2100 hours UPDATE: I added in a paragraph in the end, something that I felt I wanted to mentioned earlier but deferred for some reason. I think I need to listen to my gut more often.
I've always seen defacement as a political gesture, be it something as simple as writing "Lito wuz hir" on a mall's bathroom wall or gluing a wooden penis ashtray on the forehead of a Jesus poster or cutting a film to shreds to suit somebody's standards of morality. Defacement is a blatantly rude act, motivated by often unacknowledged political urges, made manifest in the act of and resulting product of the defacement. Applied to poetry, defacement becomes erasure, where the poet takes a prior text - often a book - and turns it into a new text, often by applying wild and drastic violence to it via writing or drawing over it or cutting out the words. In a sense, erasures is the black sheep twin brother of ekphrasis: working off of prior art to create something new. Only as ekphrasis often insists to write about Art with the capital A, erasures often insist to carve out art from various mass-produced cultural detritus; only as ekphrasis insists to complement prior art with compliments via addition of even more art, erasures complement prior art with what can be seen as insults via subtraction.
Aside from the visuality of it all, this is the reason why I love erasures, probably the real reason why I love erasures - their blatant inherent political ill will. Erasures are needlessly defiantly gleefully contrarian in their often manic insistence to interfere with what has already been said and done by someone else, and not merely interfere but specifically to eradicate most of what has already been said and done, that what has already been said and done is actually wrong - not even potentially wrong, but actually wrong.
Thus making erasures an act of censorship, the disapproval of a certain message and the approval of a second one, a message contained within the first. This means the choosing of the first message, the first text from which the second text will be derived, is of great importance, and where erasures display their specific brand of wit and irony: extracting a hard core pornographic text from a more artful erotic story may produce interesting results, but surely it'd be far more interesting (and funny and playful and political) if the source text of the pornography is actually a child's counting book or a young adult novel about a childhood in the prairie.
That is why I kindasorta ambiguously wish Arbeen Acuña picked a different source text for his "eraserase002," something other than a study on Brecht's "The Threepenny Opera," something that is not already a Marxist text. Acuña makes good use of the text's page, though, visually recalling street graffiti, quite possibly the artform closest to erasures visually, treating the page literally and figuratively as a wall upon which are written in a shaky scrawl anti-art sentiments - FUCK ART!!! LET'S KILL!!! - or rather, anti-Art with the capital A defiantly circled, as V from the Alan Moore-David Lloyd V FOR VENDETTA novel spraypaints multiple Vs on the wall with their knives drawn, one V in the air hammering a cannonball back into a cannon with "LITERARY" written on its side, as the resultant erasure first proclaims the inevitability of a "lumpen-proletarian" revolution (the quotation marks are from the erasure, not mine) as Art itself moves towards anti-Art, then proclaims on a second line that literary canon-makers ought to be abolished.
They're not the most subtle nor the newest nor the most original messages one will encounter moving about in the Philippine Literary Scene, but recent history has proven that when applied well, they are still potent and potentially scandalous, these rude political messages relayed in this rude political way, messages often censored or denied a voice in the ongoing conversation, and having these blatant messages exist in a text that blatantly embodies oppression in an anthology that blatantly rudely prides itself in including blatant Art-with-the-capital-A canon-makers, well, that's just blatantly rude and blatantly political, still witty and ironic, and I blatantly love that very much.
Although I do wonder about erasure's shelf life under a literary spotlight like this: I am of the mind that there are some things that are better left outside of some places, permitted only the occasional and pertinent excursion but not quite taking permanent residence. There are still a lot of things that can be done with erasures, the act itself having implications not only in art but also in consumerist culture. But like how ekphrasis is being taught and discussed nowadays here in the Philippines, I can see erasure as something potentially easily misunderstood, easily abused, easily dismissed. Maybe the most appropriate response is really FUCK ART!!!, is really to abolish the "proper people who disclose" erasure into "bourgeois literature?" The ultimate, most perfectly contrarian, self-defacing political gesture. Certainly, far ruder things have been committed to art.