Monday, September 24, 2007

Just a Comment on the Present Discussion (and Not What is Being Discussed)

It seems the current thread on what is and what should be Filipino Speculative Fiction has taken a life of its own and more people are voicing out their opinions. Here's some observations I'd like to make (don't worry, I've had my fill of the subject matter and won't add to any of it for now):
  1. The Singular vs The Plural -- In many ways, I think the current debate revolves around this ancient philosophical idea. You can call it the objective vs the subjective, the one vs the many, but it remains a constant point of contention throughout history (and philosophy has never arrived at a final answer, always skittering between the two). I leave it up to readers to decide which best describes their belief and which opinion they think represents what side.
  2. Paradigms -- I think everyone's perceptions, myself included, is limited by their present paradigms. Paradigms, after all, are how we view the world. You can call it our bias, our limitation, our generation, but we're all reading and analyzing and interpreting other people's opinions from a particular paradigm. People might read something that's not explicitly stated, miss something that's included in the blog post, or move to a different tangent. In my opinion, paradigms both hinder us from viewing another person's perspective, but also allows us to present an entirely different (and perhaps unique) opinion.
  3. Taking a Stand -- Everyone must take a stand and perhaps the best-written ones are those that take a definite stance, even if they sound too arrogant or biased. If we skitter around too much, we dilute our message and the argument might come off as weak. And as far as criticism goes, we must be thick-skinned and be willing to hear out what the other side has to say without being personally offended. Of course #3 would not be possible without #1 and #2.


Anonymous said...

... Very well. And your stand is?

Anton said...

The important thing to consider is the term “speculative.” To speculate means “to think over possibilities.” If there are no constraints to these possibilities, then speculative fiction can refer to any type of fiction. In which case, any debate on the meaning of speculative fiction is meaningless, never mind Philippine speculative fiction.

If these possibilities are constrained to historical realities that may have taken place (e.g., Britain stays on in the Philippines and the Spaniards never return) then one can call this genre “alternate history.” If one imagines ancient gods taking control of the region, then that’s fantasy. If one imagines the Philippines not giving in to IMF-WB restrictions and eventually becomes a superpower nation, and from which we develop a space age consisting of Filipino space explorers, then that’s alternate history and science fiction. If one imagines a small Filipino barrio where it rains flowers everyday, then that’s marvelous realism. In which case, given different possibilities and constraints, the term “speculative fiction” is meaningless.

What about “Philippine”? In literary studies, the label is usually applied to literary works where a Philippine local language is used or the author is generally recognized as a Filipino, whether through his citizenship or ancestry. Thus, Jessica Hagedorn’s novel is part of Philippine literature.

What, then, is Philippine speculative fiction? If there is no agreement on constraints to possibilities mentioned earlier, then it refers to any fictional work written by authors recognized as Filipinos or written in a Philippine local language.

Charles said...

I've already replied to this in your previous comment on More Thoughts on Speculative Fiction.

I'd also like to point out that alternate history can be considered a sub-genre of science-fiction and because of that, encapsulated in the umbrella term of speculative fiction.