Friday, November 4, 2005

Rizalist and I

he other one, DEAN JORGE BOCOBO is the one things happen to. Me, I wander around Manila or Baguio or Sagada, pausing perhaps unthinkingly, to examine some old monument or marker left over from colonial days. I hear about Bocobo in email, and see his name in the sidebars and blogrolls of other scriveners. But I like Swiss Army Knives and shortware radios; telescopes and the bitter tonic of Baraco coffee in the stone-cold mountain air; mathematical proofs; the irresolvabilities of the game of chess; elegant computer code and the prose and poetry of the blind Borges. And the long works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And Jose Rizál. Of course, Bocobo likes the same things, but his vanity transforms them into theatrical props. I live, I stay alive, so that Bocobo can make his literature, and this literature is my justification. I readily admit that few of his pages are worthwhile, but these pages are not my salvation, perhaps because good writing belongs to no one in particular, not even to my other, but rather to language and tradition. As for the rest, I am fated to disappear completely, and only a small piece of me can possibly live in the other one. I'm handing everything over to him bit by bit, fully aware of his nasty habit of distortion and aggrandizement. Spinoza knew that all things desire to endure in their being: stones desire to be stones, and tigers tigers, for all eternity. I must remain in Bocobo rather than in myself, whom I recognize less in his writings than in many others, or in the low frequency hum the earth emits amid the rice terraces of the Cordillera. Some years ago, I tried to get away from Bocobo, abandoned his blog of modern mythologies and returned to an old avocation involving physics and infinities. But these are Bocobo's games now, I shall have to think of something else to do. Thus my life is an escape. I will lose everything, everything will belong to oblivion, or to the other. I don't know anymore if he or I wrote this. All I know is, he's gone off to do something new, grumbling about the need to change the name, and humility...

(With gratitude to Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems, and Jose Rizal, our lonely friend, who knew English, but would have liked the sound of this better in the original:)
Borges y yo

Al otro, a Borges, es a quien le ocurren las cosas. Yo camino por Buenos Aires y me demoro, acaso ya mecánicamente, para mirar el arco de un zaguân y la puerta cancel; de Borges tengo noticias por el correo y veo su nombre en una terna de profesores o en un diccionario biográfico. Me gustan los relojes de arena, los mapas, la tipografia del siglo XVIII, las etimologias, el sabor del café y la prosa de Stevenson; el otro comparte esas preferencias, pero de un modo vanidoso que las convierte en atributos de un actor. Seria exagerado afirmar que nuestra relacion es hostil; yo vivo, yo me dejo vivir, para que Borges pueda tramar su literatura y esa literatura me justifica. Nada me cuesta confesar que ha logrado ciertas paginas validas, perso esas paginas no me pueden salvar, quiza porque lo bueno ya no es de nadie, ni siquiera del otro, sino del lenguagje o la tradicion. Por lo demas, yo estoy destinado a perderme, definitivamente, y solo algun instante de mi podra sobrevivir en el otro. Poco a poco voy cediendole todo, aunque me consta su perversa costumbre de falsear y magnificar. Spinoza entendio que todas lascosas quieren perseverar en su ser; la piedra eternamente quiere ser piedra y el tigre un tigre. Yo he de quedar en Borges, no en mi (si es que alquien soy), pero me reconozco menos en sus librosque en muchos otros o que en el laborioso rasgueo de una guitarra. Hace años yo traté de libararme de el y pase de las mitologias del arrabal a los juegos con el tiempo y con lo infinito, pero esos juegos son de Borges ahora y tendre que idear otras cosas. Asi mi vida es una fuga y todo lo pierdo y todo es del olvido, o, del otro. No se cual de los dos escribe esta página.
[Adapted from Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems, Alexander Coleman (editor), Penguin Books, New York, 1999]

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Rank Merida said...

This reminds me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair.
BTW, what happened to that physics book you have written? Is it in the tradition of Stephen Hawking?

Rizalist said...

Hi there Rank. "in the tradition of Stephen Hawking" would put us in the ranks of Albert and Isaac. No it's a lot less exalted than that. But what do you think of "The First Iraq" for a name?

minan said...

djb, "the first iraq" - brilliant.

Neil Medina said...

I am a 3rd year commarts student from DLSU and I was present in one of your talks regarding alternative media. I would like to say that i applaud you with your interesting, substantial and intellectual posts regarding updates in the political scene while adding your distinct flavor into it. You are indeed an instrumental person to help the rise of alternative media like the internet. The cyberworld is really a powerful medium and it is good that people like you put it into good use.

Thank you for the fruitful entries. God Bless.

-Neil Medina, DLSU Communication Arts major.