Monday, December 12, 2005

"Reason Enough?" Ai Yu'us Satba Yu' Put Fabot!

I've been stuck lately in discussing with all sorts of different people, the relationship between "questions" and "answers." While for most people it's an obvious link, i ineppe' u fatto sa' famaisen hao finaisen, the answers arrives comes because you've asked a question. For me, what I am realizing more and more through my work on the decolonial deadlock in Guam (resistance to almost any form of decolonization (and that includes statehood!)) is that the relationship between a question and an answer is rarely ever innocent or natural. When people ask questions (in particular with regard to political possibilities, or what can and cannot be done in any given socio/political space), too often the gesture is performative, in that it marks the given territory through which an answer may be, or should be culled.

This is one of the primary reasons that everyday public critiques about "politics" are so overwhelmingly useless and annoying. Through the superficial and often empty (empty as exemplified by this construction, question: "can you believe what those politicians did?" answer: "no I can't!") forms they take, they imply that they only seek empty and superficial answers. The form this complaint takes implies that I don't really care about its content, I am interested in something else (social bonding, having something to talk about to people I otherwise don't want to talk to, want to sound smart, want to sound informed, want to bother someone who hates "politics."), and by reciprocating its empty form (by not really answering my question, but answering a desire visible more often in the structure that the question takes,) you will have matched my desire.

This is one of the reasons why critical analysis in Guam (and elsewhere) must always be transgressive, it must resist the evidentiary confining and outlaying that your very question will seem to propose. I am researching politics, so therefore certain forms of evidence will appear before my mind as "obviously" what I have to use to do this work. Often these natural tendencies are important, but they are never enough. In critiquing power, you must realize that any power is maintained by straddling and crossing the divisions it otherwise proposes as absolutely necessary. If for example you are critiquing the State, your analysis cannot remain in the realm of state documents or political rhetoric, because as we all should know, the power of any state pervades social life (think for example about Hollywood films that thank government agencies or militaries during their ending credits), and a productive analysis must attest to this impact and not shy away from it. (This is my argument as to why Homo Sacer by Agamben is so compelling to most people, its because of the efficiency it gains by being a very theoretically sharp legal analysis. It remains within the expected answers of the question. We cannot fault him for doing this, people should try to critique in this way, but we shouldn't give him more credit than he deserves).

In order to match my rhetoric on this point, my work is always ready willing and able to use anything around me for my analysis. The value I see in this policy of using anything is that 1. it gives me a better framework for understanding what certain forms of power do, instead of just assuming that "power is power, that's what it does." 2. it also helps me explain to people and communicate to people my ideas, by switching to social spaces (movies, internet, magazines, newspapers) that they probably feel they're more familiar with.

So I'd like to share with everyone, a piece of potentially trangressive critique that I've recently found. Its a romance novel that takes place on Guam, published in 1986 by Arlene James titled Reason Enough. I hope to use it at some point in the next year to discuss the particularity of Guam and how more and more, what is important about Guam, what is unique, what is valuable in Guam is perceived to be nothing from Guam, but pieces of presence from the United States. In this text, a blonde white girl stands in for the Chamorro native, and becomes what the main character and we the readers as well, fall in love with in Guam. Here's the description from the book's back, which might hint for you what value it might have in explaining Guam's current status in relation to the United States:

ISLAND GIRL

In all the time he had spent on Guam, Captain Victor Dayton had never given much thought to the islanders. That is, until Coral Jerome came storming onto his ship.

Coral was wild and carefree, as bright and sunny as her tropical home, and different from any woman Vic had ever known. And while Coral hadn't ever given much thought to falling for a Navy man, she had her mind set on winning the heart of this ruggedly handsome Second Lieutenant. Vic stirred her passion like no other man, and Coral knew that was reason enough to be falling in love...

Lana, bei muta, kao un hongge este? KALAKAS!

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