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Showing posts from June, 2008
I'm no boxing fan. The only reason I saw the Pacquiao-Diaz fight live was to catch up with friends and have an excuse to drink on a Sunday morning--and finally get the feel of what it means for one single individual, one who tips the scales at a mere 135 lbs., to gather a country of 80 million together in real time and at least for twelve measly rounds; and Pacquiao needed just nine to fell Dangerous David Diaz and lift a peoples' spirits at a time when the dark skies outside reflected the despair in the hearts of my brothers.

Two other things also struck me, more than his lording it over his gallant foe. First thing Manny Pacquiao did when he entered the ring: he knelt down in his corner and prayed. First thing Manny Pacquiao did after knocking out Diaz: try to help him get up. I'm sold.

When the Cornice Falls


There will always be enough consolation for those who know where to look. Last night, consolation came in a cup.

Or in a cocktail glass. I was given a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. On the house, the bartender said. It came with a little sweet cherry, token drizzles of chocolate and strawberry syrup, all in a frozen margarita glass. I never knew ice cream and cold beer can go together. Or I never knew you can have them at the same time. Just the same it couldn't have come at a better time.

There I was, tired but exuding a silent happiness only a productive day could give me: silent because no one will understand if I share my happiness--precisely why I went out for drinks alone. To celebrate? to reward myself? or to leave it all behind just as one leaves a work of art to itself after gazing upon it.

But more than that--because I usually do that already--I was by myself last night because someone else had canceled plans, which, by the way, was really expected. I had even wished…

The Storm of Thought


There is a storm coming, my father reports this morning over coffee. True enough I woke up to faint raindrops on my bedroom window and to an otherwise dry and grey Saturday morning; perfect for staying in a bed that I have missed and misused recently. Today is going to be a lazy day--so I declared and got up at seven.

I have a complicated relationship with the weather--particularly with the rain. I'm one of the few who enjoy rain; and though I do particularly hate how I look when I am soaked (especially, for example, when I go to class with muddy shoes), I do love the idea of being unprepared for an immediate gush of water which my golf umbrella cannot negotiate with (especially, for example, when by some unusual instance the rain goes sideways, having to make you prioritize whether to protect your head or your body). I also enjoy driving in the rain--because all the rest slow down, and though it spells slower traffic at least I have something to watch (pedestrians and their awkwa…

Truth and Happiness


What does it take to be happy? Nowadays: too much. You have no other choice than to break your neck by pursuing what you want (which upon getting it will always turn out to be less than what you thought it would be). Very well. Then how to crack it?

I've been asking my students a question regarding truth and happiness. We are talking about Plato's myth of the cave in the Republic; how man is born in the darkness of shadows; and how he must rise from the cave of his ignorance in order to see the real under the dazzling light of truth.

I point out to my students that Plato explicitly says that the one who goes out of the cave, who finally sees Being, no matter how difficult it may be to leave everything you thought was real, he would also, according to Plato, be the happiest man, and that he will never wish to return to the shadows. Fair enough, that is what Plato says. So I ask them what they think. If truth hurts and ignorance is bliss, then would they want to return to the coo…

Comeback Kid


I'd like to think that I'm a comeback kid. Although in fact I am just (always) a newcomer, making a comeback looks and sounds more dramatic than being a newbie.

I keep on talking about how the philosopher is a perpetual beginner. (Perhaps when you're beginning again that's the only thing you can talk about: nothing has been seen, nothing else is known, nothing is settled). While beginning again has its own merits because everything is new, making a comeback, even if it returns to what is old, can also be quite a ride. Well, at least for the man of eternal return.

Because for most people, he who returns could easily have not gone away to begin with; no one notices such things. While it may be a good piece of conversation (where have you been? or what happened?), we all as easily forget as we hardly remember. No one is indispensable, my mother, a businesswoman, says. And while a familiar face which crosses our dull gaze may once in a while grab our attention--hey, it'…

Getting What You Wished For


There's this story of a brokenhearted man who in order to get the attention of his lost beloved had inflated the largest balloon anyone had seen. The balloon grew so big that it eventually blocked out the sun.

Upon seeing the large globe and recognizing that it was his lover who made such a spectacle to behold, she approaches him and their silence is broken. He then casually pierced the balloon.

I no longer take regular coffee. Now I drink decaf. And sometimes even tea in the evening. It's a bit simpler now.

And now that I think of it my reasoning was absurd: take coffee because of hangover, hangover because I drank the night before, I drank the night before because I couldn't sleep, I couldn't sleep because I had too much coffee during the day.

Now I no longer have to medicate myself. Or punish myself. While I predict that this may only be momentary--I, too, know myself and the workings of the world--I'm enjoying it while I can. Getting back what you want, or …


On His Blindness
John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

The Wealth of the Possible

Higher than actuality stands possibility.
--Heidegger, Being and Time

I usually talk about beginnings on the first day of classes. What with the students' summer vacation coming to an abrupt end and their eager notebooks still fresh and clean as the newly (re-)painted blackboard behind me, I find it only proper to ride on their hangover and relieve them from their anxieties of beginning a new class, a new semester, a new school year, or even--I'm sure for some--a new life. Relieve them: because I tell them that beginnings are wonderful things.

Though I do not resort to such antics as what my former management teacher did when he said that at the beginning of the course, everyone had an A--and that we can keep the A so long as we study and work hard, which means, as long as we remain perfect. There may be some pedagogical explanation for such a trick, and even some real worth to it as students suddenly feel like a million bucks. But now that I'm a teacher, I know, of course, t…

On Prefaces

Let me do here something that I rarely--because I do not like to--do. I'd like to explain my work Heidegger and the Destruction of the History of the Metaphysics of the Will in Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Nietzsche: A Prolegomena to Gelassenheit.

As the title says, it was a prolegomena or a praefatio or a preface; and this is the key word in any attempt to understand what the work tried to say. In a word, the work as a word before the proper saying of the word Gelassenheit.

To be sure, a preface only makes sense when it fulfills its "function" in preparing for that to which it is an introduction. Logically, a preface, unlike the main text, cannot stand on its own: a preface is only preparatory, a first step, as it were. Or to put it ontologically, the being of the preface derives only from the being of what is said after it; on its own, its status will not only be vague but also negligible, or what comes to the same, it amounts to nothing.

What we usually look into…