157 Pride and Prejudice

August 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

I wonder what a bitchfight between Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde would be like. Wilde of course is widely known for his outrageous witticisms. I didn’t know Austen can be just as witchy and crafty.

Consider these from her “Pride and Prejudice”:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least.”

“Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for everybody.”

“Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.”

“One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.”

“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

156 My Ántonia

July 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Those girls had grown up in the first bitter-hard times, and had got little schooling themselves. But the younger brothers and sisters, for whom they made such sacrifices and who have had ‘advantages,’ never seem to me, when I meet them now, half as interesting or as well educated. The older girls, who helped to break up the wild sod, learned so much from life, from poverty, from their mothers and grandmothers; they had all, like Ántonia, been early awakened and made observant by coming at a tender age from an old country to a new.”

“My Ántonia” is the story of my childhood friends and grade school classmates. It’s uncanny how Willa Cather seems to have witnessed and then chronicled their lives spot on—from the wild years to how far they have come.

Most of them left Pili to become Lena Lingard and Tiny Soderball—moneyed sophisticated independent powerful. There are those too who stayed and became Ántonia Cuzak—judicious important wise. They all seem happy with what they have and who they have become.

I look at them and I see the Good Life in various shapes forms colors.

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.

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