“it took me awhile,” said a member of an age set named for the 10 national construction projects of the late 1970s, before i recognized the man in the pictures, that young man with my mother. i remember that i called him ‘uncle’ for a long time. it took me a long time before i really knew that he was my father” the uncanny appearance of someone known only as a reflection of another time, an adingo, his father seemed to lack a position in his life as a real presence, a tireng.
in sowal no ‘amis, mirror, reflection, shadow, glass, and spirit are all called adingo. rahic, an ‘amis artist from makota’ay who goes about collecting glass on the beach every day–he wants to collect an entire ton of it for a piece in construction–calls his practice mikilim to adingo ako finding my glass / soul. he tells me that in the past, many elders, including his grandfather, did not like to look into a mirror: the uncanny appearance of one’s image there suggested that one could, if not careful, lose one’s soul to the soul-showing glass.
yet, today, we are a people obsessed with images, constrained to leave shadows behind…. one wonders, then about the technologies of creating images and their relationship to the longterm absence of men on the boats.
as i’ve written before, many lyrics associated with the far ocean fishing trade center on bodies, tireng:
dipoten to tireng namo (take care of your body)
akato piharateng to tireng ako (don’t worry about my body)
halafin ca ka’araw to tireng iso, idang (it’s been so long since i’ve seen your body, my friend)
cowa to maan ko maharatengay no mako, o tireng iso (i think of nothing but your body)
although photography takes the japanese loan word, sasin, which looks like “writing reality” in chinese characters, photography works through glass and captures shadows. it is the printing out of an adingo. the discontinuity between the image, say of a young man with a woman one might recognize as a younger version of one’s mother, and the physical presence of a body makes the appearance of the father uncanny.
for the child, the problem is the lack of a referential chain–not iconic because the resemblance between adingo and tireng is evident–a series of indices that could connect the tireng to a possible statement by the mother: this is your father (pointing to the picture), call him father (pointing to the tireng).
the problem for the father, i suspect, is how to find the adingo. to bring the adingo back into the sphere of one’s embodied existence when the adingo, caught in a picture from another time, had replaced him
cima cimira? o ama ako han? cima cimira? o adingo kinia tireng han?