When the World Ended I Was Thinking about the Forest
Historically and across cultures, the forest is a site of unsettling ambivalence. As a natural resource, it is life-giving, a frontier in the relentless march of human civilization, routinely extracted in the service of modern state-making, heaving casualty to progress. As a political space, it is an ungoverned sprawl, slippery and untamed, tenuous home to Indigenous groups and guerrilla movements, threat and alternative to the globalized mainstream. It is a mythic place of danger, where the unknown resides, but also sacred, incubator of radical transformation.
When the World Ended I Was Thinking about the Forest maps a network of texts emerging out of the experience of Philippine modernity and its various artifacts like nation and narrative even as the world hurtles toward ecological collapse. Part poetics, part unsent love letter, and part critique of knowledge production, it looks for the forest in the novels of Rizal and other fictional narratives, in museum exhibits and webinars and buildings, in bureaucratic reports and legislation. Interspersed in this inquiry is a more personal encounter with the forest, foremost a relationship whose trajectory seems to have been somehow mediated by its lush anxiety, and which may or not have been the entire point of the exercise.
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