155 Surfacing

July 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last summer, we had this intern who drove a Camry. When I learned about this, I fell kerplunk into a deep depression.

The intern was twelve and already driving a two million peso car. I’ve been working for three hundred years and I still squeeze my ass in an overcrowded UV Express van to attend my hearings. Fuck determination patience hardwork.

But what to do but go through the crappy part and get on with life. Just as Margaret Atwood’s the artist, in “Surfacing”, did:

“I stand there shivering, seeing my reflection and my feet down through it, white as fish flesh on the sand, till finally being in the air is more painful than being in the water and I bend and push myself reluctantly into the lake.”

The Camry is not, by any measure, intended to trivialize the artist’s heartrending epiphanies and disturbing breakthroughs.

154 Reading Lolita in Tehran

July 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Things are probably different in Iran now, hopefully better than how they were under the Khomeini Regime. For then, being a woman was akin to what Nabokov would call poshlust. Take this policy championed by the Speaker of the Parliament at the time Tehran was being pelted by Iraq with bombs and missiles quite relentlessly and mercilessly:

“He also recommended that women dress properly when sleeping, so that if their houses were hit, they would not be ‘indecently exposed to strangers’ eyes’.”

For some women, like Azar Nafisi and her girls, fiction gave them the courage and the spirit to dream of their own world, a world where they can freely be what they want to be and happily do what their passion demands of them.

“The novels were an escape from reality in the sense that we could marvel at their beauty and perfection, and leave aside our stories about the deans and the university and the morality squads in the streets.”

Nabokov Fitzgerald Gold Gorky James Bronte Austen pushed our women in “Reading Lolita in Tehran” to question their reality, follow their dreams and, ultimately, break free.

“The best fiction always forced us to question what we took for granted. It questioned traditions and expectations when they seemed too immutable.”

153 Madaling Araw

July 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sinasalamin ng “Madaling Araw” ang kalagayan ng bansang Pilipinas noong kaaalpas lamang nito sa Espanya upang mapasakamay lamang ng Estados Unidos.

Sa pamamagitan ng mga tauhan—katulad nina Galit, Kabisang Leon, Pendoy, Mauro, Daniel, Luisa, at Nieves; maging ang sawimpalad na magsing-irog na sina Roman at Sision—isinasalarawan ni Inigo Ed. Regalado ang mga pangyayari na siyang naglulugmok sa bayan sa tinatamo nitong kahirapan at ipinaghihinagpis nitong kaululan.

Sa ganang akin, ang kalagayan ng Pilipinas sa ngayon ay hindi naiiba sa kalagayan nito noong panahon ng mga Kastila at Amerikano. Bukod sa pagkikibit-balikat sa pananamantala ng mga dayuhan, patuloy ang ating pagsasawalang-kibo sa pandarambong at pandudusta ng sarili nating kababayan. Sa katunayan, inihahalal pa natin ang mga mandarambong na ito sa Senado at Kongreso kaya naman malakas ang loob na harap-harapan tayong pagnakawan. At kapag sila’y nahuli at inusig natin, lalambingin lamang tayo ng sintunadong pagkanta at tayo ay nangagkalimot na sa kanilang pananamantala.

Maihahalintulad tayo kay Mauro, si Mauro na may busilak na puso para sa kinapupusuang si Luisa at malinis na hangarin para sa bayan, datapwat tila kulang sa disposisyon. Alam kung ano ang tama at dapat ngunit madaling magupo ng mga sabi-sabi lamang. Madaling makalimot sa sinumpaan. Mabilis tumalikod sa panungkulan.

Itinataya ko ang buong kaban ng bayan, iyan ay kung may natitira pa ni isang kusing man lang, na sa susunod na eleksyon, muling tatakbo at mananalo itong sina Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, at Juan Ponce Enrile. Na parang wala silang ginawang kapalaluan.

Ang nasabi sa itaas ay kawalang-hiyaan sa bahagi ng mga nabanggit na mandarambong at kaululan naman sa ating mga nangagsisiwalang-kibo. Alalahanin sana natin ang babala ni Galit:

“Kapag ang nangaaapi ay natutong magpahalaga sa kaniyang kaapihan, hindi malabo’t ngingiti sa kasilanganan ang araw ng katubusang pinakamimithi, datapwa’t kapag magwawalang-kibo, kapag magtitiis nang magtitiis, ang katubusang iyan ay mananatili sa kasungitan ng maiitim na panginorin.”

152 Rosemary’s Baby

June 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Rosemary Woodhouse is a total dimwit. Which makes her the perfect mother to Satan’s spawn.

Honestly. What woman in her right mind, no matter if she existed in the 1960s:

  1. Believes her obstetrician telling her not to learn anything about pregnancy when she is pregnant for the first time;
  2. Trusts her obstetrician’s opinion that being in paralyzing pain for four months is normal to pregnant women and therefore should do nothing but bear it;
  3. Is comfortable about geriatrics, in their 70s, being at her beck and call, serving her hand and foot;
  4. Restrains herself from stabbing her husband a gazillion times after confessing that he used her to advance his career; and
  5. Does not even attempt to kill her husband for lying to her about the supposed death of their child.

Yet I enjoyed “Rosemary’s Baby”. Ira Levin tells it like an absolute creep.

151 The Armies of the Night

June 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

“No, the difficulty is that the history is interior—no documents can give sufficient intimation; the novel must replace history at precisely that point where experience is sufficiently emotional, spiritual, psychical, moral, existential, or supernatural to expose the fact that the historian in pursuing the experience would be obliged to quit the clearly demarcated limits of historic inquiry. So these limits are now relinquished. The collective novel which follows, while still written in the cloak of an historic style, and, therefore, continuously attempting to be scrupulous to the welter of a hundred confusing and opposed facts will now unashamedly enter that world of strange lights and intuitive speculation which is the novel.”

Norman Mailer’s “The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History” reminds me of the demonstration staged by Filipino artists in protest of the selection of one Carlo J. Caparas and of another Cecille Guidote-Alvarez as National Artists. I was there too, to support writer-friends: it was August 2009, by the entrance of the CCP, but I can’t remember now what exactly it was we were griping against our villains. I was too star struck, being surrounded with many noted artists whose short stories and poems I read in high school and college, to really care about our objective.

So now I wish there was someone from among the writers there, maybe Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. or Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, who wrote a book or a novel about that rally. I now want to understand what that protest rally was all about. I’m quite sure there were a lot of fiery powerful witty speeches delivered that day.

All that I remember now is the elaborate mock funeral that closed our program.

150 Myron

June 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Myra Breckinridge is back. As Myron. Then as Myra. Then as Myron. Then as Myra again. Then as….Maria Montez?!?

To describe “Myron” as outrageous would be an understatement. Gore Vidal has the most outlandish schemes. Out of this world offensive obscene nasty uncouth coarse freaky propositions.

First, this Jekyll-Hyde/Victor-Victoria drama takes place inside a movie set, while being filmed on location. Myron is transported (by Myra?) from 1973 to 1948, from his living house to the set of Siren of Babylon.

Second, “Myron” is a statement about and against the US Supreme Court decision allowing each community to decide what is pornography, or what each community wants to ban. To escape censorship for use of dirty words, Vidal uses the names of the prude justices, such as Rehnquist Burger Powell Whizzer White Blackmun, instead of Dick Cunt Tit Ass Fuck. Example: “’Burger you, Maude!’ said the short one in a saucy way and then the Filipino bartender chased the two of them out of the room.”

149 The Piano Teacher

June 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Trust is fine, but control is better.”

Mother/Erika/Klemmer are in control while under the control of those they choose to control them. They make concessions to take more and  to give only a morsel in return.

“The Piano Teacher” dives into these knotty, if debauched, relationships between Mother-Daughter and Artist-Lover then Mother-Daughter/Artist-Lover. Their coupling is a scary dark traitorous psychic terrain. Elfriede Jelinek tells it elaborately and thoughtfully yet rivetingly, like a love story with splashes of blood.


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