Types and Terror

Mr. Ramuel Mendoza Raagas CAL 92-79204

Comparative Literature 30 TFY

2nd Semester SY 2000-2001

Survey of European Literature

Professor Noel Canlas

April 1-May 4, 2001

  1. History of European Literature
  2. Clarifying Virtue
  3. If looks could tell
I've got the brains. You've got the looks.
Let's make lots of money.
"Opportunities", Pet Shop Boys

In Pere Goriot, Vautrin had a speech. It is quite sweeping. How do we use it perspectivize a survey of European literature? To be sure, not even its formidable expanse can put a good grip on a representative range of the voluminous ideas, philosophies and sentiments cultivated all throughout European literature from the Eleatics to argot-exploring Quenneau and the present day. Thus, in going back and forth between Vautrin and the rest of European literature, the latter will accrue an ever burgeoining edge over the single character's speech. Vautrin's speech will be like the mere proverbial palm trying to cup up all the waters of the sea.

Vautrin's speech did not set an unbreakable record. Any idiot in an oyster bar or an inlet-side store can probe into the dirty dealings of urban society. It was more of Balzac's genius in actually writing out the words and encapsulating it within a very well-architectonized literary novel that impresses me. I am not so much impressed in hearing Vautrin (Now and then, I come up with ideas more brilliant than those of Vautrin.) than in reading him actually spelled out by Balzac's crafty hand. In fact, in my definition of the intellectual (which is different from, although guided by, the definition's of Gramsci, Julien Benda and Edward W. Said.) does not include Vautrin. Vautrin has brains, but my definition of an intellectual is decidedly not a dictionary definition. It is not at all one meant to comply with all the works literary, corporate or otherwise that have decided to use the word "intellectual." A Raagas intellectual is conducive to Raagas politics. Brainy bourgeois elements who spoil themselves with the bourgeois vice of silence and mere murmuring do not qualify to be designated as Raagas intellectuals.

The survey in the paper is a very preliminary one. Often, a secondary source has been accessed, although the primary source for it has not been read definitviely.

Where do we begin our Vautrin-anchored survey? According to Martin Heidegger, the Eleatics started thinking of Western civilization (the only civilization Heidegger ever considered worthy).


Like Plato would later on, the Eleatics would privilege a world deliberated with ideas rather than the sensed world. Clearly, we can see that Vautrin compared with the Eleatics and Plato stand at opposite poles. Of course, the Greek idea-priviligers set up their pole much earlier. Vautrin's pole, however, is far more effectual in Philippine (mis)civilization than the idea-privileging pole.

For convenience in this paper, I will designate Zeno, Parmenides, Melissus and Plato as the Ideal Four.

In discussing, the ideal four it is philosophically obligate for me to permit Philippine conceptualization. The ideal four, unlike the Nazi-fascist Heidegger who purported to expound on them, did not set up a sensoricaly geographically divide between Europe (or Heidegger's ever-emphasized Abendland) and the East.

The Ideal Four would be taken aback by me if I were to discard ideas constructed geographically outside of Europe. For the Ideal Four, ideas are ideas.

Parmenides was a prominent Eleatic. Heidegger expounded in his latter-career work Was ist Das- das Denkens?. Heidegger contrivedly but undisclosingly chose a Descartes predecessor. The kry noein te logein te eo emmenai Heidegger writ arge in Was ist Das is conspicuously an Ur-echo of Descarte's globally promulgated "Cogito ergo sum."

Zeno had his paradox.

The Eleatics were considering with Being (on / ontos). How did this Being relate to virtue?

Should a tie-up between Vautrin's speech and Plato's Phaedo be attempted? Even an oppositional tie-up does not seem promising to me at all.

What are the similarities between the Frenchman and the Filipino? Much more than the initial "F". The French did not colonize us in the way that the Spaniards did. Their culture, however, does holds its charm for Filipinos of the middle and upper classes. French and Filipino attitudes and humour have so much in common. In terms of attitudes, unintended French and Filipino parallellisms may be traced even down to the lower classes. The French, however, have a very different blend from us Filipinos. French from the lower rungs of society are perhaps better at activism than modern day Filipino activists.

The opening classroom scene in Flaubert's Madame Bovary is so Filipino. The humour is based on ridicule. Indeed, a lower-learning classroom scene of ridicule is also found in the beginning of a Tagalog movie Ligaya ang itawag mo sa akin.

Trompe-La-Mort's speech in Pere Goriot is one of the greatest solos in world literature. It is not a soliloquy, but a one-way speech confided to a single present individual (albeit universally applicable to humanity), as is the Grand Inquisitor chapter of Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov. Like the Grand Inquisitor, Vautrin is an evil person who is able to lay-out a comprehensive and credible view of man's shallowness and gullibility. What do we learn from Vautrin and what may we contest in his assertions?

Vautrin's speech is so great, because it is so base. He does not chart out ideals for the betterment of mankind; rather, he has spelled out at last many of the machinations Parisians have been doing unrecorded. His analysis is not at all too parochial, although he did not stake a claim to universality (or at least explicit globalism).

High Society

It is an incontrovertible truth that life in high society commands compulsive spending. Vautrin pointed out the left-and-right expenses to Rastignac. A lot of what Vautrin enumerated applies also to the Philippines: luxury vehicles (albeit cars instead of carriages). Alta sociedad or haute bourgeois elements such as the deposed dictator erap do all sorts of inanities such as high-chip gambling at hundreds of thousands of pesos per bet. Godfathering haute bourgeois weddings is another haute bourgeois vice. There is also the production of lousy bourgeois writing, such as Lara Q. Sagisag's infantile Newsbreak article whining about her evil dad being supposedly maligned by the Philippine Daily Inquirer's subdued stalwart, Conrado de Quiros1. Sagisag is a case embodiment of the lousiness Edel Garcellano proclaims of the CWC (which Garcellano used to be a part of). Her lousy article, published not through merit but by class faux culturati connections in the media, is devoid of academic argument.

Even in petit bourgeois life, spending comes left and right. Is life measurable by the amount of money we spend? Money, in the sense of cash at hand, does not translate per se to social status.

Charmaine Valenzuela: She has money.
Sally Jo Maria Bellosillo: Baka naman nagpapanggap lang siya.
Sally Jo Maria Bellosillo: It's not just about money; it's about culture.
"And what was this blunder you were speaking about?" said Madame de Beauséant, turning Back to Eugène "This poor child has come out into society so very recently, dear Antoinette, that he doesn't understand a thing we're talking about.
(p. 77, Balzac, Goriot, Signet)

Madame de Beauséant is actually not that bad a character. I actually admire her. She may have whimsical games of exercising her cosmic and cosmetic influence while use Rastignac as a willing gameboard piece (a pawn that advances into knight, who even is metaphorized as a queen).

Perhaps the most dazzling simile in Goriot is Rastignac's comparison to a girl so taken away by her first successes at a ball. This smooth, but well thought-over comparison demonstrates Rastignac's emasculation. Rastignac is a male, but Parisian society has channels really run by matriarchs, such as his cousin. Indeed, in the novel, women show their power over men. Delphine has power over her dad, although not over her husband.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The rich are different from us.
Ernest Hemmingway: Yeah, they have more money than we do.
(Economics, Samuelson and Nordhaus)

Social status is hard put, however, without money. A book-thick pad of pocket cash cannot magically secure all bourgeois privileges. Money has its limits, but nonetheless, it is best not to have limits as to the supply of money.

Cash at hand, which the Philippine petit bourgeois may now and then wield by the few thousand.

Cash at hand, although it does not make a bourgeois out of a peit bourgeois, empowers the wielder with the dynamism potential even Mao Zedong and Edel Garcellano appreciate.

In the Philippines, however, a backwards country, social status may be asserted even in many moments without much money pushed forward (This is due to the traditonal Philippine valourization of idleness. Activism or enthusiasm is often dismissed as being walang modo.). These moments, however, are sanctioned by a heritage of old (cobwebby) wealth. A conjunction of wealth and idleness has been noticed in Western civilization, thereby establishing the phrase dolce fa non. The Spanish establishment of ideology in the Philippines brought to our archipelago the European mindset of valourizing mere birth into wealth. Balzac's Rastignac is not born into a nuclear family of wealth and prominence, but capitalizes on a cousin's firm stature as a haute bourgeois proper.

If I talk to you about society in this way, it's because I have the right to, I know it.
Vautrin, p. 110, Signet

As I told Dr. Queaño last year, a Filipino bourgeois with fifty pesos in his wallet is quite a different matter from a working class person with four thousand pesos in his pocket. A Filipino bourgeois with fifty pesos in his wallet will have a home to go subdivision-encased home anyway to eat in, and a car for that matter to drive there. In all probability, the bourgeois will buy a pack of cigarettes, not having too much money for food outside the house.

The Filipino bourgeois with fifty pesos in his wallet will not even necessarily be inclined to talk with the working class person with four thousand pesos in his pocket.

How do you measure- measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in cups of coffee?
Rent, Jonathan Larson
Everyday, every hour, I must spend.
Soren Kierkegaard

What is the type? The word in reference to a type of man is quite conspicuous in French. The word type in French is found early on in Sartre's Le chemin a la liberte. One type in French literature found in both Hugo and Balzac is the gamin (vide Les Miserables and Le colonel Chabert). A gamin is a boy who belongs to the lower strata of society. There is the gamin who is not worthy of much mention, such as the gamin who is designate to meet Doctor Charles Bovary early on in Madame Bovary. What will I delve in, however, is the special gamin. This gamin may be a rhymester. Indeed, Arthur Rimbaud himself use the term gamin to refer to himself in one of his poems. A gamin becomes notable when he corresponds with the Filipino batang makulit.

Cet enfant est presque toujours sans pitié, sans frein, indisciplinable, faiseur de couplets, goguenard, avide et paresseux.
Chabert, Balzac

The usage of type in reference to a kind of person finds its way in Filipino as tipo. Siya ang tipong babaeng... Ang tipo kong lalake...

Are types evolutionary products? What were the types apparent early on in Western literature? A quite noticeable Graeco-Roman type is that of the treacherous. There are treacherous gods and men. There is treacherous Clytemnestera. There was the witch Medea. There are unfaithful spouses.

What are the classical types of beauty? White arms and flashing eyes indicate types of beauty in Greek literature, such as Homer's poems. Post-Spanish Ilocano poetry itself would exalt the napudaw and the naraniag. The Ilocano praising of the naraniag is really a Spaniard-induced thing. As Dr. Lucero stated in her Iloko Folk Literature dissertation, the name Laoag for the Ilocos Norte capital only came because Spaniard commanded the natives to clear (clear, bright=lawag) off trees.

The view of man as types is quite inherent in Philippine psychology. "Ah, `yung mataba!" is the favourite Pinoy way to describe a person. Indeed, derogatory adjectives are preferred over those which indicate industry or education. Philippine small talk often revolves around very few key elements such as payat, bakla, taray and pangit. The Philippine mindset is preoccupied with backwardness. A good solution is to kill backward Filipinos in the flesh by droves, thereby terrifying them into rigour of thought. Who must be killed? Tricycle drivers who proudly proclaim support for Gringo Honasan, the Prietos and their decidedly lousy headlines.

Someone with social status is bound to be typed as maganda. A daughter of a Senator is declared by petty-minded elements from the circle involved campus theater. Isabel Allende brilliantly pointed out such a similar phenomenon in Chile with her story "Una Venganza."

Some of them want to abuse you.

Les cheveux


Do we redraw Dante?

What are the types in Dante?

Must we follow his lines of categorization by circles?


Rousseau's opening statement in the preface to Emile might give the illusion of his being conducive to pro-feminism. As the reporters pointed out in class, Rousseau saw woman's role as merely that of the mother.

Professor Canlas pointed out in class the statement:

Tout est bien sortant des mains de l'Auteur des choses, tout dégénère entre les mains de l'homme.
On façonne les plantes par la culture, et les hommes par l'éducation.
Il s'agit moins de l'empêcher de mourir que de le faire vivre. Vivre, ce n'est pas respirer, c'est agir; c'est faire usage de nos organes, de nos sens, de nos facultés, de toutes les parties de nous-mêmes, qui nous donnent le sentiment de notre existence. L'homme qui a le plus vécu n ' est pas celui qui a compté le plus d'années, mais celui qui a le plus senti la vie. Tel s'est fait enterrer à cent ans, qui mourut dès sa naissance. Il eût gagné d'aller au tombeau dans sa jeunesse, s'il eût vécu du moins jusqu'à ce temps-là.

Rousseau, as I read him in Emile, is not at all Vautrinian. Nurture is more important than nature for Rousseau in raising a child, although Rousseau had been more satisfied with how nature had been going on then than how nurture had.

Rousseau follows Plato in stressing the value of education as well as in privileging the world of ideas to the world of empirical presence.

Le monde réel a ses bornes, le monde imaginaire est infini;

Although I agree with Rousseau's statement of a problem noted by Favorin, I do not agree with their solution.

Les grands besoins, disait Favorin, naissent des grands biens; et souvent le meilleur moyen de se donner les choses dont on manque est de s’ôter celles qu’on a.

I rather agree with Michael Douglas, when he said (not too originally) in Wall Street, "Greed is good."

Rousseau was quite cognizant of man's propensity to being feeble (faible).

sans doute, il faudra le guider un peu; mais très peu, sans qu’il y paraisse. S’il se trompe, laissez-le faire, ne corrigez point ses erreurs, attendez en silence qu'il soit en état de les voir et de les corriger lui-même; ou tout au plus, dans une occasion favorable, amenez quelque opération qui les lui fasse sentir. S’il ne se trompait jamais, il n’apprendrait pas si bien.

Not all learning, or even utilitous learning for that matter depends on a staircase of mistakes.

Balzac's Le Pere Goriot

shows us a Paris as materialistic as Metro Manila. Vautrin catalogued for Rastignac the sundry material needs fundamental to haute bourgeois life. Vautrin says, "Linen is the first thing that people notice."

Philippine politics is not dialectological by habit. At key fault for this are the pseudo-intellectual middle and upper-middle classes.

We can try to understand
the New York Times' effect on man
"Staying Alive", The Beegees

The effective value of Philippine education is not in the inculcation of values of concern. Although Onofre Pagsanjan may be remembered by his students for his cura personalis, the effect of Philippine education, as pointed out by Edelberto Garcellano, is not so much intellectualization as preparation for subservience to the status quo.

I agree with Plato in his belief in regulation. I do not agree with his provisions of regulation. His 'god' of regulation is different from mine. There must be a strict enforcement of regulation on political campaign materials. Subservise materials may be permitted, but content-devoid imagist political campaign materials should be banned. Jamby Madrigal should be killed.

How is a type established? By nature? By education? By genealogy? Both myth and small talk put a premium on genealogical descent. In Philippine society, praise of brains is often mis-attributed. Heidegger's warning of logistics' success over logic is firmly entrenched in modern-day Philippines.

Where does Philippine education lead? The locally reknown schools are adequate springboards for studying abroad. There is no notable school abroad in which no Filipino has been qualified, thus disproving the Spanish colonizers' distrust in the Filipino potential for learning.

The evil propagated by the Philippine Daily Inquirer these recent years would have been no shock to Balzac, nor to Vautrin. The Prietos are evil and stupid. They deliberately make lousy headlines.

Education should be anti-ABS-CBN. ABS-CBN should be destroyed, with violence even. At least a few of its anchor people should be killed, even Noli de Castro. The progress of the Philippines must be bought by blood. It's too bad that Corinna Sanchez did not die during her first vehicular accident.

Violence, however, can get expensive. Cost-free or minimal cost acts of violence include vandalism. Vandalism is now and the effectual. Vandalism may go hand in hand with lampoonism. Lampoonism was such a successful element of EDSA Dos.

A person however today in the Philippines has many an existential reason to not take to the hard swings of violence. Filipino college boys are already to take to the violence of fraternities, considering that fatalities are only occassional anyway.

To know suffering is not enough. To know mostly pleasure might be quite enough, for the self. To know mostly pleasure for the pleasure, however, drives the well-off to often try to lay suffering upon the less privileged.


The greatest three words from Sionil are "the Changless Land." The Philippines is substantially such a changeless land. Changelessness is not absolute, but it is so stubborn. Haute Bourgeois villains such as Jamby Madrigal love to exploit Philippine changelessness.


Vandalism is a necessary component of petit bourgeois political struggle. Vandalism as propagated by Philippine Communists is rendered primitive by sticking to the waxy type of red colour merely scrawled by hand.

  1. De Quiros is deliberately layed-out to have his column quotidianly and perenially below Adrian Cristobal's "The Breakfast table." Cristobal, since the Marcos dictatorship, has been a sweet-Englished spokesperson of unblatant fascism. Cristobal is an idiot, however. "The revolution from the center", which he conceptualized for Marcos, is actually a great way of articulating what undid Marcos and Erap (both of whom Cristobal decidedly defended writing within his Ayala-Alabang palace). De Quiros is the Prieto's puppet to purport a pseudo-activist angle for the Inquirer.

without Mondadori's missing stretch of pages

dead (man)
malheureusementsa kasawiang palad
veuve biyuda

Links to other sites on the Web

Emile e-texts
(http://www.perseus.tufts.edu) Gregory Crane's Perseus Project

    Web references
  • (http://philosophy.about.com/homework/philosophy/library/weekly/aa021601a.htm) Eleatics
  • http://promo.net/pg
  • http://cedric.cnam.fr/ABU/BIB The gateway to on-line French lit for free
  • http://abu.cnam.fr/cgi-bin/go?chabert3
  • ftp://sailor.gutenberg.org/pub/gutenberg/etext99/chbrt10.txt
  • Pere Goriot, traduit par Henry Reed, Signet Classic
  • Inferno, Allen Mandelbaum, Bantam Classic
  • Lara Q. Sagisag, Newsbreak
  • Question and Answer, Hans Robert Jauss
  • The Greek Commentaries on Platos' Phaedo, Volume 1: Olympiodorus. New York: Oxford, 1976

© 2001 ramuel@hotmail.com