Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in   
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Arizona Sunset
February 2011

Mark Strand, "Keeping Things Whole" from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand.  Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., a division of Random House, Inc. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011


“The world was full of holes … once on the other side of one of those holes; you were free of yourself, free of your life, free of your death, free of everything that belonged to you.”

After Paul Auster’s The Book of Illusions

There are times when one finds it necessary to conceal the truth. For whatever reason, the moment we hide something from plain view means we choose not to be known. This challenges the concept of existence; one cannot validate the human condition without witnesses. I believe the very delicate quality of memories is a tragedy in itself. Consider the careful obliteration of memories that can be reduced to a single thought. There are times wherein we will attempt to recover them all, and yet fail. What then of the memories that will never be made?

In Paul Auster’s Book of Illusions, the character of Hector Mann endured desolation and unthinkable humiliation just to hide his true identity. This series of Hector’s life was set in the 1940s, describing him as a promising young comic actor and silent filmmaker. He enjoyed the limelight with some of the film industry’s most beautiful women. However, he mysteriously disappeared from the public eye and was never heard of again. Many thought he had committed suicide. Some said he gave up on his filmmaking dreams and lived the life of a peaceful hermit. The latter speculation was acceptable, but his life was far from anything peaceful.

Hector struggled to hide from his faults. The life he had worked so hard for ended the day he had killed a past lover. At that point, he knew he could never forgive himself. Hector sought comfort in anonymity and took a new life by the name of Herman Loesser. Doing odd jobs left and right, he hauled fish crates in a market, was a salesman in a golf store, and even became a gimp performing live sex for private houses. He went as far as he could to hide from the authorities, and even farther away from himself.

Here lies the duality: the mask he wore hid all his guilt and it served as the same prison he was never able to escape from. Hector’s character takes a turn when he confesses everything that happened after his disappearance. By this time, Hector is old and very sickly. A writer by the name of David Zimmer is also intrigued by his life and disappearance as a promising filmmaker. But in the end, all roads lead nowhere when the bearer of the truth dies along with all significant writings about Hector’s life. Every piece of evidence representing his true self was burnt to ashes.

Here, we see how Hector attempts to reconcile with his past. He remembers everything, every sin, treachery, and ounce of love in vivid detail. But by then, nobody will ever truly know what happened to him. No one will ever acknowledge it, and there is no more proof to validate it.

I believe it unjust to deny man his right to conceal weaknesses and faults. Here, his privacy and human dignity is of great merit. “Façade” tries to capture a particular period in Hector’s life. The Book of Illusions not only dealt with duality, it may have well depicted the concept of eternal return.

Just when Hector looks through the eyes of his own mask, he sees more masks in the world outside. All masks conceal the valuable. Hector took part in the stage of manipulation. Like him, we take part and identify most with what we think is familiar because it goes back to our selves.

The novel quotes many verses from French author Chateaubriand, where he writes: Man has not one and the same life. He has many lives, placed end to end, and that is the cause of his misery.

We are responsible for what we communicate and leave undisclosed. Our way of life depends on it whether we choose to live in a glass house or behind walls with holes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


For the first time in years, things
fell back where they should be.

It's one of those strange nights
where my eyes don't seem to work
like they should. Silver spots appear,
turn dark, and begin to streak
when I turn my sight to another side.
I haven't had a headache this serious
in a very long time. I could remember
the last, I was 16 then. Every time
I focused, my eyes hurt. I couldn't
open them. I imagined two mad thumbs
gauging my eye balls out its sockets.
My head was caving in because something
was too heavy. Medication soothed it,
but the effects wore off gradually.
The doctor advised me to sleep
if I couldn't take the pain.

And so, I slept through three years of my life.
And I wonder. It must have been what I saw,

Without sleep, I began to manage
because by now I know everything
will pass. Once again, there is weight.
It is heavier in the same places, and more.
Today, I saw things upside down. Sickening
colors, hazy hands, the silver streaks. Head
throbbing, eyes speaking of the same pain.

and didn't. It was in something he said.
Aren't we all aching for the same things?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Gathering

of letters from the '90s to the present day
and a notebook with poems and quotes

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sexual Orientation

On Kitsch

I just finished reading Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being, and yes, this is my first time to read his work. More than a book about erotic experiences and intertwined love affairs, which is how this novel is usually “marketed”, I found it more philosophical and enlightening as presupposed by its title. I appreciate how it presented duality and challenged Nietsze’s concept of eternal return. It’s a detailed account on the human condition; an inquiry on the struggle of rational thought brought by the weight of emotions and painfully patterned beliefs.

How Kundera did not deny his I in the novel appealed to me. It becomes even more appealing when I think about how he integrated that voice in his work. It’s an interesting viewpoint for a reader to see that detached thought of a writer on the world he has created. I think it’s clever this style found its way into a novel, making it sound philosophical rather than preachy. But, enough about the writer. I actually found myself immersed in a particular thought hours after I laid the book down to rest.

Kundera stressed the true meaning of kitsch, which is: the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.

Maybe what got my mind going on about kitsch is the fact that, as humans, we refuse to acknowledge things that are not ideal in our eyes. When we deny this reality, we deprive ourselves of the truth. Shit is a natural daily human function. To go about life being ashamed of it doesn’t quite make it right. We cannot resolve actual issues at hand with this mindset when we refuse what is actually there. Now, here is where the story relates kitsch with Communism, or any political movement for that matter.  The author writes: “The brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on the base of kitsch”. And true enough, when Communism took over countries, it imposed idyllic views which made it a powerful mechanism.

Sabina, a painter in the novel, made art depicting duality. She describes the themes in her painting as “a knife against an intelligible lie revealing the unintelligible truth”. Later on, she mentions how she’s not really against communism; that her point is really against everything kitsch. However, by the end of her story, she acknowledges her longing for something idyllic no matter how much she has scorned it—kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.

Isn’t it true that idyllic desires only intend to do everyone good? Well, of course it does. But just like Communism, most great crimes and tragedies sprung from good intentions. We’ve enough history books and newspapers to prove it.

Today, kitsch is defined by most dictionaries as (and I paraphrase): tawdry, vulgarized or pretentious art, literature, or anything resembling art usually with popular or sentimental appeal—I believe Sabina, as an artist, had an aesthetic dislike for kitsch. I’d like to believe she created tasteful paintings. This new meaning just brought kitsch to an entirely different level of pretension, and I’m not even talking about art. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

O kay tagal din kitang minahal,

O kay tagal din kitang mamahalin. -- Sugarfree

The truest expression of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it. -- Paolo Coelho

When a writer talks about his work, he's talking about a love affair. -- Alfred Kazin

Lovers, 1928