to the great curation of the film screenings at the 10th Association of Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference.

The most surprising re-watch this month is Arbi Barbona’s Tu Pug Imatuy (2017). I have actually seen this film thrice on different screening venues last year, and I have not made up my mind mainly because I had so many questions for Arbi Barbona. I think my main contention before was the form itself. Barbona’s approach to independent filmmaking techniques is not new. It borrows its approach to framing and staging from other films. Under no circumstance will this be a conscious effort of re-inscribing a new modality of cinematic expression. However, what makes this film uniquely transformative and transgressive is its politics of representation, which can be attributed to Barbona’s impressive mastery to invest on body and landscape as indices of political expression. In a way, the body or bodies in Tu Pug Imatuy is the site of political expression; secondary to it is the landscape.

Bodies in film in general are mainly purveyors of movement. It articulates a certain non-linguistic expression that we can call gestural expressions. Movement occurs in the physical world because of certain  structural, material stressors. In the cinematic medium, bodies, their movement, their stresses, are arranged in a dynamic form that also annuls the very form of bodies from a material perspective. For example, in a typical medium shot, the actor’s body is usually displayed visually from the hip-up. The feet no longer involved in the expression of the body. What we have is a continual annulment of the body-as-image along the axis of temporal passage. This phenomenological impurity is what makes film, according to Badiou’s essay The False Movements of Cinema, incapable of inscribing truth as image in the present. Badiou actually acknowledges cinema’s paradoxical capability for truth, that it can only generate truth as false truth. For Badiou, cinema allows the appearance of the Idea in the sensible. However, this appearance is annulled by the passage of cinema.

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Tu Pug Imatuy (2017)

In Tu Pug Imatuy, the constitution of bodies and landscapes, and their tensions in between, also actuates each of their disappearance. Barbona’s manipulation of the medium, which we can call his own grammar, is punctured by messianic time, a materialist dimension of time that announces the possible scientific redemption of the oppressed. In the film, Barbona, through bodies and landscapes, creates a monad of a revolutionary subject, wherein their narrative orchestration is a cross between ecological disaster and development aggression. Between these crises is the metaphysical plane of indigenous cosmology that grounds our revolutionary subject as a sector of its own. Barbona knows that the political and ideological delineations among ideologies that run in the film: the indigenous resistance, the armed rebellion and the state forces, which are a result of class pressures. They are ideologies in series, each with a different material determination.

What Tu Pug Imatuy draws upon is the truth of fortitude and solidarity of the oppressed in an on-going class war, which can only be won by affirming the class contradiction. The class war for Barbona does not comprise entirely of two opposing homogeneous factions, but rather a composition of contradictory differences among people and classes.

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Tu Pug Imatuy (2017)

Tu Pug Imatuy succeeds in articulating these lines of thought with messianic awareness of the cessation of the body and landscape by forces of tradition, a tradition of fascist order. For Walter Benjamin, in his essay Theses on the Philosophy of History, he made mention of the necessary critique of progress and its organization around the concept of the homogeneous, empty time. Development aggression of mining companies as depicted in the film is a clear sign of the presence of homogeneous, empty time that creates a fascistic metaphysical fantasy that through these industries of progress, the country will reach an economic progress. Tu Pug Imatuy offers a revolutionary counter-intuitive theological solution, one that is also materialist: that the geological landscapes shaped by natural physical forces will eventually pull down mankind by force from its monolithic metaphysical concept of progress. Mining companies, and capitalism in general, will fall to their own grave and so will governments of men.

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Faces, Places (2017)

Aside from Tu Pug Imatuy, one of the best films I’ve watched this month is Agnes Varda’s Faces, Places (France, 2017). Faces, Places is the French filmmaker’s response to Emmanuel Levina’s words in his essay Ethics and Infinity: ‘[T]he face is what forbids us to kill.’ In Faces, Places, Agnes Varda explores the ethics of the image and the human face, or the image-as-human-face. The face as image served as a site of political expression. If Barbona used bodies and landscapes to express his own politics of representation, for Varda, the face served as a image of communitarian ideal, serving as an index for the communities’ reason for co-existence. Varda, together with his visual artist collaborator JR, vlcsnap-error997crafts the face of the people in the community as a focal concentrationary point of radical empathy. For Varda and JR, the image-as-face reactivates the mirror of a community that has lost its own self-reflexivity and self-awareness because of capitalism’s alienation of the human eye.

In one instance, Varda and JR entered a manufacturing company. They took a picture of the workers on different shifts. They hope that the group photo would put together the workers as one whole organism. Since they have been divided by time shifts, departments, and different divisions of labor functions,vlcsnap-error493 these workers are unable to form a social bond with other departments. They are isolated and alienated in their labor. By virtue of a collective face, Varda and JR has reinforced the communitarian ideal by reaffirming the social relation that binds laborers. The film’s weakness, however, is its lack of orchestration of the face along the lines of class contradiction. Like many French art films, it resorts to identity politics, perhaps for the same reason why the film draws largely on contemporary themes of art and design. At the end of the film, the topics became personal: Varda’s struggle to compensate for her failing eyesight and memory.

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Faces, Places (2017)

During the 10th ASEACC, I have also seen Anucha Boonyawatana’s Malila: A Farewell Flower (Thailand / 2017), a Thai gay film with an unusual subject: the rite of Bai Sri Su Kwun alongside some form of existential Buddhism. This is what cuts the film in half, almost a perfect homage to another work of a Thai filmmaker, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady (2004). The first half, a rekindling of two lovers Shane (Sukollawat Kanarot) and Pitch (Anuchit Sapanpong) through a dazzling portrayl of the rite of Bai Shi Su Kwun; the second half, Shane’s struggle for transformation into monkhood.

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Malila: The Farewell Flower (2017)

Like Tu Pug Imatuy, Malila: A Farewell Flower also orchestrates an annulment of the body. Its most provocative different is its departure from politics towards the metaphysical domain, as if Boonyawatana wants to transgress the body’s physicality by abstracting it as a phantom. The relation of Shane and Pitch can be described phantasmal, out of time, yet they enclosed. It is as if they rekindle as ghosts within a specificity of a place only they can access. This transcendental place has a similar structure to Brokeback Mountain in Brokeback Mountain (2005), the prairie grass and the bedroom in Maurice (1987) and Call Me By Your Name (2017), Buenos Aires in Happy Together (1997), the farm’s boundary in God’s Own Country (2017) and in many imaginary places in many gay films that fulfill the intention of inscribing a transcendental space that exclusively devoted to homosexual practice. The structure of this transcendental space follows the theoretical lining of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s essay Epistemology of the Closet: a lining constituting the juridical boundary between heterosexual and homosexual worldviews. Malila uses this theoretical lining to enclose bodily expression of love between Shane and Pitch outside of tradition. In a way, it is an inside of an outside.

Malila the farewell flower Film Still30(Sukollawat Kanaros)

In the other half of the film, we are drawn to a type of duality: a duality of life and afterlife, wherein the body, the corpus, serves as the expression of the metaphysical tension between these two. Shane is now an established monk serving alongside another monk. They are stationed in a far-flung forest area of a country-side where, due to the recent political crises in Thailand, corpses are dumped. In one scene, they saw a body. His companion, a monk who had been in the region and had more experience than him, asked Shane to de-objectify the body by reciting over and over again the words that it is dead. This is a test of moral endurance. At first, Shane repelled the dead body. But eventually, he learned to fight through disgust and transcended the material. The body become dematerialized and took the form of his loved one, Pitch. Afterwards, in a beautiful ending, Shane removed his garments and swam in a lake naked, an act of  cleaning and transformation. The transformation process is actually Hegelian. Between the object, BEING, and the transcendental plane of the concept, NOTION, the ESSENCE, via representation, must be worked on, must be labored on, in order to reach its full expression. Essence negotiates the division between Being and Notion. In some way, Shane’s method of transcendence is situated in the entangled link between life and after-life, between the real and the conceptual. It is through this dialectical process that Shane can fully access the Truth of Life which is also Death.

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Aside from Malila, we also watched Sunya (2016) by Harry Dagoe Suharyadi, a nonlinear film concerned with the geopolitics of spirits. Often times, the dynamics of repetition in the editing render the film as a series of iterations of a single narrative. These several iterations create tensions of impenetrable proportion. Its inaccessible film grammar reminds me of the films of John Torres, in a particular Ang Ninanais (2010), that  also depends on a loose string of narratives. In Sunya, we encounter body doubles and possessed bodies. They fight through the duplicity of their existence as phantoms and as humans, often entering a kind of rehearsal for a ritual. No central image can been seen in the film, what is repeated is always annulled by its own prescencing. If Malila is about transcendence from the material, Sunya is the liminality between material and spirit.

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Magnolia (1999)

Aside from these four films, I also rewatched Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999) and surprised to find it a more complex film than before. Magnolia interweaves different plot lines strewn by one narrator. Without the narrator’s command, Magnolia would actually looked like an experimental narrative film since these plots are diverging. Each plot is connected to the other by a ‘chance’, but by chance, as Anderson understands it, the plot intersection becomes a diffential relation. Chance is a synthetic difference. It synthesizes the narrative relation while also maintains their exclusivities, their non-contiguous relations.

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Isle of Dogs (2018)

Another film worth mentioning is Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (2018). On the surface, it is admirable animated work, with a lot of perkiness, resemblances to old Japanese movies, and a dead-pan comedy that will actually make you smile. Its narrative is actually no longer new and simplistic, which is the main problem of the film. It tries hard to actually cover-up this lack of narrative depth by actually playing with design and language. All in all, the film may won hearts, but it does not offer something beyond its eccentricities. Like most of Anderson’s movies, Isle of Dogs has yet cross the line of the sublime. Yet, as a typical film for entertainment, it can surely satisfy the viewer’s needs.

The lesser of the eight films that I have watched are Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) and Every Day (2018), two American films that are uniquely horrendous in their own ways. I’m just tired of watching over and over again the narrative of the white supremacist American ego unfold before my eyes. Both of these films are direct depictions of such white supremacist ego, but as an underlying theme: the underdog narrative of American society problematized in the lens of deviancy (Ant-Man) and identity politics (Every Day). Contemporary American cinema lacks self-reflexivity and depended for the longest time on narratives about the quest of white supremacist ego in affirming oneself as either the underdog, the hero, the family man, or anti-hero. The agenda has always been to aestheticize violence and celebrate identity politics, all this at the expense of withholding its class dimension.

 

The July 2018 Film List

 

Transformative and Transgressive (5/5)

Tu Pug Imatuy (‘Right to Kill’ / Arbi Barbona /  Philippines / 2017)

Best of the Best (4.5/5)

Faces, Places (Agnes Varda & JR / France / 2017)

Very Good (4/5)

Malila: The Farewell Flower (Anucha Boonyawatana / Thailand / 2017)
Sunya ( Harry Dagoe Suharyadi / Indonesia / 2016)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson / USA / 1999) – rewatch

Good (3.5/5)

Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson / USA-Japan / 2018)

Unbearable (1-2/5)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (Peyton Reed / USA / 2018)
Every Day (Michael Sucsy / USA / 2018)

 

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Isle of Dogs (2018)

 

JULY 2018 | Anomalous Materials

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Another month has passed, another violent dispersal of striking workers of NutriAsia. The worsening contradictory divide between the proletariat and the bourgeois in the Philippines is now under the radar of the public. When will this class war ends? We linger in social media as witness to this worsening contradiction expressed in different forms (as counter-propaganda, as memes, as agitprop infographic materials, as snippets of videos among others), while also beholden by social media’s contradictory and anachronistic structure. The contradiction is here to stay, we have to continue agitate this equilibrium to shift its course.

  1. Violent Dispersal of NutriAsia Workers by NMN Marilao
  2. Apur Sansar / The World of Apu (1959) dir. Satyajit Ray. by Cinema Mon Amour, a page about worldwide cinema
  3. Sad CGI by Megat Syamim
  4. IOF Spraying Shunk Liquid (Dirty Water, Raw Sewage) on Palestinian Homes
    IOF [ Israeli Occupation Forces ] by Mozafar Najafi
  5. Police Shots Peaceful Farmers Demonstrators in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh by Muazzam Malik
  6. Israeli Occupation Forces [ IOF ] shower Palestinian anti occupation protesters with a barrage of tear gas and sound bombs by Mozafar Najafi

 

Two Conferences in a Month!

6th D&G Conference

July 2018 was a busy month for me. I attended two major conference: one held in Naga, Philippines (6th Deleuze and Guattari in Asia International Conference) and the other one held in Yogjakarta, Indonesia (10th Biennial Association of Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference).

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D&G Conference at Naga City, Camarines Norte

One of the striking differences between the two conferences is their ordering of panel presentations. Deleuze and Guattari (D&G) Conference is your typical conference with plenary speakers and parallel presentations. In contrast to D&G, ASEACC is a conference that does not have a parallel panel presentation. The same audience witness the panel presentations in one venue (See conference schedule).  In ASEACC, the audience can give full attention to the dynamics of the conference without ever to leave the venue. This actually activates the social movement of ideas, allowing participants to form social relations over time, meaning more friendships, more time to talk about each other’s papers.

The D&G conference, however, is separated to four parallel venues splitting the audience into small groups, decreasing the point of contact among participants. In a way, D&G conference model is more socially alienating than ASEACC. Both conferences offer diversity of topics, but in terms of focus, ASEACC designed its conference such that (1) it has a practioners’ panel, giving voices not only to the theoretical corpus of filmmaking, but also the practical side, the makers of the films themselves, (2) it has a community immersion program, wherein participants travel to a nearby cultural hub to engaged with the local culture, (3) it has a film showing component that features films relevant to the theme with the filmmaker/director present. All of these for a conference fee of P3,200 for ASEAN student. In terms of value, ASEACC’s model offers more promise than the D&G conference model.

I think all academic conferences should be designed with a priority in establishing solidarity among peers while also engaging with praxis and integrative community immersion. I cannot think of any other conferences I have attended in the past that feature such components other than ASEACC. I also suggest that any conference on Marx, Lenin or Mao must have a community immersion component as well as a panel on community organizers from different sectors. I think it would be very important especially since all these thinkers advocate praxis.

July is finally over, but I cannot rest. I have a thesis proposal to write.

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ASEACC at Yogyakarta, Indonesia

 

August is Thesis Proposal Writing!

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Mid-August is almost here. I dedicated the whole month of August to thesis proposal writing for the reason that, it has two long weekends and probably more chances of having work suspension due to bad weather. After attending three conferences this year (Marx @ 200, D&G, ASEACC), I have already solidified the track of my thesis. The methodological framework is clearer now compared to what I had in mind a year ago. I really appreciate the feedback I had on my papers from the three different conferences. and to friends who continually give me advice. As of now, I’m now a quarter length of my expected word count for my thesis proposal. I’m more determined to finish it than before. The goal is to make the proposal simple yet also expansive, queuing from Alain Badiou and Karl Marx’s style of writing.

See you next month!

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Support workers’ plight!

No to contractualization!

Boycott NutriAsia Products!

Boycott Jollibee Brands!

US-China Out now!

###

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Research Log 3.0: Mind-Maps & Detours

June 19, 2018

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from Agnes Varda’s Visages Villages (2017)

For the past few weeks, I have been engaged in the following activities:

Sorting

It has been a year ever since I collected ebooks in my Mendeley software. It’s my e-library. For the past few weeks, my goal was to run through everything I collected for the purpose of sorting out literature in their respective fields and disciplines. In total, I have 127 books to sort in my computer related to m thesis, not to mention the external books and printed reading from course works.

Critical Literature Review

Aside from sorting activities, I also did a critical review of some of the related literature to my thesis. So far, I have read the following essays and introductory chapters of the books

  1. Gerstner, D. A. (2003). The Practices of Authorship. In D. A. Gerstner & J. Staiger (Eds.), Authorship and Film(pp. 3–25). New York and London: Routledge.
  2. Koepnick, L. (2017). The Long Take: Art Cinema and the Wondrous. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Henderson, B. (1980). The Long Take (1971). In A Critique of Film Theory(pp. 48–61). New York: E.P. Dutton.
  4. Derrida, J. (1994). Dedication and Exordium. In P. Kamuf (Trans.), Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International(pp. xv–xvi). New York and London: Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group.

All of which can be found here in my blog.

Mind-Maps

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Aside from reading, I also developed a mind-map for my thesis to help me assess the potential pathways of going through its framework. But there must be a caveat in doing this. It must not pre-empt or close the maps from creating other new pathways, but rather work out the contradictions that also confront the work. The mind map provides a way to write the thesis in an orderly manner, constructing a schema of arguments that serve as guides to different operations, concepts and methods to go through.

Detour 1:  “….aporetic limit…”

One of the key concepts in my thesis design is the search for aporetic limits. This is something I coined in my concept paper I showed to my adviser. After reading the opening parts of Derrida’s Specters of Marx, I felt a sudden apprehension of not actually being able to get something related to my thesis. I wanted to read something related to aporetic limit. Google algorithm led me to the book ‘Derrida and the Political’ by Richard Beardsworth, who used the exact term ‘aporetic limit’. Beardsworth (1996) wrote:

‘Rather than dwelling with the aporia of need, Marx effaces the aporia by positing the remainder of the difference between particularity and universality as the universal class of the proletariat. Marx therefore develops the aporetic ‘limit’ as a sublatable opposition between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The gesture is Hegelian, even if Marx simultaneously simplifies Hegel’s idea of an absolute state by ‘positing’ the social universality of one class. Marx’s reduction of the aporia of need prolongs and simplifies Hegel by making unrecognized violence into an ontological principle of class struggle. The modern period of revolutionary politics which justifies political violence in the name of a social subject ensues.’ (p. 95)

Let us first discuss the meaning of aporia in relation to how Beardsworth reads Derrida. Aporia is an uncontrollable position that manifest at the time of decision, action, writing, expression, and deployment. In his reading of Derrida, for Beardsworth, derrida-and-the-politicalaporia emerges from the displacement of transcendental discourses like philosophy with empirical discourses like human sciences (anthropology, social science, etc.). An aporia is ‘neither is philosophy or outside it, one from which the future of thinking and practice is thought’ (p.5).

An aporia is what negotiates and re-inscribes, for Beardsworth, the metaphysical notion of transcendental and the empirical. It is where Derrida locates the ‘necessity of judgement and the promise of the future’ (p. 5) Beardsworth further elaborates two qualifications of an aporia: (1) it necessitates one to make a decision and judgement, (2) it necessitates one to make a decision not in the present but in the face of contingency. An aporia therefore ‘inaugurates a philosophy of judgement and a thinking of justice in relation to time.’ (p. 5)

One can see Beardsworth ambivalent position with Marx’s project. There is an attempt to privilege the concept of aporia contra Marx’s paradoxical deployment of the reversal of Hegelian dialectic. The paragraph quoted above is written under the heading of Modern Political Fate and the Suppression of the Event of Time. It starts with the elaboration of how Hegel’s last work Philosophy of Right suppresses aporia. He said: ‘The aporia of dialectic ‘is’ the aporia of time’ (p. 91). This originates from the suppression of time under the logic of dialectic, leading to a paradoxical point where recognition becomes misrecognition, in which truth (time itself) is hidden.

In the previous paragraph, Marx enters as a bad example of download (1)deploying the concept of aporia. Beardsworth wrote: ‘Marx is certainly right in the Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State to criticize Hegel for deriving the institutions of the social whole from a presupposed idea. But he gives the wrong reasons when he argues for the reversal of Hegelian idealism and for the practical and revolutionary development of the material existence of the people’ (p. 94). Beardsworth outwardly state Marx’s wrong move is the appropriation of Hegel’s dialectic: ‘The problem in Hegel is not the idea of the idea; the problem is the: logic of this idea. This logic, the law of contradiction, is repeated in Marx’s materialism, turning his thinking of ‘matter’ into a logical idea.’ (p. 94) Beardsworth accuses Marx of suppressing time within the philosophy of history. Beardsworth state: ‘His very attempt to go beyond philosophy, plunging it into the matter of socio-technical history, remains metaphysical when he inscribes his thinking of time and practice within the Hegelian logic of contradiction.’ (p. 94)

Beardsworth, however, does not accuse Marx entirely of the faults of Hegel. He considers Marx’s constitution of the dialectical relation between the proletariat and the ruling class as the aporetic limit in itself, as a ‘sublatable opposition between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat’. What he points out is the replication of the logic of contradiction(?) in relation to Dialectical Materialism. Afterwards, Beardsworth move towards a moralization of violence with regards to depoliticization, or the erosion of political ontology, of nation-states. There is actually a dialectical materialist rationale behind these erosion of political ontology, that has nothing to do with the aporia that Beardsworth is trying to posture. It is the result of class struggle which is the politico-material manifestation of what he tries to efface as the logic of contradiction(?). Mao said that in his essay On Contradiction: ‘The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the fundamental law of nature and of society and therefore also the fundamental law of thought. It stands opposed to the metaphysical world outlook.’ Beardsworth fails to reconcile that logic of contradiction is not a logic per se of coming to terms with reality but system of thought (a law) that allows us to think of nature and social conditions not as One but always Two. And in the recent iteration of Badiou, a Three.

With this, it is necessary to rescue aporia from the clutches of Beardsworth’s overdetermination of its metaphysical opposition by sublating it (via a negation of negation) and turning it upside down as a materialist concept. It might as well be important to read aporia in relation to a strand of thinking that can only be extracted from a Maoist lens of looking at contradiction, but also taking into account the historical importance of Derrida’s impetus to locate it at the conflicted area of materialism and idealism. Is there a way to appropriate aporia in class struggle? Beardsworth was close. He inscribed it as the sublatable opposition between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. To transform aporia into a tool for analysing aesthetic objects, this requires another long post.

Detour 2: In Search of Marx’s Method on Film Analysis, or ‘What if Marx was a Film Theorist?’

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This month of June, in between eczema flare-ups and restless weekends, I managed to gather a lot of books about the dialectical materialist methodology. In  German Ideology, in the part where Marx disses Max Stirner, Marx deploys a close reading of Stirnex’s texts, in particular his most contentious Ego and His Own, the progenitor of anarchic individualism and, to some extent, poststructuralism,  Marx was very much attentive to Stirner’s textual inscription, often making fun of Stirner’s use of metaphysical concepts etc.

Close reading can be done in films: frame-by-frame analysis, stylistic analysis, etc. But all of which has to be extended first from the base criterion of cinematic time. Cinematic images have to be analysed as temporal continuum, not as framed presences. Massumi’s idea of topological movement in Parables of the Virtual comes to mind.

The problem however is relating this temporal continuum to the story world, which contains some of the most interesting positions, expressions etc. that may reveal the ideological implications of the film. If viewed from a dialectical materialist perspective, it requires one to relate film style or film form in relation to the modes of production (the base) and the ideological superstructure. It is a basic problem in Marxist epistemology, specifically, the problem of the relation of the particular and the universal.

I have collected different references that might probably illuminate a method on ideological analysis of the aesthetic mode of production. Books like Dance of the Dialectic: Step in Marx’s Method by Bertell Ollman; a collection of essays titled Marx at the Movies: Revisiting History, Theory and Practice edited by Ewa Mazierska and Lars Kristensen which conceives the relation of cinema and Marxism from a post-Soviet historical moment; H.T. Wilson’s Marx’s Critical/Dialectical Procedure; and countless of essays that bear the term ‘method’, ‘dialectical’ and ‘materialist’ like Peter H. Sawchuk’s Dialectical Materialist Methodologies for Researching Work, Learning, Change: Implications for Class Consciousness, authors Cassia Baldini Soares, Celia Maria Sivalli Campos, and Tatiana Yonekura’s article Marxism as a theoretical and methodological framework in collective health: implications for systematic review and synthesis of evidence, and the article titled In the shadows of the dialectic method: Building a framework upon the thoughts of Adorno and Gramsci by Ulrich Hamenstadt, all of which provide you some groundwork from which you can explore dialectical materialism.

But the challenge is ‘converting’ the method as an epistemological tool to analyse films and non-filmic materials. One of the candidates for such a method is political economy of film. However, political economy is more interested in looking at the bigger relations, the industrial relations of people, not so much on the close analysis of the content.

My dilemma is actually rooted in creating a method that would bridge the universal (ideological space) with specific (the story world, the film, the modes of production of the film). Such an attempt to account for a more comprehensive while also looks at the detail led us to the next section, Badiou’s essay The Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process.

Detour 3: Crystallizing my Methodology via Badiou’s essay Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process

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Badiou’s essay The Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process, published in his recent work The Age of the Poets, was an unexpected find. Last month, when I was preparing my presentation paper for Marx @ 200, I encountered Badiou’s essay via Karlo Mongoya, fellow Marxist scholar who also reads Badiou (see his blog here). Since my essay last month is about contesting Deleuze’s notion of affect and art as autonomous, Badiou’s essay came in a surprise since Badiou is a Marxist and, assuming he had read Marx, he also knows the importance of accounting any phenomena, object, idea or a thing, as a product of social forces and relations. Badiou is a materialist dialectician, with Maoist and Lacanian influences, and would probably have read Deleuze. Deleuze is however not a materialist, but a transcendental empiricist, who emphasizes the primacy of pre-anthropocentric multiplicity – the plane of immanence – that continuously re-organizes reality. If Badiou would eventually come across the autonomy of art in Deleuze and Guattari’s book What is Philosophy?, it would most likely resonate in this essay. However, Badiou’s essay was written twenty-five years or so years before the publication of What is Philosophy?, hence, the tangent would just have been accidental.

When I read Badiou’s essay The Autonomy of Aesthetic Process, a month after accessing it, to be exact, last June 29, it felt as if all my crises about the political ontology of film style, ideology, and the author has been resolved. Badiou’s essay is an introduction to a methodology towards an analysis of representation, maybe his own methodology of doing aesthetic analysis.

His essay starts with a problem: the lazy approach of Marxist analysis of arts that assigns art work as a reflection of ideology of class. This is not Deleuzian territory. Badiou’s essay creates a corrective approach to ideological analysis. There is an obvious adaptation/appropriation of Althusserian notion of ideological apparatus as ‘a homological relation that it is supposed to maintain with the real of history’ (p. 111).

What Badiou attempted in this work was to appropriate two works of two thinkers: Mao’s critical program in Yenan Lectures and Pierre Macheray initial, unfinished attempt to think beyond the idea of art as ideological form.

First, Badiou takes on Mao’s project as part of the corrective mechanism: ‘to study the development of this old culture, to reject its feudal dross and assimilate its democratic essence in a necessary condition for developing a new national culture.’ (p.113) From there, he derives nine statements on the relation of art, ideology and science.

In the first statement, Badiou negates the usual Marxist line of critique on art as an ideological form, because, for Badiou, art’s specificity of its aesthetic process decenters the specular relation of the closed infinitude of ideology. For Badiou, ideology is a homological concept, which is a clear adaptation of Althusserian ideology as an enveloping relation. (p. 112)

In the second statement, Badiou marks the break between science and art. For Badiou, art does not affect knowledge. However, unlike ideology, Badiou states that art is closer to science than ideology because both art and science produces reality effects. However, what differentiates them are their products: art produces imaginary reality while science produces real reality. (p. 112) For Badiou, the usual lazy Marxist approach to art works as either theoretical or ideological forms must be liquidated. In light of truth, signification in the artwork is not enough to check artwork’s concealed transhistoricity and prophetic value. Hence, he proposes a proper way of looking at ‘art, as the ideological appearance of the theoretical, the non-true as the glorious envelope of the true’ (p. 113). This notion is affirmed by Lenin. Badiou therefore conclude that ‘We cannot declare at the same time that there is a democratic essence to feudal art and that this art is a purely ideological reflection, with a universal vocation, of the ‘lived experience’ of the dominant class. We cannot observe that art produces the true on the basis of the false and declare, as in a certain socialist realism that in the final instance theoretical truth conditions aesthetic validity’ (p. 114). This severs the binary opposition between art and science/ideology.

Badiou then adapts Mao Zedong’s response to this problem. In order to assess the relation of aesthetic object to the dominant class, Mao introduces four matrices of analysis: (1) class being – the class where the writer belongs, (2) class-stand or class position – the general space of the problematic of the write, or the political position for which the writer stands. For Badiou, this is the space of questions. (3) class-attitude – the approach of the writer in answering the problematic, for Badiou, this is the space of answers; (4) the class-study or class-culture – the structure of the theoretical realm, the one that structures the class stand of the writer, or in simpler terms, the power relations that structures one’s stand. For Badiou, Mao’s response to the problem is a particular decentering between aesthetic process, historical reality and ideology. This leaves us a question: what is the relationship among aesthetic process, historical reality and ideology?

Badiou then brings up Pierre Macherey for offering an answer. Macherey posits that aesthetic process is irreducible to ‘theoretical grasping of reality’ or ‘ideological process’ (p. 116). Macherey concludes that ‘the artwork is not what translates ideology, nor what effaces it: it is what renders it visible, decipherable, insofar as it confers upon it the discordant unity of a form; exposed as content, ideology speaks of that whereof it cannot speak as ideology: its contours, its limits’ (p. 117). For Badiou, the ideology functions as a closed infinity of a specular relation, ‘a closed infinity that cannot show its closure without breaking the mirror in which it is reduplicated.’ (p. 117)

In his third statement, Badiou further clarifies the relationship of ideology and art as ideology that produces the imagination of reality, and in return, art produces ideology as imaginary reality (p. 117). Summarily, Badiou notes that ‘art repeats in the real the ideological repetition of this real. Nevertheless this reversal does not produce the real; it realizes its reflection.’ (p. 118)

Badiou proposes a decentered relation between historical reality and the aesthetic process. Reading Macherey, he proposes four matrices that structures the relation: (1) the real – the global historical structure i.e. the capitalists, the proletarian class, the bourgeois, etc. in displaceable power relation, (2) the ideologies – always in series, fragmentary reflections brought about by the ensemble of pressures upon the class they represent.’ (p. 118); (3) the author – not a creative subjectivity, but a concept of place, a point of view, where Mao’s concept of class being, class stand, class attitude and class structure applies. For Badiou, the author is not a psychological concept, but a topological one. (4) the work – a donation of forms, an exhibition of limits.

Badiou however discovers the flaw in Macheray’s conception of the relation. For Macheray, the form of the art work’s presence is ideologically produced. For Badiou, this misconceives the presence effect of the artwork which, for Badiou, is the materiality of the artwork itself. This led Badiou to conclude that aesthetic process comprise of the double articulation of the signification of the artwork and its presence effect as an object of material culture. Ideology’s reversal is assigned to the signification effect, while the historical real is related to the presence effect.

Since this requires Badiou to synthesize a statement on separable ideological contents, which contains the following conditions:

  1. It produces in and of itself a complete effect of signification, without any enclaves
  2. It has a logical structure of a universal proposition
  3. It is not tied contextually to any subjectivity

Badiou gives an example by analysing Robert Musil’s unfinished novel The Man Without Qualities. From his analysis, Badiou comes up with four types of statements. Three of which do not fulfil the criteria of separable statements: (1) the I-statement of the speaker (X [d(y)]), which is enclaved in a context, with singular proposition. For Badiou, this statement does not contain any effect of signification, (2) the d(X) statements, which are descriptions of characters and objects in the story, does not have any universal proposition, (3) the X(S) statements, statements with universal proposition, but tied to a subjectivity in the novel.

For Badiou, the only statement that fulfils the three conditions are of the type S (example: The voice of truth is always accompanied by fairly suspect parasites, but those who are most interested want to know nothing about it.)

A brief segue on cinematic ‘statements’. We can actually classify shots in terms of Badiou’s classification of statements: (1) the I-statement stands for the subjective shot of the characters, (2) the d(X) statements stands for establishing shots, (3) X(S) statements stand for shot/reverse shot of a film, while the S statements stands for master shots where there is full coverage of the mise-en-scene. Hence, in cinema, a separable ideological shot involves one that is not (1) a subjective shot, (2) not an establishing shot, (3) not a shot-reverse shot, but rather a mise-en-scene shot from the third person perspective. This is an insufficient comparison, however, since Badiou formulated his theory in terms of literature, which he termed as novelistic discourse.

Badiou also reminds us that the raw materials for the production of aesthetic products are already aesthetic, hence incapable of ‘aestheticizing ideological elements’. This led Badiou to formulate the theory of aesthetic mode of production (theoretical aesthetics).

Badiou

Badiou conceives the aesthetic mode of production as double articulation of the presence-effect and the effect of signification, or the production of film-as-material and film-as-diegetic-material. I asked my thesis critic, media studies expert Ma. Diosa Labiste, on the significance of this finding. She said that this is the basic process of representation. She is also critical of the one-to-one relation of ideological series and the effect of signification and the presence-effect and the historical real, and suggested that I should Derrida Sending: On Representation, which provides another perspective in looking at the process of representation as decentered by time itself. Derrida is always critical of the deployment of presencing in the process of representation. And perhaps, in reading Badiou’s essay alongside Derrida’s notion of representation, we may be able to grasp a critical notion of representation that would undo its very notion.

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ANNOUNCEMENT | 10th Biennial Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference (ASEACC)

I will be attending the 10th Biennial Association for Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference (ASEACC) to be held at Program Pasca Sarjana (postgraduate), ISI YOGYAKARTA, Jl. Suryodiningratan No. 8 YogyakartaDIY 55143Indonesia on July 23-26, 2018. That is this coming week. I will present my paper titled Metaphysics of Long Duration in the Cinema of Lav Diaz.

METAPHYSICS OF LONG DURATION IN THE CINEMA OF LAV DIAZ
Adrian D. Mendizabal, University of the Philippines-Diliman

 

ABSTRACT OF THE PAPER

This paper seeks to problematize the concept of long duration in contemporary phenomenon of slow cinema as exemplified by the cinema of Lav Diaz. The main rationale for this film philosophical research is to categorically assess the metaphysics of long duration as deployed in the Diaz’s cinema as a form of dematerialization and sublimation of cinematic time. In order to demystify the metaphysics of long duration in Diaz’s cinema, this research uses the critical framework of dialectical materialism, as espoused by the praxiological synthesis of Marxism, to enunciate a potential material basis of long duration.

My presentation is tentatively scheduled on the third day. I will be attending the conference with friends, colleagues, previous teachers and fellow academics.

See you in Yogyakarta!

For more details about the conference, you can visit their Webpage or email them at imanda@gmail.com or contact@aseacc.org.

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Join KAMPUHAN! Join the Fight Against Contractualization!

A repost!

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KILUSANG MAYO UNO METRO MANILA | ALMA KONTRAKTWAL | DEFEND JOB PHILIPPINES

MEDIA ADVISORY: Labor groups to slam Duterte’s failed promises over endo
5-day anti-endo protest camp to be mounted in Mendiola leading to Duterte’s third SONA

KAMPUHAN KONTRA KONTRAKTWALISASYON: MOUNTING OF 5-DAY ANTI-ENDO PROTEST CAMP
July 18, 2018 (Wednesday) 09:00 AM onwards

09:00 AM – March from PLDT Protest Camp (Welcome Rotonda) to Mendiola
10:00 AM – State of the Workers Address, Mendiola Bridge, Manila
11:00 AM – Set-Up and Mounting of the Protest Camp and Tents
01:00 PM – State of the Women’s Address, Mendiola Brudge
06:00 PM – Solidarity and Cultural Night (Start of Overnight Vigil), Mendiola Bridge

Leading to the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 23, various labor groups will mount a 5-day anti-contractualization protest camp at the doorsteps of Malacañang Palace in Mendiola Bridge, Manila starting tomorrow to remind and slam Duterte’s failed promise to end contractualization. The goup will air the true State of the Workers in Mendiola tomorrow to show that instead of regularization, massive termination of workers were being executed amid standing DOLE compliance orders for regularization including PLDT, Jollibee among many others.

The Kampuhan Kontra Kontraktwalisasyon is a culmination and gathering in Mendiola of various workers campouts held by different labor groups in the past months including terminated workers of Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), sardines workers of UniPak in Slord Development Corporation, Manila Harbour Center among others.

The 5-Day campout will serve as the workers protest center leading to Duterte’s SONA where they will discuss various labor and people’s issues during their 5-day campout.

MEDIA COVERAGE REQUESTED
Photo Opportunities Available

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Nine in Twenty-Nine: Let me Count the Ways

 

Today is my birthday, so let me count the ways… 

1. In Solidarity with the Working Class.

Today is my birthday, and like all days, I choose to celebrate it as a day of solidarity with the Filipino working class, especially with the contractual workers of Jollibee and PLDT who got laid off. Let us not tolerate these unjust acts of exploitation and sabotage to non-tenured workers. I’m inviting all workers, especially contractuals like me, to join the fight against all forms of contractualized labor. Join Aklasan, the Nationwide Movement against contractualization!

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2. Buhay pa ba kayo?

I also invite you to join the UP Diliman’s Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (UP CONTEND) to  their pre-SONA assessment of Duterte’s 2nd year presidency tomorrow. This open to the public and its free.

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3. Basket-Brawl

Yesterday’s game between Gilas Pilipinas and the Australian Team was one historic (fist) fight. Why do brawls happen like this? The answer would be, in sports, the desire to kill each other has been there all along, but it is repressed by the governmentality of the game. The civil society has staged sports events ever since to practice non-combat battle, to illegitimatize the war machine that fuels combats and oppositions. The result is a full conversion of that body without organs of combat into a fascistic desire, leading to brawls like this. As Deleuze and Guattari (1983) said: ‘Desire can never be deceived . Interests can be deceived , unrecognized, or betrayed, but not desire. Whence Reich’s cry: no, the masses were not deceived, they desired fascism…’ (p. 257)

 

4. A Gift

My dearly beloved partner Bencio gifted me (although I offered to pay half the price) the promotional package of Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, a two-year subscription to their journal plus a bunch of freebies, for only P3,000.00. We ordered it last week. The package came yesterday morning. Thank you so much @bencio for gifting me this! This would be a great addition to my library.

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Photo from the Philippines Studies

5. Basketball Fandom

One of the free journal issues in the promotional package of Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints is the 2010 issue on basketball fandom. I have chosen this book/journal as my book companion for the day in light of the farce that happened yesterday. I’m quite surprised to find out that the journal issue has only one article on basketball. The rest are studies in sociology, linguistics, politics and book reviews. Is this some sort of a ‘statement’? Indeed, arts and humanities and media studies lack publications on popular forms of sports. I wonder, is there ever a systematic study of the representation of sports in Philippine Cinema?

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6. Every Day

Yesterday, the last film I watched as a 28-year-old in an Orion Pictures Release, Every Day (2018), directed by Michael Sucsy. Its about a boy named ‘A’, a ‘somebody’, a spirit, who wakes in a different body everyday. He falls in love with a high-school girl named Rihannon. Every Day explores the concept of disembodied multiplicity of consciousness. A‘s rare talent to remember all the consciousness he possessed is actually impossible. Michael Sucsy and his team has shown this impossibility by actually making it transparent, or seamlessly possible. Like George Melies who has fooled us with his dancing headless man in The Four Troublesome Heads (1898), Sucsy uses Hollywood’s overworn continuity style to hide and conceal the violence of the transference and possession of another spirit in a body. While William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973) has shown us the ecstasy of possession and the agony and somatization of the body in the presence of the unknown, Every Day has suppressed these excesses, transforming the whole idea of disembodiment and possession as a phenomenon of the everyday, within the safe confine of common sense. This new subgenre in sci-fi films should be called normalized sci-fi, a subgenre that refuses to show the bodily and experiential excesses of its raw material by appropriating bourgeois subjectivity (i.e. bourgeois family, bourgeois relationships) in normalized spaces of expression. The film is an adaptation of David Levithan’s best-selling book Every Day. (1/5)

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7. Mumsh Zizek’s Weird Kitchen. 

WHO THE FUCK WOULD PUT SOCKS AND UNDERWEAR IN KITCHEN DRAWERS? WELL, ONLY ZIZEK, OUR FAVORITE DADEEHH.

8. Anomalous Material of the Day: Mayor Anthony Halili’s Kill Shot

In the Philippines, you can be shot and killed in your most dignified (standing) position. In Tanauan City Mayor Halili’s case, you can die while singing the national anthem. In the video caught yesterday, one can see the whole local government unit singing the national anthem. It is a mandatory rule in the Philippine government for officials and employees to hold and attend a weekly flag-raising ceremony every Monday of the week. As soon as the lyrics of the song reached ‘lupa ng araw…‘, a sniper hiding beneath the bushes a hundred fifty meters away from the scene fired a bullet that went straight to his heart. Then chaos ensued. Around 8:45 AM, he was declared dead. Tanauan City Mayor was known as the ‘Walk of Shame’ mayor of Batangas, parading criminals around his city as a spectacle of shame. This is a glaring reminder to all of us on the extent of the culture of impunity thriving in the present political climate.

ABCDE

F
from here.

 

9. Experimental Film in the 21st Century & Class Struggle

Bhakti (Ernesto Baca / Brazi / 2018). It’s 21st Century and somewhere in Brazil, experimental filmmaker Ernesto Baca still uses Super 8mm film as his medium of experimentation. The subject of his film is practices of Hinduism. For a moment, it reminds me of Glauber Rocha’s The Age of the Earth (1980).

When digital arrived, the global capital has continuously homogenized the landscape of media towards a medium that would allow its full control of the means of production. The Super 8mm film form, which is used in Bhakti, in the desertified landscape of the digital, may constitute sort of Bergsonian resistance against the homogenized control of capital. However, if viewed from the socialist paradigm, Super 8mm is not the most strategic medium for class struggle. Its counter-revolutionary attempt to de-socialized the means of production prevents the transfer of its praxiological content from one active agent to another. Digital medium, because of its low production cost, forms a more strategic vanguard aesthetic position against the ruling class for its socialized status. Super 8mm, on the other hand, does not, by any means, confront the true opposition between the proletariat and the bourgeois as it is decentered from the social body. It constitute entirely of a new mode of production that displaces itself from the contradictions of society. What it does actually is to create a bifurcation, a new aesthetic regime that builds on nostalgia politics and restorative media archaeology. This bifurcation path is actually of a futural form of politics that needs to be reassessed.

That is all for now. Till then…

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT | 6th Deleuze & Guattari Studies in Asia International Conference

6th D&G Conference

I will be attending the 6th Deleuze and Guattari Studies in Asia International Conference to be held in Ateneo De Naga, Naga City, Camarines Sur on July 5-7, 2018. That is this coming week. I will present my paper titled Deleuze, Marx and Cinematic Time: Towards a Temporal/Durational Materialism. 

Deleuze, Marx and Cinematic Time: Towards
a Temporal/Durational Materialism
Adrian D. Mendizabal, University of the Philippine Film Institute, UP Diliman

 

ABSTRACT OF THE PAPER

This paper will attempt to enunciate a provisional concept of temporal/durational materialism emergent from the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (& Felix Guattari), hereby designated as D&G, and Karl Marx. The relation between Marx and D&G is commonly rooted in the two-volume texts of Capitalism and Schizophrenia namely Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. D&G appropriates Marx’s critique of the political economy of capitalism reinventing Marx’s idea of production (i.e. desiring-production, desiring machines, etc.). However, only a few have established the relation between Deleuze’s Cinema 1: Movement-Image and Cinema 2: Time-Image books and Marx’s dialectical and historical materialism (DHM). This paper will attempt provide a working relation between Deleuze’s categorization of cinematic temporality in Cinema 1 and 2 and Marx’s concepts of production and labor time. The paper will also provide arguments on how this key relation provides a rethinking Marx’s DHM materialism as a temporal materialism, which Deleuze and Badiou implicitly adapts in some of their works.

My presentation is tentatively scheduled on the third day. I will be attending the conference with friends, colleagues, previous teachers and fellow academics.

See you in Naga!

For more details about the conference, you can visit their Facebook page or email them at deleuze.in.naga.2018@gmail.com.

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July 1, 2017

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June 2018: Round-Up

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From Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (Wang Bing / China / 2002)

 

June 2018 | Best Reads of the Month

Aside from watching films, going to work, going to the gym, and writing a great deal of other things for thesis, I also find time to read non-thesis related articles. I don’t think there has ever been a time this month that I actually tried to read a fictional work i.e. novels, short stories, poetry. I’m way too much invested in non-fictional writings. As much as I would love to read great works of literature, I’m tied and committed to academic books and articles related to my thesis. Occasionally, I also read non-thesis related writings. Here are of some of them:

  1. The Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process by Alain Badiou
  2. Art Won’t Save Us by Anna Khachiyan
  3. Marx’s Commodity-Fetishism & The Crisis of Contemporary (Conceptual/Post-Conceptual) Art by E. San Juan [Plenary Speech During Marx @ 200 Conference]
  4. Ranciere and Cinema by Diagonal Thoughts
  5. On the Role of Agitation and Propaganda by Paul Saba
  6. Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art by Alain Badiou
  7. Art in Order: Anatomy of Film List by David Heslin

JUNE 2018 | Favorite Films of the Month

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Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara / Japan / 1964)

My cinephilia experience this June is a downer. Most of the films I’ve watched came from Hollywood. They were disappointing, except, of course, for Hereditary, which is an outstanding example of classic horror film that did not rely so much on art cinematic devices (i.e. the way Lynch would do it) and used a great deal of its mise-en-scene, deployment of cinematographic movement, editing and sound to construct a ‘flat’ (as in a flat ontological  sense) dimension of demonic haunting, refined by Toni Collette’s otherworldly facial register, Milly Shapiro’s otherworldly presence and Alex Wolff’s superb acting. The narrative fluidity resembles that of a bath tub slowly being filled with water until it horribly overflows at the end. It is weird that the film has no flashbacks or flashforward. It seems to hinge its nonlinear temporal dimension on the photographic (the photo album), the scuptural (Annie’s miniature art project) and the uncanniness of a somnambulistic experience (Annie sleepwalking). Physical forces from other dimensions disrupt the order of its filmic world. This makes the film incredibly exhausting and mentally draining as it assigns the index of the image as is, in a literal sense of the everyday. It’s as if we are the subject of the demonic haunting like Rosemary, in  the film Rosemary’s Baby (1968), when she looked at her baby for the first time.

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Hereditary (Ari Aster / USA / 2018)

Teshigahara’s masterpiece Woman in the Dunes is by far the most transgressive and transformative film I’ve watched this month. The desert, the bodies and the spatial tension altogether created this labyrinthine landscape that epitomizes capitalism’s inescapable tendency towards the desertification of the world. Another great film I’ve watched this month is Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town (1948). It is a melodrama masterpiece from post-Sino-Japanese War China that actually exceeded my expectations in terms of style. Several shots were well-rehearsed long takes that involve multiple framing and re-framing. And it surprised me how the woman subjectivity practically dominated the space of discourse of the whole film. The heroine plays a double role as an omniscient narrator of the film and as the character itself.

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from Spring in a Small Town (Fei Mu / China / 1948)

I have only seen one Filipino film this month, Treb Montreras’  Respeto (2017), which I reviewed in advance for NYAFF 2018 for VCinema. Respeto is technically commendable, but like many Philippine independent films that came out in the past years, it lacks  sharpness in terms of deploying its political critique.

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The worst film I’ve watched this month is Rampage. As much as I like its more-than-real humanization of the animal via CGI, I don’t think it has something to offer to the viewers more than the adrenaline rush one feels when Dwayne Johnson moved beneath the battle of giant animals: a giant wolf, a giant albino gorilla and a giant mutated crocodile. The idea of giantism as an cinematic trope in science fiction movies is better explored when a much larger social dimension is explored. The good example of this is Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, which is a better film than his Best Picture winning film.

I have also seen two compelling South Korean films I Saw the Devil and The Chaser, which are both about serial killers. While they both have different market pressures, South Koreans do better films compared than their Hollywood counterparts these days. Albeit their differences in their captured markets, Koreans deploy aesthetics in a more nuanced way without relying so much on CGI. They usually build their stories on existing socio-economic condition of Korean society and is not afraid to highlight the class contradictions in their society.

Between I Saw the Devil and The Chaser, the former has a more formally conscious approach in executing its action scenes: well-staged, well-rehearsed scenes, precise and almost perfect framing that heightens the mood. It has also a well-written screenplay. The latter, The Chaser, has an elliptical and unruly narrative, which makes it more interesting that the straightfowardness perfection of I Saw the Devil. The Chaser is interested in exploring dimensions of falseness, miscommunication and the decenteredness of reality. Both of them are testament to Korean Cinema’s commitment to high aesthetic standards for their popular films.

I have also seen two queer films Close-Knit, a Japanese film about a non-traditional family in which a transgender woman assumes the mother of the household, and Love, Simon, an American film about a teenage boy coming out to the whole school. Both are inspirational films, nothing fancy or nothing out of the box. Both deal with societal pressures and notions of acceptance. In Close-Knit, there was scene that paid a sweet and tenderly tribute to Ozu’s Late Spring (1964).

Between the two, Close-Knit is a more body-conscious film, while Love, Simon has a particular commentary on the impact of social media (i.e. postsecret blogs, Facebook, etc) in the construction of gender discourse. Both films ended up affirming the status quo in the end.

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Close-Knit (Naoko Ogigami / Japan / 2017)

The June 2018 Film List

 

Transformative and Transgressive (5/5)

Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara /  Japan / 1964)

Best of the Best (4.5/5)

I Saw the Devil (Kim Jee-woon / South Korea / 2010)
Hereditary (Ari Aster / USA / 2018)

Very Good (4/5)

Spring in a Small Town (Fei Mu / China / 1948)
The Chaser (Na Hong-jin / South Korea / 2008)

Good (3.5/5)

Respeto (Treb Montreras II / Philippines / 2017)
Close-Knit (Naoko Ogigami / Japan / 2017)

Fair (2.5-3/5)

Love, Simon (Greg Berlanti / USA / 2018)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Simon West / USA / 2001)

Unbearable (1-2/5)

Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross / USA / 2018)
A Wrinkle in Time (Ava DuVernay / USA / 2018)
Life of the Party (Ben Falcone  / USA / 2018)
Blockers (Kay Cannon  / USA / 2018)
Tomb Raider (Roar Uthaug / USA / 2018)
Maze Runner: The Death Cure (Wes Ball / USA / 2018)
Rampage (Brad Peyton / USA / 2018)

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I Saw the Devil (Kim Jee-woon / South Korea / 2010)

 

JUNE 2018 | Anomalous Materials of the Month

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The violent NutriAsia dispersal

[digital encounters in the web, evental sites of ruptures, exclusionary digipoiesis]

June 2018 is a violent month for the Philippine working class. There were around three or four major labor issues circulated in Philippine social media sphere. The most prominent was the strike and violent dispersal of the NutriAsia workers and the protest of laid-off contractual workers of Jollibee. Aside from these issues that provided self-reflexive ruptures in the Philippine social media sphere, the internet is also filled with non-sequiturs, farce, parodies and comic  reliefs that provide occasional disruption and paradoxical play to our everyday. Here are some of my selection of ‘Anomalous Materials’ for June 2018:

 

JUNE 2018 | AgitProp Corner of the Month

June has passed and the People’s movement is still stronger than ever, even if government institutions like NEDA, DFA, DOF and NHA have purposely downplayed and undermined the role of people’s movement in the democratic process. Agitations and propagandas are necessary in revealing the contradictions of the bureaucratic capitalist machinic system that continuously robbed the working class of their right to live a decent life. According to Lenin:

Only agitation can reveal on a broad scale the real state of mind of the masses, only agitation can make for close co-operation between the Party and the whole working class, only making use for the purposes of political agitation of every strike, of every important event or issue in working-class life, of all conflicts within the ruling classes or between, one section of those classes or another and the autocracy, of every speech by a Social-Democrat [communist] in the Duma [parliament], of every new expression of the counter-revolutionary policy of the government, etc.–only work like this can once again close the ranks of the revolutionary proletariat, and provide accurate material for judging the speed with which conditions for new and more decisive battles are coming to a head.

(“The Assessment of the Present Situation,” CW, Vol. 15, pp. 278-279.)

Meanwhile, below is a collection of selected AgitProp (and accidentally AgitProp-like) materials that circulated online this month.

To read more about AgitProp, Paul Saba wrote a very good article in the journal Revolution in 1978 titled On the Role of Agitation and Propaganda

 

Diary, Notes, Sketches for JUNE 2018

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There was a wide release of Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson / US-Japan / 2018) in select Philippine theaters during the first week of June. The premiere happened last Wednesday, May 30, 2018. I missed it.

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June 3. Congratulations to my friends Epoy Deyto and Donna Wendy Idano Deyto for their new baby girl.

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Pujita Guha Hanoi Talk

Fellow Lav Diaz scholar Pujita Guha gave a talk on Lav Diaz at Hanoi DocLab last June 15, 2018. Here is her Abstract for the Talk:

In his 2016 Berlinale Award winning 8-hour epic, Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery) Filipino film auteur Lav Diaz intersects three narratives panning out in the forest, in the wake of the Katipunan Revolution of 1896-97. The first narrates Gregoria de Jeus’s search for the last remains of her husband, the Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonafacio; the second, Jose Rizal’s fictional protagonist Simoune’s escape into the forest; and the third, the impish horse-demon Tikbalangs who toy with the unwary visitors of the forest. A history fabulated with myths, and a history little known, the forest, I argue, arrives as a crucial site to imagine Filipino histories that are evidenced outside existing discourse. Akin to the fragmentary and opaque histories the film tackles, the forest too does not thrive as a linear space that can be easily tendered to human enquiries – it is dense and labyrinthine, a meandering landscape playing a dyad of light and dark, known and unknown, visible and invisible.

Reading from the film then, this presentation undertakes the act of re-configuring the forest as typically understood in modernity. Considered a virginal space which is someplace else, removed from the violent intrusions of history – a sublime isolated landscape often – I re-imagine the forest as a space that is lived and encountered materially, lived through all its density. The forest, then, both expands the concept of history outside of the human while enfolding its own traces of history. It is a witness to the secret, untold histories that are enacted there, consequently becoming an archive of the same. The forest becomes a crucial space that this project traverses: a closed world where anti-colonial revolutions meet pagan-animistic cultures, shamans meet with military personnel, and objects acquire magical lives of their own. As a dense, vexing landscape the forest allows one to closely introspect an entanglement with different species, enter into a world where objects, vegetal, animal or mineral, begin to speak alike. To this effect, the paper introspects the interaction between the social/cultural, the historical and the fantastic, the natural and the cultural even.

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June 5. Remnants of Lynch. It’s been a year since Twin Peaks: The Return debut in American Television. I have always had it on the back on my mind ever since, especially the song Shadows by Chromatics.

 

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June 30, 2018

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The Big Continent: Asian Cinema Challenge

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from Edward Yang’s The Terrorizers (1989)

June 17, 2018

Last night, in the middle of my critical literature reviewing and catalog organizing for my thesis on Lav Diaz, I chanced upon a good film challenge in Letterboxd. It’s called The Big Continent: Asian Cinema Challenge. It requires one to watch one Asian film of a particular category (see categories below) per week. Each category corresponds to a list of films in Letterboxd.

I figure this Asian Cinema Challenge would be a great way  to generate more content for this blog and, given ample time and resources, this would encourage me to write more reviews for VCinema, provided that I will not review a film already listed in VCinema’s database.

Below is the list of categories per week and my selected films for viewing and/or review. I will start with Week 1 this week and will possibly jump to other categories, depending on the availability of the films.

Wish me luck!

 

A Note on ‘Film Challenges’ and the New Kind of Cinephilia

Film challenges are a form of cinephile’s game that usually forces one to watch films grouped in categories (by nation, by geography, by obscurity). It has an allotted time to finish (usually hosted in per annual basis) and requires the participant to log his progress . In online film websites like MUBI and Letterboxd, film challenges are usually staged to promote a certain genre or politics of films. The ones I appreciate are film challenges that champion underappreciated non-canonical films, especially films from the peripheries of the world. Have you seen a film from Bangladesh, or Bhutan, or Kazakhstan? Do you know auteurs from Saudi Arabia and Lebanon? from Colombia and Chile? from Finland and Iceland?

These film challenges are rallying for a new kind of inclusive cinephilia that does not focus entirely on filmic canons established by institutions. In an egalitarian sense, this new kind of cinephilia wants to circle the globe several times in search of the new: new alliances, new archives, new unknowns, new underdogs, new  forms and styles, regardless of nationality or spoken language. We might as well call it as exploratory cinephilia, a cinephilia driven by a continual sense of exploration, which can only happen in the digital era in which there seems to be a kind of geographical collapse in digitized commodities like films. File copies of films can be easily accessed in online digital archives. Peer-to-peer access has allowed fellow cinephiles to transfer file copies of films (usually ripped from DVD and BluRay copies) from one area of the globe to another with ease. The only factor would be internet accessibility. In today’s cinephilia, the space of the internet has constituted its global village, its space of existence. It has totally atomized and reterritorialized cinephilia in the privacy of one’s home. Spectatorship has indeed changed its face since the dawn of the internet. Digital exploratory cinephilia has continuously grew in the past decade in film sites like MUBI, Letterboxd and even in Facebook and has become, in itself, a captured audience to a new form of screen capitalism in the guise of Netflix, Hulu, MUBI, IFlix that offers a new experience of cinema in the small screens of LED TVs, laptops, and smartphones.

The problem is no one has problematized this form of digital capitalism yet. The political economy of such a screen culture has yet to be written as it involves a foray into digital humanities which is a very young discipline in the academe.

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