Thursday, October 20, 2016

Why do we watch disturbing things?

And I don't just mean the news. (Although that in itself is disturbing. Personally, I prefer reading Rappler online for my news. Less of the everyday rape and killings and everyday crimes that are usually on the news.) (Another side note: Yes, we watch the news to be informed. To know what's going on around us. But when we watch or listen to nothing but bad news, is that really the mental state we want to have while going about our daily lives? Life is tough enough without adding more negativity and doom and gloom into our lives.)

I just finished watching the first episode of Black Mirror Season 1. Was it disturbing? Disturbing is too calm a word to describe what I just saw. I saw a meme before with someone pouring holy water into their eye and the caption: "WTF did I just watch?" I can't say it was horrible though. It was like watching a horror movie that gradually unfolded before my eyes and I confess to being riveted to the screen of my laptop. Spoiler alert: There's this line towards the end of the episode when the news anchor says something to the effect of, "The whole world watched. We also participated in it." And, uncannily, it felt like a line straight out of The Never Ending Story, only this time in a more adult and grotesque context, that, yes, I was also just as much part of the horror that happened and I also stood by and watched it unfold. The storyline is clean and simple. The acting superb. The emotions of the people in the episode were exactly how you expected people to react, and I was feeling the same exact emotions as I watched and "participated" in it too.

Which brings me to the title of this blog post. Why do we watch disturbing things? Why do we read them? Why do we torture our souls so much in fiction, as if reality wasn't disturbing or hard enough to deal with.

Maybe it's the same reason people, especially Pinoys, love to watch soap operas. We love the drama. We love to be carried along by our emotions, safe, as a viewer, and yet, feeling anger towards the bad guy, feeling empathy and sympathy for the heroine trying to get together with her true love.

I feel numb, actually. It's like watching a horror movie and you're all screamed out. And, yet, more alarming, to me, is the fact that part of me is desensitized already.

That's what Hollywood and reality shows and even all these new tv drama shows are always racing against isn't it. The audience want more blood, more gore, more disturbing plot twists. And what's scary about the Black Mirror episode I watched is that there wasn't even a need for plot twists, just a calm, organized, inevitable playing out of the fate that destiny has handed out.

A story starts with that, I guess. What if? What if this happened? How will you get out of it? Do you get out of it? And what if you couldn't, would you?

I don't know if I have the stomache or the guts to be a writer. In fact, I find myself often in silence. So much so that it's hard for me to even start a conversation past, "How are you?" or "Kamusta?"

But maybe I just need to remember the stories I really like, the ones I love that I could watch over and over again. Not the ones that I watch once and traumatize me for life.

If that makes me less of a writer, so be it.

I once had a professor ask at the beginning of his class the question, "What is literature?" I honestly can't remember what or if he even gave us an answer. But I remember what a classmate answered, "Literature is what I like." The professor goes on and says that my classmate, being part of the middle class, feels that he has the right to judge what he likes, but that he is actually a product of his upbringing and social class.

Well, pardon the expression, screw it. I like what I like too. And, sadly, I guess I won't be watching any future episodes of Black Mirror in the near future.

P. S. I just wanted to see this episode where a woman talks to a computer where her friend or her husband's personality had been uploaded to. There was this news report about a woman who couldn't deal with the death of her best friend. So, this company uploaded his personality to a machine, a computer, I suppose, based on his text messages to her. Friends and family of the deceased man were disturbed enough to both want to "talk" to him again or not on the machine. The photos that went with the article were from an episode of Black Mirror that had the same premise. So, if anyone reads this and wants to share the title of the episode, I'd appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Crusade - Krystyn Pixton


Cradle's softest Yearning 
For a home as Bright as your Heart's Burning 
Waking to the 

Soul that's Chained to the breaking free of 
Showing where our path leads 
Splitting of the lightning leaves me 
Wishing for the strength to hold these Storms; 
I am Stone. I am Iron. I have forged my soul, 
We are Rising from the Ashes though. 

*Everything is Dawning for this Crusade 
The Fabric of the Lies Dissolves in the Flame 
Everything is crushed beneath Masquerades 
The Storms that wreck you heart are Heavens Range 

I watch as Moon does Shudder 
Through Urgently Breath taking Radiant Shadows 
It's full Glow 

I dance to the Dream of Forging 
Open Womb striped with city stars 
Her gripping heart, Painted Scars, Quaking Force, Shaken Shores 
Love is All, Love is All, so release the hunger and Thrall 
Thunderous Storm is rising home again. 

Arching Heavens Billow 
Leaving us to Hold these Scattered Rainbows 
Waking to the 

Toll that's sieved in the Shifting Shoals 
Whose flowing makes the paths whole 
Cooling of the Lightning leaves me 
Riven to the Grace that sires these Norns. 
I am River I am Fire, I've earned my soul, 
We are merging with the Halcyon Glow. 

Everything is dawning for this Night's Raid 
The Vortices of Truth Rain down on the Glade 
The Garlands of the Day become Night's embrocade 
Aurora's bounty made as Fates are Paid


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On creating art that is necessary

I've been working on a novel called Manila 2060, in its present incarnation, since 2012. Four years isn't that bad a number when it comes to working on a novel. However, adding the years even before, circa 2006 or thereabouts, when I first came up with the idea, it does feel that I've been working on this forever.

I've been reading a lot about creativity and writing and making art, notably books by Julia Cameron, Claire Cook, and recently, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And of course there's the binge-watching of TED Talks.

One message rings loud and clear: there is art that you make because you must.

Now if only I can quiet the voice in my head that complains that I'm too old, I'm taking too much time, I'm never going to finish it, and nobody's ever going to read it anyway.

Even if I am too old and there are tons of books out there, so what? None of them is my book. Part of me would be so relieved to find my book out there, already written for me, but, no, sadly, I have to be the one to do it. (And, yes, there is personal pride there that knows I'm the only one who can write the book in my head.)

So what if no one reads it? I'm writing it for me. It is helping me heal and process what the past four years have meant for me. And nobody will be able to appreciate that book more than I can. (And love it to bits when it's sitting in front of me, ready to be read again and again.)

So, dear me, please be a little more patient. I know it's taking forever. But I'm getting there.

Meantime, enjoy the process. And do what you can. You're getting there. You just have to believe that it's waiting for you at the finish line.

Meantime, keep your nose to the grindstone and good luck.

Monday, March 7, 2016