Saturday, June 26, 2010

(Self)Critical without the (Self)-loathing

Since our "culture" seems to be under the microscope, here is a list of old blogposts that tackle culture. I think they are critical minus the hate.

What Damaged Culture?:

The point here is, cultures evolve and whether the evolution is judged "good" or "bad" is subjective. A culture is a way of life. And if our culture today means under-the-table deals, graft and corruption, crab mentality, then there was a reason for this. This culture didn't appear out of nowhere. And it is not a natural state of being.


If television is the modern opium of the masses, then our people today must be drugged beyond the absurd. Have you seen prime time TV shows lately? 4 to 5 solid hours of brain-frying hallucinogenic experience. And since there are two major stations airing them, then that makes 8 to 10 hours total. Whew. Who needs X when you've got GMA-ABS-CBN?

In a Wowowee State of Mind:

But poverty isn't merely a state of mind, it is a social condition. Contrary to little "nuggets of wisdom" we, the educated folk, have been taught since birth, poverty cannot be overcome by simple hard work. An ambulant vendor can work 15 hours a day every day for fifty years and still die with nothing to show for. And the "good life" these days mean that in order to be happy and fulfilled, we need a lot of things to show for.

Poverty is social because it does not mean anything divorced from the environment. Poverty is social because it is relative. Poverty can be measured by a sense of lack. And when we see people in our vicinity having many things that give them happiness, why should we begrudge ourselves of these essential elements of the good life?

The Alipin is not a Slave:

Far from arriving at the same conclusions as Idiot Savant, I read an entirely different insinuation from this American historian. Which really goes to show that we are all colored by our own individual mental/ideational maps. Which probably means it’s pointless to argue this point at all, because we not only see eye to eye, but see through different kinds of eyes entirely.

Rape, Hypermasculinity and Philippine-American Relations:

Was Nicole completely faultless? Did she know she was courting danger by having a few drinks and dancing with these killing machines? Could her rape have been avoided had she behaved more prudently? Had she been born elsewhere, had she not grown up in our post-colonial context with our post-colonial mental maps, then perhaps she would not have consorted with these men. Ours is a story of seduction and false promises. Our culture today is replete with evidence of surrendering to the seduction of a “superior” race. Our indoctrination in the early days has been: All things American is what you little brown brothers must aspire for. American education, government, culture, the American way of life. We are but extensions of the original. The Eve to his Adam.

The Philippines as Open Pussy Country?

Taken individually, these mentalities as aspects of our culture colour our perception of self-hood as a nation, and our identities as Filipinos and Filipinas. In combination, this three-pronged mentality is detrimental to the way we situate ourselves both locally and internationally. Our colonial mentality is deep-seated. Everything Western, particularly American, is superior by all counts. Which implies that what is local is necessarily inferior. The Americans have left decades past, but we have proven to be better colonial masters than they were. 70 years later, the colonial mentality is alive and well, nurtured by pop culture, by elite culture, by us all.

Excising Cinderella, Maria Clara and Inang Maria from Our Minds:

Let us go back then, to the Specters of Cinderella, Maria Clara and the forbearing Inang Maria haunting our nation. These (re)presentations are a product of a particular context in our history. They are a product of colonial enslavement and ideological inferiority. While those days are long over, these specters persist because they have been embedded deep in our culture. This explains the incongruence of these mentalities with the actual events of recent years.

Are We Poor Because We're Lazy?

I know there exist people who have absolutely no incentive to work - thus they laze. What little income they get they spend on non-wealth generating activities. One might say, they engage in rabid consumption - of alcohol and nicotine, gambling and entertainment (not coincidentally the more robust industries in our country). Some engage in criminal activities because in doing so their "talents" yield greater wealth. There are public criminals and there are private ones. Evidently, public criminality is the best means to accumulate wealth in our society. But we can't all be public criminals.

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