During times such as these when interconnectivity through the web coerces individuals to respond in real time and intrudes spaces to blur the public and the private spheres, taking caution in naming persons as subjects of discussion becomes imperative. There are merits when one reacts to a particular trigger and delves further into the details of a specific issue, for the sake of clarifying, discussing, and, eventually, arriving at a temporary (but not relative) truth. On the other hand, further problems may arise, too. Publicity, whether good or bad, validates the relevance of persons or groups to societies or circles we are concerned with. Whether we like it or not, we increase the radii, concentric circles, or linked networks of named “controversial” persons, groups, even entities and symbols. For instance, atheists, scholars, or reactionaries who want to disprove the influence of Christ, Rizal, or Marx seem to be too preoccupied by these figures they deem insignificant but never entirely dismissed. Leftists (not sure with Rightists and Centrists, if they have brain-farts mistaken for thought-processes) tend to theorize in order to name abstract concepts, such as, say, “neoliberalism” and its enabling forces including liberal democracy. Consequently, this naming or labelling acknowledges neoliberalism’s power, and proceeds with knowing perhaps its essence and dispositions, understanding the dialectics that gave rise to such a phenomenon, reviewing its history and inclinations, and figuring out how to dismantle its power-structure and to take steps in replacing its material and ideological foundations towards a better society.
Identifying protagonists, antagonists, un-aligned forces and other gray areas above, below, left, and right, serves as a process of organizing key players towards a perceived future. Hence, giving out details or identifying marks of subjects under discussion and corresponding actions regarding the treatment of persons or parties involved shall be handled with utmost care. In his seminal work, Understanding Comics (1993), McCloud shows how additional details narrow down the identification of a drawing: geometrical shapes of faces remind us of a set of persons with similar features, while photo-realistic ones narrow down the possibilities and pertain to [a] particular person/s. Hence, the simplest two-dots- and-line- inside-a- circle resembling the face with two eyes and a closed mouth, the smiley icon proves to be universal; since anyone can identify with it, we have been using its facial expressions (through a range of emoticons or emojis) to digitally approximate and communicate ours.
Last week, a certain CV who seemingly initiates a swarm was described but not named. My attempt at making use of a blind item, as consciously indicated in a parenthetical remark, was due to mixed feelings toward popularizing someone whose intent in the first place is to be more popular and to sell his poetry that he branded as one that incites rebellion, perhaps like a cosplayer of Che Guevara who wants to sell shirts or mugs to romanticize guerrilla warfare as a cute thing to do against imperialism, without any perspective of victory, rendering “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!” as nothing but a quotable quote. To somehow pre-empt CV’s wet dream, I decided to discuss his problematic stance of presumed rebelliousness by rendering him as a stereotype or a template of someone who makes a spectacle of himself by apotheosizing himself and his rags-to-riches story (of climbing up the ladder of literary institutions) as an ideal to strive for.
As I also shifted to another pronoun in the previous article not to reduce him to an object but to devoid him of a certain identity, allow me to do so again: “it” (not “he”) is described, but not named. Its actions were discussed, but its personality remains obscured in the pixels of the letters C and V, so other readers unfamiliar with it can identify in their heads their own CV—giving readers an active role beyond being tabula rasas as they fill in the gaps left by the text. Readers do not just read between the lines, they fill out the gaps. The attempt was an application of the metaphor of the aforementioned geometrical face so the graphic variable pertains to a set of possible values, not a photo-realistic depiction that pertains to one absolute, a correct solution. Calling CV by his name might further boost its ego and persecution complex, by making it think that we are indeed talking about it and confirming that it is really not your usual snowflake that it believes it is. Discourses revolving on blind items shall be experiments and processes that I shall reconsider from time to time and eventually employ throughout the year in this column space, whenever necessary: describing and giving a nickname to someone whose ideas about art, literature, and culture merits discussion. If they have established their reputation already, whether good or bad, by themselves or by other means, then naming serves them right.
Not-naming is intended, neither to elude responsibility nor to attract intrigue, but to be as translucent (or even as opaque) as possible, especially before the gaze of what Byung-Chul Han calls “transparent society” (2017), a voluntary auto-exploitative panoptica that has the following characteristics and contents (literally, as these are the titles of the book’s chapter-essays) as the society of: positivity, exhibition, evidence, pornography, acceleration, intimacy, information, unveiling.
Positivity, evidence, acceleration and information can be clustered together, since these features glorify the speed of addition and celebration of the present moment, in contrast to the slowness of narration that paces throughout a temporality towards a certain direction; quantity of “likes” and followers provides instant gratification, while quality of discourse and thought delays satisfaction and bores. Exhibition, pornography, intimacy and unveiling involves naming that contributes to the transparency encouraged by the digital panoptica where everyone is under the surveillance of everyone.
In the case of CV, and other similar word-wars, it can be mistaken as a mere engagement in a polemic just because and so others can watch while eating their popcorns and tiramisus, partnered with their cokes and iced teas. That is not the case. CVs (see, this is not about him/it) spew poison that guilt-trips critical thinking and actual institutional transgressions; hence the need to label such propensities, without turning the individual subject to the celebrity he wanted to be. Not-naming here makes him/it a template, and not a role model. Thereby, dismissing his self-delusions of greatness.
Citing the surnames of prominent families is naming and calling them “bureaucrat capitalists” is labelling; the former is necessary for quantitative analysis of their properties and the atrocities committed to preserve private ownership, while the latter is necessary to lump them together and shed light to their class interests and dispositions, so progressive forces may deal with them accordingly. Maybe, naming can be considered as data gathering geared toward insightful (and more productive) hypotheses, accumulated information that could perhaps be organized additives for grander narratives; like exceptional floating swarms that can later constitute a crowd, perhaps? Modifying Walter Benjamin’s words, as quoted by Han (“The beautiful is neither the veil nor the veiled object but rather the object in its veil.”), sometimes, what matters is neither the blind item moniker (like the “CV” veil itself) nor the concealed subject of the blind item (the “real” CV himself) but rather the subject matter of the blind item (CVs in general based on a particular CV).