Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #026 – .?

I have daydreams of a far-off place, in the company of people I don’t know. I swear they could be memories or premonitions, and whether they surface by intense nostalgia or a deep yearning, I can never tell. There is an ache in my chest, a void left by a missing past and a promise of the future.

Do you dream of transcendence? Do you dream of a planet whose only landmass is a giant strip of shoreline? Do you dream of lost gardens, of the drowning sun witnessed from a third floor window? Of breathing in the fog-blanketed mountain top air, air like whispers from the mouth of a grieving world, air so thin it stings your lungs, leaving tattoos in the shape of the life we ought to live? Do you dream of silence? Of synchronized heartbeats? Of untamed emotion? Of release and catharsis?

Do you dream of the complex societal machinery where true love is the most potent renewable resource, where the cogs that push humanity further into the unknown are fueled by high-octane unleaded empathy and compassion?

Do you dream that one day, we will take matters into our own hands, and fight tooth and nail for the things we believe in? That one day, all question marks will shed their curls, and all voids in our chests will cement into periods, and we will declare with full confidence that, yes, dreams do come true.

I’ve convinced myself that fantasy is to be found elsewhere, always forgetting that fantasy is not about escaping reality but dwelling excessively within it, where curiosity and wonder build the mundane anew. The tired mind consciously hallucinates, places Instagram filters, augments reality through virtual headsets, forgetting about the fire in our veins and the mythos of our stellar heritage.

And yet the pain remains, a cancer of the soul that refuses to let go, no matter how many times I’ve tried to fill it. How does one cure a black hole? You don’t; space would certainly have less secrets without it.

~

Table of Contents

~

Advertisements

Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #024 – The President I Need

You’ve known her since birth. She’s been there with you in your birth certificate. She helped you stumble your way past grade school math. She fell in love with your ex boyfriend and is now working at your office cubicle. You’ve blamed her for her past mistakes but she also stood up to you and blamed others, on many an occasion. She’s an inseparable part of you, and she will always take you where you need to go, using your own two feet. The rally cries have said it. The spray-painted ads have spelled it out. Millions of blogsters have used it in their hashtags. “I want a president who will never break up me. I want a president who likes the things I like. I want a president like me.”

You, yes, you, can uplift this country: All we need is your word and your votes are ours. Promise, against all odds, that you would put food on your plate, even if just a morsel; Obesity is killing thousands of children all over the world. Promise that you would haggle for tuition fees, which curriculum is the freshest, which one has been bitten by the least worms. Promise that anywhere you go, especially within worthwhile cities like half of Makati and half of Taguig, you will find a home, be it on the foot-wide sidewalks graciously provided so as to await future improvement by hired foreign city planners—or the banks of murky rivers within whose waters live ancient creatures beyond our understanding, which proves that if you can live there, you can live virtually anywhere—or on the islands of brick and dirt that divide the flow of traffic, islands symbolic of our diversity as a nation, roads and oceans swarming with vehicles made in neighboring countries. And promise me, for all that is good and mighty, that you will always compromise despite your dignity, for uplifting a nation’s morale is decidedly better at keeping the peace than pinpointing every single reason why this relationship does NOT work, and that we’re all living on sinking boats, like the actual islands that lay themselves ever so slowly into the ocean under the weight of all these SM malls, like the untended street islands that manage to sustain plant life due to the occasional waist-high flood, like the islands of our hearts, which know the flow of blood better than the skins on our wrists.

Surveys conducted in the better halves of Makati and Taguig have spoken: “I am the best president of myself, and I promise to save myself first, and everything will follow.”

~

Table of Contents

~

Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #023 – No Story Today

I regret to inform all my fans that there will not be a story today, on the 8th of March, in the year 2016 of our Lord and Savior, Keanu Jeevus. This unfortunate circumstance was the result of a long day’s worth of staring listlessly at the list of work I had to get done by today or else resume everything the next day. And you know what happens when backlog gets pushed further into the reaches of your folders. your workmates will see that you’re not doing a very good job and will be motivated to not do a good job themselves, for what is competition when your boss plans to remain where he is for all eternity? Then, work will pile up, and your folders will get thicker and thicker (the inverse is true in relation to your savings account) and soon, it’ll all burst like a huge data bubble, and some of the debris might get caught by stray radiowaves and WiFi signals and jam the cogs of the system that is the stock market. And you know what happens when shit happens at the stock market. Of course you don’t; no one does! It’s the butterfly effect, man. An insect farts or some shit in one part of the world and next thing you know, ISIS! It’s a topsy-turvy world out there. Take care, fam. Happy International Women’s Day.

~

Table of Contents

~

Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #022 – Life of Sampaguita

There have been days I shut my eyes and return to the world of Nascentia, every day blessed and filled with warmth. Its citizens live a pampered life, eyes forever shut. They laze, blissful of the shackles that pin them to the soft ground. Consciousness exists in dreams that sprout, threadlike, from the ears and intermingle with one another. I touch the vines and they ask a very singular question: What lies on the other side when we are born, and what will we do till that time comes to pass? The answers are as numerous as the vines that have come and gone.

I dreamt along with the dwellers of Nascentia and saw that the outside world was just another link in a chain that goes on and on till reality breathes its last. I’d dreamt of the outside to the outside world, and even farther than that. I dreamt that when we perish, the energy that binds us will escape and come to rest on a planet reserved solely for each of us, and there, somewhere out there, shall an endless landscape of flowers bloom.

On one of my journeys, I entered this grave space of star systems that shine heavenly light so bright, not an inch of space held darkness—this collection of planets that house the energies of once-beings. I happened upon a planet feathered in white, with the tracest hints of yellow. As I drew closer, a sweet smell filled my lungs and entered my bloodstream, and immediately, I was at peace, despite knowing fully whose energy resided therein. I spent a while, in tranquil mourning, in the soft embrace of countless flowers, all jasminum sambac in scientific nomenclature.

What happens after the flowers perish is a story for another day, although I can say just about this for now: We will meet again one day, no matter what segment of the chain, our energies will surely overlap, and trust, if not powers beyond your control, your own resolve to make the journey fueled on naught but dreams and memories. We were destined for farther stars.

This is not the end, for time is only a matter of position.

~

Table of Contents

~

Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #019 – How Do I Go About Beginning A Story?

The first sentence is quite the conundrum. It is arguably the most important part of the story. It gives you a launching pad from which to adjust your fiction-reading mood. It tempers expectations and sets the stage, accompanied only by the title. It is a tricky little beast. A good first sentence can either make or break a story. Take the first sentence of this story, for example. “The,” a common article, but on its own, quite meaningless but it does usher in the second word, “first,” which is either a lie or a paradox, because the first word was obviously “The,” as we have mentioned. So far, with these two words, we can see that the narrator is very untrustworthy, owing to an oddly specific point in her childhood when a girl she used to date would often keep tabs on their relationship, as if in a competition, so the author rebels against this memory by blurring the lines between chronology, what is first and what is second. Next, the third word is “sentence.” This is an astute observation, and quite a self-reflexive one. The word “sentence,” is itself, nested within an actual sentence, forming a concentric, layered sentence that contains and is made of its essence. Consententric, if you will.

The fourth word, “is,” is an outright reference to Chinese philosophy. It is located in the direct center of the sentence, which, comparatively to the human body, serves as the stomach meridian, the Sea of Nourishment. Although looking into this even further would be a fruitless venture, because it just “is.” Let us pause for a moment to reflect on what we have here and now.

“Quite” is ambiguous. It’s the kind of word you’d use when something has exceeded your expectations but you don’t feel like giving it hyperbolic praise, like that song from an indie band your crush linked you. So what if I don’t like Autotelic as much as Orange & Lemons? They’re still “quite” good, heck, even better than Cueshé. Remember Cueshé? Yeah, I thought so. The sixth word mimics the first word but don’t be fooled. It is in lowercase and is planning to overthrow the hegemony. What hegemony? It’s still figuring that part out. Lastly, “conundrum” justifies this entire act of close reading. It completes the thought that, indeed, the first sentence is quite the conundrum. It sheds light on the fact that this close reading itself is a conundrum and the best way one can analyze the first sentence is to directly quote the first sentence. Hence, “The first sentence is quite the conundrum” should be a fitting analysis unto itself, much in the vein of the Cartographers of Borges’ Empire.

~

Table of Contents

~

Fleeting Adventures of Insufferable Romance and Excruciating Fantasy – #017 – Pre-Tend

Let us pretend the story has ended. We were always good at that, pretend. Not that it was a bad thing. The greatest fictions were born from it. People use it to stay sane. People with authority and influence have no choice but to rely on it. But respect and success stem from fruitful pretension, like stars aligning, like calling a bet and staking your life and dignity on the results of that bet. Perhaps the noblest honesty demands that we acknowledge these layers of pretension we sheathe ourselves in. Perhaps self-reflection, and, dare I say it, metaphysical-and-fictional conceits seek not self-aggrandizement but a portrayal of anguish, which has its roots in the one source we’re sure we’re most familiar with: ourselves. Perhaps we shoehorn meaning into wherever there is none. Perhaps we hide behind dense layers of text in desperate acts of self-censorship. It’s all a marketing ploy and these towering billboards are symptomatic of collective, global insecurity.

Let us pretend that all this has anything to do with anything, much less this story. Let us pretend for the sake of pretend, for the sake of love, for the sake of the stars, for no sake at all. Let us pretend that everything has a reason, that all things came from matter, that when you leave, you will never be lost. Let us pretend the memory of you can be measured in fractions of a gram. Let us pretend that the end of all stories means the beginning of another. The law of conservation of energy and motives and ideas and feelings and meanings and life and everything states that: Let us pretend and never stop pretending.

~

Table of Contents

~

[On Fiction-Writing] Restraint, subtlety, unreliable narrators, and Gene Wolfe

I remember myself saying once, “The more words you use to convey your story, the less I believe in the world you’ve constructed.” It’s something I still uphold to this day.

I recently made a blog post on video games and loneliness, and a common trait of these video games is that fact that they completely skimp out on verbal narration, or on words entirely. They are quiet games that let images and actions dictate the story. I absolutely adore it when I am able to extract so much information from a wordless scene. Narratorial hand-holding has never been my thing. If I want a story, I’d rather discover it on my own, than have the story itself spoonfeed me.

If a story feels the need to constantly explain itself with lengthy cutscenes or expository dialogue (I’m looking at you, BioWare and Bethesda games. And basically all epic fantasy/sci-fi novels), it shows how little confidence the story has that you will be able to pick these things up from context clues.

So where does that leave a fiction writer like me? I work with words, so doesn’t that mean more words is always a plus? It ultimately depends on how these words are used.

Take Gene Wolfe, for example. [Spoiler alert, but you really can’t avoid spoilers when you talk about this book] His masterpiece The Book of the New Sun is a 4-volume tome that is as thick as it is nearly impenetrable. It takes place in the distant future, when the sun has begun to die, a time where unknown, unrecorded, and unexplained calamities have devastated this world to the point that no one remembers what things used to be called or what their uses once were. Hence, we are taken on a massive quest in the guise of a surreal, Gothic fantasy novel, when it fact, it is more science fiction than anything else, and we only get to have an inkling of that more than 3/4ths of the way into the novel! There is an epic quest in here but instead of laying out the scene in graphic detail, he describes his world in a way that an actual character of this world would describe it: to the best of their knowledge, which is to say, not very much, despite the protagonist proclaiming that he has eidetic memory (perfect recollection). Space travel is described as light-fishes moving across mirrors; aliens are described only loosely and one would initially think they’re just another “class” of human; strange creatures inhabit this world and yet we only get the barest of descriptions as to their nature; and the characters are definitely much more than who they seem and discovering their identities or what they are often results in mindblowing revelations. There are hidden Biblical references; tons of obsolete Latin words abound; and things are never as they appear. The world Gene Wolfe has created is hazy and amorphous and lacking in distinct shape. The shapes change after every new chapter you read, after each new interpretation you come across.

Gene Wolfe once said, “Real people really are unreliable narrators all the time, even if they try to be reliable narrators.” Common sense dictates that it is unwise to trust unreliable narrators but there is always something so alluring about it, something so unquestionably human that a narrator would forgo accuracy to tell the story they want to tell. You can infer so many things about what they decide to talk about, and what they decide to leave out. This is why restraint and subtlety is very important to me when it comes to reading and writing fiction.

To me, the most interesting stories arise from the untold details, which is why a lot of mainstream RPGs and fantasy novels are very unappealing to me. No, I don’t want to listen to your deliberate attempts to flesh out your world. No, don’t tell me histories as if they were written in books. Tell me histories that arise from your psyche. Tell me histories that surface from interaction with your surroundings. Please trust that us readers are intelligent enough to deduce, to theorize. Let me interpret your universe.