Monthly Archives: June 2009

Self-voyeurism

Have you ever had that disconcerting feeling of being totally detached from your very own life and you’re reduced into powerless self-voyeurism? Like you’re observing your very own proceeding in confusion while your conciousness frantically waves from a distant trying to catch up with your empty shell?

In the past few weeks, that kind of blah-ness is quite a pervasive condition on me and no matter how I struggle for clarity or directional shift, I can’t help but get this perpetual twilight zone smog. Names, faces, events and emotions are reduced into one incoherent blur and many times over I get the absurd disposition that my life is one protracted stretch of horrific and surreal scenes strung together.

Despite the abundance of daily stories to write about, that creative spark seems to have taken a holiday. Missing. Out of reach. Elsuive. I should console myself of the thought that life, although not that spectacular in excessive ways, have been quite permitting. There’s nothing much to whine about and for that I’m thankful.

Omnipresent as ever is that pang of sadness. It didn’t help me that I have a few striking episodes of total astonishment over complete strangers who remind me of that one absolute deficit that’s somewhat within grasp but remains perversely unreachable, dodging me, rolling with teasing laughter. Being swaggering and self-absorbed.

I woke up in the middle of the night and lethargy descended like a malicious cloud threatening a predictable downpour. I remain very still, lying in bed, wide-eyed, bated-breathed, naked, waiting for something to hit me.


Cataclysm

Maybe the cosmos is sending cryptic signals. And I, being appallingly irresponsible, ignore the encrypted messages and choose to take the statements as they are: basically amusing pseudophilosophies slash individualistic mantras that spark amusement, and on certain neurotic cases, deep thought. I’m not talking about earth-shaking utopian suppositions. I’m talking about T-shirt inscriptions that I see being worn by people while wandering aimlessly in the mall. “Real Men Don’t Need Viagra”, “Porn Star On Training”, “I Wish These Were Brains!” worn by a big-bosomed woman, “You Say I’m A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing”, “The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own”, I saw this shirt worn by a Vegas stripper in protest of President Bush’s policies. And the cringe-a-holic, perverse in a mad hilarious way shirt I saw: “I (Heart) Mahal!”


Again, I ask

Five questions still dangle in my head like infuriating specks of cheerful-beyond-belief clouds that just won’t give me a break.

1. What’s the point of all this?
2. Why struggle?
3. Why can’t I be a bonafide asshole and just let it be that way?
4. Why can’t I bear the thought of being directly involved in inflicting hurt?
5. Why am I so bad at being too close for comfort?

As a human capable of this thing called thought process, the more I try to rationalize with shallow pseudophilosophies or recycled self-empowering tepid attempt at self-consolations, the more I flaggelate myself by mentally kicking my own shins.

It’s possible that I am hitching the rational train in full throttle. Am I a human train wreck?

If everything is so close, almost within my grasp, then how do I explain the little slivers of restraint and self-doubt that prevent me from being so happy? Maybe this is one of those moments where I am actually feeling depressed but too engrossed with petty distractions called academics and living to actually take heed and do something about it. Maybe after all the avoidance, I just want to slump on the couch next to a fond breathing thing which will prove my delusions wrong.

Or maybe a quick fix of Oreo McFlurry will dispel this supposed decline. Maybe I am feeling this to remind myself that I am very much capable of hurt despite the mounting jadedness. Maybe it’s just me. Which, with great possibility, is definitely all there is.


Pencil full of lead

You must be a very sad man, the message goes. It shows in your writings.

I am very well acquainted with how it is being sad, I reply. But writing dons its own wings and charts its own flights. I have nothing to do with its cheerless expression. All I remember is I was looking at words assembling themselves into something I am quite familiar with. Eventually they make sense. I know of joy as I know its reverse. They are constant visitors who seldom arrive simultaneously. They choreograph their stopovers with mutual respect: the other won’t knock while the other is in the middle of an enraptured conversation with the owner of the house. They both know it is rude to barge in, to disrupt. While the other dwells in the room, the other is patiently waiting in the outskirts of the fields, counting heartbeats until his time is due.

When it’s proper, appears in full glory, brimming with a smile. That’s how it is, I conclude, don’t let the words confuse or mislead you. Don’t assume too much. Nor attempt to understand anything too soon. Like you, I await the coming and going, alternating the anticipation, as steady as the rhythm of night and day.


No wonder we are sad.

Elevators are a source of amusement to me. It’s the very definition of proximity and distance being tossed in a warped blender. You are crammed to the point of your privates being scrunched to someone else’s body parts and yet you carry on like those body parts do not exist. Maybe Leo Buscaglia is right. It would be fun to freak people out when getting in the lift and brightly announce, “Hello! My name is Ken and I want to know you!” They’d be so agitated and scramble out of the doggone box screaming, “There’s a psycho in there and he wants to know me!” The thought of someone knowing us well threatens us. We yearn for closeness and opt for detachment. To reword another brilliant writer: it’s like giving a handshake while wishing our arms are way longer. No wonder we are sad.


A sense of reality

Something in me stirred.

After a short-lived but intense burst of astonishment, I become all-too-aware like all the switches in the world flicked on, unfastening bolts of currents, and, swiftly, everything is illuminated. Like all the lanterns of the universe burned in precisely choreographed combustion. It was exhilarating. Saddening, too.

I was watching a DVD of Closer, a movie which, for the longest time, I have postponed seeing. It is so many things to different people. Cynics and jaded people (AMEN!) would hail it a piracy of their private lives. Romantics would view it as one complex but fascinating puzzle. Realists would declare it an honest mirror. Absurdists will proclaim it as a study of stark reality. Every acclamation about this multifaceted composite of modern relationships is well-earned. The movie never loses its rhythmical series: brisk, sly, funny, bleak, cruel, honest, blunt, unapologetic and above all, mystifying. This is the kind of rabid writing that makes people like me insecure. It never revels on profundity but you feel the looming sadness, the yearnings, the melancholy and the imminent gloom hovering above the characters’ heads. You root for them, you want them to be happy, but like you, they are as confused, fumbling around, making the most of what they know. They are no longer confined in celluloid fiction. They inhale the same air, their breathing, rising and falling to the slow rhythms of your pulse. You are one with them in confusion and desperation.

One brief scene flashed that floored me: Anna hugging herself in the partially lighted attic. I gaped. Mike Nichols has just plagiarized my life.

The scene wasn’t protracted but the sensation it enthused in me disengaged a twinge of recognition, making the fleeting moment seem too personal. It hit me like a a sudden downpour of anvils plummeting towards my head. In that attic I see myself balled up. Staring vacuously, consumed by meaningless thoughts, kissed by possessive silence.

It is in this attic where I can similarly breathe freely, where I am free of any form of judgment except my own. It is where I go to avoid, to think, to reflect, to wallow, to be lost. It is where I can be the real me, stripped to the core, with nothing to apologize or make amends for. It is where I deteriorate into a beast, or get reacquainted with vulnerability. It is where everything liquefies, with nothing to hinder my thoughts but the sound of my own well-paced shallow breathing. It is where I am emancipated from weariness of choices or grope for meaning. Or, at times, it is where all notions of significance are rendered unnecessary.

Everyone has a perfect private spot. Some people have secluded hills, beaten old paths, hollow trees, consoling meadows, beachfront cottages, an unblinking gaze, or the warmth of an embrace to get lost into. I have an attic in my head. To other souls it’s dank and inhospitable. It’s reeking of depression, guilt and indelible melancholy. It’s not the most flawless space in the world.

It’s not a home — a home is what you temporarily occupy. It is a room of sadness that you inhabit all the time. You may be sidetracked and laugh for a moment, but you’ll know when it’s time to flee unto the room of discontent, look at yourself, and see incandescent sadness smiling back.

You return the courtesy with absolute comprehension. You wistfully smile back knowing you’re truly home.


Plight

Talks about moral issues can be unsettling for many. Religion, politics, sexuality and gender bending are some of the topics that are best tackled with a ten-foot pole. They are also listed among the no-nos for social conversations. Try brushing them up and you’re damned for the rest of your waking hours. The said subjects are relatively touchy that by mere remark of any of them one gets both cheers and jeers, flak and encouragement, praise and censure with no one came out unscathed.

And veer from them, I shall. But not altogether and not so fast.

Allow me then to ‘temper’ one moral subject by dissecting nationalism with outmost objectivity (I can feel the rush of my neurons shooting out conflicting views each one wanting to be heard… talk about objectivity and chaotic views at once.)

We are again at the threshold of changing the course of our history. With the national elections at hand, it has never been timely to talk about nationalism than now. Not the stuff we have heard on political rallies, seen on talk shows, and read in the editorials. But the nationalism which translates into sense and cents, to bread and butter or simply lack of them.

Personally, I submit that the best barometer for the economy is the queue of calls at the US embassy, snaking warm bodies at the Foreign Affairs and folder-tucked hopefuls at the overseas placement agencies.  The leftists, rightists and centrists have all the labels for those joining the exodus. Some label them as ‘cowards’ for turning their backs on armed struggle for change; ‘opportunists’ who know where to butter their bread and butter them good; ‘leeches’ who leave their prey dry or after they have their fill; ‘traitors’ for feeding whatever remains to the vultures in the political arena. But if there’s anything balmy and ironic at the same time about name calling, it’s how the government calling them the ‘present day heroes’ if only for sustaining economy yet subject them to indignities, if you know what I mean.

Nationalism today has indeed gone a long way — down the pits. Commercialism has invaded his sacred turf, dressed him up with Versace, sprayed with Chanel, shoed him with Valentino and put up for sale to the highest bidder. Nationalism has long been prostituted, mangled and disfigured right in our very homeland by our very own people long before Human Rights advocates put up their placards on the streets quetching for justice. Nationalism has become chic that even the authorities are having a hard time recognizing him.

In the face of clear and present danger when the boat is sinking and life is on the line, wouldn’t flight be more prudent than fight?

Bottom line: expediency. Expediency in the light of survival. In this regard, nationalism together with its moral ramification takes a back seat hoping it will not get lost in translation.