WHENEVER I start on something of value and importance, the great work of my elder colleague comes to mind.
One of the greatest pieces ever written by the Masters for a speech, The Future is First Shaped by Words, by my friend with SEA Write public poet laureate Teo Antonio, Gemino Hison Abad, had become my favorite writing obra of all time.
I want to share excerpts of the speech to you here at WordPress.
The Future is First Shaped by Words
By Gémino Hison Abad
I AM TRULY DEEPLY HONORED honored by the invitation to be the first speaker in the Adrian Cristobal Lecture Series of UMPIL (Unyong ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas). I should quickly add, though, that only upon encouragement from National Artist Virgilio Almario and Prof Vim Nadera, chairman of UMPIL, did I accept with much reservation and not a little embarrassment. Why so? – simply because, to my mind, there are more worthy speakers who would do Adrian Cristobal, chair emeritus of UMPIL, much more honor.
Where in our country – or any other country in the world – is there such enthusiasm for the incarnation of the word? It makes me think that writing, that wrestle with the words of a language, that lonely and desperate craft, is a descent first to darkness before a resurrection.
It is a curious thing that in Colombia, when they grouped a number of us as “poetas asiáticos,” the countries involved, as represented by the poets invited to Medellin, were – other than the Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka – Turkmenistan, Syria, Armenia, Palestine, and Mongolia. So then, in Medellin at least, Asia encompasses more than our local sense of geography. It makes me thrill to an intuition that, for us, today, our world is Asia, our future is Asia. Perhaps, even the world’s future is Asia. And the future – as all writers know in their hearts – the future is first shaped by words.
Without words and words, there is no memory; without memory, there is no country, no culture. Words and words, no matter their provenance, for what endows the words with their weight and substance, their meaningfulness, is their usage by a people through their own lives in their own workaday world, through their own griefs and joys, through their own history and culture. The words of any language are like a writ of habeas corpus by which our human reality is brought to mind – that is, the world as we perceive it, all of nature and the world of human affairs – so that it becomes clearer to our understanding, and we can more willingly take the responsibility for it. We have no other reality but the human, and it is always changing – as the sole rhythm of the universe in our limited perception.
Indeed, language is the hidden Muse, for it is one’s imagination’s agon or struggle with language that gives rise to the literary work as both work of imagination and work of art. Come to think of it, in all the arts – music, painting, sculpture, film – their medium is the Muse: only with imagination’s wrestle with it does Art arise.
Literature, in the end, always implies change in our psychic weather. Language itself, the literary medium, is in flux, reflecting through a people’s history, our mind-set, our “jejemons” of feeling.
Besides that constancy of change and transformation, we should also be aware that imagination, by its very nature, has infinite possibilities, especially, precisely, because the imperfect is our paradise.
I spoke just now of psychic weather: here, figuratively, there could also be a global climate change – I believe it is always happening, more so that our world is now smaller. We may for the moment be hardly aware of any change, but we need only reflect on works of imagination in our reading life which have borne our spirit on a flood of light and cheer. Now, of course, I am already thinking of literature beyond the restrictive categories of thought; I am thinking of literature as work of imagination in every field of human endeavor where language is the crux – in philosophy and religion, in history and psychology, in science and technology, etc. Whatever the language, whether that of physics or a poem, the writer or scholar must clear his own path through it by which a new understanding of our reality might be achieved.
“Text” is from Latin texere, textus, “to weave,” as in textile. So, that new understanding may be the word — weave, the text-tale, of our future. 17 August 2010 Antipolo, Rizal, PH. #
NOTA BENE. Professor Abad responded to the author in Rediscovering Abad