My memories of UP are registers of cognitive and affective experiences. And If I believe in rebirth, then UP to me is like a way station before the quarters of pleasures and pains. Where I am now, remembering is the only answer to dismemberment.
BY TOMAS T. TALLEDO*
Posted by Bulatlat
1. Anamnesis. To Plato memory is a stock of knowledge of the soul before birth. Before birth, the philosopher submits, we already knew. We recognize the True, Good and Beautiful because our soul previously encountered these. The False, Bad and Ugly are equally familiar as memory has two sides. My memories of UP are registers of cognitive and affective experiences. And If I believe in rebirth, then UP to me is like a way station before the quarters of pleasures and pains. Where I am now, remembering is the only answer to dismemberment.
2.My university days in UP College Iloilo in the mid-1970s were not immune from the raging issue of the period: the controversy around the phenomenon of dictatorship in the country. As with many other students then, I searched for explanations in social sciences but found prevailing analyses deficient. Some were facile for my taste; others were simply unabashed rationalization of authoritarianism. This unsettledness, though, found solace in the construct the Italian intellectual, Antonio Gramsci, called the “philosophy of praxis”.
3.When I watched a rerun of Bergman’s Serpent’s Egg on the 13th year of martial rule, the acid inside me surged up. What I saw was not just Berlin before Hitler, but what ourselves had been and in-the-making. Passivity, indifference, nonchalance turned out to be dependable fertilizers for fascism. Dictatorship flourishes because of liberties surrendered bit-by-bit. Easy capitulations are cracks where seeds of tyranny are planted. Soon comes our annihilation: the day we are brought to the slaughterhouse for the final cut.
4.In the time of cholera, the University was no strong “like the molave” (Rafael Zulueta da Costa). The administrators bend and sway with the wind like a pliant bamboo. Twisted and curled, vices became virtues: flippancy is equated with resilience, prizes with honor and accomplishments with excellence. No wonder the “bright and promising” among sons and daughters gazed elsewhere for inspiration and redemption. Edmundo Rivera Legislador at Sibalom, Antique in 1973, Antonio Sandoval Tagamolila at Libacao, Aklan in 1974 and Gene Dumaplin at Sebaste, Antique in 1998. They went ahead knowing that “those who died for life continue to live on.”
5.The reservoir of University-based bourgeois analysis is impoverished. It has no intellectual tools capable of explaining the February 1986 uprising as a case of over-determination. It cannot find link with earlier Sakdal revolt, Huk rebellion, First Quarter Storm: the gist of revolution that was already present before Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. The same vacuity appeared as ersatz perspective that filled our classrooms. Alas, careerism became the dominant “ism”: as there were favored few during Marcos’s rule, the succeeding regimes did not lack supply of lackeys and parasites.
6.Utopia is commonly identified with the future whereas its origin is located in memory. Utopia is really no stranger. Evoked from our memory, we are familiar with its elemental form. Thus its prospects are exciting rather than disturbing. “The primary energy of the revolutionary activity,” Frederic Jameson wrote, “derives from memory of a prehistoric happiness which the individual can regain through its externalization, through its reestablishment for society as a whole.”