May 21, 2004

This is only 23 on which I write yet I have forgotten any thing that has passd on the 21st worthy of [note]. I wrote a good deal I know and dined at home. The step of time is noiseless as it passes over an old man. The non est tanti [the feeling that all is worthless] mingles itself with every thing.

Sir Walter Scott
May 21, 1829
Diary entry

An Aside

This journal gradually changed its function since last school year. Back when I was in the NGO, this was the end venue of most of my creative energies. I remember telling xkg then how the journal was a 'regimen' of sorts, something to keep the juices flowing, something to remind myself that I can write.

Of course, the blogging community has its seductive aspects. During the first days, I really went around and read much of the other sites. Later, I began to settle down to the spare links on my sidebar. And of course, the communities I come to hold too dear: susmariosep, and tinig, and angas (maybe the only reasons to stay). Even them, I can't follow regularly anymore.

There are people I got acquainted with over the net. Some, I already knew beforehand but still got to know here better. There is a measure of shame, for example, that I only knew of at's involvement with children's lit online. I can't exactly pinpoint where the shame comes from. A question pops up (a spurt of blood from my guts): compared with other modes of communication (print, phone, cellphone, face-to-face, radio greeting, etc.), are the e-venues less valid? Less valuable; ie, worth less? Later, I came to value feedback. Around the same time, I began to imagine the people on the other joints of the net. The reading of entrails began to involve other guts besides my own. Naturally, this scared me. I hope I scared none besides myself.

Now this autopsy of the journal itself, something I have killed many times in mind and practice. Yet the spices are there and here I am, cooking these stuff up again. I post knowing that every entry could very naturally be the last. As naturally as an entry was my first entry. I don't know why I'm thinking these things out loud now. Maybe, I'm about to cross another threshold and as with every liminal experience, everything is put into question. As the alchemists say: Tertium non data, the third is not given. Base metal, gold. That pregnant comma: what science in between, what art? This third happens. It is not given.

Still, the guts on the ritual floor must not be wasted. Let me read what I can. Maybe, I can prove to myself that I can be generous again, for I've grown to hate the abomination of my ill-hid, gangrenous tongue.

Fingers to one side, I move a few loops of the bloody coils. There. A growth. A stunted growth.

Interpretation:

I received my teaching load for next semester, three humanities ones and two English prose styles. The two majors are writing courses. The gut recoiled, see? I didn't know why, it just did. It seems that all this time, I've been spoiling for reading courses. I may've even liked my criticism course better than this new assignment. Why? Fingers to the other side of the entrail-pool, look for soft spots along the shed worm of life.

I'm more confident as a reader than a writer. Yes, I'm not a good reader either but maybe I'm more at home there. Or maybe writing is something I've always kept to myself, or among a circle of friends and silent (therefore invisible) stangers.

Correction:

Not anymore. Not since last year when I perceived that the desire to teach further became dependent on fostering a printlust, ie, the production of stuff that you can load onto your cv to make you formally (which is the professional equivalent of actually) qualified. Thus a couple of workshops, a couple of magazine contributions, a couple of contests. All to what end? Well, an ugly knot in here beneath my thumb says vanity, but maybe too, essentially, as fuel for the pursuit of the class. And I mean that in at least two senses of the word.

So there, this journal became a stopover, a halfway house of thoughts that were not meant to stay in private logs but wasn't exactly the end-product.

And now, after I submitted work for eyes I always thought were to big for any of my alphabets, the knots increase. Then I hear them speak, voices I never thought I'd hear, faces too near to allow me breath, shadows looming to large to permit sight of my blank sheets. Where oh where is my pen? Fingers search. In the large intestines. Ah, at last, the metaphor of productive writing as excrement. This is one shitty pen I have here. I wonder if anyone would still care what I'd write with it?

Yes, I'd rather not teach my students how to write. I'd rather teach them how to read. Borges (a shadow I need to get rid of sometime soon because he keeps popping up wherever I speak criticism like Calvino's Abbe in his Count of Monte Cristo) saves me with a facet of the swallowed gem that I've neglected: the best reader is the writer. We know of the vice-versa of course but this Borgesian formulation (derived from his Pierre Menard) reveals my other reason, another ars up the arse, another justification to help with students' writing: it's a venue for further reading.

Maybe too, I'll continue to take up space here in this web, this site.

I'll bury the guts then. The rest of what remains, we cook. I'll keep the tongue, though it'll be wagged at a distance (it is foetid, being diseased with superfluous health), don't worry. Maybe tomorrow, another entry.