“Why Nations Fail” by Acemoglu and Robinson sparked my newfound love for history. I’ve learned how much society’s economic and political dynamics were influenced by critical junctures of the past. But reading about history also gave me an impression that the struggle for the past centuries was mostly man vs man.

Fast forward to today. Societies now are more self aware, and are gradually evolving to have a proper check and balance in place to eschew oligarchic control and to encourage innovations. The struggle is slowly shifting out of man vs man.

Over time I’m confident that the world will take care of itself, and the invisible hand will reign… Especially since globalization and technology are inevitable forces. And they make ideas travel faster, thus making people smarter, thus making it hard for the elites to rule and extract from the mass. Also we prioritize “solving” man vs man because it directly affects how we live our lives now.

This is an optimistically bold statement… But my gut tells me to give it a maximum of a century or 2, and global societal peace will happen organically.

However one thing that is not getting better over time organically is climate change. Just because we can’t yet feel the effects now, we ignore. It’s the elephant in the room that can crush us all. But for the few who care, they know how the scale and intensity of its impact will take a toll on how the future generations will live their lives.

The man vs man struggle will gradually improve over time.
But man vs nature, a much much difficult struggle, is already within a stone’s reach. We need to act fast. And act now.
As of now I don’t know yet what to do, how to go about this. The insight just came to me now midway the book. But there are a lot of things to do including researching and immersing myself in the issue.


vernon god little by dbc pierre

August 25, 2010, 8:04am
In-transit to work

I finished Vernon God Little. Finally after 3 months.

VGL is surprisingly romantic in its own filthy hormonal teenager way. And it is actually feel-good despite the supposedly heavy themes.

I was particularly in awe of the writing style. I loved the angsty bordering philosophical tone he used for Vernon, who was a victim of his efforts to deviate from the discriminating status quo.

Here are some of the lines I enjoyed:

p 148 ~ “Where TV lets you down, I’m discovering, is by not convincing you how things really work in the world”
TV is a simulated reality.
But reality is not simulated TV.
Media messes with our mind too much.

p 163 ~ attaching a song to a particular moment:
“I don’t even know the words to the song. But you can bet I’ll spend the next 80 years in hell making every line fit my situation.”
This happens to me ridiculously often, and here DBC Pierre was successful as a writer in making the reader empathize with Vernon.
My personal experience with aurally-induced time-traveling emotions: I associate the song Morning Elegance with hangover and heartache. I cannot help but feel remorse for myself every time I hear that song. -_-

p 197 ~ part when Vernon declared that the on-lookers/ non-victims have the “tickly kind of luxury deciding whether to be sympathetic or devastated, or not even pay attention at all, the way people do when shit happens that doesn’t involve them.”
The HK tourists hostage mishap was simultaneously happening while I was finishing the book. Then and there was a case in point: I was not directly involved with the tragedy, and I had the luxury of deciding whether I be sympathetic or devastated or not even pay attention at all.

p 260 ~ “Don’t be lookin up the sky for help. Look down here, at us twisted dreamers.”
This was my least favorite of the dog-eared ‘favorite parts’ because I cannot weave my soul unto the sentence. BUT I felt that this was one of the more salient sentences as it was Lasalle’s clincher quotable quote (Lasalle was successfully positioned as “The Wise One”)
Attempt at deconstruction… Is it: you won’t find strength from God. You’ll find strength from poignant twisted yet hopeful dreamers, stuck in the hellhole with you…?

/chronicles of the dogears

Must emphasize that:
The aftertaste was incredible. It flooded my consciousness with feel-good Mexican/ Texan aftertaste, i.e., blistering desert against the vivid blue skies where the fast moving clouds come and go… And in the middle of it all is a sampayan with lacy sultry underwear blown in the wind.

It will blow your mind.

Now go get a copy!

thoughts while literally up in the sky

And we meet again, paper and pen.
Hypergraphia hiatus halted.

May 28, 2010, a little past 4pm

This marks my first domestic flight milestone.

I am in a Zest Air plane to Bora, with 7D.
I sit by the right window. Mico is at my left. And in front of me sits a balding caucasian who wears a yellow Hawaiian shirt. Oh isn’t he ready for Bora.

And oh, am I not ready for another book review, the RH Batacan’s Smaller & Smaller Circles Review.

This is the first time after a long time that I’ve read a full-length English novel of a Filipino Author.
Since I was used to reading international fiction, I challenged myself to consciously detach my Filipino self and read it as an outsider who wasn’t familiar with our culture. And oh boy, did it rub in that Philippines was in a dire state of poverty.

Perhaps that is one reason why it won the Palanca: the novelette wasn’t shy of reality.
The rich nor the middle class wasn’t represented, which -come to think of it- was contrary to plots of primetime teleseryes.
Perhaps the lot of our population just needs a breather from their impoverished state. (there is a need to be entertained)
Likewise us middle class citizens need to understand the reality that is poverty. (there is a need to be educated)

Ok so it’s not really a book review.

atomised by michel houellebecq

May 10, 2010, 11:00pm

Spoiler alert.

I can’t put my finger on a single theme / tone which encompasses Atomised topics.

“So the society is atomised”
This is exhibited through the lives of Michel and Bruno. The dissimilarity must mean each is representative of contrasting ideologies.

– carnal desire / pursuit for sexual adventure
– intellectual desire / pursuit for knowledge

Why was there much emphasis on Bruno’s carnal adventures? (And this is juxtaposed against Michel’s detachment) Is it to illustrate humankind’s pre-cloning era, when sex hasn’t been 100% decoupled from reproduction? But Bruno doesn’t “do” it to reproduce? Is it to illustrate the phase when humankind is gradually developing into the race of the gods?

Phase 1: Sex = Reproduction (past)
– society without contraception
– reproduction is dependent on sex

Phase 2: Sex = ≠ Reproduction (present)
– society with contraception, which enables sex without reproduction
– but since reproduction is still dependent on sex, the conception is an imperfect mutantion
– thus, society is imperfect

Phase 3: Sex ≠ Reproduction (future, as per Atomised)
– reproduction is asexual, i.e. through cloning
– we are able to choose the desired traits in creating humans
– then society becomes perfect, and the only way to die is through euthanasia

In this diagram, humankind is in the second stage. This was illustrated extensively by Bruno. He needed to fulfill his sexual desires from adolescence to mid-life, from wanking to orgies. Nude beach! So much variation.
On another note, Michel is the perfect representation of the third phase. His lack of sexual desire is it. In the third phase, it is not even clear if people still had sex. Maybe for the dopamine rush purely.
Each of Bruno’s sexual experience must be a representation of something (pero tinatamad na me mag-analyse). Hindi ko natumbok… I MUST READ IT AGAIN, with the pages wide open, soiling it with grubby hands, valiantly highlighting and underlining and swearing at the margins.

Some other ideas that struck me:

Houellebecq narrated two generations of Michel and Bruno’s forefathers in a few pages, in a few paragraphs lang. How could a man’s life be summarized in a few words? All his experiences and memories were crunched in a page or two. In the end we should face the reality that we are inconsequential. There is the potential to make the mark in the world, but once you’re dead, you’re DEAD. Only piercing ideas can vie for immortality. Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche, Comte, Baudelaire. Their names acknowledged for their intellectual substance.

We are mortals. And it is difficult to make our mark in this world.

Someday I will die, and the new generations will forget me. They will not even know I existed, like how ignorant I am of my forefathers’ lives. They will not know of my hypergraphia and my fondness for waxing philo. They may recognize me if I formulate a groundbreaking something for my field (if I will haha), but nothing more than that. They won’t know about my loves, my feelings, which for me is the most important thing about life. It is your most conscious state.

…Which is contrary to what Houellebecq said. Through Michel, he said that solving for the most difficult math problems, being overtly logical and analytical — is human’s most conscious state. This makes sense as well because it is consistent with the eco food chain:
plans –> animals –> humans –> ultra-genius humans who can comprehend/generate the most complex of ideas
Consciousness might be correlated with intelligence?

I imagine Atomised’s philosophical points of discussion as fractals. You may expound endlessly. Then see beauty unfold before your eyes.

I am satisfied. :)

a clockwork orange by anthony burgess

I vowed not to post here until I finish Leslie’s write-up (sorry Les working on it; I will pay the fines!). But I cannot help it. I must write down my thoughts now (before my memory fails me) on A Clockwork Orange, novel by Anthony Burgess, popularly used as pop-culture reference due to its sheer epicness.

(Rant) I was mid-way that particular magnificent piece of literature yesterday, when Stairway Wit haunted me. I remembered my shallow status post in Facebook broadcasting how I found a Nadsat dictionary online, so I can decipher the Slavic words interspersed in the book’s Nadsatic conversation. I focused too much on finding a reading aid, tippest of the icebergest …when ACO’s greatness roots from its concept. Gog. On to the discourse…

ACO is famous for being a difficult read (like Trainspotting). I am a proud graduate. And like all other alumni, I agree that the language barrier was daunting at first, but after finishing 3-5 chapters, reading was a breeze. May learning curve lang.
Burgess’s dystopia revealed that each of its demographic had a different dialect–very Babel. This is the source of conflict mismo–misunderstanding. And this is depicted by form with a language you have to learn on the spot. So form plays an important role after all in helping the reader understand the concept in a more involved manner. Subliminally though. Haha.

On another note, the Ludovico technique was brilliant. Simple psychology as panacea to a dystopic society. I just shudder at the thought of the Government “curing” the violent behavior superficially through classical conditioning. Why don’t they find out why the Nadsats are behaving this way, then attack the source.
ACO also raised ethical questions about freewill. (But I’m too lazy to think about it now hehehe)

Let’s see after a week…

I think the film addaptation by Stanly Kubrick was instrumental in transforming it into a pop culture consumable. Kubrick has this way of making something reference and spoof-worthy. Some of which are: Alex’s long right eyelashes, Singing in the Rain break-in scene, William Tell Overture fast-forwarded sex scene; the sinny chair contraption. Concept, kudos to Burgess. Execution kudos to Kubrick. Ang galing niyo!

It was a great pleasure reading ACO. Thank you, Anthony Burgess.

god of small things by arundhati roy

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Velutha might have recited this poem from memory. For Ammu. After they made love under the mangosteen tree for the first time. He might have altered it slightly… “Tread softly, Ammu…” He might have not. Ammu might have kissed him on the forehead upon hearing the poem. She might have not.

a slow cursive for mindful thinking

October 21, 2009, past 8am.

I took the non-air conditioned bus to work, because the two-peso variance from riding air conditioned bus is still two pesos. Thirty thousand monthly house amortization nagged at the back of my head, throbbed like an open wound. Dalawang piso rin ito. And I much prefer the slightly polluted Makati breeze than artificial cold air.

So there I was, alone on a three-seater, God of Small Things perched on my palms.
[As I typed the last sentence, I imagined God perched on my palms, waving his cute hands.]

At 8:29, two boys entered the bus. Their clothes grubby, cheeks concaved. I figured they probably worked for the Sindicate. The older one carried a makeshift bongos; he slumped at the two-stepped stair near the bus entrance… and drummed away a la Bob Marley. The younger one dragged himself to each and every bus seat, distributing white envelopes creased… At the back of the envelope was a message, which read:

Maawa na po kayo sa mga Badjao.”

That time I was at my second to the last page of Chapter 1, the part where Arundhati was giving us a glimpse of Sophie Mol’s murder. I was on the verge of crying… but not for Sophie Mol or Estha or Rahel. The boys, oh, the boys rattled, confronted my fictional reverie.

But my empathy is useless. It can’t wipe out this inhumane phenomenon.
I felt all the more helpless. Hey, Jude.