Craig Santos Perez (see, I gotta refer to him by his official author name now) and I are starting to have an interesting conversation over at his blog, regarding this quote from Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities:
“[...] nations inspire love, and often profoundly self-sacrificing love. The cultural products of nationalism–poetry, prose fiction, music, plastic arts–show this love very clearly in thousands of different forms and styles. On the other hand, how truly rare it is to find analogous nationalist products expressing fear and loathing. Even in the case of colonized peoples, who have every reason to feel hatred for their imperialist rulers, it is astonishing how insignificant the element of hatred is in these expressions of national feeling.” (1983)
Here is my response:
A couple of things: isn’t Benedict Anderson big on Filipino (Philippines-based, versus Fil Am) literature? I think he is. If that is the case, then I really don’t know so well the lit of that time in the Philippines, which dealt with Spain or North America, since we are talking about former colonial powers. I do know of anti-Martial Law lit, which I relate to the anti-US/Philippine “special relations,” so if that’s the case, then like you, I wonder what he was not reading.
[Addendum: the existence of anti-Martial Law lit speaks to the critical and even militant tone which writers, authors, and artists took against their own national government. These writers' criticisms, protest literature, political involvement were met with imprisonment, torture and "salvagings" (killings) of the artists by the regime. I think this alone debunks the Anderson quote above.]
[...] I wonder if in Philippine lit, he read any strong Catholicism as pro-colonial love, even though Philippine Catholicism also has ties to revolutionary movements.
Maybe he was chastising post-colonial writers for not being anti-colonial enough, which is to say, anti-colonial by his definition/standards. That’s problematic.
Re: “master narrative” which it seems to me he is forwarding even though I really think his agenda (given what little I know about him) was not to forward it – I’ll go with Flavor Flav on this – yo, don’t believe the hype!
At least one reader of this blog I know is a former student of Anderson’s, so maybe s/he can provide some elucidation (backchanneling is cool; no need to leave a public comment) on the above quote, which I do understand has been plucked out of context.
In the meantime, rather than imagining community, I am attempting to outline (triangulate?) a number of the projects and concerns of our national Filipino American literary community over at the PAWA blog, where I have just posted links to the following:
(1) Fordham Observer interview with Sarah Gambito. Great stuff here on her writing process, including how it’s differed between her first book Matadora, and her forthcoming second book, Delivered.
(2) Joel Tan’s very newly released and much awaited second book Type O Negative (Red Hen Press).
(3) Bob Holman blogging over at On the Griot Trail, re: the death of languages, and how technology can aid in the continued existence of languages and oral traditions. Love this guy. Love his ebullience, that he jumps head first into projects.
(4) Vince Gotera on poetic craft and technique. Also some great and chunky reading on meter, rhythm, and rhyme.
So these are not specific to Filipino American literature, but do concern Filipino American literary movement, projects, and work.