Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Hidden Logic Behind Guam's Patriotic Love

With the arrival of the new year, a new slogan must be trotted out for my self-description and self-representation. We all do this, consciously or unconsciously, its the reason why on MySpace we each get to input our headlines over our pages.

That is of course the reason why the GVB is so powerful in recolonizing Guam. Their efforts, far from mere fabrication of tools of representation to others are seriously the tools we often use to view ourselves. How effortlessly does the tourist slogan "Guam: Where America's Day Begins!" become hegemonic and the principle through which we see ourselves? Well, we need not look hard to find this, because Guam has already been blanketed by it through bumper stickers and murals that localize this mantra and reformulate our gaze for it.

"I LOVE GUAM: Where America's Day Begins!"

What is the hidden logic behind the superficial and supposedly sponteanous love that this statement blazons? It can be fleshed out by adding just a few more words to it. The reformulation of this representation supposedly for others, for ourselves is taiguini,

"why do I LOVE GUAM? Because its Where America's Day Begins!"

The horrifying meaning behind this is that, the kernel that makes Guam Guam, is no longer Guam, but the United States. That mysterious quality that gives this place a quitodian consistency, that makes it hum, that makes it tick, has nothing to do with it being the home of the Chamorro people. But the consistency is all built upon it being an edge of America, a distant yet loyal fragment. The small piece which the sun touches first.

Slogans like this are important for critical work. Although life is complex, the simplicity of these statements or principles both express so perfectly aspects of life as well as encourage them. Our lives may be complex, but that has very little to do with the ways we think we operate. Why is a film like Syriana rejected by many as being preachy or overly longwinded and complex? Because it attempts to deal with life in its complexity, by linking many numerous threads together to show how things happen, why they happen. For example why do suicide bombers kill themselves? Fox News and most people will tell you that they are crazy, or their religion tells them to do it. The simple is what I use as my defense, but it is also something that I take as evidence. Something which is complex, although it may affect me, I will reject it. The public is thus as we all know dictated by what can be defined as "simple."

Herein lies the paradoxical power of the slogan. Its simplicity belies its impact on all of us. Something so simple couldn't have such effect, could it?

Of course it does. That is why we only remember certain things, events, moments, people, etc. That is why we develop ready stories to talk about vast expanses of our lives and experiences. What is your relationship with your mother? How was your childhood? What was it like going to that school? We form mantras through which we represent ourselves to others and even to ourselves. The hysteria of the self is dealt with through recourse to these nodes of meaning, through which we anchor ourselves and thus find a foundation to form statements.

What will be my slogan for the new year?

I heard it on a commercial on TNT,

"I'm not schizophrenic, I'm just very busy."

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