There was this via dolorosa of a traffic on Katipunan avenue but he had texted he would wait. There was something urgent in this appointment; so after having nearly suffering another stroke in the heat of slow-moving convoy of cars & trucks, I finally made it to Faculty Center.
He was a creative writing senior & could I advise him – Jeez! How could I when my life had been directionless since I opened my eyes a millennium ago – about the novel he intended to write as requirement for the course? Yes, he would like to reinvent the life of Jesus Christ; after some preliminaries, he opined if a Marxist framework would suffice? He was dead-serious, as though he were ordering a Subway sandwich, minus the jalapeno & onion, please.
& I thought this was it, the way young people take writing seriously – a theoretical optic, then the end-goal of being different. Mel Gibson’s Aramaic film must have inspired him; it made millions, anyway. I wondered if that was the ultimate aesthetic impulse; not bad, anyway, if you’re a Singaporean who would lecture that the pleasure in art was the big bucks & nothing more.
Be that as it may, I fell silent in my mind. I answered rather academically that one must get out of this Christian fix, observe how things happened instead, & that was that. Whatever one wrote would reveal exactly the muse of his pursuit, be that revelatory of his own carnality or blessedness.
He was uneasy. With a respectful smile, he left the room – possibly thinking that everything was a waste. For both of us.
True. But I thought, after some deep breathing, if he could, upon seeing a dead dog, feel like smashing his fists against the wall, or hearing vagrants salvaged by masked men in the name of national beautification, would he slash his wrists in despair? Of course, that would be silly.
But if he would be predisposed to do that – people however would think him stupid – then he was on the way to writing a real novel.