Sunday, April 26

A Moveable Feast

The title page of Ernest Hemingway's memoir about living in Paris in the 1920s opens with this quote from a letter he wrote a friend in 1950: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

In the book's preface he also tells the reader, that if she prefers, "this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact." It is clear though that Hemingway writes about People Who Really Existed, and as one turns the page and on to the new chapter, the previous one is alluded to, and there is a linear build up as far as chronology is concerned. Each chapter is self-contained, the situation builds up and ends with what seems like insight. I don't know if that was what Hemingway meant when he said that the reader "may regard this as fiction"--in that the structure is similar but the characters are People Who Really Existed. If so, Hemingway makes it obvious that there are some Nice People, like Ezra Pound, who's really a saint, but who is also friends with opium addicts/poets--the distinctions weren't very clear as to which came first. It's also obvious that there are some Pompous Asses in the cast of characters. Some are named, like Gertrude Stein, but some are too silly that they remain anonymous, like the young man who wanted to be a Great Creative Writer but didn't have what it takes so Hemingway convinced him to write criticism. Of course, later there is an aside wherein Hemingway says that it would have been great if the young man turned out to be a great critic of the ballet, books or the moving pictures, but unfortunately, even there he was not gifted enough. So okay na rin na wala siyang pangalan para di napahiya. Hehe.

In the first chapter, "A Good Cafe on the Place St.-Michel," Hemingway talks about the process of transplanting oneself, wherein simply put, "in one place youc ould write about it better than in another." It's fall in Paris and the wild, cold blowing day was the sort of day it felt right to tell the story of a boyhood incident up in Michigan, which also happened on a wild, cold, blowing day like that day in Paris in the fall.

Later in the chapter, he writes about how the weather is really bad and he was thinking of leaving Paris for a while. He thinks, "Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I could write about Michigan. I did not know it was too early for that because I did not know Paris well enough. But that was how it worked out eventually..." The rain in Paris was "now only local weather and not something that changed your life."

For when Hemingway finally wrote about the incidents of his life in Paris in the years 1921-1926, it would be almost thirty plus years later, he would be in Cuba, 1957, or in Idaho, 1958 and all the way to Spain in 1959 and back to Cuba and Idaho once more. It was near the end of his life, and in two years he would be found dead in Idaho.

But in A Moveable Feast, Hem is a young man, poor and hungry but happy, and it would take forty years for him to realize that.

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, Scribners Classic, 1987. Php 100 from Zeitgeist. Bought only because my Thesis Adviser kept on quoting Hemingway and I got tired of not knowing what she was talking about. Now I want to read all of Hemingway.

Jonathan Yardley reviews it for The Washington Post here, and a 1964 New York Times review by Charles Poore here.

Friday, April 24

Tunay na Lalake, Totoong Babae

It started like some kind of in-joke from the fellows of the UP Baguio Workshop: "Ang tunay na lalaki hindi natutulog;" or, "Ang tunay na lalaki laging may extra rice." They formalized their manifesto in a blog and a few days in, they now have something like 30,000+ hits.

According to their hilarious, macho shit logic, Cesar Montano is not a real man, but Chynna Ortaleza is not. The evidence:

Cesar Montano's ad for a water company. I often see this plastered on the sides of mini-trucks. Cesar in wifebeaters, gaily looking at the camera, smiling and all while he splashes the contents of a bottle of mineral water all over himself. The real men ask: Sa tingin nyo tunay na lalake ba ang umaasta nang ganito?

On the other hand, you've got former 5 & Up reporter Chynna Ortaleza. She's done everything--and really, everything--acted in commercials, starred in youth-oriented shows, sang and danced in public (something a real man would never, ever do), played a kontravida in a fantasy soap opera, posed in men's magazines. Name it, she's done it. And she never came close to real stardom. In spite of everything, Real Men know a Real Man when they see one. And so the verdict: "Pero sa ganitong sigasig at pagpupursigi sa trabaho, sigasig at pagpupursiging baka pumantay o lumampas pa kay John Lloyd, kinikilala ang status ni Chynna bilang tunay na lalake. At kung ma-demote man siya'y siguradong hahanapan niya ito ng paraan."

Kaya tunay na lalaki si Chynna Ortaleza. Yun yun eh: Ang tunay na lalaki, gagawa ng paraan.

The last time I checked, somewhere in the comments someone left a link to a counterpart blog: Ang Blog ng mga Totoong Babae. Only a handful of entries there right now. But you can see the seeds of it already: Real Women Love Housework (see: Snow White), Real Women will kill for a man (See Keka--ang girlfriend mong astig, pamatay kung umibig.) But I think mas funny yung mga tunay na lalaki.

Monday, April 20

Item # 82: Doctrina Christiana, en lengua espanola y tagala

I really should be doing something else, but via some links I found out that the World Digital Library, slated to open later this month, is already operational. I didn't really expect to find anything from the Philippines. But I saw that there were several entries from Southeast Asia, and the Doctrina Christiana was part of the list. The book is described as follows:
Published in Manila in 1593, this catechism in Spanish and Tagalog is the first book printed in the Philippines. It is also the first book printed in a Philippine language and the first, and only, 16th-century source showing an explicit and distinctly Philippine abecedarium (alphabet). The book is illustrated with a woodcut frontispiece of St. Dominic and initial letters in both Spanish and Tagalog. Part of the rare book collections of the Library of Congress, it is the only known copy in existence.
The book was donated to the Library of Congress by the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection, and this is the only extant copy in the whole wide world. It has 76 pages, with illustrations and roughly 12.5 inches in height. And if you have the bandwidth, you can download a PDF copy of it, all 32 MB of it.

The other interesting finds in the Philippine section include a map detailing The Attack of Manila, October 1762, a photo of a religious parade featuring the Santa Rosa de Lima--the Patroness of the New World and the Philippines-- and a 22-second, black and white silent reel about Aguinaldo's Navy. All are downloadable.

The other item which peaked my interest was the journal of Magellan's voyage supposedly written by Antonio Pigafetta. The surviving copy is in French and unfortunately NOT downloadable. But really, I have nothing to complain about since the journal can be browsed, and perhaps it's only a matter of time before the World Digital Library will have a version of it available for downloading in one piece. If not, there's always the option of saving it per page--all 200+ pages of it. Then again, one has to be well versed in French in order to fully understand this.

Wednesday, April 1

The Great Train Wreck

Pictures for Sad Children illustrates what the vortex of negativity is capable of, or at least Murphy's Law: