June 05, 2006

Continuing catch up...

So three of the five books I requested from ILL came in on the same day. And then I have had a week or two to read them. Which I guess is good. I've made it back to reading finally.

I read around in Ian Baucom's Out of Place over the last two weeks but not with enough leisure and so skipped some chapters. I think I will buy this and return to it.

And then plowed through Neferti Tadiar's Fantasy Production: Sexual Economies and Other Philippine Consequenes for the New World Order from beginning to end. A strangely easy read.

Both books feel very much under the sway of Jameson in interesting ways, moving through architecture and literature (and film with Tadiar). Tadiar has interesting chapter on the flyover, an overpass that extends over a busy road so the car can escape the congestion of the intersection. Baucom has nice chapter on Victoria Terminus and Kipling (apparently Kipling's father had some role, Baucom says directed "preparations for the 'Oriental' details," in the building of the Victoria Terminus).

And yet very differently written. Baucom's book has very reasoned and highly footnoted scholarship (super small font also). Tadiar's book has a lot to say about feminism as it shows up in the Philippines and yet it is as if feminist criticism from either the Phillipines or the US, and this seems true of other scholarship also, barely existed (she has just a few quotes from work by her colleagues Haraway and de Lauretis). I was interested in this decision and took it as a decision but it did feel like a loss to me in the last chapter on Nora Aunor just because I imagine that this chapter has the potential to do some reshaping of the US feminist writing that is clustered around film.

I was somewhat disorientated by what Tadiar at the end calls her "feminist irony," ("the tone I adopt when speaking about 'prostitution' and 'slavery,' calling the Philippines 'she,'"...). Just because I felt it covered over some difficult issues (when is prostitution something different from slavery? and there was so much time spent on forced prostitution that I kept having to sort through it to get at the economic/immigration issues, etc.). And I kept getting stuck on it when reading it and didn't recognize it as a decision until I came to this passage in the conclusion.

And yet struck at other moments by really moving passages.

Such as this from the beginning of chapter on "Metropolitan Dreams":

I have always experienced Metro Manila as a generally flat city. Ostensibly because of flooding problems, it has no underground transport system, nor do the majority of its houses have basements. With the exception of commercial office buildings, hotels and condominiums, most of its structures are no more than a few stories high. Moreover, there is no single public monument from where a view of the entire metropolis can be seen. As such, most people have no access to an aerial perspective. I, like most residents, maneuver around the city without a mental aerial map (without, even, a sense of North, South, East and West); instead, I get around with images of seriality, that is, routes that I can trace by imagining the flow of adjoining objects on particular pathways. This is the kind of fluency one develops in a congested, view-constricted space like Manila. One might call it imaginary urban tunnelling, except that all the tunnels are aboveground. And when one moves through this saturated space, submerged in the inundation of people and matter, it is like swimming underwater in a shallow metropolitan sea. (p. 77)

Also loved this from the last chapter on "Hope":

It is for this reason that I have argued in this book for cultural criticsm coming under the sway of the non-realist logics guiding and created by the tangential and heretical pursuits of love, happiness, freedom and possibility embodied in these de facto social movements. To get caught up in the unorthodox faithful actions of others, including our own, has been my call. (p. 264)

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