Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 1
WHAT HAS CAUSED the monkey’s outrage upon hearing this inadung? Indeed, the inadung has aroused the monkey’s empathy, he has seen himself in it—and that is really the goal of every writer, is it not? Unfortunately, however, the monkey’s empathy is not of an introspective, but of a possessive kind. “This is about me and no one else, least of all about humankind. And I do not like how it reflects my character.”
To understand literature as the portrayal of ourselves as human seems to require two things: It calls for the examination of diverse cultures, and it calls for introspection (i.e., meditating on oneself as an exemplar of the human race); and these are part of the same mental act, a matter of asking, “What would it be like to be who-I-am-not?”
Continue reading Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 2
I am told that I have all of 15 minutes to deliver my spiel, so I will self-indulge by sharing with you a Subanon masterpiece—a whole epic, including its contextual frame and a considerable amount of my commentary on it—all of which I will squeeze into 15 minutes.
First the narrative frame, before the epic itself:
A gutung ‘monkey’ was looking for someone with whom to share a jar of gasi ‘rice wine’, which he was carrying on his shoulder—in exchange for an inadung, which is the Subanon epic. He met a babuy, who assured him it could sing the inadung. So they drank wine, and when it was time for the pig to sing the inadung, naturally all that came out of its mouth was the squealing of a pig. What did he expect?
So then, when the monkey next met an usá, who said it could sing the inadung, the monkey was a bit more suspicious and had to ask, “Can you really sing the inadung?” The deer assured him yes, and so they drank the wine. But when the usá began to sing, what came out of its mouth was its natural deer squeak.
Next, came the lebuyu ‘chicken’, which could only crow—and only after it had drank some of the monkey’s wine.
Continue reading Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 1