Saturday, January 31, 2009
This is a recording of Gary Granada, a Filipino singer-songwriter, airing his complaint about how he was abused by some of the powers-that-be from GMA-7 Network.
(Note to Bogs and other compo.majors ... don't listen to this if you're in a bad mood... kasi lalo kang ma-ba-bad mood)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Let me start off by saying that this is one unforgettable book. Here’s the back cover intro:
“You go into a bookshop and buy If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But there is a printer’s error in your copy. You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative again. This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, a diary and a quest. But the hero of them all is you, the reader.”
The first chapter had me hooked, what with its imperious instructions on how to read the novel:
“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade...”
I laughed out loud at the author’s very accurate description of my behaviour when browsing inside a bookstore, how one passes by the “Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered,” how one ignores the “Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too” (Twilight?) , and go straight to the shelves containing the following: “The Books You’ve Been Planning to Read For Ages” and “The Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves.” Calvino mentions other specific book categories, such as “The Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them,” “The Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They Go On Sale or When They Come Out in Paperback,” and “The Books You Can Borrow From Somebody” (thank Heavens for book clubs and book-worm pals!).
The thing about this book is that it’s actually a collection of beginnings of novels, with a back-story going on that is meant to have YOU, the reader, as the protagonist. It was a very novel experience to imagine oneself on the outrageous quest to find the original story’s continuation, but just like the mall culture’s conditioning us to search for happiness with that next purchase, I was never satisfied. I never did find the ending to the original story, and only found stories built upon themes present in previous stories. In between ‘story chapters’ was the sub-story of “myself” enlisting the aid of a Fellow Reader, falling in love with the Other Reader, going through a conspiracy-theory plot that involved the marketing of books by super computers that could produce brand new works that was faithful to a given writer’s style, and finally ending with... but I mustn’t give away the grand finale. :p
I didn’t know a thing about Calvino before picking up this book, and didn’t know of its ‘literary stature’ beforehand. Using the author’s own description, this book falls under the category of “Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified.”
With that said, I’m unsure as to whether I should sing praises about this book, or simply present it as one of the most original reads I’ve come across that others will certainly find edifying, if not fully satisfying.
But then, the book itself raises questions about the different expectations we readers have. There’s Ludmilla, the “Other Reader,” who has a dozen statements on her book preferences, and seems to differ depending on her mood. First she says she prefers novels that bring her to an orderly world full of precision. Next she demands a book that gives “a sense of living,” of “going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be...” And then she asks for a narrative novel, one that doesn’t try to impose a philosophy on its reader, but simply wants the reader to observe the story’s growth... isn’t this what is known as “natural reading?” Bereft of intellectual analysis? I personally think this kind of reading is better than “reading with an agenda...” say, to discover the Marxist undertones present in a novel. I think too much intellectual analysis tends to reduce the pleasure of reading.
Reading this book made me reflect on the role of reading in my own life. Here’s one excerpt that struck me:
“Your house, being the place in which you read, can tell us the position books occupy in your life, if they are a defense you set up to keep the outside world at a distance, if they are a dream into which you sink as if into a drug, or bridges you cast toward the outside, toward the world that interests you so much that you want to multiply and extend its dimensions through books...”
Here’s a great insight into the dangerous aspect of reading, purportedly on the nature of flying in airplanes:
“You realize that it takes considerable heedlessness to entrust yourself to unsure instruments, handled with approximation; or perhaps this demonstrates an invincible tendency to passivity, to regression, to infantile dependence. (But are you reflecting on the air journey or on reading?)”
In the end, I think Calvino’s ultimate message is that reading is inseparable from life. It made me have a deeper appreciation for our own book club motto: Ad libris et ad vita (Of books and of life). Truly, of what use is reading if one cannot apply all the good lessons one has learned to practical terms?
The more I read, the more I realize that reading is a huge responsibility.