27 November 2020

Stevens and banter

There's one important theme that I didn't talk about in my post on The Remains of the Day: Banter. On my podcast, I reflected briefly about it, and below are some slightly modified excerpts.


A quick check on my English-Tagalog dictionary confirms my knowledge. Banter translates as biro, tukso, and kantiyaw in Tagalog. There is an aspect of playfulness to it, nothing malicious or damaging.

The Tagalog word is sort of one-way, though. One person teases another, as in, My friend is teasing me about putting on too much makeup and wearing my best dress because my crush will be at the party.

Whereas banter seems to be a two-way game. In both cases, however, there is an intimacy involved. Because you talk about or banter about personal things, perhaps a hidden sentiment, like the example about my crush.

So if you engage in banter, depending on which side you are on, you are either allowing a piece of yourself to be exposed, or you are poking in a sensitive part of a person. And so if you're not careful, it could end in hurt feelings; but if all goes well, there's a tenderness that forms between you and whoever your are bantering with.

In my experience, I hated it most of the time because I'm super sensitive and people aren't always charming and good with words and reading other people. Or maybe I’m just really super sensitive.

And so, I've always thought of bantering as something you do when you've already created a friendship with another person. Once there's a certain comfort level, then you can banter, you can tease.


What is happening with Stevens and Mr Farraday in the novel is the opposite of what I've grown to believe as the purpose of playful teasing. For me, it is somewhere on top of the hierarchy of the things you do when you’re close to someone. A measure of intimacy. But for Stevens and Mr Farraday, and apparently the strangers around Stevens, banter can be the beginning of a close relationship.


Listen to the seven-minute minicast:

People, podcasting, promotion

On the pilot episode of The Stunner, I talked about the similarities between podcast and free verse. To extend the analogy, like writing a poem, you never really finish a podcast episode, you simply abandon it. I can record a spiel a million times and still find something wrong, whether it's my pronunciation, intonation, tone, word choice, background noises.

There's the trailer that sets expectations, the pilot with all the pleasant explanations, but here's the truth.

This podcast is my way of socializing in a controlled environment. And by that I mean I am in control. It's no secret that I get exhausted by people easily, which doesn't mean that I hate them completely; but, I need to be in the right mental space before I engage with anyone. Being caught off-guard stresses me out. Worse, it can make me resent others or beat myself up — for saying the wrong thing, for reacting wrongly, for being anything other than perfect.

Podcasting is exhausting, too, and not without unpredictability, but here I have a greater degree of control.

And like writing, I crave the pleasure of an audience. Today I've created a Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts to promote the show and connect with kindred souls. If by some measure you enjoy my blog, please do give my podcast a chance.

01 November 2020

On forgetting (the deliberate kind)

Let's forget about it. Forgive and forget. Kalimutan mo na iyon. Kalimutan mo na siya.

Always a prescription, to forget. I find it especially curious, the expression, I can forgive but I won't forget. As if forgiveness isn't total. One bestows pardon but the crime is recorded somewhere for reference; for purposes we've yet to predict.

Is it nobler to accept a person with full awareness of their wrongdoings, because in this regard you are merciful and pragmatic, headstrong despite the ways of the world, that is, everyone will sooner or later disappoint you.

Or must we prefer true oblivion, because even the smallest resentment can shake a good night's sleep and, if we're not careful, create a tear in future relationships. A tear that can grow bigger and bigger, no matter how careful we may be.


Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Buried Giant. Vintage Books, 2015.

"Who knows what will come when quick-tongued men make ancient grievances rhyme with fresh desire for land and conquest?" (Ishiguro, 348)


A Japanese trainee noted that we must remember our history, except for the wars and tragedies. The latter, according to him, we should forget. He's far from articulate when speaking in English, so he may mean other things when he said forget.

In The Buried Giant by Kashuo Ishiguro, an entire land is swept by a literal forgetfulness. Histories, personal and communal are incomplete. Bits and pieces of a hazy past nag them from time to time, but nothing to rob them of their peace.

If there is a magic potion for forgetting, I'd take it. Is it weakness? A betrayal of Justice? Maybe.

I'd take it.


Who are we if not our memories? Even what we do now becomes history the next second. There is our (individual) history, and there is someone else's history of us. Who's to say which of these we should live by.

Forgive and forget. Is our love greater if we choose to bury memories of a cheating partner? Do we become less of a human being if we hold on to a hurt?

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