What transcendence could mean and what Mayakovsky might have wished for


Because we are all bombed with the need to compromise, it becomes even more urgent, more awe-inspiring to push for transcendence until the last air from our mouths gets pushed out.

It could be Mayakovsly’s misfortune, that he lived in perhaps one of the more turbulent times and spaces of all time – early 20th century Russia confused after the seeds of a once unguessable idealization finally landed on the soil of their resolute country. Art, and the artist had to confront another condition – an ironic one, because in as much as it was so novel, it was also so much dreamt about it might have worn out — and Mayakovsky apparently was not persistent enough, or optimistic enough to keep on producing art as a weapon, a shield of the producing self against a material setting perfectly in turmoil, a setting asking for only some decades to have a semblance of stability.

The face is always half-shown. sabi ni Zizek
The face is always half-shown. sabi ni Zizek

To wish to be resurrected for another time – a time when all the failures of his present will have been vanquished by the actualization of what he could only envisioned – is not poetic or cute of Mayakovsky, it’s plainly timorous and pathetic.

He wrote:

“Resurrect —

I want to live out my life!

So that love won’t be a lackey there

of livelihood,

wedlock,

lust,

or worse.

Decrying bed,

Forsaking the fireside chair,

So that love shall flood the universe. (Russell 1985, 202)”

He had to pin his hopes on a future that will fulfill his once visions-on-fire, visions crashed by what he had seen in the Russia of his time. Again: the conflicted self, much more an artist, much much more, a bourgeois artist (if you don’t find that a bit redundant or inept), dwindling in the face of her society also in conflict with itself. Mayakovsky was not able to make the necessary, perhaps the appropriate compromises. And he was not able to transcend either. A fine illustration perhaps of the much common debacle in living, even an avant-garde died in the same suffering.

Oh, what a glorious thing to say, and much more to do, definitely: to transcend. Perhaps that is precisely why this art group, Pedantic Pedestrians, does not want to imply that it seeks to transcend art and its current configurations policed by several institutions and apparatuses; or precisely why I still look up, again, to those who recognize that transcendence (social, economic, political, artistic, romantic) is futile in this late capitalist frame, and hence, would do something concrete to alter such frame and abolish the need for transcendence; and lastly, that I suddenly remembered this song by Dreamtheater, who affirmed that the “soul will transcend.”

In itself, to transcend is to make an unavoidable, impurifying move in order to arrive at some purity. To compromise only appears to be the most necessary. But: it only appears. There could be transcendence, there could be non-compromises. Try to look at the successors of the people of Russia which depressed Mayakovsky.

Look.

Not in the center of your eye, or mine, or the center of this ruinsome blog post, or the glamour of the television or your tablet.

We cannot talk about where to look, only where to NOT look. Look not in Harvard jeans, or in Godard films, or the sushi or kimchi on the table; not on a male porn star’s torso, not on shopping malls, not on the roads from the rural to the metro.

Look.

Apparently, to compromise is a necessary prelude to transcendence.

We have a whole life to lose — and perhaps, perhaps, all wagers begin with this, and all events in life somehow begin with wagers – a whole new life to gain — maybe the life Mayakovsky wanted to gain, but did not.

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Playing with films


Jesa (who is perhaps amusingly more of the film buff between us) and  I have been having this game which we play whenever we walk in places (we started doing it somewhere in Ayala Avenue, when we talked to a lawyer in preparation for her libel case, and in Marcos Highway. on our way home). The “rules” of the game are simple. We are going to give one-line descriptions of films that both of us have watched (not necessarily together) and the other person should guess the film that is being described.

It is fun and challenging because there is a need to be creative in thinking of descriptions that will be guessable but not to the point of being a giveaway. Also, on the part of the one who will guess the film, she should be thoughtful enough to recall all the prominent scenes, the objects acting as motif, the decisive lines and all other technical aspects of the film in order to give the correct answer. Here are some of the lines we have used during our last “contest:” Film might get offended by how we made words alter/extend its own language, but to me, there is some positive value in it. But anyway:

1. The nymph was cured by the water of the sea.

The answer: Nunal sa Tubig, directed by Ishmael Bernal (1976)

Image taken from: http://www.oocities.org/seapavaa/bulletin/av04/av406.htm
Image taken from: http://www.oocities.org/seapavaa/bulletin/av04/av406.htm

2. The hero was not reasonable.

The answer:

Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle (1996)

Trainspotting

3. I will go to your dimension and bring you a coffin.

The answer:

Dr. Plonk (2007), directed by Rolf de Heer

Dr Plonk

4. The eyes are penis.

The answer: Shame (2011), directed by Steve McQueen

(In the opening scenes, the protagonist, Brandon, was on a train and was “eyeing” a lady he finds sexually attractive. I cannot take a snapshot of this scene because the copy in available computers is all gone). But here: the movie poster:

Shame poster

5. I shall prove myself by making the moon tiny.

The answer: (this was sort of a giveaway) Despicable Me (2010), directed by Pierre Louis Padang Coffin and Chris Renaud.

Despicable Me

6. How about we go to the restaurant to say condolence?

The answer: Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

A dinner was spoiled...
A dinner was spoiled…
...because of a death.
…because of a death.

Write the heaviest that can be written


Just wanting to add something to what Adam David said in a “conversation” with Miguel Syjuco: that “writers should make claims”; that writers should “assume the right to make others think.”

Because Janine and I were “conversing” at Facebook and she said “Ang bigat naman!” referring to something that has been said in the conversation.  This, I think, should be added to what a writer should be, or do: the writer must always venture to say something heavy, something big, something significant, something that will alter perceptions, like drugs, something that will challenge beliefs. If not: why write?

I just put it here as a thumbnail image. Pero kuha ito ni Jesa, sa National Museum.
I just put it here as a thumbnail image. Pero kuha ito ni Jesa, sa National Museum.

Selfying Books


The idea is sort of derived from this post. What I specifically have in mind is this (which could also be the idea behind the afore-linked post): instead of showing off the “self” via a selfie, why not show off one’s gallery of books?

Which can be read as:

(Okay, someone’s calling attention to his being a “bookworm”)

(Okay, he reads ‘Philosophy,’ he’s smart)

This is the danger of being too meta, of hanging on to an often awkward, often dizzying, often self-liberating schizophrenia. Anyway, lastly: if we want to “show off” our made-up faces and the places of the tourist attractions we have been to, then why can’t we “show off” the pages we have read, intend to read or just intent to display in our future book shelves. Perhaps if everyone starts doing a selfie of their books, there would be like a bacchanalian rage about books, and we can all get to talk about the same books we have read, exchange books with or make reading recommendation to others. Wonderland of books, hopefully the total opposite of Bradbury’s implicit fear.

Walden and other writings: Henry David Thoreau The Adventures of Hickleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Mark Twain The Old Man and the Sea: Ernest Hemingway Pushkin: Eugene Onegin Black and Blue: Anna Quindlen Good as Gold: Joseph Heller The Divine Comedy I: Hell: Dante Alighieri Physical: James McManus Housekeeping: Marilynne Robinson
Walden and other writings: Henry David Thoreau
The Adventures of Hickleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Mark Twain
The Old Man and the Sea: Ernest Hemingway
Pushkin: Eugene Onegin
Black and Blue: Anna Quindlen
Good as Gold: Joseph Heller
The Divine Comedy I: Hell: Dante Alighieri
Physical: James McManus
Housekeeping: Marilynne Robinson
My Son's Story: Nadine Gordimer Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Frederick Douglass Utopia: Thomas More Too Fat, Can't Fly: Yuko Kondo Coast of Chicago: Stuart Dybek Wise Blood: Flannery O'Connor The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood Oliver Twist: Charles Dickens
My Son’s Story: Nadine Gordimer
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Frederick Douglass
Utopia: Thomas More
Too Fat, Can’t Fly: Yuko Kondo
Coast of Chicago: Stuart Dybek
Wise Blood: Flannery O’Connor
The Blind Assassin: Margaret Atwood
Oliver Twist: Charles Dickens
Much Ado About Nothing: William Shakespeare The Dying Animal: Philip Roth Waiting for Godot: Samuel Beckett The Odyssey: Homer Herland: Charlotte Perkins Gilman Nobody Move: Denis Johnson House of Sand and Fog: Andre Dubus III The Uncollected Henry James: Edited by Floyd Horowitz Great Books: Balzac and Goethe
Much Ado About Nothing: William Shakespeare
The Dying Animal: Philip Roth
Waiting for Godot: Samuel Beckett
The Odyssey: Homer
Herland: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Nobody Move: Denis Johnson
House of Sand and Fog: Andre Dubus III
The Uncollected Henry James: Edited by Floyd Horowitz
Great Books: Balzac and Goethe
Medea and Other Plays: Euripides Real Cats don't do Talks Shows: Gerberg The Crucible: Arthur Miller James Joyce Today: Essays on the Major Works The Classical Monologue: Women The Handmaid's Tale: Margaret Atwood Dubliners: James Joyce Blindness: Jose Saramago
Medea and Other Plays: Euripides
Real Cats don’t do Talks Shows: Gerberg
The Crucible: Arthur Miller
James Joyce Today: Essays on the Major Works
The Classical Monologue: Women
The Handmaid’s Tale: Margaret Atwood
Dubliners: James Joyce
Blindness: Jose Saramago
The Brothers Karamazov: Dostoyevsky The Tempest: Shakespeare The Diary of a Madman and other stories: Nikolai Gogol A Spot of Bother: Mark Haddon Hocus Pocus: Kurt Vonnegut Four Great Plays: Henrik Ibsen S.: John Updike Cat's Cradle: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The Master and Margarita: Mikhail Bulgakov
The Brothers Karamazov: Dostoyevsky
The Tempest: Shakespeare
The Diary of a Madman and other stories: Nikolai Gogol
A Spot of Bother: Mark Haddon
Hocus Pocus: Kurt Vonnegut
Four Great Plays: Henrik Ibsen
S.: John Updike
Cat’s Cradle: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The Master and Margarita: Mikhail Bulgakov
Less Than Zero: Bret Easton Ellis Tender is the Night: F. Scott Fitzgerald The Rules of Attraction: Bret Easton Ellis Othello: Shakespeare Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man: Joseph Heller Lunar Park: Bret Easton Ellis
Less Than Zero: Bret Easton Ellis
Tender is the Night: F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Rules of Attraction: Bret Easton Ellis
Othello: Shakespeare
Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man: Joseph Heller
Lunar Park: Bret Easton Ellis
Books' Selfie 7
One Day on the Life of Ivan Denisovich: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Strong Motion: Jonathan Franzen
A Home at the End of the World: Michael Cunnigham
Dining with the Dictator: Dany Laferriere
Tree of Smoke: Denis Johnson
Travels in the Scriptorium: Paul Auster Los Angeles: A.M. Homes Tess of the D'urberilles: Thomas Hardy Empire Falls: Richard Russo The Edible Woman: Margaret Atwood New Beginnings: Brooklyn Follies: Paul Auster
Travels in the Scriptorium: Paul Auster
Los Angeles: A.M. Homes
Tess of the D’urberilles: Thomas Hardy
Empire Falls: Richard Russo
The Edible Woman: Margaret Atwood
New Beginnings:
Brooklyn Follies: Paul Auster
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: James Joyce America is in the Heart: Carlos Bulosan Beat Generation: Jack Kerouac The Sound and the Fury: William Faulkner Amedee. The New Tenant and Victims of Duty: Eugene Ionesco Molloy: Samuel Beckett The Corrections: Jonathan Franzen
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: James Joyce
America is in the Heart: Carlos Bulosan
Beat Generation: Jack Kerouac
The Sound and the Fury: William Faulkner
Amedee. The New Tenant and Victims of Duty: Eugene Ionesco
Molloy: Samuel Beckett
The Corrections: Jonathan Franzen
The Story of Philosophy: Will Durant The Making of Kubrick's 2001 The Politics of Breastfeeding Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women
The Story of Philosophy: Will Durant
The Making of Kubrick’s 2001
The Politics of Breastfeeding
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women
Beyond Life Sentences: Eileen Tabios The Maverick Room: Ellis Twelfth Night: Shakespeare Latino Caribbean Literature The Door: Margaret Atwood Paradise Review Black Zodiac: Charles Wright Eighteenth-century Women Poets The Faber Book of 20th Century Women's Poetry
Beyond Life Sentences: Eileen Tabios
The Maverick Room: Ellis
Twelfth Night: Shakespeare
Latino Caribbean Literature
The Door: Margaret Atwood
Paradise Review
Black Zodiac: Charles Wright
Eighteenth-century Women Poets
The Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry
Nonfiction Film Holidays on Ice: David Sedaris Edvard Munch: J. P. Hodin Principles of Intensive Psychotheraphy (which I bought during a semester when Jesa was having a related course in psychology) English Romantic Poets: M. H. Abrams
Nonfiction Film
Holidays on Ice: David Sedaris
Edvard Munch: J. P. Hodin
Principles of Intensive Psychotheraphy (which I bought during a semester when Jesa was having a related course in psychology)
English Romantic Poets: M. H. Abrams