Skip to main content

White Flurry

a


Some students were slowly but without cares leaving the room one by one. The other Ph.D. holder has dozed off in the front row. The idealistic newbie in front of me kept nodding her head in agreement. My foreigner friend, a deep man, is listening closely as best he could, trying to understand the words that have acquired a different accent and pronunciation. I, meanwhile, have dismissed the speaker half an hour ago and have already settled on watching everyone else. Perhaps, from them, I could learn something new--which was why I went to the "lecture" in the first place.

It was a lecture about "thinking philosophically"--a title which seemed to me odd in a pretentious way, but nonetheless, because of the same reason, interested me. Wow, I thought, I am going to learn how to think philosophically! Nothing could be more attractive to one who also tries but often fails to think in that pristine way. Add to it the promise that the lecture would be framed by the thought of a philosopher I admire and work on, I wanted to be there no doubt. And the foreign speaker was supposed to have just completed her dissertation on the said philosopher in the latter's own grace land, which according to others, she had taken a good ten years to finish and a thousand pages to show for it.

There is no point in going into detail of how the lecture went, what I learned or how effective the speaker was. All I asked from my good friend was this: "If she had spoken in German, would she have made sense?" And the whiskey priest answered, "Absolutely. You can imagine all the work she put in in even coming up with the lecture." Okay then, and I rested my case, folded the few scraps of paper I had managed to write on, and then consoled myself that all was well.

But what I could not leave without comment was what happened after the foreign speaker gave her lecture. Another foreigner, a visiting professor, was to react to the lecture and give some of his thoughts. But since apparently he had none, he went ahead with giving the all important first questions to loosen the audience and to encourage others to ask as well. Well, that was fine. But because the speaker and the reactor did not understand each other on something so silly and easy, they ended up having an "intra-German conversation"--as the reactor himself called it--between them.

And seeing that the exchange was getting nowhere, I looked at the audience. There they were, all smiles, as if they were watching a movie. In awe, perhaps? Something like that. Seeing such foreign intellectuals discussing about "games"--the main image the speaker used, which, by the way, comes from the philosopher himself in his notion of "play" (Spiel)--was not among the daily fare for most. As it turned out, it was the two foreigners who were were playing a game--on us. We, the poorly educated folk who are expected to study and get our Ph.D.s in the schools these foreigners went to, have to consign ourselves with watching in the stands, afraid that our poorly informed opinions would look laughable against the superiority of their intellects. And so we clapped and applauded--twice at that; and left with the necessary feeling in our hearts that we wish to be that good someday, that intelligent someday, that white.

With all due respect, I learned much more about "thinking philosophically" when I sat in my co-teacher's class last Tuesday night as I waited for him so we could get out for a drink. With all due respect, I learned much more about "thinking philosophically" from my friend--also a foreigner, now unemployed and a nobody like me--as we had dinner after the lecture. With all due respect, I realized that I need not go to distant universities, be under world-renowned mentors, or write a thousand pages in order for me to learn--by myself--what it could possibly mean to think philosophically.


a

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Fields of Amorsolo

The first National Artist in Philippine history, referred to warmly as the “Grand Old Man of Philippine Art,” Fernando Amorsolo (1892–1972) still stands today as a looming figure in Philippine art responsible for being one of the artists who helped define what we up to now visually imagine as essentially Filipino. The images of rural life, of golden fields below clear blue, blue skies; the smiles of farmers which diminish their weariness as they plant, harvest, and winnow rice;most especially the iconic figure of the Filipina maiden working in the fields—the beloved dalagang bukid--; these, I believe, even after generations of Filipino painters since Amorsolo, have remained in our hearts and memory. Amorsolo did what great masters do for their country: bestow upon it its own icons, represent its native beauty, that is, to give its people and lands an identity and a face. There are, however, as many intentions for art as there are works of art. And these intentions will always remain in…

[Payapang Daigdig]

Written by Pat Nogoy, S.J.

Payapang Daigdig Felipe de Leon, Sr. 
Ang gabi'y payapa Lahat ay tahimik  Pati mga tala      Sa bughaw na langit 

Kay hinhin ng hangin Waring umiibig          Sa kapayapaan          Ng buong daigdig     
Payapang panahon    Ay diwa ng buhay Biyaya ng Diyos       Sa sangkatauhan
Ang gabi'y payapa Lahat ay tahimik Pati mga tala Sa bughaw na langit  
Pati mga tala           Sa bughaw na langit


The gift delivers Being/being Jean Luc Marion

There is something about the night.
The blanket of darkness hovering the other half of the day sparks ambivalence. Everything is the same in darkness—fear, joy, pain, triumph, doubt, glory, sorrow. Identities recede unto the vast anonymity. There is a pervading anxiety where existence slips into nothingness. One is never certain what to make out of darkness; maybe that is why the night shakes us because we never know. One cannot avoid imagining a something that is greater, higher, mightier, (even sinister) that lurks (hence the power of ghos…

A Love Sooner than Later

BROWN PENNY William Butler YeatsI whispered, 'I am too young,' And then, 'I am old enough'; Wherefore I threw a penny To find out if I might love. 'Go and love, go and love, young man, If the lady be young and fair.' Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny, I am looped in the loops of her hair. O love is the crooked thing, There is nobody wise enough To find out all that is in it, For he would be thinking of love Till the stars had run away And the shadows eaten the moon. Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny, One cannot begin it too soon.

*
One cannot begin to love too soon--conversely, one should not love too late or in life's demise. That waiting for the "right time," or the "right person" to love, what are these but the cries or sighs of an unready, even tired, heart? One becomes ready only when one begins to understand love slowly (or again), and one understands love progressively when one, simply, performs the act of love. Love, like mos…