Abr 14, 2004

I talked with M. Salmon about his system concerning women; I urged him to publish it. He said no, but I believe he has made up his mind and the book is possibly already written. He holds that the Italian woman is the primitive woman; by modifying her in various ways, you get the French woman, the German woman, etc. He believes only in the virtues of temperament. He believes that the woman's whole character consists of an insatiable desire to please, and that it's consequently impossible to overpraise them. He's seen miracles wrought by praise. A woman said of a man whose face was almost hideous, 'What a monster! He's an eyesore.' The monster praised her, succeeded in pleasing her and ended by sleeping with her.

Stendhal
Diary entry
April 14, 1804

I've been reading through my books. I oughtn't write any more. I think in this respect, I've done all I could. But I want to, I terribly want to.

Leo Tolstoy
Diary entry
April 14, 1910

Dove's Cry

[Around noon; registration period for summer classes; the two walk on the way to Anthropology library from the Faculty Center, UP Diliman. D- just met a friend and exchanged a few words.]

Gabriela: What was that all about? Why didn't you introduce me?

D: Oh, he's U- he's in some snag. I guess I thought he's in a rush or something bad's happened. See, he's shifting and I don't know, maybe it's just a foul-up--

G: So, why didn't you introduce me?

D: He might not be in a good place right n-- Hmmm. Okay, I'm not used to introducing you anymore.

G: Fair. [smiles mockingly] At least you're used to answering straight again. Where did we leave off? We were on the The Treatise Formerly Known as the Prince.

D:I just finished it; I realized I've only read the abridged version and some excerpts here and there. Found a Penguin copy at Booksale, P45. Happy boy. [grins stupidly] There's this part there you won't like, Machiavellian though you are.

G: That is?

D: Old Nick compares fortune to women, you know, lady luck and all. He says the prince, if forced to choose between being careful or hotheaded, must be hotheaded (I the word used was impetuous) because (I'm freely paraphrasing here) fortune, like a woman, well - if you want it to be of any good to you - you oughtta beat it up.

G: Men.

D: Renaissance men.

G: Geez! Men! Then, now. Should I give you the statistics? The calls we get at the office? The battered wives who return only to call again. Those fucking husbands. And the women: screwed up bodies and brains. Well yeah, progress: at least someone can't just get away with comments like that these days.

D: Now that you mentioned it, how's work?

G: Good, I guess. Not that I care to give you details. I know you've marked me.

D: [grins stupidly] Hehe. Well you marked me first! I remember that class we took, nine of us and you were always sleeping. Right smack in front of Prof. F-. I still wonder how you get away with it. Charm? And I thought you slept during my report when I ran something Bourdieu said about the topography of classes. I said it looked a lot different from Sison's pyramid. Then I got a verbal beating from nowhere. Such eloquence. Were you ever asleep?

G: Sun Tzu said, when awake, feign stupor.

[Enter Anthropology Library, greet the graduate student in charge, R-, and continue speaking loudly because no one's there and R- will be happy to be entertained.].

D: I've been meaning to ask you why you still write - I mean - even after college.

G: That's a trick question! [laughs] Tell me about what you've been doing first. I still don't know if I want to answer that one.

D: Reading, mostly. Finished Les Faits before Il Principe. The first autobiography of Althusser, the one before he strangled his wife. Been reading in long stretches. My phone keeps failing and my brother keeps using it so that's one distraction down. The TV's still a problem, but I've learned to keep off that too. Really, books. Pages and pages of them. What else? Oh, computer.

G: Friendster?

D: More on blogging (the damn unit keeps on crashing!); I'm at the same old page: bopis, dekarabaw. Read lately?

G: Around Christmas, New Year--

D: Valentine's? [grins stupidly]

G: No, field work, [smiles mockingly] didn't I tell you? Sorsogon.

D: So what do you think?

G: About what? Won't tell you squat on Sorsogon; but your journal sucks. Why can't you keep a diary like everyone else? Sometimes your prose is just so artsy.

D: Fartsy?

G: Yeah it stinks. You've written anything new? Anything about me?

D: Well, I'm working on it.

G: What name will you use? (You and your stupid codenames.)

D: You'll like it. Named you after your org. You know, your 'patroness'. [laughs] Well, I still can't get over your Gabriela's Kris STD stand. Crafty. Had anything to do with that?

G: Hell no! I just read about it in the papers myself. That was like a year ago huh? After the mutiny. No Jose Pidal, incredible hunk thing? Geez man! My, to think I've been working at this for three years.

D: That brings me back to my question. [grins stupidly] Writing? It's not part of your work; it's been three years; why do you still write fiction?

G: If it were another person asking, I'd take that as an insult, like: 'Why do you insist?' Well, D-, since you're always so polite and so hesitant to state the obvious - that my subjects and verbs never agree, and none of my stories are worth diddly squat - I'll trust the sincerity of the question. (It won't take Heisenberg to figure out that you're in one of those why-write soul-searching monthly periods.)

D: Okay, so I'm sincere. I know how much time you spend on your pieces; I grow tired just thinking of your daily schedule. So why write? Where's the energy coming from? (Those eyebags of yours.)

G: From her. I insist on writing because I have to write to her.

D: Her? Her who?

G: Her. The product of dialectic. The woman to come. Next wave, next generation. What we've all been dreaming and working for - the better woman.

D: Eh?

G: She who is to come like lightning from the black clouds [laughs]! I am the dark cloud. These things I write may be ugly but they are necessarily (inescapably?) so. See, if this woman-to-come will communicate perfectly, she must be shown what imperfect articulation is, what it costs. The human cost of ecriture.

D: What makes you think this uberfemme will care about the human cost?

G: Well, so what? Maybe she won't. At least she'll get the receipt.

D: That ain't pretty, Gabby--

G: Well, so? Neither am I.

D: Liar. [grins stupidly]