My back was on them or that I was outside their circle or I was a disconnected part of their small universe. They were having a heated debate on that fine night inside that cliche of a coffee shop across Iloilo’s oldest university. And the topic, something I didn’t expect people in that not-very-intelligent-in-a dingy-kind-way coffee shop would talk about, was postmodernism.
Hearing them talk about postmodernism was like listening to a highly nasal voice of a DJ of a Parisian FM station or the hard accent of a Potsdam radio announcer. (I am starting to cultivate this liking for listening to FM stations around Europe.) I didn’t understand a word but I love the cadence and the passion. I wondered if the four understood each other, but I thought comprehension wasn’t the object of their conversation, as postmodernism isn’t meant to be understood. I suspect they only enjoyed the exercise of hearing themselves speak and seeing me (this I was not quite sure of) listening intently to their highly intellectual talk while my back was on them.
Everything and anything nowadays can be postmodern. A badly written essay of my student can be described as a violent reaction to the established conventions of good writing, therefore, in a way, postmodernistic in its approach. A horrible looking and equally horrible tasting cooked meal in the university canteen, for lack of a better adjective to describe the brown stew, can be referred to as a postmodern culinary experiment. And an inability to express oneself in correct and clear English can be supplemented with the use of carelessly employed technical verbal fireworks, and voila, one is already a postmodern thinker (or referrer of verbalized postmodern schemata).
I tried to drink my pasteurized milk in one straight gulp, hurrying to leave the place before I could get constipated from hearing the infinite nonsense they were throwing at each other when I heard one of them said that Christ was the first postmodernist. I burnt the inside of my mouth and almost choked in that milk heated to almost 500 degrees centigrade inside a 20 atm pressure cooker. I didn’t hear his defense for his declaration that bordered on blasphemy because my attention was on the pleasurable sensation of having a scalded tongue and palate. I wonder if enjoying pain is also of a postmodern nature.
I stood up in a postmodern way, gathered the stack of papers I was editing that contains researches on postmodernism, gave the four people occupying the other table a piercing postmodern outraged stare and left the place in a postmodern fashion, that is, using the door of course, but pulling it toward me instead of pushing it out even though the instruction on the handle coldly screamed the sign ‘PUSH’.