Two shadows

We are but.

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Copies

I’m no painter. I’m a pretentious prick who hopes to understand a painting and the method of the painter by copying his work down to its minutest of details. I’ve done two so far: The Kiss and Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) both Picasso’s.

On a weekend, interspersed with eating and arguing about anything that catches our fancy, I take hold of paint brushes and a palette of cheap acrylics then dab the canvas in a tentative fashion, always tentative, hesitating.

Art thrives in mimesis. I do not aim to be original, only great ones are truly original. Most of us are merely attempting to be at least a good copy of something.

I study the lines, scrutinise each brush stroke, each idiosyncratic curve, imagined humps of random shades, odd color mixtures, and areas covered with thicker acrylic paint. I painstakingly copy each line as if every one of these lines was intentionally painted by the painter. It’s hard to imagine that they’re arbitrary and never deliberate.

Great art, I suppose, takes time to ferment. It should take him a long time to mentally deliberate whether that extra strand of hair on the left eyebrow will render his subject more masculine than he intended it to be.

More than the joy, however, of imagining what Picasso was thinking when he was making these works of art, I enjoy the quietude brought about by the making of these copies. They’re dowdy, sure. I’d give a condescending smile at anyone who pastes reproductions of Picasso’s works on the wall of his studio. I find them cheap, those reproductions, but I take exceptions this time; it is after all my place and I can do whatever I like with that blank space directly above the kitchen sink.

There’s something about Juanma

I know I will never completely know him. Or I will, but it will take a lifetime. Ours is a story that’s private, almost tragic, sad at times, almost fictional (but definitely real), and this story is enlivened by the quietness and ordinariness of how people like Juan and me live our brief stint in this world.

He’s one man I am most interested in understanding. Although he has almost spelled out to me how he wanted to be understood, I think I am still as clueless about who he really is as the time we first had a chance to talk in person more than half a year ago.

When one is fortunate (or unfortunate enough, depending on how one sees it), he meets someone so enigmatic and so beautiful a person that the desire to know and to understand this other other human being surpasses any other desires that compete for his attention. This drive to know is stronger than sex or his other biological needs.

I am one very fortunate man (or unfortunate, depending on how one looks at it).

I am not wont at exaggerating.

There are texts that give you a flow chart to help you comprehend them, and so the act of reading could not be easier. There are texts that knowingly and maliciously defy being read, frustrating the reader and incarcerating him in a hall of mirrors. I am not interested in these texts. There are, however, texts that announce their cipher and teach you how to use it; however, the reader insists that there’s so much more than the offered reading. Juanma is of the third type. Or more accurately, I am a reader of the third type.

There are a lot of things that I cannot write on this public blog, but which I have written more extensively in my private journal about this man who is the subject of this essay. The conversations we exchange will stay in a cocoon of privacy because the beauty of the creature inside can only be appreciated within the threads shared by these two individuals.

I never enjoyed writing about people because my attempt at writing about a fellow human being will only be successful at insulting them due to the impossibility of capturing their complexity using language. Unlike in the novels where characters, regardless of their avowed intricacy of characterisation, can still be described almost comprehensively using stock adjectives, a living and walking human being’s identity constantly shifts ground.

But Juanma is worse. He tells me explicitly who he is and how he became who he is but I refuse to accept this because I have an aching feeling that his childhood stories, his loves, his past, and his present won’t be enough to explain the man I usually sit across in the morning when we drink coffee, or the man I quietly look at sitting next to me as we watch the people walking at a park from the window of his room.

I sometimes see myself in him, but no. We’re two different beings. And I refuse to accept that he isn’t really complex because in my mind, this man, who has explicitly told me who he is, is bigger than the sum of his sad childhood, failed loves, complicated past, and an even more tangled present.

Kinds of pain

A college friend messaged me on Viber that a former classmate of ours, Grace, passed away due to complications from Stage 4 breast cancer. The news came to me while I was having my tattoo finished. As this was happening, I also received a message that things cannot go on anymore between us because of some unbridgeable differences.

Too many things happening in one afternoon, too many kinds of pain my body and mind are taking in and have to handle at the same time in a span of a few hours.

It was something I was willing to risk everything for, but our differences prove to be too many and irreconcilable. It’s sad. I need to rest for now, hope for the best, and wait.

The wound will heal, and I’m hoping a beautiful image comes out of this. Sunscreen and moisturiser will do. I will not touch the small wounds to avoid irritating them.