Quote of the Day: On the Value of Myth

The truth of myth is not the truth of history. It is the truth of experience, of the real, of life, of the holy, of the sacred. A person who kneels before the image of his Santo Niño and with all his heart prays for the recovery of an only child, to a modern scientific sophisticate, may be a superstitious man, weak and cringing, allaying his fears with the opium of religion. But that man is finding truth in his prayers. His son may not be cured. He may even die. But to have prayed for a while has put order in that disordered spirit, has restored in him the calm of the mountaintops. The truth of myth is analogous to the truth an anguished person finds once he has prayed to God with all his might before the statue of the Christ Child: the experience of peace, of resignation.

    — from Myths and Symbols: Philippines, by Fr. F. R. Demetrio, S. J.

Joaquin Phoenix’s Last Movie

Today the weather was gorgeous! Self spent the day engaged in useful pursuits:

She spent the whole morning writing. (“Writing,” in self’s book, does not equate to xxxx number of pages produced. In fact, perhaps she ought to use the word “musing” instead of “writing,” for she spends just as much time reading as actually tapping out words on her computer. What self means is: as long as her imagination is actively engaged, she feels she is writing — or is this yet another of self’s endless rationalizations? Once again, she digresses)

Round about noon, the plumber came and did various things to the pipe under the sink, for an hour and a half.

Then, because self had been so patient (both with her writing and with the plumber), self decided to treat herself to a movie in downtown Palo Alto. And she went running off to see “Two Lovers,” ostensibly Joaquin Phoenix’s last movie. Which was not, after all, the great movie The New Yorker had led her to believe it would be, but was fitfully absorbing. For one thing, there was a brunette playing someone besotted with Joaquin, and she was supremely touching. But, on first sight of Joaquin’s other love, Gwynnie, self thought to herself: that woman is too old to be playing the part of a club-going party girl. And, for that matter, Joaquin himself seemed a little too old for his part. The only actors who seemed right for their parts were: aforementioned brunette; Isabella Rosselini, playing Joaquin’s mom; and the actors who played, in this order: Joaquin’s dad, Joaquin’s dad’s business partner, Gwynnie’s married boyfriend (Good Lord, was that bald guy really Elias Koteas of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles era?). Moreover, self thinks the movie has a very stupid title, for the only person Joaquin/Leonard seemed to love was himself. And all the emotions felt by various characters in the movie were too clouded by need, or anxiety, or what-have-you.

Since self just finished watching “The Tempest” at Steppenwolf, where the two young lovers were really young-looking (and therefore projected a touching innocence), self couldn’t believe she had to watch two famous actors (Joaquin and Gwynnie) reprise roles they should have been playing ten years ago.

And, anyhoo, self never found Joaquin Phoenix attractive (or even believable playing a Jewish man), and every time Gwynnie flashed her pearly whites, self just wanted to smack her.

Having gotten all of that off her chest, self went to Safeway and when she got home, started cleaning up her kitchen. Then, she decided not to finish reading Mark Helprin’s The Pacific and Other Stories because she just couldn’t get into the various situations described therein (in spite of very gorgeous writing). Instead, self picked up Xinran’s Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Chilly Monday

Self knows she shouldn’t complain: after all, yesterday morning in Chicago, the snow was blowing in horizontal gusts. Still, this morning is a tad too chilly for her taste. She stays indoors.

She tells herself: Read the rest of this entry »

And Now Self is Home (Again)

And here’s what self has come home to:

  • A beautiful sunset (self thinks she hasn’t seen a California sunset so beautiful in a long, long while —  but perhaps that’s just because she was so thankful to be here as opposed to a place like Chicago which, exciting as it is, was positively frigid when self left this morning)
  • Dinner with hubby at Lobster Shack (Oooh, those deep-fried scallops are so dee-lish!)
  • An ecstatic Gracie and Bella
  • Three rejections in the mail (four if you count one job application).  And here are the journals that sent rejections:  Quiddity, a new lit journal self stumbled across Read the rest of this entry »

Oh Chicago!

Oh the ice-encrusted backpacks! The snow blowing horizontally! The cars crawling in slow motion through the streets, their roofs and hoods piled with snow! The glimpses of the churning waves on Lake Michigan! Self wonders: will planes be able to fly out of such a blizzard? To self’s (rather pessimistic) way of thinking, she may not get back to the Bay Area today. (But, as usual, self speaks too soon, for she is currently cooling her heels at Minneapolis airport, at one of those internet kiosks that charge $5 for 15 minutes. Since cursor happens to be very balky, she’s already used up 8 minutes, just to type this sentence)

But oh, “The Tempest” at Steppenwolf! The tutu-garbed (male) Ariel! The Ferdinand with the shaved head and tattoos snaking down his spine (causing self to wonder whether he was moon-lighting in some heavy metal band!)! The song of Ariel set to moog synthesizers! What a hoot!

(Self had never seen so many naked male chests in one production of Shakespeare! Even tutu-clad Ariel and his attendant spirits showed very amazing pectoral muscles! Thankfully all were pleasing to the eye!)

Self slept supremely well, the last two nights. During self’s last conversation with hubby, he informed her that kitchen faucet sprang a leak and he had to take everything out of the cabinet under the sink. So, now, everything is out on the counters: Comet, Pine-Sol, Resolve, Bon Ami, scrubbing brushes, sponges, rubber gloves, Lysol disinfectant spray, ant poison, cleaning rags, Murphy’s Oil, Windex, Ammonia, and who knows what else, self hasn’t investigated the back of this cabinet for years. No, decades. Self sighs: what a welcome return!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Oh, the Best Laid Plans

Hubby informs self that he thinks she should bring her laptop along with her to Association for Asian Studies Conference in Chicago.

Why, self asks. She always ends up blogging into the wee hours, and then she walks around the whole day with the most tremendous, punishing eyebags.

“You might forget something you want to say,” hubby points out.

Yeah, like if self watches “The Tempest” at The Steppenwolf, and ends up in raptures afterwards. Nothing beats on-the-spot blogging, when she is still in the grip of rapture.

Aaargh, aaargh, aaargh! Self can’t think!

What a Gorgeous Day!

After spending the whole morning and half the afternoon running around and doing errands, self tossed her bag and books to one side and ran hither and thither in the garden, weeding and watering.

Now, self wishes to impart some news: She will not be bringing her laptop to Chicago this weekend! She hopes withdrawal pangs — hers — will not be too bad. (Or maybe she’ll learn her lesson and will never allow herself to be parted from blog, ever again)

Self thinks her over-active fingers are about due for a rest. Besides which, she needs time to process (a word she only learned to use after coming to America, after attending graduate school, to be precise!) Besides which, she needs time to catch up on some zzzz’s!

Never mind: self will have lots of delightful stories to share with dear blog readers upon her return. And her panel will give her insights into what writers are doing in: Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma, as her panel is on Modern Literature of Southeast Asia (Self’s name got left off the programme by mistake, so right now it looks like no one is representing the Philippines, but self wishes to assure dear blog readers that she is there to do her duty, and has in fact written out a six-page presentation, which she already e-mailed to the other panel members– aaach! Another long digression!). Will update all upon her return!

(And, true to form, self simply cannot resist looking up what plays are showing in Chicago at the moment, and there are two at the Steppenwolf she is exceedingly longing to see: Yasmina Reza’s “Art,” and “The Tempest”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Rutgers MFA Reading Series, This Saturday at KGB Bar

Rutgers MFA Reading at KGB Bar (New York City)
Saturday, March 28, 2009
7 – 9 p.m.
85 East 4th St., New York


  • J. Cain Sills, who holds an undergraduate degree in anthropology and earns her MFA this spring
  • Evan James Roskos, who’s been published in Granta.com’s New Voices online feature
  • Gaganpreet Kaur, who, in addition to being an MFA student, teaches high school in Richmond Hill in New York
  • Melissa Aranzamendez (Go, Melissa!), who is currently working on a collection of short stories about overseas Filipino workers
  • Ryan McIlvain, who’s been published in The Paris Review, The Chattahoochee Review and The Potomac Review

Self Has a Whole Passel of Movies She Wants to See

. . .  if possible before leaving for Chicago, to be on a panel for the Association of Asian Studies Conference, on Friday.  (What?  Another trip?  Hubby can’t believe how much in demand self is lately!  Who knew?  But how can self resist?  Panel organizer was Teri Yamada, who edited Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia.  Teri was the first to publish self’s story, “Mayor of the Roses” for which she earned self’s eternal gratitude.  A few years after the anthology appeared, we met again, in Berlin.  But, I digress)

Tomorrow or the day after, self hopes she can watch “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” one more time before returning it to Netflix.

She has carefully hoarded loose dollar bills and shifted around schedules so that she has tomorrow free and, with any luck, money left over —  after paying for essential groceries and mailing out a few pieces  —  to either:

  1. scoot down to Palo Alto to watch Amy Adams and Emily Blunt in “Sunshine Cleaning” (showing at Palo Alto Square, off Page Mill)
  2. head to downtown RWC Century 20 to watch Wes Craven’s “The Last House on the Left” —  Self knows that if she watches this one, she runs the risk of staying up late, sleepless, images of gore dancing in her head, but anyhoo  (Ooops!  Self just read terrible reviews of “Last House.”  Maybe she’ll substitute “The Class,” showing at the Guild Theatre on El Camino in Menlo Park)
  3. steel herself to watch “The Reader” (showing at downtown RWC Century 20) before it leaves theatres forever —  Subject matter not exactly one self finds particularly appealing, but she wants to see how far La Winslet pushes herself, self knows this actress is absolutely fearless.

As for “Knowing,” self thinks this is one of those popcorn movies best viewed with hubby, so that will have to wait for post-Chicago.

And now, self bids dear blog readers adieu while she goes back to savoring the last few pages of Jim Harrison’s excellent collection, The Summer He Didn’t Die.  Self didn’t think anything could top the elegiac title story, told from the point of view of a lovelorn Native American named Brown Dog, but now she’s on the last story, “Tracking,” and almost every page has language whose effect on self is simply electric.

And, by the way, whoever wrote Harrison’s bio on wikipedia needs to be congratulated.  It is succinct, yet moving (Obviously written by a fan).  Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

A Question: What Is The Future of Filipino Literature?

No answers.

Post your comments, and let’s have a discussion.

You can think of this post as a kind of bulletin board.  You can go cryptic, you can go analytical, you can go poetic.  The point is, just go.

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