It breaks my heart to read a blog like Albion's Seedlings,
For it makes me see that not only are we orphans,
We are cut-off.
And that is partly how and why it is with us,
That the Nihilists have made mincemeat of our carcass.
ANGLOSPHERE: That scale-free network of human beings that just happen to think in English.
A network is a thing that is composed of NODES and LINKS. Exactly what those nodes and links are depends on the specific network one is considering. The network by which you are reading this blog is called the World Wide Web. I have described this particular network elsewhere (based of course on what others have discovered about it by analyzing and discussing it).
But human societies are also networks. The human beings that make up society are the NODES in this network. The LINKS in a human network are composed of all the INTERACTIONS between and among them, including but definitely not limited to talking to each other, feeding, clothing and sheltering each other, and all the other things that human beings do.
Sometimes, we abstract a collection of human NODES and LINKS to form the idea of a hierarchical network. Take for example, the concept of family which is tangentially related to the Pinoy Big Brother craze. A family is a collection of nodes and links -- the family members and their hopefully loving relationships with each other. Families may be aggregated into clans, tribes, and nations, all in a highly complex, interacting network of human beings and their institutions.
The nature of the LINKS in such a human network has recently fascinated me because I have formed the opinion that these LINKS can only be MEMES. Readers of this blog may recall that I have several times used the word meme (which rhymes with dream, NOT the Pilipino word for sleep which is ironically spelt exactly the same way but pronounced meh-meh with a glottal stop.) and associated it with the concept of an infectious idea. But not all memes are "ideas" per se, although all ideas are memes.
For example, love, which is the powerful meme that binds the nodes of a human family together, is not purely an idea, but is at least partially emotional. And what would one make of language?
Language is a powerful, powerful meme. For it is more than just mental and emotional, it is physical, cultural, robust, universal and perhaps even "hard-wired" into the species DNA. Language is the deep ancestral memory. Think of how old the English words are you are reading now -- what a secret life they have led through history in the lives of their hosts -- all the human beings who have spoken this particular language from time lost to sight or imagination.
We may think it is we who make language. But Shakespeare, I think proved it otherwise. There is this theory, bardolatrous no doubt, that William Shakespeare's works are what shaped what we in the Anglosphere now consider "human nature" -- that it was his language and his portrayal of wholly imagined (well maybe not wholly) characters that determines what we today consider "good" and "bad" and any adjective in between at any level of human interaction because he had already predicted and created human characters that would indeed come to be -- in every corner of the English-thinking world, and in all the rich variety he had imagined and encompassed. Yup. That's radical bardolatry.
It is the language that chooses us, not the other way around. It is the meme that controls the brain, not vice-versa. The Anglosphere "created" what one might call the Philippine "noosphere" when, upon the arrival of America on these shores in a war of colonial conquest (which sentimentalists might regard better as a benevolent assimilation, though the birth was bloody), she finally taught the Filipinos a Western language: English. This was a thing the Spanish Taliban never did for the Filipinos in 350 years of Hispanic colonial rule, which was quintessentially theocratic, and not entirely brutal as some would have it. But it was not a progressive reign. Quite the opposite.
It was the steady policy of the Spanish regime, from the very beginning to its dying gasp in the late Nineteenth Century, to intentionally withold the teaching of the Spanish language to the indio natives. That is why the national hero is Jose Rizal, who was the best among the group of Spanish mestizos and wealthy indios in the late Nineteenth Century that by dint of luck and some liberalization in Espana, managed to learn Spanish and finally discover Rome, Greece, America! Dr. Jose Rizal, who studied also in Spain, Germany and England, wrote 50 volumes of novels, essays, letters, drama, poetry, scientific treatises, and travel journals, whereas the next most prolific writer, Marcelo H. del Pilar has a slim 2 volumes. But they both wrote in Spanish, and Rizal died -- was executed by the frailocracy for his incendiary novels -- in 1896, when the Philippines was but a glimmer in MacKinley's eye.
But the arrival of America, as an old friend and now famous blogger once put it, "was like a thunderclap to awaken the sleepers of the centuries." Virtually the first thing the Americans did was to teach every single Filipino their own language. It was a great gift, that my own grandfather received when, as a young man of sixteen or seventeen, he met a strange and excitable young American zoologist, a certain Dean Conant Worcester of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who was in those days looking for some cold spot in the middle of Luzon Island because his boss, William Howard Taft was dying of the heat in Manila -- all four hundred pounds of the future President of the United States and Supreme Court Chief Justice, then Chairman of the Philippine Commission and later the colony's first civilian governor. (But I shall have to tell the story of that young zoologist, who was to play a big but largely unknown part in the history of this First Iraq, and his further adventures, at another time.)
Within less than half a generation, Spanish as a language was dead in the Archipelago. Never having found a home in the ordinary people, there is little love lost for Spanish today except among the cognoscenti. That is because of the aggressive colonial educational program that made English proficiency nearly 100% by the time that colonial rule ended in 1946. It was in English that most Filipinos learned about Spain! And about Rome, Greece, France, Italy, England, America. About Magellan and King Felipe after whom we were named. About mathematics and physics and economics. It was America that truly connected the Filipinos to civilization. Not of course that they could not have done so themselves had they not been colonized. But that is what happened in history.
That is why those who wonder why it is that we can never seem to escape America, need only look at the language in which they have phrased the question, and the fact that it is the language in which they think even hateful thoughts against this "Anglosphere."
I find this strange, even as I understand the impetus to be unique. I too hate Shakespeare with an agonistic rage for having beaten me to the writing of Macbeth and Hamlet and King Lear!
Or this about the curious sexual paradoxes of the human male, that seems to explain something about Pinoy Big Brother--
Th'expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and, till action, lust
Is perjured, murdr'rous, bloody, full of blame.
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe,
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows, yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
UPDATE: Filipino bloggers may be interested in reading a book by James C. Bennett of Albion's Seedlings entitled, The Anglosphere Challenge. Check it out folks! Haven't read it, but I will publish your reviews and comments on it. About half of it is available on-line, the author informs me.