Showing posts from 2018

Days left

I had the unfortunate chance of sitting through a career goal seminar of sorts for Literature Majors sometime in March. For a panel composed of professionals who had been exposed to great literary works during their undergrad years, you would expect to hear something original from them. Instead they maintained the shaky connection between humaneness and the humanities. As if one needs to earn a Liberal Arts degree to unlock the virtue of empathy. As if becoming an artist means becoming a paragon of goodness.

Now I've just set myself up to say something original. This isn't, but here it goes. What I've learned from studying Literature is death. Christmas season is such a wonderful reminder that we are all fellow passengers to the grave. The power of storytelling is the power to postpone a beheading for a thousand and one nights. Chronicle of a death foretold. Death of a salesman. The death of Ivan Ilyich. As I lay dying. God is dead. The author is dead. Oedipus: complex and…


I'd been re-reading Don Paterson in the past weeks for a paper I was writing. I love him so much. He and Alice Fulton are my favorite living poets — edit: the only living poets I whole-heartedly admire. The poem below, the first time I read it, I literally gasped. It's been a long while since I've had that reaction to a text. I wish we could all know this kindness he speaks of.



The shudder in my son's left hand
he cures with one touch from his right,
two fingertips laid feather-light
to still his pen. He understands

the whole man must be his own brother
for no man is himself alone;
though some of us have never known
the one hand's kindness to the other.

Source: Paterson, Don. Selected Poems (Kindle Locations 1603-1608). Faber & Faber. Kindle Edition.

Notes on 'Arsenic and old lace' and the insane

Contemporary fictionists will tell you that there are no heroes and villains, only men and women doing what they think is right (subconsciously motivated by a traumatic experience during their formative years, which they, now in their supposedly mature, conscious state, will re-enact and manoeuvre into their desired end — your friendly psychoanalyst might add).

Take elderly sisters Abby and Martha Brewster, who live together with their mentally challenged nephew, Teddy in a huge Brooklyn house. Inspiration hit them when not long ago, a Mr Midgely knocked on their door, asking for a place to stay. The man — old and without a family to call his own — found a refuge and incidentally his final resting place in the Brewster household, where he died of a heart attack. Teddy (convinced that he is President Teddy Roosevelt) concluded that Mr Midgely fell victim to Yellow Fever and immediately dug a grave for him in the lot.

"He sat dead in that chair looking so peaceful... [Martha and I]…

Two books

I received two books for my birthday (yay!): Zoologies by Alison Hawthorne Deming (above) and For the tempus-fugivites by Christopher Norris (below). The former was given to me by a vegan friend, so I couldn't help but ask him, "Are you trying to convert me?" The latter was given to me by my professor, and I was kind of flattered when he said it was something he could only give to a few people, since theory is hardly accessible, more so when argued in verse.

Dove right away into Norris's world of verse-essays. He offered a lucid introduction to his project and also reminded me that poetry is not just lyric poetry.

Some underlined bits from the preface:
As hardly needs saying there has to be a constant interplay or tension between meter and natural speech-rhythms such that the two never perfectly coincide but set up an asynchronous counterpoint that again helps to stimulate ear and mind. (p viii)

[Norris paraphrasing Giorgio Agamben] Poetry just is, or is most essen…

Woman Worldwide indeed

I was so ready to order this shirt the moment I found it on Club 75 last year and to my great dismay, the online store wouldn't ship to the Philippines (wrote them a heartfelt letter questioning this unfortunateness).

See, I'm charmed by the understated design, the neutral color and the heavy word printed across the chest. It doesn't scream fangirl; instead it can be construed as a feminist performative — kidding, we're not going there. Thank heavens Justice has decided to sell their merch in their own website, but the better news is that they realize that they have fans even this side of the world.

Am really happy with the purchase and with Sandbag UK, the merchandise company handling the band's e-commerce campaign. They deliver fast and respond to queries with a personal touch. Five stars, two thumbs up.

A post shared by JUSTICE (@etjusticepourtous) on Feb 14, 2018 at 9:14am PST
Although, also — I was a little sad and a little relieved that the exclusive Justice …

Heart's desire

My 35th birthday falls on a Saturday falls on a school day. I didn't want to simply attend my classes then go home — as much as I wanted to sleep after cramming an essay — so I invited Mich and Alts to dinner right after.

By some strange chance, or simply my skills in finding connections where there should be none, we briefly talked about Lacan's "Desire is the the desire of the Other" in Theory class. Now that I think about it, the discussion was born out of a question I raised. A proper signpost for what was about to happen:

On the car ride going to the restaurant, Althea asked me what my birthday wish was. The answer was delayed until we had dessert, where the ladies brought me a chocolate cake with a candle that doesn't blow out.

I know what I want, but when you're an adult, a wish is a promise. A declaration of desire is a pledge. I wish for cash; I must put in some work. I wish for love; I must forgive. I must forego pride. I must wake up early and fin…

Staging the skies

Lauren Gunderson is a rather demanding playwright. To put it another way, her imagination demands an equally creative team of artists to translate her decades-spanning, locations-shifting story — that centers on astronomer, Henrietta Leavitt — from the page onto the stage.

Silent sky moves between 1900 to 1920, and back and forth the Harvard Observatory, Wisconsin, Cambridge, an ocean liner on the Atlantic, and a star field. Bridging the gaps in time and space are Gunderson's cinematic directions: "Margaret fades away;" "Peter and the Harvard Observatory are swept away from her as the Leavitt home takes its place;" "The room falls away as they run off;" "Time is passing as the sky fills up in swatches." A curious heroine and compelling script aside, how the set will transition from scene to scene is something to look forward to in any staging of this drama.

Joy Virata takes on the mantle of re-building Silent sky's dream-like world as she…

Beneath the covers: Notes on 'A comedy of tenors'

Opera superstar Tito Merelli pauses midway through opening the bedroom door to eavesdrop on a hushed, rushed conversation between his wife, Maria and another man (who, unbeknownst to him, is Carlo Nucci — newest opera darling and boyfriend of his daughter, Mimi). Tito tarries till he confirms his great fear: Maria is having an affair.

This is not true, however. What Tito has witnessed are passionate gestures, words and escape stratagems taken out of their proper context and into his own unassailable betrayal narrative.

Ken Ludwig enjoys this game of hide-and-seek in A comedy of tenors, currently staged by Repertory Philippines under the direction of Miguel Faustmann. A Paris concert featuring the world's leading tenors — Merelli, Nucci, and Jussi Björling — is about to start in three hours. As farce would have it, Björling has to withdraw from the performance due to his mother’s sudden death, forcing producer Henry Saunders to hire his assistant-slash-son-in-law, Max (whom he has …

Image is everything

So, had a little photo shoot today. Whenever I meet someone new and they say, "Where have I seen you before?" or "Have we met before?", I reply with, "I used to be a print model," because I have a sense of humor, and to check if I could actually pass for an ex-cover girl.

To rebel, to never rush

"Eating freely without being held back." Well that's the dream.

Thing is, I've learned how to do that—and have been doing that—since I landed my first job. The freedom that money and singlehood afford, I spend on gourmandizing. That quote, by the way, comes from the Japanese mini-series, Samurai gourmet, where newly retired Takeshi Kasumi embarks on a new adventure: figuring out what to do with all the free time in his hands.

"Why am I in a hurry to go home? I don't have to go to work tomorrow," is an example of Kasumi's many internal dialogues; and the focus on introspection while keeping a lighthearted tone is the show's unique charm. Its opening credits go, "This story is about an ordinary 60-year-old man"—and they mean it.

Other everyday struggles he faces are: mustering the courage to speak up to a rude store owner, asking loud diners on the next table to be quiet, and being himself, that is, eating pasta with chopsticks—and pairi…