And as with any antho worth its assault, we as editors drafted our attempt at the Mother of All Intros by way of making and gathering and consolidating our own personal takes on the various issues that we feel the antho as it is is presently discussing, specifically what's new in the New - we each had our own takes, and these takes sometimes did not jive well with one another, and so we made efforts to make them jive to come up with less than a united front but more a wider and clearer and farther vision/definition of what's new in the New, and what's new in the antho.
So in the spirit of disclosure and my desire to just let it all hang loose and low like an overripe fruit dangling over and brushing against the lips of an open and hungry mouth, here are my notes on defining the new in the New, my fraction of all the thinking generated so powerful it warmed Cubao for a week last month. I present them with only one warning: they are chummy.
The New defined as young, as saplings growing from seeds dislodged from old trees – as in art is both evolutionary and cyclical; as in art is self-perpetuating, contains everything it needs in one tight package, merely awaiting nourishing; as in art grows in the mountains and in the cities, past our heads and houses.
It may follow the old growth pattern, it may not: some trees don’t even grow past the sapling stage; some trees don’t even grow at all; some trees grow to be so tall as to dwarf their ancestors; some trees are bulldozed in favour of a parking lot.
Art grows, as in art once new grows old.
The New defined as experimental in the truly scientific meaning of the word: controlled studies and tests bearing documentable results – if it doesn’t work, discard; if it works, repeat, then study the results, then publish the conclusions, conclusions that will then face scrutiny and possible revision.
It is a calculated yet messy process, but production of the New bears results: at its worst inconclusive, meaning the experiments need to be repeated; at its best disruptive, meaning it’ll change the way we understand the world.
The New defined as spring cleaning, as a decluttering, as eradication of the old, a particular aspect that hearkens back to the origins of Modernism and Postmodernism: finding no use for the old clothes, they are sold, handed down, trashed and/or far more interestingly here in the Philippines, ukay culture permits a scavenging and refashioning of the old, a recodifying of meaning via DIY mix-&-match of RTW bought at thrift store prices.
This teeters towards Pavement Postmodernist Meaninglessness, held in check by Romantic Catholic New Critical Pinoy lens, alchemically turns it into Meaningful Meaninglessness, what can be seen two ways, or three, the third being a combo of both: it is a distinctly Pinoy Postmodern Literature AND it is the laying of further foundation on a Western Modernist-flavoured Pinoy tradition as began by Villa and AGA nearly one hundred years ago today.
And so it is High Modernism made to lie low and lay with its Little Brown Brothers; and so it is Postmodernism highjacked by New Criticism refusing to resort to Meaninglessness for meaninglessness’s sake; and so it is “Dead Stars” seen through the Hubble Space Telescope, Derrida tempered by LIRA; and so it is the Old reregarded with rose- and sapphire-tinted spectacles; and so it is the adamantly black sheep of the family offspring of the Romantic Tradition; and so it is New New Romanticism.
The New defined as unprecedented, as something that hasn’t been done this particular way before today, an occurrence that happens more today than yesterday: most if not all of contemporary literary innovation is a result of a reading and writing population comfortable with desktop publishing, its content/conscience born in and borne of a cautious appreciation of broadband internet’s ready and willing various and variably subjective fonts of knowledge such as Wikipedia and peer-to-peer torrenting, its attitude sharpened in snarky high-cultural debates in Facebook where everyone strives to top everyone else in sounding convincingly like Neil Garcia.
More and more people are doing formally-daring, intelligent, and new works because formal-daring and intelligence and new are now second nature to a population where a persona can be characterised with a font-choice and a colour scheme, can equate call center woes with William Blake with a hyperlink, can be changed inside-out and top to bottom with a simple click of a button: in the New, there is no governing intelligence, instead replaced by a billion pocket intelligences conversing and consuming and caught in congress; in the New, Asperger’s and schizophrenia are viable everyday fashionable philosophical choices; in the New, it is already old to be new.
At its worst, the New will be something you’ll see more of tomorrow; at its best, the New will be something you’ll never see again.