Archive for March, 2007

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On “Memories of My Melancholy Whores”

March 2, 2007

MMW_GGM.jpgI bought this diminutive Gabriel Garcia Marquez book thrice. The first was for Mayor Ferdi and Ma’am Eva as a keepsake from a trip to KL. I was so intrigued by the title so I bought one for myself and the third for someone I hope could find meaning in its pages.

Devoured, again, is the proper word. I am willing to bet that most of us who love books would finish it off in under an hour. This is by far GGM’s most expensive – number of pages vis-à-vis price – release but then again the brevity worked.

Pretty much like how most of us feel when, out of desperation, we open the Bible (or whatever book that has offered us solace) and find a passage that just speaks to us, Memories does that. A few excerpts, along with the little inane musings of this blogger:

On Old Age

“First symptom of old age is when you begin to resemble your father…the first changes are so slow they pass almost unnoticed, and you go on seeing yourself as you always were, from the inside, but others observe you from the outside.”

“It is a triumph of life that old people lose their memories of inessential things, though memory does not often fail with regard to things that are of real interest to us.

I truly hope that in a few years, this will still be true. People my age are aghast that our memories have begun to fail us. This should be good news to them. The things that we are beginning to forget are the “inessential things.” The tragedy would be the late realization that all we had were all inessential.

On Domestic Tyranny

“[p]oor children who attended school as the easiest way to escape the tyranny of their parents.”

An aunt who took care of me while I was a child made sure the tyranny followed me everywhere. J Kidding aside, I am thankful that this wasn’t true for me and my brothers. That we always hurried home and would longingly search for reasons to head home is proof that what we wanted to escape was school.

I wonder, if I will be blessed with a child, should I likewise subject him to the ordeal that children nowadays undergo? Almost every toddler who is turning two is enrolled in some sort of learning center. And gosh, it is taking forever to finish kindergarten. It doesn’t end there. I see elementary pupils lugging heavy books with assignments of all sorts – teachers (though I love their profession dearly), it seemed, want to ensure that they will not rest when they arrive home.

No way. I want my child to play more and study less. The years before he turns seven are the most critical. True but that isn’t warrant subjecting them to the rigors of schooling – even the non-formal ones like the day-care centers.

I no longer see children play siatong and kingking. I used to be addicted at both.  Very rarely do I see kids climbing guava trees or running around and getting their knees skinned. Children are so pale nowadays. Pale and lampa.

Parents, please. A little sun, sweat and scratches please. Let your children be children. My thesis is that whole angst about men not growing up is just a manifestation that they were deprived of their childhood.

New York, New York

“New York … that’s where I supposed condemned souls go in order not to endure the truth of their past lives.”

I liked this. No, it doesn’t malign the Big Apple at all. To me, it gave a new home to second chances.

Imagery

“When the cathedral bells struck seven, there was a single, limpid star in the rose-colored sky, a ship called out a disconsolate farewell, and in my throat I felt the Gordian knot of all the loves that might have been and weren’t.”

The image that the passage created in my mind was so vivid that I drove – alone yet again – to the nearest beach and attempted to catch a sunset. I arrived minutes too late though. Too late. No cathedral bells, no star, no ship. Just recollections of “all the loves that might have been and weren’t.”

OC

“I discovered that my obsession for having each thing in the right place, each subject at the right time, each word in the right style, was not the well-deserved reward of an ordered mind but just the opposite: a complete system of pretense invented by me to hide the disorder of my nature.”

My God. That is seeing thru several layers of pretense already. What Fulghum gentle broke to us in his books, GGM simply rammed it down. This “disorder” took on a different face today. “OC” or Obsessive-Compulsive behavior as a psychological disorder was popularized by that Jack Nicholson film. That movie made being OC almost endearing. Now I am having second thoughts.

The old man in the novel lamented that his “pointless rigor that [made him] lose so many lovers.” Pointless rigor. Ouch there.

On Love (and its demons)

We had made love without love, half-dressed most of the time and always in the dark so we could imagine ourselves as better than we were.”

Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love.”

The two selections paint a rather dark almost sinister dichotomy between sex and love. Sad.

“Do whatever you want, but don’t lose that child,” she said. “There’s no greater misfortune than dying alone.”

There’s nothing like one last warning to us who believe we can steel ourselves for a life of solitude. Sigh. I take heart though that the novel unequivocally declared that “love was stronger than reason” yet forewarns us that, we all should keep our hearts open because “[i]nspiration gives no warnings.”