Bad omen

I have not been writing for several days now. And if I am not writing, I am definitely not thinking as only through writing am I able to think. Now, the possibility of my brain having irreversibly atrophied or, worse, dessicated after days of not being utilized scares me.

While on the train this morning, I wasn’t very sure, but I felt a feeling of utter disgust with myself when I had to re-read six times (!) a line of compound-complex sentence in an essay that is a part of an anthology that is part of my weekly reading list. Based on my experience in checking papers of my students and reading works of import (or plain trash), most compound-complex sentences are generally challenging to comprehend especially if the writer deliberately used them to intimidate the reader, display his erudition, or simply exercise his linguistic virtuosity. But reading it six time before finally understanding it something new.

My spiraling down into this pit of idiocy may be traced to all or any of the following: (a) I do not anymore have time to read because of my work that requires me to read a lot; (b) when I have free time, which I seldom have, I would rather spend it in the gym working out; (c) and whatever little time is left, I waste it in front of the television, taming my usually violent thoughts with National Geographic or History channel features.

Of the three, the most nefarious is the tube. Aside from those two channels mentioned in the paragraph above, I have been watching a good number of TV shows that swim in stale, viscous soup of inanity. If it is a consolation, watching TV makes me forget, even for a few minutes, my worries about the uncertain. However, one does not become well-educated by watching TV; whether one is watching  BBC, Jack TV, or Etc is immaterial. In fact the opposite happens–one most certainly becomes a moron. And I am a bit suspicious that I am already falling into, if not already completely entrenched in, this dark pit of idiocy. TV made me so vulnerable and it has conditioned me to think that I can do nothing about it.

TV takes away the time I should have been spending with my books and writing. For this I am beginning to worry. That compound-complex sentence was a bad omen.

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Mean

Have you experienced this gnashing urge to hurl whatever you are holding, say a padlock or a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica, to somebody whose level of idiocy has reached a point that even the most forgiving of humans cannot tolerate, much less you?

Padlock

You thought such existence of a pea-sized brain is only possible in the realm of science fiction, but you caught yourself aghast after discovering that God has forsaken them and deprived them of a basic human attribute — possession of a brain that is of decent size capable of basic functions and of thinking with a semblance of sense, at least.

Now tell me, who says God is fair?

I just cannot fathom why people like these exist. Diversity makes the world more exciting, I hear somebody reasoning out. These dimwitted, imbecilic, morons have the same right as I have to exist and enjoy this fleeting opportunity to live. If you ask me, however, I’d rather be dead than dumb.

“What are you reading?” He asked in his all too forced American twang.

“Oh, a novel by Joseph Conrad. By the way, I’d rather read than talk about banalities and your problem with that seventeen-year old you impregnated,” said I.

“Interesting. You love reading Pupung?”

“Sure, I also enjoyed reading that when I was in college.”

“I have a complete collection of all the volumes. But my all time favorite is Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.”

“Really? Please evaporate.”

I went on reading and tried to look as riveted as I possibly could with the story of two men forced by their work and circumstance to live in the Congo Basin. This I hoped would send him a statement that I do not need a brain dead lurking while I am spending my precious time reading. But he is as thick skinned as he is a pudding head.

“Do you want to go out and use the free internet in the other building?”

“No, I’ll just stay here. If you want, you can just go. I’m okay here.”

“You know what, my wife [they’re not married] is giving birth this August.”

“Oh nice, eh di ayos. Leave me alone.”

But he stayed there beside me interrupting my reading every thirty seconds disregarding my almost pleading actions that told him to leave me alone. I was holding a heavy duty padlock that time. Reading the darkness in Conrad’s characters Kayerts and Carlier, I had a hard time holding back my internal need to force the metal lock inside his big mouth.

The Village Idiots: a short story

This is a story of a far away land in an undisclosed location in the middle of northern Philippines where Filipino politics had not yet reached and where people’s lives had not succumbed as yet to the idiocy of politics.

In this community of ten thousand, everyone lived like an idiot. When somebody made a mistake, they would laugh at it throughout the day until they got exhausted and would prompt them to sleep soundly in the night. None of the people in this far away land had ever seen any human settlement other than their village. Some attempted to venture and seek, out of that human desire for adventure, other parts of the world, but they ended in vain. Either they died along the way or they never returned to tell the story of how it was to live outside the community. No one from the outside ever reached the village and documented the unique way of life the people of this unknown place had. Not until just recently.

The people of this village lived in complete peace and happiness. Being idiots, although it sometimes caused them to start planting rice during the climax of summer heat, which ended up, of course, to massive crop failure, or to feed their pigs and other farm animals with banana leaves, which of course made the animals bloated and sickly, they seldom experienced hardship because any problems cause by their stupidity was viewed as another opportunity for them to have merry-making and an entire afternoon of laughing spree.

The community had no established form of formal government, or any kind of hierarchy based on power. However, this did not mean that their society was free from any form of stratification. There was, in fact. The more dimwitted a member was, the higher was his place in the society’s echelon. But being the most idiotic of the idiots was not an elected post as it is in mainstream Philippine society today. In this community, whose name was already forgotten, it is determined by the level of idiocy one has committed. The grander was the task, the more far-reaching the effect, the more stupid it looked, the higher was the member’s position in the society’s caste.

And so they continued to live at peace with each other. Each member felt secured with the fact that as long as they remained idiots nothing would harm them, and that being an idiot would keep them from harming themselves as well as other idiot members of the community.

They were occasionally plagued with pestilence, famine, and disease but nature had been good to them, generally. This continued for several centuries. Until one day.

It was an ordinary day; somebody’s house was burning because instead of cleaning the house using water and detergent, one housewife, lured by the addicting pungent odor of paint thinner, poured some on the bamboo slats she was trying to clean. Accidentally, the burning wood she was using to cook rice fell on the bamboo slat and started the fire. The fire consumed her hut in half an hour. She was teary-eyed, laughing at the ashen remain of her house. The village people gathered around her and asked her to buy them tuba, a local alcoholic beverage, to which she replied that all the monies she tucked between her bamboo walls burned with the house. Everyone burst laughing. Because of this, she was elevated to the third rank idiot position.

During that day, from nowhere, according to some accounts it was from the sky, a newspaper appeared right in the middle of the remains of the burned hut. It was a newspaper published in Manila. The people got curious and started reading the paper.

Although they were dumb, they were not illiterate. They found out that the right reaction whenever they see a burning house is to cry and to blame the owner of the house for negligence, or the fire department for the very slow response, or the government for not strictly implementing building codes. They stoned the careless housewife to death, a punishment she deserved according to the village code of conduct.

They found out that their village leaders must be duly-elected leader and not selected based of the level of idiocy.

In the agriculture and farm section of the newspaper, they discovered that banana leaves are the worst things to feed to their animals.

And so a village-wide riot occurred. Reading in the newspaper that war is a natural consequence of misunderstanding, the men took their farm implements and whacked the heads of the first person they saw. The women, opting for a less violent means, called on the village witch to cast a spell to other women whom they think are shrewder than anyone of them. The village witch had a busy day that day. It was also her last day to see daylight.

For after that, the village vanished and nothing was heard about what happened to them.

Last week, however, archeologist from the National Museum discovered skeletons of pigs in northern Philippines. And according to the tests they conducted on the remains of the pigs, the stomach of the animal, which miraculously remained intact, contain bananaine, an enzyme found only in banana leaves which confirmed the story that sometime in the distant past, a village of idiots existed whose members were believed to have fed their pigs with banana leaves.