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Showing posts from May, 2007

Hope in a Jar

When Pandora's curiosity overcame her lover Epimetheus's warning not to open the jar which was given by Zeus as a gift, Pandora released all the evils hitherto unknown to mankind. From the jar escaped Greed, Vanity, Slander, Envy, Pining and Hate. Afraid of what she had done, she closed the box in time before the last thing in the box was released. It was Hope.

Legend has it that because of the release of such evils, mankind began to despair and curse the gods for such an intolerable fate. With much guilt for the suffering of all, Pandora returned to the jar to release Hope so that in the face of evil man would have something to hold on to.

But the version of the myth which I prefer is that Pandora intentionally did not let Hope out of the jar and held it there forever. She knew that if Hope would be released into an already evil world that it would cause much more suffering than man could ever bear. For in much Hope comes not consolation but sadness.

To Hope is to tragically kno…

Yesterday Was a Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.
Woke up late, wrote, left with my sister.
Had late lunch at Rack's.
How I miss their ribs.
Went to the mall. Bought a gift.
Bought DVDs, had coffee.
Took a nap as I waited for friends to come over
for Poker Night.
Won two grand and drank a lot.
Full, rich and drunk.
A day spent that way seems a waste of time.
But a lifetime of that is a life worth living.

The Double

Live in secret.

Epicurus



Recently, I have been wanting to hide from people.

Not merely the physical act of vanishing from them--though that is part of it--but more of not letting people know of my whereabouts and what I have been up to. And it is not that I do not want to be with people so much, unlike before when I was melancholy and the thought of being with others was impossible; in fact, I am still comfortable with reaching out to others and meeting them now for drinks or dinner. I am in a mixed state, which is confusing to me who has been used to either end of the pendulum of my moods. I know that I avoid people not because I am melancholy, but--what's the word?--perhaps because I want to have a certain distance for myself and leave them with some mystery as to what I am up to.

That is the word--mystery. Perhaps I have always been an open book to others, especially to those close to my heart. The transparency of my moods and my willingness to talk about my thoughts make me an e…

On Quotations

I rarely ever quote; the reason is, I always think.

Thomas Paine


I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

Ralph Waldo Emerson




My love affair with quotations started early when I was a child. It began by being amazed by the quotes or witticisms that my wise mother would say every now and then, and by the decision to remember them and even memorize her words. From grade school on, I would write down all the quotes I heard her say at the back of school notebooks, bringing them to school just in case a teacher would also say inspiring words. They were very simple and familiar to begin with, things that most people would have heard of. I still remember some of them:

There are three sides to a story: my side, your side and the truth.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
When the sage points to the moon, the fool sees his finger.
Misery loves (miserable) company.When the list grew and became disorganized, I would rewrite th…

Fever

A broken chair
Bad wine
A man with no name
An old woman by the window
waiting
for death
War
Peace
Letters never read
An innocent man on death row
Lies, deceit, imitations
Loving the one you hate
Hating the one you love
Questions
The happy idiot
Galaxies in the millions
One life to live
Eight to five, Monday to Friday
Living to a hundred
Suicide
The pictures
And shoelaces untied
Tell me why should I not die?

Reading Nietzsche at Night

In the end one loves one's desires and not what is desired.

***

Early in the morning, when day breaks, when all is fresh, in the dawn of one's strength--to read a book at such a time is simply depraved.

***

To become what one is, one must not have the faintest notion what one is.

***

I cannot remember that I ever tried hard--no trace of struggle can be demonstrated on my life; I am the opposite of a heroic nature. "Willing" something, "striving" for something, envisaging a "purpose," a "wish"--I know none of this from experience.

***

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it--all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary--but love it.

***

One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.

***

Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.

***

Morning Aphorisms

If you find that which gives life to you, you shall forever remain a child at play.


***

It is said that Lao Tzu wanted to leave his country to die. But he was not permitted to go unless he left him everything dear and valuable to him. The sage wrote eighty-one wisdom statements and disappeared.


***

Wittgenstein said: "If by eternity is understood not endless temporal duration but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present."


***

Socrates said that among the gifts given by the gods to man, knowledge is the most blessed of all for it is a possession that can never be taken away from him and a power that can never be destroyed.


***

For most, there is a time for experience and a time for reflection. For some they are one and the same thing.


***

Schopenhauer was said to have praised suicide at a well-set table.


***

Legend has it that Thomas Aquinas placed his voluminous writings at the feet of of the Crucified Christ asking if he had written according to His will and likin…

Strings on the Lives of Philosophers

1. According to Aristotle, Socrates and Plato where melancholy men.

2. Aristotle would walk with his students as he lectured them, thus they were called 'peripatetics.'

3. St. Thomas Aquinas was so big, dull and quiet that in his younger years he was teased by his schoolmates as the "dumb ox."

4. Kant breathed only through his nose and never through his mouth.

5. When Spinoza died, he left a total of seven shirts and two pairs of pants for his wardrobe.

6. Leibniz wrote down his proof of God's existence in a small piece of paper.

7. When Nietzsche saw a horse being whipped by its driver, he embraced it and cried profusely. Soon after, he was admitted into an insane asylum from which he never got out.

8. Camus once said that there was nothing more absurd than to die in a car accident. One day, as he was driving with a friend and carrying the manuscript of The First Man, their car crashed. Only his friend survived.

9. On Heidegger's tombstone a star is engraved instead…

On Gambling and Snowflakes

There is something intoxicating about gambling. It might be the thrill of opening your cards every game, anticipating a good hand, and going through the same expectations all over again in the next game. Or it could be about the money. There is something liberating about laying your own money on the line as if it did not matter. You quickly forget the value of money when you play. Although it is totally out of context, Virgil says that "Fortune favors the brave." And the same goes for high-stakes gambling. Nothing could be sweeter than raking in a big payoff. And even if I eventually lost (after a whole day of playing and drinking), I didn't mind paying up in the end.

And I was not surprised. I always lose when I gamble, and I usually lose big. Most of the times I am careless, if not stupid as I challenge fate with reckless abandon. I figure, there is no other way to play. I'm the typical "All in" guy or someone who rolls his bet if he wins. Everything is me…

The Three Orders

According to Pascal, there are three orders of greatness to be found in the world. And accordingly, there are three kinds of poeple.

There is the order of the flesh, where the hero is its champion. Men of business and of the industry are its modern day counterparts. Sensuality, food and drink, honor, wealth and prestige all make up his life.

There is the order of the spirit and the intellect. Scholars and philosophers are its constituents who all live the life of the mind. Wisdom and the love of it are the final ends of these men. They abandon the flesh and its pleasures for the desire to understand.

Then there is the order of charity or love. These men are ambivalent to the pleasures of the body and the realm of the intellect. Their glory resides in the love they profess and give. They dwell in the house of the heart. Only God is their witness as more often than not the world shuns them. These men are the saints.


Morning Pages

It felt good to go back to my favorite bar last night alone. It has been a long while since I have done that, to go there alone, that is. For recently I have been there with friends and family. Last night, after slumbering the whole day, I figured I'd treat myself to a haircut and drinks after. And that somehow excited me: doing something that was not planned, spending the night alone, and making some room to breathe. Not that I am suffocating here. It's just that, I have been quite confused by my emotions. One day, everything is rosy and I could not wait to get it started; then I will find myself unable to move the next. It could be tiring sometimes to just wait on your moods and be unable to will anything. There are days and there are days. I just console myself into thinking that I am on the verge of happiness and that very soon, I shall find myself strong, driven and unstoppable again.

***

But while it has not come yet in full force, I wait. And to pass the time, I am restin…

The Object of Your Affection

When what you have loved is suddenly lost,
No more could a heart be asked to bear,
For what once mattered at all costs,
Now leaves it empty and bankrupt in despair.

The absence heightens the tumultuous passions,
How can it continue when she is no longer?
What then do you feel in your emotions?
If not her anymore but the her you remember.

'Tis no longer the same, the her I loved
and the her I now have. A ghost, a phantom,
what is this demon now in me if she had
already died to the world and I abandoned?

But she lives not here before me or merely
in my memory. When I feel what I feel
I am certain there is something truly
alive, not her, only me continuing to be.

Now I ask, is it still her that I love or already
me who wants to continue to love? Her or me?
When the object of your affection is lost forever,
You love yourself more by pretending to still lover her.

Fragments

I cannot force myself into believing something that I do not feel.

***

I have often wondered whether truth should be measured by its constancy or by its impact. All the truths which mattered to me were the truths which surprised me and overturned me.

***

The definition of truth as the adequation of the thing to the intellect means nothing if the intellect is later to be discovered to be fragmented and fragile. If man is the mirror of the world on which things are reflected, we better make sure that the mirror is not a shattered mirror.

***

There is no such thing as certainty in the world not because nothing can be certain but because the man who seeks for certainty is not certain of what he is looking for. He asks of the world what it can never give.

***

I will die realizing that the truth I held onto as a reason for living is not a very good reason for dying.

***

Joy shields us from truth as sadness reveals it. Thus the happy idiot and the melancholy genius.


***

The language of the melancholy is…

Notes from Exile

Nothing could be more certain than being condemned to die.


Exile is not a place of isolation but the certainty of a crushing fate.


For him, all the day's rituals--getting up, brushing your teeth, meals, etc.--become absurdly funny. He still does them. But now he sees their emptiness and this consciousness makes him laugh.


In front of a tragedy, everything else becomes comedy.


Life becomes simplified as the future is retracted to the day you shall die. And the present is mere waiting. Nothing could be easier.


The body begins to acquire its weight. It is now solid, something that he delightfully carries. The skin becomes the most important organ for it is through which one feels anything. Outside of that feeling, nothing else affects you. Now you know what it feels to be alive again.


Fear is only for those who do not understand. In front of death, the man understands that beyond that there is nothing. And this simplicity affords him to die with dignity. He thus will not cry. Those who are…

The Sunset

There was once a rich young man who had one day planned to go back to his beloved hometown by the sea. He had been waiting for a long time to go home to swim in the warm waters and once again capture the majestic sunset he had made a point to witness in his childhood. He believed that sunsets possessed a power to renew and give peace; it made him feel in his bones that there was hope to be found on this earth for those who know how to accept the transience of things, and what was asked of him was to always begin again.

And that was what he did in his life. He left his home to achieve the dreams that young boys then never imagined. He knew that he did not belong and would not stay for the rest of his life in their simple village of fishermen. He had gone to the city early in his adulthood to find his way to the stars. Finding that success came to those who persevered, he had accumulated some savings that would make his life more or less secure, if not at least pleasurable. But it did no…

Untitled

Oh! how happy way to meet the day,
To rise from sleep before the sun shines,
For so long it has not been this way,
When I thought I almost lost my mind.

It did not say from whence it came,
No cause have I found for this arrogant display,
No matter for they are all the same,
But joy I welcome more than dismay.

A song without beginning and without end,
A broken world dancing even if the song did stop,
Play, sweet Muse, till my heart does find,
A love forgotten by a love that forgot.

Play until the rains come and begin again,
With each season's passing comes my life's demise,
The world without mimics the world within,
As the sun does smile, the rains do cry.

Oh! but summer and its wonders invite me to see,
Its sun, its stars, its skies and seas,
'Tis better now to be than not to be,
Death fears this light and comes only in misery.

What folly is this fate than the other man's lot,
From whence it came, but it came, why not?
A poisoned flower's a flower just the same,
Now I praise in me what b…

To Caroline

by Lord Byron


You say you love, and yet your eye
No symptom of love conveys
You say you love, yet know not why
Your cheek no sign of love betrays.

Ah! did that breast with ardour glow,
With me alone it joy could know,
Or feel with me the listless woe,
Which racks my heart when far from you.

Whene'er we meet, my blushes rise,
And mantle through my purpled cheek,
But yet no blush to mine replies,
Nor do those eyes your love bespeak.

Your voice alone declares your flame,
And though so sweet it breathes my name,
Our passions still are not the same,
Though Love and Rapture still are new.

For e'en your lip seems steep'd in snow,
And, though so oft it meets my kiss,
It burns with no responsive glow,
Nor melts, like mine, in dewy bliss.

Ah! what are words to love like mine,
Though uttered by a voice divine,
I still in murmurs must repine,
And think that love can ne'er be true,

Which meets me with no joyous sign;
Without a sigh which bids adieu:
How different i…

Quod Me Nutrit Me Destruit

Somewhere between nowhere and goodbye
you shall find me. At peace with myself,
flashing that smile, and happy finally.

There where the light knows no end
you can see me. Flying toward the sun,
burned and blinded like Daedalus's son.

Happiness is fleeting and love's passing
always leaves me falling. It is no wonder
that we learn most when we truly suffer.

But alas, the world cannot be too cruel.
Lucidity always fades and the mind gives way
when time's indifferent truth holds sway.

And when that day comes when I am in the sun,
know in your heart that even if I did suffer,
most of the way this song I had sung. Remember:

Sometime between tomorrow and forever
I shall surrender. But that which destroyed me
was also the very thing that nourished me.

Forget, Work, Love

Welcome this pain for you will learn from it.

Ovid



The problem of pain is that it paralyzes you. It is not so much the opening up of the wound which hurts you but it is the slow, patient waiting which happens after the hurt which requires greater strength. We can become numb to the pain itself, or increase our tolerance for it, or even will our way against it. But we cannot will our way in order to heal if to wil against it is to apply the same amount or greater pressure to cancel it or overcome it. But that would mean playing into its hands: this is why, instead of healing, we hurt ourselves even more when we counter the pain with another force much like revenge. Pain, hurt, loss all tell us something. One then has to listen and learn their from lessons. And this takes time, reflection and distance, or in a word, it takes healing. Much like waiting, we can do nothing but learn as we heal. Perhaps, nothing more than listening to and learning from the…

On Missing Someone

What does it mean to miss someone? When I say with trembling heart that "I miss you," what do I really mean or experience?

Initially and for the most part, it simply means that the one that is missed is absent. From within my surroundings and my vicinity, she has left and departed. I want to see her, but I cannot see her--my intention (to see her) misses its aim (her being seen). And this absence is such a one that affects me. True, because most of the time, a lot of things, people, places may not always be present. But this does not mean however that I miss them all, for as far as I know, their absence may not affect me so much as to say that I miss them. So the one that is missed is missed because its absence affects me, or inversely, its presence--that it be seen--is of value to me. And it could only be of value to me because it had been valuable already. I can only (again) long for the presence of something because I already witnessed, possessed or experienced it before,…