First off, power scares and sickens me. I don't associate myself with people who relish and strive for it. Power-trippers make my blood boil and turn me into a confrontational savage.
I was a victim of departmental politics years ago, and it was an experience I would not wish on the worst of my enemies. It was the first time I got disillusioned with anthropology as my chosen career. Anthropology, from studying to publishing, is a matter of numbers like politics, where the…Continue
The best thing here at OAC is that anyone can write a blog post or a comment or a discussion topic about anything as long as there's a discernible anthropology in it. Other anthropology sites are too academic and formal; thus the posts and the comments seemed restrained, awfully familiar, and vanilla--that's not out of the box. It makes me wonder if anthropologists in those sites are really sharing their best or if they are being careful not to sound unprofessional or come out unacademic.…Continue
I have been writing sad poems lately, and the sadness is not mine, but from the people I see and know. I wonder how would an anthropologist write about sadness. It is easy for a poet to be emotional since logic is not the foundation of poetry. Can an anthropologist rely on his emotion about someone's feelings or sadness? Since anthropology is a science, should logic supersede emotion? I just don't think anyone can write about someone's sadness without empathy or sympathetic feelings. I…Continue
While writing my last blog post, Losing To Win, I felt my assertions were somewhat vague and lacking in substance. Even though I hate copying and pasting citations and passages in quotations, I always try to find papers or books I can cite to support my views in case push comes to shove. I hate when someone accuses me of relying on my opinions and irresponsibly passing them around as facts.
The worst of Asian values was on display at the Olympics in London, and I was embarrassed. Eight female badminton players from China, Korea, and Indonesia tried to lose their games, so they would reserve their energy, have good positions in the next round, avoid matches against other players from their countries, or secure sure wins or medals. It was painful to watch not because their games did not excite me but because of how "losing to win," a game strategy that, I believe, exists all…Continue
Since I have resigned from the most boring job on earth: cooking the same thing everyday, my desire to go home and pursue a PhD in economics/anthropology/sociology is now firm. I can save a lot if I follow that route. To prime or, actually, reorient myself with Philippine Anthropology, I have been checking how anthropology has been publicly practiced nowadays in my country.
Sadly, it is only in the media where anthropology seems relevant, and another sad thing is that it is…Continue
If the title sounds postmodernist, then I think it is the best thing Postmodernism has contributed to the intellectual development of man. Let me start this post with the poem I recently wrote after reading a collection of American postmodern poems.
This past week, literary trolls got the best out of me and somehow forced me to write daily lectures from Death of the Author to theories of form to interpreting the interpreter. The topic was Formalism in literary criticism. At first, instead of responding in an essay form, I wrote a parody in a Sapphic stanza complete with syllabic count, spacing, metering, and adonean line, which I turned into a literary negation.
I do not ask what brush or…Continue
The most difficult thing to do in life is not to have something to do at all, indeed. It was my day-off yesterday, and I could not think of anything to do. I already did Spring cleaning, reading, writing, watching TV, listening to Carla Bruni's husky voice, and arguing with my dad on the phone about the Philippine economy. I had my all afternoon ready to be given up to boredom again.
Since I like to challenge myself very much, I decided to explore an inner city in Southern…Continue
I'm off-work on Wednesdays. I spent the entire morning with my folks today enjoying my mother's Filipino brunch. A brunch at my parents' household always ends with coffee and my father's argumentative discussion of what he reads from the day's news. He passed The New York Times to me after my second gulp. He wanted me to read what he highlighted with a pencil, "Why I'm Leaving Goldman…Continue
I have noticed that the least studied in Anthropology are the abstract feelings of humans that can be observed through their culture-specific actions and behaviors. Feelings such as hate, fear, regret, boredom are interesting and important to study as they are the basics or cores of bigger problems such as violence, rape, addiction, divorce, suicide, mental illness, etc. It is boredom that has tickled my brain lately. Three incidences have made me think that there is a need to study human…Continue
Let me skip the Hegelian Speculation and the Aristotelian Reasoning. I am more interested in Speculative Logic or Logical Speculation as a tool for studying culture, considering culture as a reality where there are parts of it that are immaterial, abstract, and unobservable. I think we can still study a whole house even if we only see its front porch.
The latest news back home has been the ongoing public impeachment trial of the Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court.…Continue
Okay, I'm in a career crisis. Lately, I have been wanting to really involve myself in professional anthropology. By professional, I mean academics and scholarship. I feel it would be regretful in my part if I would not try. I'm done with my being a copyleftist (not a slave to copyrights) and literary anarchist (not believing in conventions in academic writing). I've done it, and it has brought me nothing and to nowhere. Maybe it's time to humble myself and…Continue
Since I became a sous chef in a 5-star hotel in Southern California, I told myself to forget anthropology indefinitely if I wanted to become a chef in a year or two. It is hard to ignore anthropology in my current job. Besides cooking and eating being social and cultural, cooks having different cultures, and guests exhibiting different tastes, the food I cook always remind me what is wrong in current anthropology and, in general, social theory. I just cannot escape from the things that…Continue
Often, I ask what anthropologists can do to eradicate or curb corruption. I seldom encounter an impressive ethnography about corruption. What I usually get hold of is an ethnography that details the after effect or end result of corruption. We need more anthropological studies that show corruption as a sociocultural process. It is easier to come up with a conclusion that corruption causes poverty, but tough to ascertain how corruption takes root socially and culturally. I do think…Continue
John's proposal that we reconsider the role of creative literature in anthropology/ethnography is timely as I have gone back to writing short stories about the people whose faces are stored in my memory. Like in this "first draft" piece , I know the protagonist did exist, but my memory of him is very limited. What I have in mind are the things that happened to me where he played a peripheral part. The question is whether this story of estrangement and derangement-- mine and Sorro's-- is…Continue
Ken Routon's posts on fetishizing the foreign have surely made me think. It's easy to regard an insider's preference for something foreign imported from an outside culture as a fetish. One can even go further by becoming postcolonialist and material culturist and dropping theories that range from the overstretched to the overanalyzed. It's interesting how a bottle of perfume can touch almost anything complete with theoretical assumptions. I'm not really allergic to theories, but I just…Continue
Back home, when we have natural calamities, we turn to God to make sense of our experience and suffering. We pray for help and also ask why such things happen, and of all, to us. We have a word similar to karma called "gaba." A landslide that kills miners is considered a nature's gaba to the men who deface and defile the environment. We view nature as a powerful avenger and ally that avenges for the oppressed. If a cargo ship sinks after a giant wave hits it, it is…Continue
The current corruption investigations in my country have pained me. Two military generals alone stole and laundered about five hundred million pesos each from the national treasury. Those funds were intended to modernize the Philippine military, hire and equipped Filipino soldiers, and pay well UN-assigned police forces in many global hot spots. One million pesos or twenty thousand dollars are enough to pay two top-rated brain surgeons annually in my country.
Lately, I …Continue
I've been reading a lot of poetry lately. I have sensed different geographies in the odes of Neruda-- those of bodies, minds, lands, and landscapes. Even the emotional confessions of Anne Sexton illustrate geographies of body, mind, suffering, and pain. As I believe where there is a geography, real or imagined, there is a culture waiting to be understood and studied. Thus, poetry, in itself, is ethnography poetically done.
A Monk's Journey