This was originally a Twitter thread but, I thought, could be adapted as well into a multimedia blog post. I wrote this the night before the night before Election Day to try to settle our nerves by having a Big Think thread. Let me start with two paintings I’ve been thinking about.
he first is “Nero’s Torches” an 1876 painting by the Polish artist Henryk Siemiradzki. This is the Coalition that enjoys all the traditional advantages, that believes it is born to rule, made of those who believe they are the apex predators and have it all figured it out.
The second is the 1790-94 sketch for “The Tennis Court Oath,” by Jacques-Louis David. This is the Coalition of the professionals, the artists, the unknown and dispossessed, the reformers and radicals, who look forward and not backward: those who risk and embrace modernity.
Today these two coalitions will be staking out their territories, so to speak, symbolic in ways even they may not realize. Makati will, like it was from 1983, once again bring all walks of life together, while the Son will lord it over in the land reclaimed by the Father:
All this takes place as one Vivid Era literally staggers to a close, one that paved the way for the confrontation symbolized by the Mitings de Avance, but which has itself become a bystander in the electoral battle about to be decided on Monday. A reminder all things end, as this video contrasting the first and last SONA’s of President Duterte reveals.
here is a limit to the ability of any man to mold events, regardless of his Will and Wiles. Which is not to say that both Will and Wiles won’t triumph, seemingly for the forseeable future. We have seen that before and experienced it’s seeming invulnerability:
But a Triumph of the Will once before can spark dreams of a New Triumph: it’s called a Restoration. It’s a term associated with toppled monarchies, dispossessed dynasties: those who have been vomited out despite stuffing the ballot boxes. It is a particular form of denial:
So we have to be very conscious that Monday, the battle over our Nation’s tomorrows, is defined by a battle between those for whom their perspective is fundamentally about returning to Yesterday, and those for whom Yesterday is merely one step in a journey from Today to Tomorrow.
They say: point a finger at someone in accusation, three point to you as self-accusation. Shrieking necropolitics, yet the goal was a state funeral; shouting to move on, when the motivating dream is one firmly stuck in the past: in the ghostly sounds of 1972-1981 to be exact!
@mlq3·The song is entirely retro; more to the point, there can be only one song. No addition, only rearrangement, but in all fundamental respects, same old, same old. It is this rigidity, this combination of new tricks but no new message, that is the striking difference, as we’ll see.
After all, everything, not just dynasties, but movements, have their origin stories. The songs of the past are artifacts that can be repurposed and reused too, the musical-turned-political-DNA fingerprint of things:
So same-same, same-old, same-old? In some respects, yes: precisely, because DNA. But here the question becomes one of evolution. In what ways can evolution be seen to be taking place? Simply the lyrics, is one. But a better example might be in the forms that aren’t dictated.
Consider this beat, in the province that created it on, on the beach where lives were ruined so propaganda could be made by the current gang in charge. Here, as it did in when it echoed in Makati’s concrete jungle, the beat is being adapted to new songs, joyously, defiantly…
Consider this beat, in the province that created it on, on the beach where lives were ruined so propaganda could be made by the current gang in charge. Here, as it did in when it echoed in Makati’s concrete jungle, the beat is being adapted to new songs, joyously, defiantly.
To darkest night, like the communities of old making noise to banish darkness, the creation of a collective is in itself already a daring achievement; it is in its own way both ancient –even more ancient than our latter-day datus dreaming of restoration– yet modern…
So yes, we are, after all, all Filipinos. We all like to laugh, and sing, and dance, and be together and do things as a group; but there is the doing so, in a way that is of the here and now.
And by contrast coming together in a way also ancient and utterly not new, a way that is completely dependent and not independent of the wishes and whims of those at the top… so that in the midst of a typhoon, the point is to feast to demonstrate impunity:
But then, what else is new? It’s a story as old as the one about the scorpion on the back of that poor frog as they crossed the river… “Why did you do it?” “Because I can…”
And so time and again we’re told that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Which brings us to the question of absolutes in the quest –before you even get to the question of holding– for power. There must be that little tiny voice capable of a roar: conscience.
And it’s that that has moved me most at a time when we have all be moved so mightily by all sorts of little things. The widow’s mite –her giving her all– has turned into might; it makes the lame walk, and the blind, see…
It makes the young do things their elders no longer dare do…
It sparks joy. When was the last time fighting for your country did that? For some it was 1986, or 2010. For a very few still with us, it was back in 1953. But is the here and now for so many for whom this will be a year they will never forget, and that fact alone is remarkable.
Here’s something I’ve never forgotten. A peace advocate once said, for change to become permanent, you need 10 years. Since 1992 we’ve had yin and yang, the pendulum has swung one way then another. The Coalition dreaming of Restoration is also dreaming of Permanent Change:
Since 2016, coming so close, they have felt it more possible than ever before. Their hopes are now contained in a very flawed vessel, indeed. One who cannot be left to his own devices to answer inconvenient questions…
ne for whom, however, like them, believes he has the people all figured out, and figures he can keep them where they are most useful because most dependent, so long as bribery and intimidation can continue to work their magic…
This of course is a point of view which thinks little of those being asked to provide a mandate, and who will only be tolerated so long as they are needed and not a moment longer and ever at arms’ length…
It is one that will cut any deal, make any promise, to achieve that dream of Restoration. It will make any gesture however half-hearted and embrace any partner, while warily watching how the partner represents a future threat…
Here is the Leader with leadership willing to invite the experts at algorithms, because in the end it may invite public support but doesn’t believe in leaving something like an election in the hands of the electorate. It must be managed, and handled…
t is wholesale as it could never master retail; it must buy because it cannot believe in those it asks to believe. But this means it is only as good and as solid as the last bag of cash, the last installment on the insatiable investment in patronage.
But here, the tales of yesterday are a cautionary one anyone prematurely celebrating their tomorrow. There is such a thing as spending too much, too soon; of running short in the last push, to the extent that one’s previously-secured allies suddenly let their people vote freely.
The academic literature cannot reveal it, and no one will ever publicly disclose it; but the politically-astute might give a slight nod to this being something that can happen because it has happened. Was it in 1986 or 2016? Perhaps both?
@mlq3·All I know is, we are asked to confront a past that both won’t go away, but which always contains in itself –in lessons it can provide, if you only reflect a little– the key to making the future one of freedom from that past. Those who came before leave words of wisdom.
Look out, and up. Outside, as I originally wrote this, I saw a rainbow. Scripture and legend tells us this a sign of promise. Who could know this would be, right now? Then again –how could it be otherwise?
This thread has many things from many people and many sources. My thanks to all of them. This election season, I’ve put forward my thoughts on topics related to the presidency, our democracy, and media. The first two are on the presidency, first here’s 4 of us discussing presidents back in 2021. Here is my presentation on the presidency itself, as an institution and a position. Here is my presentation on the Marcoses themselves how more than others, they have relied on actively not just rewriting, but denying whole portions, of our history while inventing their own tall tales. I also believe we are in the midst of an 18 year transition, from the last traditional mass media election in 2010, the 1st social media election in 2016 and 2022 is the first post-media election. Finally, we are living in the shadow of a Republic –our 5th– which formally still exists, but which stopped being the living institution it was intended to be, in 2016. How and why this came to pass, is my presentation here.