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THE HISTORY IN THE TEXT Resil B. Mojares Any literary text is a point or entry into the historical world.

It does not have to be an open place of what the resident critics of Malacaang call historical literature. It need not be the text of a Jose Rizal, Amado Hernandez, F. Sionil Jose, Linda Ty-Casper, or some other historical literature writer. The category historical literature, while a convenient label for certain pedagogical purposes, is essentially redundant. All literature is historical since the writing of text, the reading of them, and their existence in academe are avoidably permitted, determined, or compromised by history. In looking for history in the text, a few reminders may be useful. Work need not deal with past calling it to be historical. If we have the expression current history it is because history is not just a matter of tense but a way of thinking about the world. The novels of Jose Rizal are not chronicles of the past but an account of contemporary life. They are the most historical novels in our literature, it is not because the Present they deal with is now our Past but because their telling is distinctly informed by a historical conversation,a consciousness of how lives and societies are shaped by the material and ideological forces working within the bound dimensions of time and space. History is not just subject matter of plot and theme. It is present in the totality of the text as an artistic creation. This is again illustrated in Rizal, as Ben Anderson, for

instance, shows in his reading, in Imagined Communities (1983), of the graphic, energetic opening paragraphs describing the day of Capitan Tiagos dinner-party in Noli Me Tangere (1887). Locating the event in a specific time and space, mid-nineteenthcentury Manila , Rizal communicates a distinctly modern consciousness, one radically different from what informs earlier narratives, like saints lives and metrical romances. The characters of Rizal do not move in the universalized space and empty time in which moved St. Roch in the eighteenth-century Visayan novenas or Juan Tio in the nineteenth-century Tagalog corrido. Rizal does not only re-create a historically particular community of people whose lives are bound together, even if they may not quite know it, he does it in a narrative style that draws his readers, the Filipinos of his time, into an imaginative participation in the collective life he creates. Such consciousness, Anderson argues, indexed the kinds of epistemological changes the ways in which people imagined the social world that underline the rise of nationalism in the nineteenth century in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. This reading reminds us that a text like Rizals is not just about a historical period, it is in the way it constructs its subjects, selecting and deploying the materials and devices available to the writer as enactment, a production of history itself. The history that may be important may not be history that the work purportedly deals with the history that determines or shapes the act of writing itself. This is shown in the example of Rizal. It is true as well in those cases where the writer may be blind to the determination of history in the writing of his or her work. Consider the example of two novels, F Sionil Joses The Pretenders and Kerima Polotans The Hand of the

Enemy, both published in 1962. Both embbed contemporary experience in past events, in a similar past in fact, pursuits rebellion in Pangasinan in the early twentieth century (the Colorum uprising of 1931 in Polotans novel). Yet both may be less interesting for what they reveal of past events and about the moment in history in which they were written. Both novels are governed by a sense of social pessimism about the possibilities of meaningful change in the conditions of society. This it dramatized in how, in both novels, weighed down by powerlessness and guilt. The main protagonists commit suicide. This pessimism can be explained with references not only to the particulars of their authors biography and literary influences but the ideologized environment in which these novels were written. In this case, reference can be made to how, at the close of the 1950s,the social mood in the country was one of drift and disillusion. The collapse of the Communist movement in the 1950s (with the mass arrest of Politburo members in 1950 and the surrender of Luis Taruc in 1954), the death of Magsaysay in 1957 and, with him, the social euphoria he had engendered), and the pervasiveness of graft in government under the uninspiring leadership of Carlos Garcia fostered a sense among many that avenues for meaningful social change had been closed. This may be more important history to the unpacked in these two novels one that may be hidden from the authors themselves rather than the historical tonics with which they deal. A further example from a very different period can be cited. Some years ago, going over the catalogue of the Newberry Library in Chicago , I was very excited to discover what may be earliest published biography of a Filipino the 49-page vida of Miguel Ayatumo (19531609), a young native of Bohol at the close of the

sixteenth century. His life appears as an appendix of El Cristiano Virtuoso by the Jesuit Pedro de Mercado, published in Madrid in 1673. Imagining I would find a picture of sixteenth-century Boholano life and the kind of rich, circumstantial detail we have come to expect the biographies. I was disappointed to find such meager historical information in the account. Except for the names of a place (Boholio), the young Christian convent (Miguel Ayatumo), his people (Pintados), a few fugitive allusions to local pagan practices, and the schematic accounting of the process of individual conversion, there was little historical information to be found in the text. Bohol could have been a place elsewhere in the Philippines (or South America , for that matter) and Ayatumo could have been some other Christian convent. I quickly learned, of course, that this was an extremely rich text in other ways, if one interrogated (along the Rizal ) way relating to the medieval tradition of saints lives (the model the Ayatumo narrative replicates) and setting it in the context of the dogma and practice of Catholic conversation in the sixteenth century. By listening not only to the said but the unsaid in the text, one is fruitfully led to an exploration of conception of time, space, and personhood, issues important in considering the ideology of conquest, conversion, and colonization in the Philippines . This leads us to a fourth reminder {4} History need not be a history of big events, movements, or personalities, but a history of common, day-to-day life. It need not be an account of objective, external occurrences (like rebellions or the collapse of government) but a tracing of the historical transformation of ideas, emotions, consciousness what the French historians call a history of mentalities In 1941, French historian Lucien

Febvre lamenting that no history has been written of love, of health, of pity, of cruelty, or of joy called historians to the task of reconstituting the emotional life of the past through the use of such sources as documents on moral conduct, artistic works, and literary text. Since then, studies have been remains to be done in a field, in the Philippines as elsewhere. (A seminal example in the case of the Philippines is the work of Reynaldo Ileto on the pasyon.) Yet, much work remains to be done in a field where the conjunction of history and literature can be most fruitfully studied. It is in the creation of mentalities after all, that literary texts are riches in erasing history as well as producing it. Take a random not unfamiliar example: the classic Cebuano love-poem, Pag-usara (1922) by Vicente Ranudo (1882-1930). This male lament of the bittersweet solitude of unrequited love may seem to have little to do with history. Yet, it is a text heavy compromised by history, and not only to what reveals of more obvious themes like gender but the social and political temper of the past-revolutionary era. If one takes the lovers address to the beloved as one of the central metaphors in Philippine poetry, a template of both personal and social sentiment, then it should be possible to see in the shifts of this metaphor something of the shifts of social consciousness itself. We know how, in the course of the Revolution and its aftermath, poets transformed the idiom of romantic love into expressions ----. The love of a woman (or, in variant form, the mother) became a template for love and entity. The lovers address (or, conversely the plant of the Beloved) became a kind of emotional keyboard o which was played the dialectic of presence and absence, hope and disillusion, desire and betrayal that shadowed the rise and fall of the Revolution and the Republic Ranudo works out of this idiom (echoing, for

instance, Rizals Mi Ultimo Adios in his poem). In Pagusara, however, the dominant (to use Roman Jakobsons key term) has shifted to a mode of solipsism and self-love, one in which has turned per formative, emotion a conceit, and the lover is in lover not so muon with the Beloved as love itself. If this is the case, what had does the poem (and its popular appeal to Ranudos returns) say about the social mood of the time in which it was written? The argument I am making about reading Ranudo and the other writers mentioned is intended to be merely suggestive. To expand and refine the argument one has to bring in a larger mass of data and texts than I have space for here. It will involve a more thorough going process of reconstructing the biographical, literary, ideological, and socioeconomic contexts to which the text is doubly connected, as product as well as constituent part of such context. In looking for history in the text it is well to be reminded that it is everywhere present in the work. And any literary work is a point of entry into the historical world. Works Cited Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities Reflection on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism London : Verse Editions, 1983. [Lucien Febvre]. Sensibility and History: How to Reconstruct the Emotional Life of the Past, A New Kind of History from the Writings of Lucien Febvre. Ed. Peter Burke. New York : Harper & Row, 1973. pp. 12-26 F. Sionil Jose, The Pretenders. Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House. 1962.

Pedro de Mercado, S.J., El Cristiano Virtuose Madrid: Joseph Fernandez de Buendia, 1673. The Fesil LB. Mojares. The Brief and Blessed ----- Ayumo, a sixteenth century Boholano, Philippine Studies, 414 (1993), 437458. Kerima Polotan, The Hand of the Enemy. Manila : Regal Printing Co., 1962. Vicente Ranulo, Pag-usara/Solitude, Cebuano Poetry/Sugbuanong ----- ed. E.K Alburo, et, al Cebu Cebuanos Studies Center, 1988. Pp. 90-93. Sec. Resil B. Mojares, Reading Ranudo: The Cultural Translation of Philippine Poetry. Unpublished papas, 1995.