197/ Androphilia: A Manifesto

Men should be defined by what they do, not who they screw.

In a landmark decision issued on 26 June 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the validity and legality of same-sex marriage in all American States with these poetic words from the ponencia (which reads almost like a love letter) of Justice Anthony Kennedy: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” (Obergefell v. Hodges)

Quite expectedly, not everyone’s happy. Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion, characterized the Supreme Court decision as “a threat to American democracy” and a “judicial Putsch”.

Jack Malebranche will probably agree with Justice Scalia. He does not believe in same-sex marriage, just because it’s a gay thing.

Malebranche insists he’s not gay. He’s just a man, a regular guy if you will, who happens to love fucking another man. He’s not gay because, according to him, the word gay connotes effeminacy, weakness, incompleteness. And he maintains that there’s nothing effeminate weak incomplete about him. He’s masculine. All man. An androphile.

Malebranche does make valid observations. Such as this: “The idea that same-sex oriented men are not true men is perhaps the most deeply ingrained and most limiting prejudice they face.”

But his arguments suck, straddling naiveté and bigotry. Such as this: “If a man chooses the masculine path, his innate maleness is nurtured; he develops a masculine character. By choosing the gay path, he never fully develops into a man.”

Put simply, according to Malebranche: androphiles are superior, gays inferior.

Malebranche has all the right to classify himself as an androphile, if he and his ilk believe that’s what masculine men who screw masculine men should be called. But really there’s no need to put women and effeminates down to point out that masculine men are responsible self-reliant independent. Why make these values exclusive to masculine men? Effeminates and gays and women can be just as responsible self-reliant morally strong independent as masculines, or for that matter, as anybody else.

If Malebranche wants to fuck masculine men and keep his masculinity unchallenged, by all means he can go ahead. But he doesn’t have to be so self-righteous about it. His binary opposition between masculinity and effeminacy only makes his “Androphilia: A Manifesto” nothing more than a platform for a little girl who wants to whine a lot.

196/ The Sandman Endless Nights

If you have nothing left to want, then you just wait until there’s nothing left to wait for, don’t you?

“The Sandman Endless Nights” is like an art museum: right off the door, the visitor is treated to a masterpiece, then to another masterpiece, and on to yet another masterpiece. Every frame is perfection. It’s a parade of endless beauty.

Neil Gaiman tells the stories of the seven Endless, each with dry humor, odd insight, and offbeat twist. Each a compelling read. Delirium fucks the mind with this: “I have heard the languages of apocalypse, and now I shall embrace the silence” as a rainbow arches out (or in?) of a window.

And what makes every Endless a very special read are the artworks of P. Craig Russel for Death, Milo Manara for Desire, Miguelanxo Prado for Dream, Barron Storey for Despair (I want to frame every one of the fifteen portraits and hang them in my flat), Bill Sienkiewicz for Delirium, Glenn Fabry for Destruction and Frank Quitely for Destiny.

195/ A Perfect Peace

Time devours all. And yet all the while human wisdom goes on trying to distinguish the good from the bad, the true from the false though it too must crumble before the onslaught, which grinds to smithereens the good, bad, right, wrong, beautiful, ugly labels that we seek to pin on things.

It’s unsettling how Amos Oz’s “A Perfect Peace” resonates well with my seminary life. I hear Yonatan’s thoughts exactly the way I think or would think them.

When Yonatan decides to leave his wife and the kibbutz in which he had been born and raised, I remember Claret. I remember wanting to leave to start a new life. Yonatan does not want any more impositions on what is right and what is wrong. I didn’t want any more the unbending structures on which our community ran.

Yonatan wants to be free, be able to do what he wants. I wanted to work, earn, and be whatever I wanted to be. He does not want to have any thing more to do with his family, his friends, his Rimona. I did not want to hear any more masses, say the rosaries and the vespers, clean eat study sleep with my brothers.

So Yonatan left. I left. Just like that.

194/ The Small Rain

But there is something about Time. The sun rises and sets. The stars swing slowly across the sky and fade. Clouds fill with rain and snow, empty themselves, and fill again. The moon is born, and dies, and is reborn. Around millions of clocks swing hour hands, and minute hands, and second hands. Around goes the continual circle of the notes of the scale. Around goes the circle of night and day, the circle of weeks forever revolving, and of months, and of years.

I envy Katherine Forrester who, at fourteen, has already found her passion for music and pursues it with relentless and single-minded vigor. But I envy Manya Sergeievna more, for she stuck with her passion for theater with unfaltering faithfulness to it until her old age.

People who know what they are passionate about, I think, are the only ones who truly know happiness. Because they seem to know what makes them happy. On the downside, they probably go through disappointments and frustrations with so much bitterness only death can save them. That is why, to me, Manya is so important to Katherine. Manya has survived the intensity that comes with her passion—intensity that propelled her to the top and not killed her. And she has taken it upon herself to ensure Katherine survives her own intensity.

Madeleine L’Engle’s “The Small Rain” is a thoughtful exposition of finding one’s inner balance in the chaotic midst of heartbreaks and heartaches.

193/ Case Histories

Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.

Jackson ponders: “If it was Marlee and he had to decide — dead or missing for ever — which would he choose?”

It’s the same dilemma bugging me as I impatiently wait for the individual and collective fates of Niamh, Laura, Olivia, and Michelle to unravel. It’s the same question I grapple with the entire time I am hooked on Kate Atkinson’s effortlessly fascinating “Case Histories”.

If it was my own mother or any one of my sisters and nieces, I would probably just think of them missing. That way I can think of them being in a good place — happy, loved, and cared for. I can imagine the best things for them. Whereas knowing will leave no room, not much at least, for imaginings.

At the same time, like Jackson, I don’t even want to think any thing untoward happening to them. I can’t bear to imagine it, because doing so may be tempting fate.

Postscript: Kate mentions the Philippines as the possible location for sweatshops where T-shirts in size ‘8-10 yrs’ are manufactured by 8-10 year old factory workers. Reminds me of the seven-hour Kentex Fire in Valenzuela City, which claimed the lives of seventy two footwear factory workers a few weeks ago.

192/ Dave Barry Turns 40

Generally the midlife crisis is triggered when a male realizes one day at about 2:30 P.M. that he has apparently, for some reason, devoted his entire life to doing something he hates. Let’s say he’s a lawyer. He did not just become a lawyer overnight. He worked hard to become a lawyer. He made enormous sacrifices, such as drinking domestic beer, so that he could afford to go to law school. He studies for thousands of hours, sweated out the law boards, groveled to get into a firm, licked a lot of shoes to make partner, and now, finally, he has made it. And then one afternoon, while writing yet another deadly dull formal letter to a client, a letter filled with standardized, prefabricated phrases such as “please be advised” and “with reference to the aforementioned subject matter,” he rereads what he had just written, and it says, “Please be advised to stick the aforementioned subject matter into your personal orifice. “ He may not be a trained psychologist, but he recognizes latent hostility when he sees it. And so he starts to think. And the more he thinks, the more he realizes that he hates everything about being a lawyer. He hates is clients. He (needless to say) hates other lawyers. He hates the way every time he tells people what he does for a living, they react as though he had said “Nazi medical researcher.” He hates his office. He hates Latin phrases. He hates his briefcase. He hates it all, just hates it hates it hates it, and finally he decides that he really wants to have a completely different job, something fun, something carefree, something like…hang-gliding instructor. Yes! That’s it! He tried hang-gliding once, on vacation, and he loved it! Meanwhile, somewhere out there is a middle-aged hang-gliding instructor who has just discovered that he hates his life. He hates not making enough money to own a nice car. He hates sudden downdrafts. He hates having to be nice to vacationing lawyers. What he really wants is a better-paying job that enables him to do something truly useful with his life. Yes, the more he thinks about it, the more he wishes that he had become…a doctor.

Forty. I feel it. I think it. I know it. I look it. But I refuse to believe it. Because I don’t know what to make of it. Does it mean I now have to start thinking acting looking feeling being old? Like being serious with my life, i.e., start saving up for diapers and maintenance pills? Like mapping out a career, something that leads all the way up to retirement? So many questions. Good thing there’s the essential dependable serious Dave Barry. Better, there’s Dave’s “Dave Barry Turns 40” to give us the guideposts for being graceful about midlife and what will probably be beyond it. Let’s see:

  1. Body. Yep, starting to rot away. Stomach bloating by an inch every picosecond. Hair strands in a constant Diaspora—anywhere but my scalp.
  2. Marriage. Not applicable.
  3. Kids. Not applicable, but starting to consider having one or two.
  4. Sex. Still as horny as a sixteen-year old but no longer as bashful in bed (or on the kitchen floor, in the parking lot, by the seashore, or anywhere the need arises).
  5. Job. I don’t hate being a lawyer. I love being one, but then I haven’t been one for a long time yet.
  6. Money. Still poor, but happier with the things I spend on, like travels cameras books condoms.
  7. Retirement. Looking forward to but starting to worry about seclusion.
  8. Parents. Father is dead. Mother is fast shrinking like an overripe grapefruit. She’s becoming repetitive. And demanding. But never have I missed her this much before. Finally dawning on me how I am the luckiest sperm/egg for having her as my mother.
  9. Politics. Can’t be bothered to care.
  10. Memory. Glad I made it through the Bar, but worried about drawing blanks in the middle of an argument during court hearings. In my mind, I know exactly what I want to say but, once I open my mouth, I take a pause wondering where the hell I am.

Forty. Sounds old, feels young.

191/ Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak

The thinkers got the genocide going, and the militants paid for the damage.

How does one even begin to imagine the 1994 carnage that took place in the marshes of Nyamata and the streets of Ntarama? How to understand the machete-wielding Hutus cutting thousands of their neighbor Tutsis to pieces and soaking them in their own blood? What to think of the murderers getting up early in the morning, polishing their machetes, going out in the field, hunting for Tutsis, butchering their finds, and coming back home for dinner – and they followed this routine religiously and unquestioningly for two months as though it was just all work and nothing more?

Elie, one of the killers, ratiocinates: “In the end, a man is like an animal: you give him a whack on the head or the neck, and down he goes.” That simple.

And, all this hate, where is it coming from? I am struggling here because I refuse to believe that Hutus hate Tutsis for the latter’s elegance and beauty and snootiness. So envy brought about one of the most inconceivable bloodbaths in history? So envy explains the killers’ readiness and willingness to slaughter their neighbors? So it all comes down to envy?

What I find most bewildering though is how the killers have easily moved on from the genocide. It’s almost naïve how they feel entitled to forgiveness without even being sincerely sorry about what they did. It’s aggravating how they look forward to their release thinking they can just go back to their village, cultivate their land, and be neighbors again with the remaining Tutsis they failed to butcher.

“Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak” is all about the individuals who participated in the genocide and what they have to say about their unspeakable acts. Jean Hatzfeld masterfully got them to talk in the hope of making sense of the bloodshed. But I have to say it’s still the victims whose words and views I find most heartfelt:

Berthe: Before, I knew a man could kill another man, because it happened all the time. Now I know that even the person with whom you’ve shared food, or with whom you’ve slept, even he can kill you with no trouble. The closest neighbor can turn out to be the most horrible. An evil person can kill you with his teeth: that is what I have learned since the genocide, and my eyes no longer gaze the same on the face of the world.