With my meds failing on me, I begin to crave for a more potent elixir, something with claws, something that punctures the veins and go straight into my heart in a matter of seconds. But I have a deadline to finish, a script about a young girl hounded by demons. How apropros no? My life is once again tragic and comic. I seesaw from a sinister grimace to a demented smile. I go online and Google my condition, hoping that with science I could understand what I couldn’t see but only feel.
Friday, February 17, 2017
More than fifteen years ago in my old job my boss casually told me that I am unlikeable. And it struck me big time because I’ve always secretly thought I was unlikeable and hearing it from an authoritative figure instantly confirmed my greatest fear. Even if up until that moment I thought I was already easing out of my defeatist behavior --- I loved my job dearly and I was surrounded with supportive friends. But in that instant, everything that I had tried to build in the past two or three years crumbled so fast and so easily. After that, I cannot un-hear the voice every time I got a crappy assignment or a heartbreaking rejection. The reason is simple: It’s because I am unlikeable.
And this is just one of the many voices percolating inside my head on a daily basis. You are untalented. You are crap. You are stupid. You will never amount to anything. Or, as one of my favorite lines from Game of Thrones tells it, “If you think this has a happy ending you haven’t been paying attention.” Yes, I have Ramsey Bolton as my spiritual twin. It’s like sitting on a nice beach during a bright sunny afternoon but instead of enjoying myself my eyes are looking dead straight at the ominous dark clouds crawling slowly towards the shore.
Yesterday, The School of Life (Alain de Botton’s Youtube site) uploaded this interesting video. The defeatist voices in our heads, they said, are just echoes of the dismissive voices we had heard for years. And these voices which we had internalized so badly ultimately became the voice of reason. The video made so much sense to me because I grew up in an environment where I had to hide my true self in order get along with others. To tell you frankly, the video could have not come at such an appropriate time because lately I’ve been hiding from people. I have been hiding from friends because I can no longer hear words of encouragement. I could only hear destructive criticism. I could only see malice and not kindness. And this nagging feeling had made me retaliate more than once. I’ve become nasty and irritable. I’ve become boorish and unforgiving.
But knowing the origins of the voices is one thing. Taking them out of my head is another. How indeed does one unclutter the head with these nasty voices? Therapy, perhaps? A klonopin in the morning and Prozac in the evening? I don’t know. What I do know for now though is that I have to begin with those simple words stuck inside my head for the last fifteen years. I am not unlikeable.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
I remember reading somewhere about a Pinoy sending a question to a world-renowned scientist. And of all the things he had to ask, he asked this: Is there a “forever”? From what I remember, the scientist took it as a question about time. Is time infinite? But of course we all know what the guy was asking. What he was asking clearly was: “May forever nga ba?” The question should’ve been: “Does everlasting love exists?”
I was reminded of this today because yesterday my friend and I were discussing Dan Villegas’ #Walang Forever. To be honest at first I thought the movie and I weren’t a good match. In fact, I had no intention of seeing it and only saw it because I had a free ticket. Libre eh. I mean aren’t we already ODing on the concept of romantic love? Is this mass hysteria on romance due to the fact that our lives have become unbelievably unbearable? These were the thoughts that I had as I sat inside the cinema while watching the two leads “meet cute” at the University of the Philippines. In fact I so hated what I was seeing that I just stared at the Exit sign thinking how much interesting it was to look at instead watching what was transpiring onscreen.
However, I soon realized that the filmmaker, Dan Villegas, and the writer, Paul Sta. Ana (who crafted a very entertaining screenplay) were up to something new. The lead character Mia is a writer who cannibalizes her own romantic experiences for her film projects. And it is her works, which obsessively charts her history with her lover Ethan that ultimately serves as a catalyst for much of the film’s narrative. In one instance, it reminded Ethan of how much they were in love when they first became a couple. It reminded him of the things that they went through in order to be together, and towards the end the self-referential movies served as some sort of a time capsule for their son who was about to grow up with a deceased father. I soon realized that --- yes --- the title indeed perfectly fits the love story. Wala nga naman talagang forever. Walang forever for the simple and obvious fact that we are mortals and when we die we take our love affairs with us to the grave. Sabi nga sa isang kanta mula sa musical na Rent: “I think they meant it/ When they said you can’t buy love/ Now I know you can rent it/ But at least you are mine love (now?).” ‘Di ba ang ganda? The idea being we are just living on borrowed time but while we are still here we can always take shelter in each other’s warmth and love.
But it’s not only that. I think no matter how strong the love between two individuals, the love between them will eventually wane or will become deeper or will become something else. Because we, as human beings, evolve as we grow old and to expect to love someone with the same intensity as the first time we first felt the emotion is simply impossible and to assume otherwise is ridiculous, don’t you think?
In human existence and human experience, nothing is forever. What is immortal, on the other hand, is our art. That’s where we achieve immortality. Art lives on. May forever sa art. Tulad sa kuwento nila Ethan at Mia. Their love story was eventually immortalized onscreen. It will live on forever (or at least as long as the reels are stored in a film archive). Totoo ngang sa love stories lang ang may forever dahil ang classic love stories, as long as they are being told over and over again, will live on. And when I finally got that, that’s when I started falling in love with #WalangForever.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Simone de Beauvoir once argued that there is a big difference between being a female and being a woman. One is born a female and is defined as a female because of one’s sex. Being a woman, on the other hand, is an evolution and much of what we think of what a woman should be depends on the pervading culture on which the female is born into. Beauvoir further argues that the woman of today is pretty much defined by a patriarchal society. The men have defined women as feminine as opposed to being masculine. Men have inculcated to the society at large that women are of a weaker sex. The effect of this is that for the longest time, women are subjugated by the men, which is considered the “stronger sex.”
I was reminded of this when I finally saw Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, about a billionaire who creates an artificial intelligence in the form of a woman. The creator, Nathan, lives alone in what seems like paradise (Eden perhaps?) with his inventions. He invites one of his employees, Caleb, to spend a week with him in his hideaway cum laboratory. The real reason for this invitation is for Caleb to do a Turing test on Nathan’s newest creation, Ava (Eve?). The test of course becomes a jumping off point for what it means to be human and what it means to be a robot. At some point, Caleb argues that one cannot completely test an AI based on what it has been programmed to do --- like an AI who knows how to play chess. In order to fully test its capabilities, a human should test an AI’s intelligence outside its preconceived, pre-programmed reality. In many respects, it is like de Beauvoir’s observation about women being born with preconceived qualities and tasks. The society, she said, need to break away from the chains of this patriarchal invention.
Ultimately of course Ava proves to be more complicated than what Caleb and Nathan initially considered her to be. The fact that Ex Machina never concerns itself with the tired arguments of man versus machine and turns its story about gender and freedom is, I think, the movie’s greatest strength.
Plus, the movie had Oscar Isaac dancing! Why not, indeed!
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Understanding myself, or at least the attempts of it, seems to be, at the moment, my most serious preoccupation. Constantly, I attempt to find out who I really am and why I do what I do. This is in the hopes that once I find out how I tick I will unravel the real essence of my being, the real reason for existing. No wait, I don’t believe that we have a significant reason for being. I just know or believe that we have to find a reason, or a purpose, in order exist peacefully in this seemingly insignificant world. So constantly I look inside. It is a purely inward journey with the outside world barging in every now and then. Trying to find out how I work, however, is proving to be quite a difficult task. It’s like Mario Brothers all over again. I’m trying to jump from one castle to another, slaying dragons and eating mushrooms, climbing flag poles and crawling through green sewages only to be told at the end of the journey that the princess is in another castle. The princess, of course, is myself and I need to save her because, well, we only have three lives to live and I have already wasted my first two.
And this, my friend, is my cue to laugh. Haha. Punyeta, what have I been smoking?
It’s three in the afternoon on a Wednesday. I am alone with no intentions of doing anything. I just learned how to poach an egg and I just discovered who Hamilton Morris is. Poached eggs. Artisanal shit. Cooking. Vice. What in hipster hell is this.
No, seriously what have I been smoking?
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Like what I was telling a friend last night, I am now a gay man of a certain generation. I grew up in the pre-Internet, pre-Grindr/ PR, pre-Pornhub/Redtube age. It was the ‘90s and the gay rights movement was at the cusp of going mainstream. But still, finding gay porn then much less representation in the media was like searching for water in an arid desert. At that time, seeing two men cuddle on MTV or in any movie for that matter (which may seem corny today) would send my heart fluttering. It didn’t matter if the gay characters were just relegated to the fringes. What mattered, to me at least, was that they were there. I would go around bookstores and video rentals (oh god yes, we used to rent out movies instead of downloading them) sniffing for gay content. I was also a hoarder of magazines from Details to Rolling Stones to the occasional Vogue (though I wasn’t much of a fan) and whenever there was a gay celebrity talking about his or her experience I would read and re-read the article. When I learned that Michael Stipe was bisexual I became an instant REM fan. And apart from REM (and Pearl Jam, Natalie Merchant, E-Heads, etc), one of the cassette tapes (cassette tape!) that I always had in my backpack was the soundtrack of Boys on the Side. I was obsessed with Indigo Girls’ Power of Two. I would listen to the lyrics over and over again and was utterly convinced that, yes, life can indeed be multiplied by the power of two. A life can grow simply by “loving well.” I would listen to the song and fantasize being in a truck (truck talaga!) with Mike Stipe on our way to someplace happy. After forgetting about the song for years I listened to it again this week. I couldn’t believe the nostalgia! It was like looking at my 16 year old self still yearning for, well, not so much as sex but for romantic love! I’m turning 38 this year and I had gone through the full mile --- the hook-ups, the orgies (yes, orgies), the tempestuous relationships and the PnPs --- and looking back at my young self was such an odd sensation. I couldn’t believe that I felt deprived of the most basic human right, which is to simply love. I also couldn’t believe how naive I was. Boy, was I naive! Now, I am ambivalent about anything romantic and I am more than okay to sail through the rest of my life with just my dogs (but this is just me because ending up gay and alone in old age shouldn’t be considered a norm and that this belief shouldn’t be included in the gay narrative anymore). I liked reliving the sensation of having that yearning again, that need to be with someone but I also know now how stupid it was to throw oneself in a relationship armed with nothing but passion and romanticism. But though I no longer believe in romantic love per se (read: Walang forever. Haha.) I would still like to embark on a project (which I hope to do this year) that is all about gay love. I certainly hope I would have the energy and the time and money to pursue it. After all, though we are seeing more and more representation in the media, much has yet to be done. Anyhoo, now if you excuse me I’ll just sit back and listen to the Indigo Girls again and daydream about Mike Stipe and I going on a romantic camping trip.
labels & shit
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