Itos Ledesma

(Speculations after José Santos III’s In Retrospect)

The limit confronts itself. A collision against the border of certitude, a disappointed vector flails until it ceases, indefinite positions inhabited for fractions of seconds until stillness sets. Against the cold, an acquiescence to loss, an invitation to forget. Absence does not speak to or of itself; the shadow of all faculties shivers through the mouth of the void. Momentary bursts of sensation, the minor traumas within the boundaries drawn around nothing. Flickering impressions of becoming — a question is questioned, and the answer is a prolonged, wordless drawl.

There are muted sounds coming from another room situated in another time. An awkward shuffle, a faint hiss, the clangor of placement, gradually concealed by the enchantment generating the spectacle. The reverberations of work are replaced by the mounting crescendo of half-finished conversations and a tenuous accumulation of vibrations eventuated by gestures preceding avoidance. There is music, but it is merely the suggestion of it, barred from total resonance, engulfed by shattered articulation and the collision of ellipses. And then the storm of silence stirs.

As the monument is scaled down to a manageable size, the apparition of hands — both hardened and delicate — that implement the design reveal themselves on multiple levels. Records of bodies recede and reformulate; echoes of activity play off one another and coagulate into force, into substance. It seems the history of the artifact is the history of its containment and its contamination. The conditions that underscore the vitality of its arrival must be invented, which functionally separates the object from a world of quotidian refuse. Containment is premised on the possibility of attaining definition, the drive toward an elusive, fracturing permanence, and yet there is no respite from the tumult of dependence. To achieve the absolute, material must deny its materiality, an assault on the idea subtending its own presence. The recognition of contamination is the acknowledgement of the fact of its haunting; the imperceptible is allowed to articulate itself, no longer as trace but as element.

From afar, the glimmer of light on a sheet of ice can be mistaken for the presence of crystal, but the vulnerable alliance is undone by the passage of time. All that is solid collapses into streams of motion, and the current rushing through the narrow inlets carved onto the surface of the earth carries with it the residue of the structure it temporarily held.

The struggle to reconstitute consciousness from the dregs of a vague awareness wandering across the ceaseless fluctuations of the past, corpuscles adrift in an invisible matrix of folds. Several particles amass and attract others into a spontaneous gravitational field. This catalyzes a series of aleatory reactions that eventually ossify into a loose system of reciprocity. A map is imagined to produce the territory that emanates from a center. Thus begins the myth of indivisibility. The same process is replicated with subtle variations and begins to recur across the expansive continuum of space until it strains under the accumulated pressures of oppositional forces. The centers become innumerable and therefore insignificant as all states of assembly gradually reveal their interdependence.

Itos Ledesma is a writer and artist from Manila, whose work has appeared in various forms across multiple platforms and is largely concerned with investigating intersections between practices. He is currently a member of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines.

tractions is a group writing experiment based in Manila