22 June 2019

Never before I had

Good morning. I always drink on a Friday night, whether alone or with a friend or two, though most of the time it's alone, whether at home or outside, though most of the time it's at home.

The act is like any other weekend-unwinding, mine with an emphasis on the minor celebration of not having to wake up at 4AM the following day. Because despite my part-timer status, I choose to take the early-early morning shift.

Fridays are also graced with music releases, so my routine would include checking out new tracks, whether from artists I like or those whom I haven't heard before.

Last night I listened to Cassius's "Dreems". My listening experience agitated by the news of Philippe "Zdar" Cerboneschi's death the night before. It came to my attention via 2manydjs's tribute on social media. Their famed vinyl wall filled with records in which Zdar has worked his magic.

A post shared by 2manydjs (@2manydjs) on

From this wall I also learned that he had a hand in Phoenix's "United", and the band even credited him for saving their debut album. If you ask me which song I love dancing to the most, it has to be Too Young. No idea why. All I know is there's a sweetly honest, unpolished quality to it that is difficult to ignore.

Dancing in parties, concerts or festivals is often associated with joy and freedom. These days I'm learning that it can also be an expression of sadness. Or that it's never really just one emotion we're feeling at a certain moment. Regardless, it's okay to be in public, sad.

In the privacy of my room I played "Dreems". When the title track came, I lost it, and also found myself lifted by the poignant refrain — You make me want to dream. How can so much melancholy exist in an upbeat tune? Never before I had someone like you right by my side. Simple prose has never sounded so heartbreaking.

I thought it was the alcohol kicking in. But I'm completely sober now and as I type this, Dreems is still playing on repeat. I'm still bleeding.

20 June 2019

Highlights from 'Black Dogs'

McEwan, Ian. Black Dogs. Anchor Books, 1992.

A personal background

May had not been an inspiring month, literary-speaking. Couldn't finish a single novel. I have this habit of buying new books and from, say, ten titles, I'd only commit to one or two. Then make an impractical purchase again, and so the cycle goes. This isn't unique to me, so thank you if you share the same burden.

There's also no need to mention that money isn't easy to come by. My shelf's filled with unopened paperbacks, giving me no reason to complain about a lack of reading material. More so, no reason to keep buying, but.

My frustration led me to a pile of unread Ian McEwan, bought sometime in 2007 for P20 each. He hasn't let me down so far. Regardless of our history, I proceeded with caution and plucked the slimmest volume, Black Dogs, in case I lose stamina.

I plan to make 2020 a year of re-reading. Go back to stories I enjoyed or at least remember enjoying. A piece of good writing offers — to borrow Clare Cavanagh's stunning phrase, because nothing else will do — unplumbable abundance.

Some underlined bits
The truth is we love each other, we've never stopped, we're obsessed. And we failed to do a thing with it. We couldn't make a life.... Whenever I'm complaining about some latest social breakdown in the newspapers, I have to remind myself—why should I expect millions of strangers with conflicting interests to get along when I couldn't make a simple society with the father of my children, the man I've loved and remained married to? (pp 29-30)

A crowd is a slow, stupid creature, far less intelligent than any one of its members. (p 65)

As they drank from their water bottles, he was struck by the recently concluded war not as a historical, geopolitical fact but as a multiplicity, a near infinity of private sorrows, as a boundless grief minutely subdivided without diminishment among individuals who covered the continent like dust [...] For the first time he sensed the scale of the catastrophe in terms of feeling— [...] What possible good could come of a Europe covered in this dust, these spores, when forgetting would be inhuman and dangerous, and remembering a constant torture? (p 140)

Surely this was what existence strained to be, and so rarely had the chance: to savor itself fully in the present, this moment in all its simplicity— (p 144)

Highlights from 'Every day is for the thief'

Cole, Teju. Every day is for the thief. Random House, 2014.

A personal background

One of my closest friends and I have recently built a birthday tradition. It's just that we find time to have a nice dinner together. What makes the event special is we're both Pisces, so there's some exclusivity to it. Now this post has nothing to do with that useless fact. This has everything to do with this other useless fact: me forgetting to prepare a gift.

I take pride in giving gifts (as recorded here and here), so I was horrified when I received a Teju Cole book from him and couldn't reciprocate the gesture. My memory lapse shall be rectified. After reading, I'll be thinking of a great, belated birthday book.

Some underlined bits
Much like these Pacific Islanders, Nigerians do not always have the philosophical equipment to deal with the material goods they are so eager to consume. We fly planes but we do not manufacture aircraft, much less engage in aeronautical research. We use cellphones but we do not make them. But, more important, we do not foster the ways of thinking that lead to the development of telephones or jet engines. Part of that philosophical equipment is an attention to details: a rejection of only the broad outlines of a system, a commitment to precision, an engagement with the creative and scientific spirit behind what one uses. (p 139)

Religion, corruption, happiness. Why, if so religious, so little concern for the ethical life or human rights? Why, if so happy, such weariness and stifled suffering? [...] "Shuffering and Shmiling" was about how, in Nigeria, there is tremendous cultural pressure to claim that one is happy, even when one is not. Especially when one is not. Unhappy people, such as grieving mothers at a protest march, are swept aside. It is wrong to be unhappy. But it is not necessary to get bogged down in details when all we need is the general idea. (p 142)

It is entirely possible to put on a happy face, but what no one can really do is relax. (p 145)

Highlights from 'Fever Pitch'

Hornby, Nick. Fever Pitch. Riverheard Books, 1992.

A personal background

My freshman year in college, I was oblivious to how much DLSU cared about — and dominated — men's basketball at the UAAP. That same year we won the championship, which I found out when I went to the campus ready to take my classes only to be sent back home because apparently, it was a holiday. What bullshit celebration, I said to myself using maybe another set of PG-13 words.

There was no escaping it. Everyone's watching and discussing the sport, so I ended up curious, catching some of the games, all of which bored me to death. We were always winning. I was always rooting for the other team, just for a glimmer of drama. Almost my entire college life was punctuated with a Men's Basketball Championship Holiday. Hurray.

Until we lost the title to ADMU in my senior year. (There's really something off about that Never shall we fail slogan.) It's not as if I wasn't aware of the rivalry, but I was made hyper-aware since that finals match. The insults — again, I had heard them before — came in relentless machine-gun speed. Everyone, from within and outside the institution, hated our players, hated our coaches, hated ourselves. And I felt personally attacked for something I didn't do, by mere association. Hey, I wasn't the one who missed the shot; why are you crucifying me!!!

Then I, goodness gracious, started to care.

But I do love sports in general. Or not. Stressful, emotionally draining stuff. What I know for certain is you can't be a sports fan if you don't have the heart to lose.

When I bought Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch over a decade ago, it was in hopes that it'll give me the wisdom and sense of humor to get through each UAAP and Tennis season. A few pages in, I realized that it was a football diary and I had zero knowledge and interest in football. Last March I picked it up again, despite my unimproved football IQ, confident that I'm a better, if more conscientious reader now. Well, the book brought me pleasure with a teeny ounce of pain.

Some underlined bits
Entertainment as pain was an idea entirely new to me, and it seemed to be something I'd been waiting for. (p 13)

I simply asked [my father], in an assumed spirit of idle curiosity, who he thought would win the game, and he said he thought Arsenal would, three or four nothing, the same as everyone else did, and so I got the reassurance I was looking for; but I was scared for life anyway. Like my mother's exclamation mark, my father's blithe confidence later seemed like a betrayal. (p 18)

I had discovered after the Swindon game that loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it was more like a wart or a hump, something you were stuck with. (p 27)

I have learned the value of investing time and emotion in things I cannot control, and of belonging to a community whose aspirations I share completely and uncritically. (p 62)

I like the thought of people remembering [emphasis mine] me on a regular basis. (p 186)

Sport and life, especially the arty life, are not exactly analogous. One of the great things about sport is its cruel clarity: there is no such thing, for example, as a bad one-hundred-metre runner, or a hopeless centre-half who got lucky; in sport, you get found out... There are, however, plenty of bad actors or musicians or writers making a decent living, people who happened to be in the right place at the right time, or knew the right people, or whose talents have been misunderstood or overestimated. (p 201)

Top Shelf