This article explores the works of Philippine author Macario Pineda through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller.” Following Benjamin, Pineda’s short stories present experience as containing a dialectic “frozen” in time and sutured in narrative. In Pineda’s stories, embodied social interactions in the rural Philippines are mapped spatially and temporally. By portraying the conditions of possibility of these social maps, Pineda demonstrates the forces of value production and exchange within the imperial field. His stories thus provide us with a sense of how values are produced, concentrated, and accumulated as well as how persons and communities might negotiate the imperial field. As such, these works engage the question of dialectical ethics in narrative. Reading Pineda, we see how individual experience may yield, through a specifically utopian impulse in narratives, transmittable counsel as described by Walter Benjamin. Pineda’s works therefore reveal that dialectical ethics, through a narratological articulation between the different notions of experience as Erlebnis and Erfahrung, can aid us in considering the type of community formation we might prefer.
Bounded Communities: Dialectical Ethics and Questions of Narrative in Macario Pineda’s Stories
J. Francisco Benitez is a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, a former president of the Philippine Women’s University, and an affiliated faculty of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Washington – Seattle. He obtained his PhD in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Among his essays are “Filming Philippine Modernity during the Cold War: The Case of Lamberto Avellana” in Cultures at War (2010), “Diasporic and Liminal Subjectivities in the Age of Empire: Beyond Biculturalism in the Case of the Two Ongs” in Filipino Palimpsests of Nation and Diaspora (2016), and “Passionate Attachments to Area Studies and Asian American Studies,” coauthored with Laurie J. Sears, in Transpacific Studies (2015).
J. Francisco Benitez; Bounded Communities: Dialectical Ethics and Questions of Narrative in Macario Pineda’s Stories. positions 1 February 2021; 29 (1): 21–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-8722756
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