Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's the Shroud of Turin Mall Tour!

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- For centuries, a piece of linen cloth bearing the image of a crucified man, called the "Shroud of Turin", is continuously revered by the faithful believing it was the actual burial shroud of Jesus Christ.

The shroud is said to be locked away in a cathedral in Turin, Italy and only displayed three or four times in a century.

However, shoppers at SM City Pampanga will be given the rare opportunity to view the replica of the world's most studied archaeological artifact of all time, which will be unveiled at SM City Pampanga on July 20.


An Adoration Chapel is also on hand for visitors who wish to spend some moments in quiet solace and prayer, while a special of the exhibition is also set aside for special events like seminars and workshops, hosted by religious groups.

"The last part of the tour serves to reach out to our visitors on a personal level," said Lloren. "The area allows them to relive their experience, to reflect on the shroud and what it means to their faith, and to carry out the message of the Shroud in their activities," she also said. (Sun Star Pampanga)
Call me old-school Vulcan but does anybody else find the concept of god in a temple of mammon jarring, to say the least?

I know that I'm the last person to tell people how they should worship, considering that I'm the sort who's agnostic on a good day and atheist the rest. Faith, in itself (or the lack thereof), is a non-issue with me. But I also believe that a great deal of evil in the world today is due to ignorance. The solace of ignorance is the belief that everything is written down already.

When you think that everything's written down already, you might as well roll over and die. Or place your existence in the hands of some higher being and her/his/its self-proclaimed earthly representatives. You can have a president who says that she/he/it has a direct line to god. In this set-up, to question the validity of such a statement would make you a godless person and just plain wrong, end of discussion.

It puts me in mind of kids having to learn from those awful textbooks. A lot of people--even profs at my university--think that if something's in print, then it must be true. (I once had a very nice prof who--bless her innocent heart--mentioned a Chromosome Z. In humans. I later found the textbook, written by a committee of PhD's, that she "learned" it from.) I'm not a huge fan of the educational system, obviously, because I have a horror of studying for grades or diplomas or even a job. (It's actually more dangerous than it sounds because I don't have go-getter tendencies to make up for my aversion. I'm sure that there's a parallel universe where I'm selling blood right now.)

The current textbook brouhaha valiantly instigated by Antonio Go is absolutely called for, if only to disturb the complacency of the bureaucrats in charge. But, as I see it, the problem with the educational system goes beyond textbooks. In Go's statement, he mentioned the current Secretary of Education painting classroom chairs for a photo-op. This is relatively harmless vanity. What I find more indicative of misguidedness is that the Shroud of Turin Mall Tour is endorsed by the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.

Now, I couldn't care less who the guy on the shroud is, whether it's Jesus or Barabbas or Jacques de Molay. (I do fancy the Molay Theory, though, because it would make the story Umberto Eco fanfic-ish.) But the point is, of all the things that the DepED and CHED can do to show that they are worth their salt, it has to be something unconstitutional. Nowhere, I believe, do government officials so brazenly violate their sworn oath to serve and protect all citizens regardless of religion. This includes, but is not limited to, showing no favor. It makes me wonder: Are they even aware of the separation of Church and State?

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The Philippine Exhibition of The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin opens on July 20 at SM City Pampanga. It will then be taken to SM Mall of Asia from September 8 to December 9; SM City Davao from January 18 to February 3; and SM City Cebu from April 4-27, 2008.

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Friday, July 13, 2007


I ought to be used to it by now, but long translation work--from ten single-spaced pages up--still manages to give me a migraine despite my tried and tested 7-step program:
  1. Read the original through.
  2. Split screen and make a rough translation, skipping tough words/phrases for later. Take note of key and recurring terms.
  3. Go over the skipped words/phrases. (This usually takes just as long as Step 2.)
  4. Read the first draft with language structure in mind. Move things around.
  5. Proofread.
  6. Proofread.
  7. Proofread.
I could keep proofreading indefinitely but, by Step 6, the migraine usually kicks in and, by the start of Step 7...well, just imagine me scowling fiercely at the screen. After sending them off, I spend the next 48 hours, at least, torturing myself with things I missed. Because there always are--especially in "Look, Ma, no spellcheck!" Filipino where a word four syllables long is short.

The hardest ones to translate are academic papers where almost all sentences are compound and it's raining qualifiers. I always find myself editing the original inside my head. (If you know about the ulcer-inducing agonies I went through with a certain book, yep, I'm always like that.) Whenever there's an error in sense like, say, a mixed metaphor, I fix it in the translation. It's actually possible to make a translation that's better, in terms of clarity, than the original. And then there are special cases where I can tell that I'm translating a translation. For those, I also have to imagine what the original might have been like.

The easiest for me are poetry and narratives (fic and non-fic). Maybe because writers write with an eye to being translated? Har har. But whatever I translate, I am constantly reminded of how important it is to have a good ear for how people use words. A big part of translation is actually mimicry.

So, I'm all done with work but with a blistering headache and wishing that I had more time to make them perfect. It's probably the closest thing to regret that I permit myself. And the punchline is...this is work I love doing.

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Not that they die

The Leaden-eyed

Let not young souls be smothered out before
They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world's one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
Not that they starve, but starve so dreamlessly;
Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap;
Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve;
Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.

~ Vachel Lindsay

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Class-conflicted BS

I take it back. This descent into barbarism is not some metaphysical pataphysical absurdist drama. It's about a few people using the fascist state apparatus to protect their ill-gotten gains and vested interests.* It makes sense--perfectly bad sense.

The longer it takes, the more I worry about our country's future. There's at least one generation that grew up on ersatz milk, instant noodles, noontime shows, and bad textbooks. And they're the lucky ones. What do they dream? What does anybody dream these days?

I see dirty and naked children in the streets all the time, and what do I do? I steel myself against pity. And I know that every single instance of this will come back to me because we are all connected. These are evil times, indeed, when we have to give up chunks of our humanity just to stay sane. For what?

Years ago, somebody told me that maybe there's nothing for it but to Aufhebung. I'm fine with this but it doesn't make it all right [mp3].

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*This is an over-simplification for practical purposes. Their thick-skinned swaggering powers were vested in them not by the people but by their masters. The context is imperialism, always.

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Human(sic) Security Act

"Most propositions and questions that have been written about philosophical matters are not false but senseless. We cannot, therefore, answer questions of this kind at all, but only state their senselessness."

Liebe Ludwig, would that senselessness kept to the realm of philosophy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Well-tempered Caviler

As proof that I have not entirely lost it, I will tell you my three favorite jokes of all time.
Joke #1
Q: How many shrinks does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Just one. But the lightbulb really has to want to change.
Joke #2
Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: That's not funny!!!
And for my favoritest, drumroll, please...
Favoritest Joke of All Time
Q: Why is the door knob?
A: Because the house.
But there's more! Next, I'm going to tell you one of my favorite anecdotes that I read somewhere I can't remember.
So, there was this kid--let's put him at 6yo--who was perfectly happy and healthy except that he didn't talk. This worried his parents, of course, but because they were loving and caring folk and there was nothing else the matter with the kid, anyway, they just went on loving and caring for him. One night, over dinner, the kid suddenly asked them to pass the salt (or something). Upon recovering from the shock, his parents asked him why he hadn't spoken before. And the kid said: Because I never wanted anything before.
I hope you liked my jokes and the anecdote. And now I'm going to bonk you over the head with something really serious. Kidding!

In an earlier post, I rambled about losing speech last. Now, speech has many functions but probably the most important is negotiation. (Even when we're just talking--or writing, like this--to ourselves, there's negotiation involved. We are "sorting things out.") There are non-verbal ways of negotiating, of course, but they all involve a certain degree of physical violence and/or passive-aggressive subterfuge. This is why speech is so essential and enshrined (last time I looked) as an inalienable human right. Unfortunately, there are too many real-life situations where speech is prostituted for ends that violate its very nature. (Lacan would call this "empty speech" but let's not go there.¹)

What's worse is when speech pimps presume to dictate who gets to speak and who doesn't. The shit doesn't get much deeper than that.

There's a "poetic writer and good conversationalist" (*insert gagging sounds here*) whom I will never speak to again--as in try to communicate anything of worth--because I know that it would be just like throwing myself down a waterless well or casting pearls before swine. As for politics and a bunch of blighted...blighters who are not worthy to outlaw my shorts, it just triggers the Tourette's and so it's not something I like getting started on.²

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¹I'm quite aware of the fact that every time I say something "serious," I'm usually paraphrasing a bunch of DWMs. We can play find the not-so-hidden Bakhtin or whatever, if you like. Can't help it, sorry.

²Which is why I totally admire people like Antonio Calipjo Go who risk popping a blood vessel tilting at blighted windmills. Just a tiny bone to pick, though. He started his statement with three quotes: one each from Dickens, Condorcet, and Borat. Victoriana happens to be my specialty and so I have to say that the Dickens quote is rather off.
"Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else… This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to the Facts, Sir!"
It was a big mean utilitarian baddie in Hard Times who said that.

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The reign of (idiotic) terror

In the news: Reds target of terror law
The Department of Justice will ask the courts to outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army and the Abu Sayyaf once the Human Security Act of 2007 takes effect on July 15, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said Tuesday.
WTF. And all this time, I thought the CPP, the NPA, et al were already illegal.

If you ask me, I'd say that the reason behind the belated asking is to make extra-judicial killings more "right," legal even. I swear, when I fucking go to fucking hell, I'm going to fucking ask for a fucking discount on the fucking accommodations. I fucking deserve it. We all do.

It's enough to make anyone head for the hills just to get away from these murdering morons.

The Meaning of Life and Everything*

Selon de cette "chart" à gauche (en fait, une affiche pour un film assez bon; cliquez sur l'image pour big, s.v.p.), j'ai la généreuse, la discrète, et l'assassine. En général, je suis en accord avec tout ça. Mais, j'ai un petit problème avec le grain sur l'oeil: la passionnée. C'est vrai que je suis passionnée mais, in other cultures, ang may nunal sa mata ay nakakakita raw ng multo. Har har.

In fact, I have three moles on my right eye: two small ones, and a big one like a solar flare at the edge of my cornea. Now, my brother has seen ghosts a few times and that is the only reason why I can entertain the possibility of their existence. Sometimes, I even try to scare myself into seeing ghosts but my so-called "powers" just don't work. One possible explanation is that ghosts are more afraid of me than I am of them. I wouldn't be surprised.

An absolute lack of superstitious belief can be rather impoverishing.

This morning, however, I read a friend's post mentioning that the past few weeks (from June 16 to July 10) have been Mercury in retrograde. If I have a sneaking fondness for a "superstition," it would be for astrology. It's just so literary--even more than stichomancy (which is too literal and begging for self-fulfillment). What made me do a double-take, though, is the coincidentality. The first day of my total shutdown was June 16 and yesterday--a day of two birthdays--found me cheerful enough to think of an actual date for coming out of my cave.

[Nous sommes en Jour 6 de La Grande Expérience.]

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*Cheer up, Mike. :)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's Proust Day!

His nocturnal, bedridden, disorderly work habits seem heroic. In his private life he mixed low-grade hedonism with deliberate psychological and moral experiment. What looks degraded to some of us may be edifying to others. This man of shrewd medical insight mercilessly punished his frail body and refused proper advice, even from his brother. He followed what...was his "only rule": "to yield to one's demon, to one's thought, to write on everything to the point of exhaustion." (Shattuck, The Work and its Author)

Dear Marcel,

I know you don't like girls. But I love you, anyway.


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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Game-show life

Sometimes I still wonder how things would've been different if I'd done the usual teenage things like dissect frogs, have crushes, or angst over acne and prom dresses. I don't even know if that's what high school's about so correct me if I've got it all wrong.

At the time, however, I didn't mind because I hated school from day one (which was also when I started having asthma attacks). By the time I was 10, it was all fear, loathing, and unutterable boredom. It was almost inevitable that, after a few half-hearted attempts--one of them lasting for just one day--I would end up a high school drop-out at 14. It's really quite defining and, even now, I can still be as foot-shootingly mulish as I was back then.

And so, for years, I just stayed home and read. Later, I took out memberships at Alliance Française, Goethe Institut, and the British Council. Alliance was still at Pasong Tamo and the last two were at the New Manila area. They've all moved since. My favorite library was the Institut's and I pretty much read everything from Never-ending Story to Kristin Lavransdatter to Freud to books with titles like Life is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder.* (I also remember being taken there as a little kid to watch movies like Aguirre, the Wrath of God, hence the extra affection.) The picture up there is from the last time I went.

Funny how things turn out.

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*Why? Because it's short and shitty.

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The game is here.

I must say that I'm not wired for puzzles like this. I'm shockingly bad at planning moves--I forget the very second after I make them--and the only way that I can solve a Rubik's cube is with a hammer. I don't think it's from a lack of patience, though. It's probably because I don't see the point of doing something when the outcome is so obviously a given. Of course, I can always say that puzzles are more interesting jumbled up, anyway. There can't possibly be a moral judgment attached to an "unsolved" Rubik's cube (or the puzzle above) as opposed to a "solved" one, can there?

The puzzle also reminds me of my room which is full of plastic men with detachable parts. Seriously, cleaning my room is just like trying to solve the puzzle involving a chicken, a cat, a pig, and a horse. (I'm not too sure about these animals but they'll do.) I can't leave the chicken with the cat, the cat and chicken with the pig, etc... It's terrible.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

C'est l'anniversaire de Chagall!

Il y a 120 ans aujourd'hui.
Mon cirque se joue dans le ciel. ~ Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Quelle dommage qu'il n'y a pas de chat dans cette toile. Mais ça ne fait rien. Chagall est toujours le peintre des amants.

Des autres citations:
  • My name is Marc, my emotional life is sensitive and my purse is empty, but they say I have talent.
  • We all know that a good person can be a bad artist. But no one will ever be a genuine artist unless he is a great human being and thus also a good one.
  • Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things I love. (Wikipedia)

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A la recherche du temps perdu

"The writer, long before he knew he was going to be one, habitually avoided looking at all sorts of things other people noticed... [while] ordering his eyes and ears to retain forever what to others seemed puerile... 'Fashionable society mattered to him...but in the manner that flowers matter to a botanist, not in the way that flowers matter to a man who buys a bouquet.'" (Davenport-Hines, Proust at the Majestic)

Dead Proust (Man Ray, 1922)

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Shoes I never wear like posing with books they never read.

Growing up, Proust was my favorite recluse and asthmatic.

What if all we are is our favorite pretenses? It is the favorite pretense of those who dislike pretense to dislike pretense. Most acts of cruelty come from a lack of reflection that, precisely because of this vacuum-like lack, sucks everything into an infinite regress.

Whoever says that self-awareness will save your soul is lying.

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