Friday, July 21, 2006


I'm only a hundred pages into the nine-hundred page plus paperback version of John Irving's latest epic, Until I Find You, and I already don't want it to end. Ever. It's not necessarily the story itself, or the language, or the ease with which he tells a story, old-fashioned but in a modern guise; it's something else.

John Irving has figured out what he believes the novel should do, can do, and will do. He has perfected the means by which the novel can achieve its maximum effect.

Others will disagree with his style, his approach, his characters, his plots -- that's fine. That's what writers do: write differently. But I can't think of another writer who has so carefully, so deliberately, come to a place in his or her career where they have understood, at a fundamental, almost archetypal leve, what their art can and can't do.

One usually has to wait four or five years for another Irving novel to hit the stands, so I'm trying to savor this one. Almost bask in it.

But it's hard. The story is so strange and bizarre and human and compelling; the characters, already, this early on, can break your heart.

If you drink the magic Kool-Aid that Irving offers, like I do, then you can only open the book, begin Chapter One, and surrender.


The advantage of seeing a movie like Pirates Of The Caribbean II with only having seen snippets and snatches of the orginal version is that you're not constantly comparing it to the original film. You understand most of what's going on, but not all; you can figure out the majority of the action, but never completely. Characters come and go and you wonder who they are, and you're not judging them by their past accomplishments, but on what they're doing here, now, at this moment in time.

Kind of like life, strangely.


I still cannot get used to the clouds here in Baguio, way up high. This morning the tip of a mountain bisected one in such a way that the white and foamy mist resembled nothing more than nature's unibrow, spread out across a green and mighty face.


Last week Baguio underwent a 'state of calamity', as the government officially dubbed it. There were monsoon rains for three, four days straight, twenty-four hours a day, complete with howling winds and falling trees. I'd never experienced anything like it -- this constant barrage of sheer, unapologetic wetness. Not even the courtesy of a drizzle to offest the onslaught.


Again and again I'm realizing how most of the world (meaning mostly me) is blissfully unaware of how fucking corrupt most governments in developing countries actually are.

The current Filipino president, Gloria Arroyo, has been caught, on tape, ordering the head of ball0t-counting in the previous election to make sure that she wins by a million votes. Due to the legality of how the tape was acquired, an impeachment seems unlikely. The president infamously apologized on TV for her 'lapse in judgement'.

Countries like Cambodia and the Philippines have governments composed of people who do not give a flying fuck about helping people; they only want to get rich. That may sound naive of me to think otherwise, but, well, I'm a naive guy, I guess. In western countries, if you want to get rich, you go into IT or banking or computers; in poor countries, the only way to make money is to get into government. The result being that the parliaments and congresses are filled with people who will do anything to maintain their status and their money, who have little, if no, qualifications, and who rule by a combination of bribery, fear, and military might.

Look at the leaders of poor countries and they are almost all, invariably, fat. There's a reason for this: To be overweight implies to the slender, starving masses that you have the money and the influence necessary to buy food. You can afford to be big; you can afford to indulge while others starve. You flaunt your wealth and what it can buy.

It's what continues to make me so frustrated over events like last summer's Live 8 concert. Well-intentioned, certainly, but so many countries' governments are so corrupt to their cores that you cannot make poverty go away by cancelling debts. It won't do shit. The governments' will continue to siphon off whatever aid money is available, and the good people who work within the systems, trying to make change, trying to live honest lives, will continue to fight an uphill battle against the forces of inept and almost evil bureaucracy that are aligned against them. But the fight must go on. To concede otherwise is to let the bastards win.

Sometimes I think that the world is a dream dreamt by a sad and lonely man. I am a character in his dream, as are you, as is your mother, and your fifth-grade teacher. We are all merely characters' in one another's dreams, which is why we sometimes recognize strangers in the street. Our paths have drifted into each other before, and will again, in the future. Unless the old man wakes up and decides to have his cereal. Then we will dissipate, like morning dew after the sun completes its inevitable rise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are constantly being programmed to be grounded in a reality, not necessarily of our own making. Given the transitory nature of the existence we lead it would seem more appropriate that we focus more on the ethereal. But then we get wound up in the day to day elements of our lives which. for obvious reasons consume our time and our souls. It would be magnificent if we could all pursue our quest for the Holy Grail without psetting the lives of those aroud us. Just ramblings.

Love UL