fh batacan

Book Report: On photography, surrealist expressions, and the current moral and political state of the Philippines.

As much as I enjoyed reading Susan Sontag’s On Photography, I’m quite disappointed to report that I retained not a single exacting sentence about the image-taking practice from the book. Photography, to me, remains a mysterious concept. Its properties and mutability allow it to be used: from shooting journalistic narrative to creating art to documenting quotidian life. Photography levels the system in which humans based on in relation to one another: race, class, and gender. Anyone can take a photograph. I thought that I would end up knowing more about the field and determining the reason for me to relive an old hobby, but I was left even more confused. However, the confusion had only given me a bit of a courage to do whatever I want. Yet, this sense of surging intrepidness then feel unfocused and without a goal to set on.


When I went back to the Philippines for a couple of months in summer two years ago, the country had just elected a new president. The president had garnered enough infamous controversy with his beliefs, values, and behavior to make his first action to transform the Philippines into his ideal moralistic nation by initiating an order to allow the extrajudicial deaths of people suffering from or victimized by drug abuse to continue to the point that the Filipinos were emboldened to turn on against each other. I thought about learning about what I had missed while I was gone and write about the current state of the country. Criticize the Philippine society that seems as if it’s just floating down the Pasig River, being suffocated by its own garbage, without salvation in sight. However, as soon as I got a touch of the situation, I felt like I wasn’t versed enough to tackle such project. I lost the essence of being Filipino. Hopefully, by learning more about the Philippines today and by revisiting classic Filipino art and literature, I’d be able to regain the confidence of my Filipino self. And F.H. Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles ignited my mind to a humble yet solid start.

“Do you really have this friend in Petersburg?” My new favorite sentence has convinced me that by the time I reached that part in The Judgment I will definitely enjoy reading Franz Kafka. Of course, I’ve heard of him before, but I simply didn’t find time to explore his literature. His surrealist ideas and language may have probably augmented the debate on writing with a concise, direct style versus a superfluous, hifalutin one. After I finish The Metamorphosis, I’d put him on hold for a while. I believe he may have a mental use for me in my future endeavors.