23 May 2009 at 9:57 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Ang aking mga blog

Simply put, blogging is addictive. I have five blogs, two of which are fast asleep, two barely breathing, and one awake and much too active.

The terribly active blog, which keeps me busy for a couple of hours a day, appeals only to writers and critics. Named LOL Literatures in Other Languages, the blog focuses on multilingual or mixed-language literary texts. I am trying to invent a literary theory that, until I think of a more catchy name, is called Multilingual Literary Criticism (MLC).

I have, so far, gotten the interest of polyglots that write texts not in their mother tongue (such as Cuban-Americans, expatriate Europeans, and Filipinos) or critics that are appalled at the lack of interest among literary scholars in the tradition of macaronic verse.

Although the most pressing need for MLC is for those reading mixed-language texts, which have become fashionable lately, I am arguing that even apparently monolingual texts are actually mixed-language. I took my cue from two writers who gave the same insight into their own works, but without knowing that the other had said it, too.

N.V.M. Gonzalez, in a lecture that I attended in California, declared to his American audience, “I write in Tagalog, using English words.” Bienvenido N. Santos, talking to me in Manila, said, “I write in Capampangan, using English words.” The two writers made an impression on me that has refused to go away. I now think that Philippine writers in English write in Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, or whatever vernacular is their mother tongue, using English words.

By suggesting that Cuban-American writers write in Spanish, using English words, I have, so far, gained the interest of many Cuban-American writers, who agree that they “think in Spanish but write in English.” My European readers (bloggers call them “followers”) are less convinced; many of them do not know in which language they think, because they grew up with more than one mother tongue.

Sometimes wide awake but often on its siesta is my second blog, Critic-at-Large, in which I put all sorts of stuff – sometimes my old columns, sometimes my speeches, sometimes position papers by the various groups I belong to.

In a blog, followers often engage in heated discussions related to a blog entry. One comment I made on Nikki Coseteng’s Diliman Preparatory School continues to generate widely-divergent opinions on the school’s experiments in basic education. The comments sometimes border on the libelous, so I often exercise my right as moderator not to upload extreme views. Despite my censorship, there are still more than 140 comments on that particular blog entry.

My other blogs are the barely breathing Filipino (this one), the sleeping Philippine Fulbrighters, and the fast asleep Manila Critics Circle. The Fulbright blog will soon wake up, because I will upload the transcribed First Fulbright Seminar, which was on corruption. The MCC blog will also get up soon, because I will upload, as soon as they are available, the titles of the shortlisted books for the 2008 awards.

(Published in The Philippine Star, 14 May 2009)

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