NICK_JOAQUIN_Demystifying_the_Past_Unfet.pdf - Demystifying...

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Demystifying the Past, Unfetishizing the Present, Reinventing the Future By E. SAN JUAN, Jr. [Concluding chapter of SUBVERSIONS OF DESIRE: A PROLEGOMENA TO NICK JOAQUIN by E. SAN JUAN, Jr., Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1988] The Golden Age, which blind tradition has placed in the past, is in the future. —Henri Saint-Simon The real genesis is not at the beginning, but at the end. —Ernst Bloch Soyez realiste, demandez limpossible! —Communal demand, Paris, May 1968 IN HIS FAMOUS DISCOURSE "What Is an Author?" Michel Foucault argues that in order to limit "the cancerous and dangerous proliferation of significations" and polysemous meanings, post-Cartesian scholarship in the human sciences has prioritized the author as the "principle of thrift." Frightened by the glut of meanings, Western culture invented this ideological figure of the author, this disciplinary agency of the author, in accord with the sanctity of private property and the authorizing power of the individual entrepreneur in the "free" market. Bourgeois norms dictate that if someone could own and transgress, he could also be punished, fined, imprisoned, etc. Foucault observes further that "the author is not an indefinite source of significations which fill a work; the author does not precede the works; he is a certain functional principle by which, in our culture, one limits, excludes, and chooses; in short, by which one impedes the free circulation, the free manipulation, the free composition, decomposition, and recomposition of fiction.” 63
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One way of circumventing this logocentric strategy of postulating the author as creator of autotelic art is to invoke the mediation of personal testimony and the criteria of the empirical inventory. Seizing the temporary absence in Manila of his brother-in-law (then visiting Spain where he met “those dark-eyed senoritas from romantic La Palma de Mallorca”) as an opportunity to respond to persistent requests, Sarah K. Joaquin wrote a rare “profile” of Nick Joaquin for This Week, issue of 13 March 1955, presumably solicited by the editors. Her account renders in a series of recollections not so much the psychology of the author as his "death" in the figural sense that Roland Barthes gives it in his essay, "The Death of the Author," and in the process captures via montage and spatial mapping the writerly ambience which gives the lie to the myth of the artist's self-identical, autochthonous genius. Nicomedes, Onching, Nick, the playwright of "Portrait," the ad hoc composer of the Far Eastern University (FEU) hymn, etc.-the putative integral self disappears, even the masks disintegrate, dispersed over the scene of writing constituted by those oscillating instants where presence and absence meet. Where is the original self or psyche of which the public personae are mere reflections? We get a premonition of this effect in Sarah's initial warning: "For Nick has a special hatred for pictures-his pictures." Indeed, what can a photographic image reveal? As she
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