18 November 2010

Jose Gallardo

Here is an example of multilingual literary criticism that seems to me to be in the right direction.  It looks not just at what a text wants to say, but the language it uses to say it:

"Gallardo’s style suggests the meaning of the text. His deviant language becomes a functional form as it incarnates the very language it refers to which is undergoing deviation. The medium is not just the message; the message is actually the medium. The language designed and employed arouses laughter as it assumes the possible configuration of a ludicrous language. Put in a total perspective, the poem recreates the possible speech habit of the Kapampangan community in its projected linguistic situation. No wonder, then, that the poet-addresser who is himself part of the list of writers he proudly presents, begets an illusion of a nightmare."

Instead of ignoring the language of a text, critics should put their praxis where their theory is:  if language is indeed opaque, then we should look at the language and not just at what the language refers to.  In Gallardo's case (as I think is the case with many other multilingual writers), the language (or more precisely, the mixing of languages) is very much a part of the content (not just the style) of the text.

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