Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kahel Na Payong

They treaded the dirty street of Pedro Gil carefully because they were sharing only a small umbrella against the cold, grey world pressing towards them promptly at 5:30 PM. The deep screams of vehicles pound from the green light, increasing intensity, and recede into the dark of the rain, borne by the glistening black asphalt. The woman looks up at the glowing red sticks telling the time at the LRT station: six.

It wasn't raining hard. But the rain was insistent (which is worse), pattering in billions of little rat feet on a small umbrella shared by two damp people. The man wraps his arm tighter around the woman while adjusting his grip on the cold metal handle of the umbrella.

I wondered. When did he do that last?

The Discovery

What do I want more than anything else in the world?

That's passion---that feeling when we want something more than anything else in the world. Why is this suddenly so important, you ask. Well, it's a toss-up between Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and a confusing discussion in ethics class regarding freedom and free will. I waited in Pedro Gil for thirty minutes around 5:30 today in cold rain, and the question of my passion has been running around my head in loops. There's no answer.

I'm nineteen, and nineteen-year olds shouldn't ask question like this. Nineteen year-olds should...well, what are nineteen year-olds supposed to do nowadays? Watch television? Mind their books? Have fun with their friends? Wonder about freedom and free will and what they really want to do, fighting the chest-painful feeling that they don't know and might never know, or that once they do know, that brilliant and uplifting feeling of knowing what they want to do for the rest of their lives, they can't?

Dominique Francon is one of the characters in The Fountainhead. She is simply described by Rand as "the woman for a man like Howard Roark [a man as man should be]". She spent the first two and a half decade of her life doing things she didn't really want to do. She did them because she knew that if she found someone, or something, that she wants more than anything else in the world, she would destroy it along with herself. Destruction is one of the facets of passion. You can create with it, save the world with it, be happy with it, but in the end you plant the seed of your and the object of your passion's destruction . Once it's taken away or has proven to be unattainable in the first place, this object, you will self-destruct. And you will take this object with you because the world does not deserve it.

Howard Roark is an architect, a creator for his own sake. He is the ultimate egotist---he lives for no one but himself. His passion is in designing buildings. I would like to be like him, but that's just silly. People like him only live in books, and if people like him, by accident, live outside of books, they are very rare. I happen to be not one of them. My happiness depends on other people's approval. This truth is one of the most disgusting truths I ever have to accept about myself.

I suppose there's no need to hurry about finding what I really want more than anything else in the world. I have a good seventy years ahead of me, if all goes well. Maybe one day, when I'm fifty-two and walking on a busy street, I'll realize that the last fifty-two years of my life has been a waste because I didn't discover my passion earlier. But who cares? I'll save the sinking feeling when I'm fifty-two. Right now, I'm nineteen, and I like my life. I try to do my best regarding the things I care about.

A little part of me wants to postpone The Discovery, though. The word destruction leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Pain In The Chest

I dislike people who overreact. Why? Because it's annoying. We're not in the medieval ages, for chrissakes, with their snuff boxes and salts and corsets. We're in the 21st century when romance is better expressed inside, like muriatic acid eating through a bloated drain. Expressing it otherwise makes whatever it is you're expressing about trite, common, inane. The world is too much nowadays. Making a big deal of it rather insults it.

There is this one person, however, whom I know. She overreacts about totally unimportant things. Sometimes it gives me a pain in the chest to watch her do it, and sometimes I watch other people's faces watching her with a kind of embarrassed apology to no one in general, and to themselves specifically, looking as if they have a similar pain in the chest. The feeling of observing her is very close to revulsion, for me. But it's not revulsion. I find her antics charming.

She seems to have never grown up. No, no, not in that conscious, offending way that some people do and take pride of. She hit ten and she stopped. That's it. Her boobs grew out, the blood poured out to scratchy napkins every month, but she stopped at ten. She's as self-centered as kids go, but not vain as most teenagers are. It's difficult to dislike her. She says something, and you do a little internal dance somewhere in the duodenum, and smile. Patronizingly, condescendingly, happily, boringly---but you smile. There's nothing else to do.

I am cruel when I'm honest.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Plagiarist Scum

Plagiarists are the scum of the earth. They are way below imitators because unlike imitators who just copy another's work, they claim another's work as their own. Isn't that evil? Let me put it more emotionally: plagiarists steal a piece of a creator's soul. Like Satan, only with sweaty armpits and a bad brand of deodorant.


Here's a delightfully easy way to kill yourself: get a syringe, any type of syringe. I think you can get one at any Mercury Drug store for less than twenty pesos. With the syringe in hand, pick a healthy, innocent looking vein and inject air in it. Wait for an x period of time until you start to have difficulty breathing, after which you will slowly have the sensation of drowning—but in air. Then you die an utterly clean and (just a little) painful death.

Suicide is an in thing nowadays; I wont even elaborate. In fact, it's so in that the evangelist in the church behind our house had a nice little talk regarding it just last Sunday. He said that suicide is evil and that whoever attempts and succeeds in doing it will go to Hell, wherein the person will burn in eternal lake of fire. He said that suicide is a sin because any form of killing any human being is a sin, since god gave us life and it is just plain insolence to take it away with our own hands. Destroying one's self, I think, is the ultimate insult to one's creator (if in fact a creator does exist, and if this creator is amazingly egotistic as the holy books are interpreted to say).

Have you ever thought of killing yourself? I haven't. Sure I've had some unbelievably low points in my life as all of us are bound to have sooner or later, and in increasing vehemence, but I've never considered suicide as an option. I don't just love life, I actually like it. There are are many things I'd like to do before I die. I'd like to go to Europe, visit the moon, and have green eyes, and so on. So why kill myself? I understand that other people are not so lucky to live the life I live and thus have the opportunities I have. Some of them resort to killing themselves at twelve or twenty-five or sixty-three and you know what? I think it's perfectly all right to do so.

My philosophy is simple: do whatever the hell you want, and I'll do whatever the hell I want. It's not even a philosophy, per se, but a statement of fact. People do whatever the hell they want. Battered women want to stay in violent and unproductive relationships, so they stay. Alcoholics want to get drunk, so they drink and ruin their livers and their lives. People want to die so they kill themselves. Should we stop these people? We could, if we want to, else we leave them alone and keep the condolence to ourselves. The world is a battleground between what any number of people want and don't want. Join in if you feel like it. If you don't, then you'd best keep to the conflicts you care about.

So you want to kill yourself? Okay. It's your choice, a conscious decision. Whatever rocks your boat.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kidney Kidney Don't Leave Home Without It

Do you know how much you'll get if you sell one of your kidneys? Around P200, 000 minus the P30, 000 referral fee you pay to your agent (if you have any). That leaves you with P170, 000 which can buy you a secondhand car, a small franchise business, a few months' rental in one of Divisoria's malls plus the merchandise, around 8,500 bottles of C2 Green Tea, fourteen years of broadband internet connection, or 1,700 McDonald's quarter pounder value meals—you get the drift. One-seventy grand is a big, big thing compared to a relatively small and useless other kidney.

Just a while ago, I was watching Jessica Soho's report on rampant kidney selling among our poorer countrymen. The report emphasized that besides being illegal, it is immoral and unethical. We can also put it this way: selling one's kidney is immoral and unethical, therefore it is illegal. As such reports go, however, the words immoral and unethical are not clearly defined. Their framework has something to do with donating one's kidney rather than selling it is a good thing, that exploiting the poor is a bad thing, and that showing fresh-ish, scabbing surgical wounds on television every other second or so is cool. That's it.

Let us use a more concrete framework to determine what is ethical or moral: a capitalist one. Capitalism is a very impersonal market structure. In its purer forms, it doesn't care shit about parity or poverty eradication—its main concern is efficiency in allocation, the achievement of equilibrium between supply and demand. Now this is the situation: a woman will die if she does not have a kidney compatible with her body. Another woman's family is starving. Both women need something very badly. One has money but is dying, the other is dirt poor but has a compatible kidney which can extend a life. In a capitalist framework, the most logical, efficient, ethical, moral way to solve this dilemma is the facilitation of a kidney sale. Supply and demand are met. One goes home two hundred grand lighter and the other a kidney less. Everybody happy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Obviously Like This Picture Huh?



I just re-read Richard Bach's Illusions. A biplane pilot who sells rides for three dollars ten minutes meets a real life messiah who was a mechanic. They become friends, and before the messiah dies a gruesome death (as is fashionable with messiahs), he teaches the pilot to become a messiah himself. Well, it's still a wholly likable book for people who can stand philosophical slash New Age crap---and I can. Stand it. Some quotations I can't stand, however, like

You are led
through your lifetime
by the inner learning creature,
the playful spiritual being
that is your real self.

Gods. If I wrote something like this and meant it to the very bottom of the abyss of my heart, I shall not be able to live with myself. It makes me cringe and whimper deep inside. It's supposed to be from the fictional Messiah's Handbook in the novel which contains various quotes/instructions on how to be a messiah. Hm, if I have to think that way in order to be a messiah, no thanks. I suppose turning water into wine is more my thing.

The book is passable, but it is pretentious as most books go. Add some few notches in the average pretentious meter though and you'll get a better picture. It could be your ultimate solipsist's handbook, if you may, and it could also be rather helpful. Not by much if you believe in god though.

truth you
speak has no past
and future

It is,
and that's all it
needs to be.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Why I am not yet an atheist

I have an atheist friend. He's gay. He kisses his cute boyfriend in public and kisses harder when people give them The Look. He's an intelligent person and he spends thousand of pesos on hardbound books with topics ranging from evolution to political science . He would probably hate me for mentioning this, but about a year ago he is a raving, spittle-showering Catholic zealot. We were not friends then.

Now that I mention it, my closer friends are either atheist or agnostic. People who are sure that a god or gods exist tend to make my right eyebrow shoot up. How can you be sure? How can you possibly be sure about things like this? I ask. Sometimes, the person tells me that he's just not sure, he knows god exists. Sometimes the person tells me that it doesn't matter if god in fact does not exist—humans need a god. Pascal's wager. Or I'm told god is love. I don't lose respect for people who think like this, but I tend to bury their religious beliefs deep in my subconscious. I'm just not a god person. Period.

I guess I was moderately religious when I was a kid, but then I became addicted to reading. It can be traced to the fact that I only learned to read at seven years old. Can you imagine the frustration, being the only one in your class who can't understand the white squiggles on the green board? By ten I started reading adult fiction. I consumed books as if they were food. Somewhere between ten and sixteen, I became a confused relativist and started questioning the existence of god. Having too many voices in your head while reading books could make you realize that there is no such thing as a universal truth. And one such universal truth that people have been postulating for thousands of years is the concept of god.

An all-seeing, all-knowing, vain, cruel and fickle god is something I definitely do not believe in. I think that the Bible is a valuable literary and historical manuscript but that's it. Religion is mostly a pain in the ass but I think our civilization will eventually outgrow its need of it. I go to church (when forced to) but it's not something I hate as most churches in the country are beautiful places with interesting histories. So. By all intents and purposes, I seem to be an atheist. But I'm not.

Why? Well, that's a good question. I'll get back to you in a couple of years when I have my answer.