The Demon of Comparisons' is an association of subjective positions relating in various ways to larger social and political frameworks, to power and cultural constructions. Persisting on the issue of individual agency in a landscape defined by questions of national and cultural identities, 'The Demon of Comparisons' questions the kind of collectivity these subjects can form.
The title is a translation of a phrase from Jose Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere, "el demonio de las comparaciones", used by Benedict Anderson as the title of his book, under the rendering of The Specter of Comparisons. An original and insightful thinker, Benedict Anderson questioned the patterns and the meeting points that are to be found throughout geographies, times and power structures that lead to formations of identities and various senses of belonging. Our translation remains anchored in this area of interest, but wishes to add the potential of the polisemy, indeed the spectres, of the original Spanish word, 'demonio', in dealing with the subjectivity of one's experience of culture and power.
'The Demon of Comparisons' grew out of the exchanges and discussions during the 'Open Circuit #1: Yogyakarta', organized by Electric Palm Tree in September 2008 in Indonesia. During the week-long workshop, participants shared and negotiated their experiences and vocabularies of social transformation from their respective backgrounds.