Infiltrating the Establishment

In a recent comic book (I think it’s the latest Avengers vs. X-Men, but not sure, just remember it’s one of the many running Avengers titles) Thor and Cap a little heart to heart. Without having to go too much into all the Marvel event backstory, let’s just say that Cap is now head of the global defense force. And the whole enterprise weights heavily on him. Thor tells Cap that Cap was always better when he was following his rebellious streak. But now that he is the establishment, how can he rebel. And as a result, how can he be at his best. I was happy to find, as I often do, that despite the very clear incongruities between real life and comic books, that once again I could see how these characters are made human and forced to deal with the very normal, very real questions that we do too. This is of course not to show off that I am delusional, and that I think that my own situation is comparable to, say, Captain America having to forcefully abduct Hope Summers from the X-Men so that he can try and counter the power of the worlds-devouring Phoenix which is making its way to Earth to engulf it in flame.

But rather, to say that the question weighs heavily on my mind. I truly believe in independent publishing, and in the power of individuals and small groups to change larger landscapes. And though my own work has manifested mainly in the form of me playing sidekick or asking for help, or supporting the initiatives of very good friend and I suppose I wouldn’t be wrong in calling him indie superstar Adam David, I feel that it is of utmost importance that we support and make whatever efforts we can to help develop the indie, DIY production of literature and other cultural art forms. I continue to provide what support I can to writers and groups who want to explore non-traditional publishing routes.

I am though, admittedly compromised. Since December of 2010, I have been in some way or another connected to the dominant publishing institutions of the country.

I entered the system (I was invited, but I would like to think that I infiltrated it, and that in some way I am living up to what John Fiske calls “guerrilla raids” on cultural establishments) and have been trying to change and adapt it, trying to inject not only the methods of the indie, but also the ethos and the philosophy. I like to think that I’ve done some things, pushing local publishing forward towards digital publishing, fixing contracts so that they are fairer to authors, rewriting and limiting copyright control exerted by certain publishing houses. All in all, I like to think that while the contributions I have made to the establishment have largely been nitty gritty and not that noticeable, that I am doing something to make things better, as far as the dominant literary establishment is concerned.

Still, it all weighs heavily on me. I miss the freedom, the adaptability, the ability to make quick decisions and pursue projects and ideas, and just the fluidity of movement that came with being an independent. In the establishment, lots of papers, lots of people to run things by. There was a lot of magic to Adam or someone else saying, “Dude I’ve got an idea,” and in a few minutes suddenly we were working and putting a project together.

This is not to say that the establishment doesn’t have its own benefits. Of course there are many benefits to working in and with traditional publishers. There is a reason, after all, that this is the route that most people choose to take. I have done a pretty good job too of convincing people to work with traditional publishing, and I think that on the whole they have not regretted my advice.

I think I’m doing an okay job. I like to think I can. Sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that I can be doing more outside of the establishment. But there’s also the feeling that someone has to work within the system, someone has to try and change things, make things better, from within. I know that might be dumb or delusional. Misguided at the very least. But I feel the need to try.

3 Responses to Infiltrating the Establishment

  1. sillysili says:

    “…But there’s also the feeling that someone has to work within the system, someone has to try and change things, make things better, from within.”

    Those lines above have inspired me. Awesome.


  2. Mia Tijam says:

    I agree with Adam’s sentiment on this, which is the beauty of the essay. However, the point(s) need(s) more emotional intelligence so that “compromise” would not internally mean “betrayal” or “conformity”. Rather, it would exactly be a matter of what “adaptability” and “flexibility” truly is towards another “process/framework”.

    The “revolutionary” or even “guerilla” mindset that is inherent in “independent” AND that wishes to change things in an “establishment” IS DOOMED TO FAIL when it is (publicly) doubting its resolve. Another cause for doom is, instead of becoming organic to the system, the “revolutionary/guerilla” mindset becomes like a hollow block crashing itself into a building. Kasi nga matigas ang ulo, eh mas matitigas ang mga nagtandang hukbong ulo.

    Susmary, parang di naman na tayo mga nagtanda, ‘di ba?

    Is it really a matter of “to inject change of values” or should it be a matter of “synergy of values”? Change is always like a virus attacking an existing system and the antibodies of the system will automatically kill it. Welcome to grown-up systems, man, where newbie decision-makers just can’t roll out new policies or systems because you’ll end up dead.

    And what does the “journey from doubt unto bah-we’llsee-resolve” inspire or replicate to the audience? The impression given is “Duuuuude, you’re dancing the Tinikling, anover!”

    Ayan, positive reinforcement: On with the smart revolution yo! Adam and your brigada will (be) behind you!

    And baket, di ba puebeng you’re part of independent publishing at the same time part of the “establishment”? Why does it have to be one or the other? Can’t it be dual or multiple instead of binary?

    Yun lang. Para malinaw: di ako nagtataray ha? I just want this essay to be so fucking good that I’ll spread it to the nth power kasi sayang yun possibilities ng laman haha. Next episode please!

    • Carl Javier says:

      i’m sort of shooting from the hip here at this point. i still have to figure out the nuances of the definitions which you’ve questioned. the emotional intelligence, is, admittedly, that part which i believe i still have to work through.

      Next episode will come when I’ve figured some things out! but thanks for the reply, as it has provided me with quite a number of points to chew over, both in terms of things I have to figure out and resolve for myself, which will lead to how I will make future decisions, as well as points which I would like to eventually address in the NEXT EPISODE which I now feel must be written (and yet oh how i dread it).

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