Mona’s DavidBy Raymund Fernandez
Cebu Daily News
Sunny skies, cool breeze. Yesterday started out quite well. But you do not know yet how it will turn out. Come night time will see our first August moon? If we’re lucky this weather should last by Monday. There will be no work. And so even today, we should not burden our brains with things too heavy for such a light day as this. Think of the lightest things. Things like names and how we named people once.
Once many August moons ago, native men acquired the names of their spouses in the course of ordinary association. Ang Tigbuhat would have been named Raymund ni Estela. The name would have been sufficient to fully identify him. No need for family names or middle names. No need even for conventions like marriage.
If a stranger came into town and asked, Where is Raymund? The native would have replied, Kinsang Raymund? Which Raymund? And if the stranger did not know better, the native would have provided a few options: Raymund ni Maria? Raymund ni Ensiang? O, Raymund ni Estela? And the stranger would have to pick which Raymund and spouse he preferred.
And so the Englishman David would have been named David ni Mona. Or rightly in English, Mona’s David.
Mona’s David figures into this because it was he who posed the challenge to Ang Tigbuhat to translate any of the Kinutil essays into sculpture. Thus planting into his mind the seed of a problem that went dormant for days until it resurrected finally on this wonderful sunlit breezy day. How indeed do you translate the essay into sculpture. How do words become 3 dimensional form?
And of course Mona’s David was not talking about words as in letters on a page. That would have been too easy. He was talking about words in their most non-physical form. More like words as they exist inside our heads, invisible, inaudible, inchoate. Indeed, what a fine problem to solve on this wonderful breezy August day?
To become sculpture one must think of the essay as “object”. The sculpture is of course object with its required 3 dimensions. We see the object and from there apprehend its meanings.
The meanings may at times be totally subjective but the sculpture itself is objective fact. Quite the opposite, we read the words that comprise the elements of the essay. It’s cues. Only in the end does the essay become object. This object we may apprehend as sculpture with its required 3 dimensions. But the essay has something else besides. It has at least one more dimension, time. We read the essay start to finish inside space and time. Only in time does it become object. And like all objects we may turn it inside our heads thenceforth to appreciate it in fullness. In a sense, it becomes sculpture. But only after its reading.
But not necessarily physical sculpture. It is for now an image inside our heads. To translate it from there into sculptural object would be the solution to our problem. As designers say, the project brief as proposed by Mona’s David, who is himself a designer.
At this point a small parenthetical interjection. Is it by serendipity only that the names Mona and David are namesakes of masterpieces of the Renaissance by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo respectively. Is it merely coincidence that in their time both artists quarreled repeatedly about the assertion that sculpture is inferior to painting? Should we now ask ourselves then: Is the sculpture necessarily inferior to the essay or vice-versa?
I imagine Mona’s David saying immediately: Don’t digress! Don’t go there! And I would immediately explain: That’s why I said parenthetical. But to continue. What then the shape of the sculpture we would do from this essay? What would be it’s dimensions? It’s mass? What, the weight of it?
It would have to be very light, as if it were something inflated, like a balloon, something that seems to fly or levitate from the ground. Perhaps like two lovers and their child sleeping between them. The August moon is a boat over which they sit watching the night. And there is a soft breeze blowing through their hair and it has come all the way from Siberia, or so it had been written.