This world is lonely

This world is filled with so much loneliness. And the sad thing about loneliness is that everything that can be said about it has already been said and any attempt of anyone to come up with a unique articulation of it suffers the inevitable failure we familiarly call a cliche. And all cliches are detested.

Such is the sorry story of my dinner tonight that reminded me of humid nights spent alone in a room I rent in a staff house back in college.

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Such is the lonely image of my dinner that has to be filtered several times to create a tone, a tone of desolation to keep it in tune with the theme of today’s post.

Ha ha.

Throwback Tuesdays

Because I don’t want this post to celebrate one of the most depressing days in a person’s life.

Perhaps the most rational reason people dig their trunks and the dark recesses of their computer memories to look for the most horrendous and dated artifacts of their pasts during Thursdays and have them posted on their virtual walls is because even though the past is ugly, sepia-ed, and moth-infested, it has never abandoned them. It is continually remembered with much fondness, like a 5-week old cereal-and-milk mixture sitting happily inside one’s refrigerator, forming crust on top of desiccated crusts, that can turn into either a sour-tasting granola or an organic charcoal–both wonderful byproducts.

Throwback Thursdays appeal the most to people in their 20s. That stage in one’s life when nothing’s uncertain, and the future looms devoid with kindness, when everyone seems to have moved on, but one still finds himself stuck in one place, silently crying for help, but not wanting to cry too hard lest his Facebook friends think he’s a whiner and a bitter participant in this party called life.

And so he quietly posts reminders of the kinder past, hoping, just hoping, the future will be much better, and for friends to drop him a like or two.

Don’t ask me about that giraffe and its various permutations.

What am I talking about? Today is just Monday.

Everyday

While browsing an online travel magazine that left me torpid afterward because of the writer’s endless narration of his itinerary donned in a language too sweet and delicious I’m sure it will leave a diabetic’s sugar level shooting to the ceiling, I thought, unless he was high on drugs which made his senses super keen, he must be lying.

Travel writers are a special group of writers. They thrive in the extraordinary and the bizarre. Most of them have a special truckload of word ammunition that often leaves my mouth agape because of  its sophistication and elegance. I often see a mountain, a room with a view, and a meal as they often are–a mountain, a room with a view, and a meal, respectively. For travel writers, however, a mountain is a cascade of boulders and debris swept by the gentle blow of the easterlies, a room with a view is a room flooded in a carefully orchestrated foxtrot of sunlight and cool wind on a tranquil Saturday morning, a meal is a plateful of freshly harvested farm produce perfectly showered with a local concoction of cane vinegar and a hint of muscovado. To a travel writer, everything is a novelty, and so it has to be written in a hyperbolically romanticized way to an extent that a reader who is a local of the place he’s writing about will not recognize, take offense at, and find patronizing.

I seldom trust, if not completely distrust, travel writers. They do not understand the dreariness and the dryness of the everyday and the commonplace. They are passersby who cannot wait to leave the place and catch the next bus, train, or plane because the thought of what is out there, the other side of the mountain, the horizon, the antipode beckon with tempting invitation that the now is expressed in such succulent platitudes.  I gravitate toward the everyday because the everyday does not imagine itself other than what it is. The everyday defies any attempt at making it look rosier than what it truly is. It is only in the everyday that reflection is possible and truthful.

Simple sentences and fragments

I woke up very early, at 8. It was very cold. The first thing I did was to wash my face and brush my teeth. I gathered my whites and washed them at the basement. Then I went to the kitchen. There, my books and computer were waiting for me.

It was drizzling outside. A gloomy day. Rainy days vex my spirit.

I boiled some coffee. It would have been in a samovar. If I were in Russia. But I’m in America. So it’s a whistling kettle. Between a samovar and a whistling kettle. There is no competition. A samovar is poetry incarnate. A Whistling kettle is prose.

And how I detest conditionals.

I cooked a cup and a half of rice. I washed it first. Thrice of course. It should be that way. My mother said. The bag of rice was imported from Vietnam. It’s the best variety. A little sticky. Not too wet. Moderately soft. Bright white. My appetite wasn’t with me, though. I approached the table. Opened a book and read. I realized. It was already 10. I stared at the view outside. The falling rain water mesmerized me. I closed my eyes and said a short prayer.

                             

The prosaic whistling kettle announced the conclusion of its reason for being. I poured its briskly boiling content into my cup. Where’s the coffee maker? I seemed to have heard. In case you asked. It’s cracked.

I prefer my coffee black. It’s less fattening this way. I don’t like my coffee bitter, however. So today, it’s black. With a dash of Splenda. I’m already fed up with all the bitterness. Including the bitterness in my coffee. A little sweetness won’t hurt. I guess.

It rained the whole day. I stayed in. I was alone. Everyone left.

Two questions: negative capability

From a rumination while drinking beer on a hot afternoon:

It often comes rather late to an artist, writer, or to anyone who sees himself to be either or both, that the decision to be any (or both) is a disconcerting choice. In the end, consumers of an artistic production matter less because the production of a piece of art or writing anchors less on what the reader thinks than the artist’s. After all, the reader has long considered him dead, so might as well return the favor and do a piece of art or write as if the reader is as dead.

This graphic story by Linda Barry aptly captures this problem.

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Bath

Filipinos are wont to say “I took a bath” instead of the more accurate “I took a shower.” They both mean the same to us, but there’s a slight difference, of course. Taking a shower means having running water falling from a shower head several inches above a person done usually to start the day or after a strenuous physical activity while taking a bath is submerging one’s body in a warm or cold water contained within a, what else, bath tub.

I have begun cultivating this desire for afternoon baths ever since I moved to Augustine house uphill. Though I am often stricken with a feeling of guilt whenever I am right in the middle of one of these, due maybe to my environmental stand and those pamphlets distributed before to high schoolers that warned us about the dangers of living a comfortable life that leads to climate change, scarcity of fresh water, and other negative impacts on the environment. It was repeatedly iterated to us that comfort is sinful, destructive, and immoral. I still vividly remember an illustration showing how many pails of water are saved when one’s using pail and dipper to take a shower compared with using either a shower head or a bath tub.

And whenever I deprived myself of the comforts of modern living, I felt good because in a way I knew I was doing my share in saving the environment. So instead of using to pails of water for my morning shower, I limited it to the barest minimum of a pail or, if I am too passionate about saving Mother Earth, half a pail.

It never occurred to me to question the rationale behind this thinking. How could a boy from an unknown part of a country in the backwaters of the world have an impact on the moves to save the environment, or save the world from man-made destruction by attempting to save a pail and a half of water? I had kept myself from enjoying the convenience modern technology has offered my generation because I thought that my little ways will in any way change the tide.

Here in the US, Americans do not heed all these calls for changing their ways and living in a sustainable way. Waste reflects consumption and the more one consumes the more highly it will reflect affluence, the cornerstone of the American dream. The more conspicuous is consumption, therefore the more waste is produced, the better upheld is this value.

I stood up from the shackles of the bathtub, washed myself with warm water, pat myself dry, and left the bathroom without looking back at the dirty water draining out of the ultimate symbol of American comfort.

Intent

Let’s break the ice all over again. I have been absent here for a time that I do not know how to begin a post anymore. Shall I begin by posing a question, posting a picture, quoting a famous person, or writing a sentence or two of gibberish?

Most of the time I get by simply by doing the last of the options, but this is of course the most ineffective. Now it’s a wonder how I have accumulated 700++ posts. I seldom have been able to write a 500-word string of sentences without resorting to gibberish.

I enjoy reading gibberish because I do not have to exert too much mentally in reading them as they are usually written with a particular purpose, that is, they’re meant to be purposeless.

Gibberish writings, though common, however, are difficult to compose. They are more difficult to write than to read because any piece of writing, no matter how hard the writer tries, tends to have a specific purpose other than purposelessness. Purpose is a necessary aspect of writing and writing in gibberish is obviously something of an anomaly.

Like this writing, for instance. I may digress from my initial purpose but any reader will eventually figure out a sense of pattern independent of my intent.

And that reader will eventually sense that my purpose for writing is to confuse. She will close this page feeling good about the fact that she at least knew why I wrote this piece.

Realizing the writing might not be  gibberish but her reading definitely was.