POST BLING BLING
Moria Poetry, Chicago
Release Date: 2005
Distributors: Lulu.com and Amazon.com
Prices: $8.45 at Lulu; $16.00 from Amazon.com
Free Pdf at Moria Poetry.
Recipient of a 2005 Calatagan Award from the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc.
We all live in a company town. That much seems clear. The question of how we inhabit that town is the question addressed by Eileen Tabios’s Post Bling Bling, a pair of cross-genre works. Here, Tabios investigates marketing culture through found and shared language in tightly defined moments, a collection of e-mails by Filipino ŽmigrŽs over four days in May 2005 and a summer issue of Vanity Fair.
The magazine’s advertisements comprise the found texts of the first work, “Post Bling Bling.” Peeled from slick pages, the marketed identities proclaim themselves. In serious stride, Robert DeNiro embraces: “My Life: / My Card: / AMERICAN EXPRESS.” At Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, you’re invited to “Be Yourself At Home / Topless / Wet / White.” The metal and verbal technologies craft “the new” in the Lexus hybrid, “not just the debut of a new car, but of a new category.” The travel professionals with Ritz Carlton remind us, “THE BEACH IS SERVED / on a silver platter.” In the end, it is “Your Choice. Your Chase. . . Subject to Credit Approval.” Of course, this play can be extended to the book’s front cover, a photograph of a south Pacific beach shadowed by familiar trademarks. We can read this beach in every dimension of authorship as well; the beach itself is trademarked. But is this marking done by the marketers or the author (her name and the book’s title as prominent as the well-known circles, ambiguous squares, and swoosh of corporate logo)? The beach seems deserted by all but the photographer. How “dead” is the author? Capitalism itself?
The play here is wonderful, though not surprising. The found texts of marketing culture are poetry’s bubble gum (and sometime sustenance). In The Maximus Poems, Charles Olson underlined that the “best is soap”:
And for the water-shed, the economics & poetics thereafter? . . .
The true troubadours
are CBS. Melopoeia
is for Cokes by Cokes out of
Olson and Tabios recognize the mythic substratum that exists beneath our imagination of this “stuff,” whether it is constructed of fructose, image, phosphate, plastic, or language. The imaginative spaces of this melopoeic underworld define the terrain of the work’s investigation for Tabios. What lends the familiarity of these visual and verbal images? Does the actor own the plastic or does the plastic own the actor? What self am I supposed to be now? Whose choice is it, again?
—Garin Cycholl, Rain Taxi (Full review HERE)
Dec. 18, 2006: Was glued to POST BLING BLING this morning. It’s really brilliant. The second ½ is a list-serv conversation about “balikbayan boxes”—the boxes of American consumer crap that Filipinos are expected to send home, How politically complicated. This book would be a perfect pre-Xmas gift for any stressed and demoralized shopper. The first ½ of the book (the two halves work together brilliantly) remind me of the boy in Equus…Don’t recall his name right now. But—he’s blinded some horses and is in some institution. He won’t talk but sings advertising jingles. Which reminds me of the mindless way there is xmas music everywhere I go and I take it in without noticing it and then find myself singing it to myself as I walk around the house, which is creepy. Also, by reacting against all the xmas stuff I’m more engaged with it than I would be if I reacted less—but that would also be complacency…
—Andrea Baker, Spoke to the World on the Phone Blog
Cited in “A Hard Look at the Balikbayan Box: The Philippine Diaspora’s Exported Hospitality” by Karina Hof (University of Amsterdam) in Food Parcels in International Migration (Springer International Publishing / Palgrave Macmillan). More information HERE.