Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Poems Bumping in the Night

At Chrome Baby

Gingerbread(board) Baby  
In error 404 limbo
hell(o) to an.other
lonesome con[so(u)l]e the rest here

At Digital Papercut Literary Journal
The Benefit of Wounds 
A wall is carnal.
It desires to be cut.
Wounds add scars the rest here

A Philosophy of Chairs

The chair awaits untempered flesh
tenderness arguing with wooden inflexibility the rest here

At The Cadaverine

Worry Not for Luxuries 
rest assured, Love
I have seen us before,
I have seen us too often
but we are the same
don’t ask too much
of nature
it runs its course the rest here

Before the Bread is Gone 
Find reason to be kind.
Forget the rest here

At The Southeast Review
The Badjao Sisters' Wager

We made bets with the coins
in our lockless box—
Heads, you can’t
make us last
, they said,
while we chose tails—
We can go to college.

The coins never did stay
long enough,
not for a pair of slippers,
not for a notepad
not for a pen or a new shirt.

But we could always go back
out to sea on our lepa, dive deep
for precious trepang, and believe

that as the sales trickle in
we could glean the barren
reefs of our past, remember
to thank Omboh Dilaut
and not savings tossed
into a daily gamble. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Death of the Death of Self

If there is anything dying from modern humans, it might be the death of self. One would hear about the death of religion or the death of God, but what is really dying is a deprecation of the I.

The sciences are beautiful and wonderful things. They have provided society with tools to understand the workings of nature and to test the veracity of what we think we know. Testing and retesting, observing and re-observing--we come upon truths about how the universe expands and cools, how life adapts and evolves. Ultimately it has trained us to ask and keep asking the difficult questions. While the scientific approach might have at its roots humanity's insatiable curiosity, now that it has matured it appears to have turned into some kind of insatiable skepticism. "We can never know" or a philosophy of non-knowledge must be the inner mantra of the 21st Century human. It appears that many are giving themselves over to an infinite regression of questioning evidence, maybe even questioning science itself.

I say this because I was having an interesting conversation regarding Evolution the other day. Evolution is an amazing thing to read on paper and muse about on lazy days. It is logical and we can see how organisms have mutated and adapted their characteristics throughout the years. But is it correct? Is it what really happened? I then went into a downward spiral of questioning. If evolution is real and humans have risen to the apex of existence, then why do insects remain insects, why are many apes still bent and hairy, why do cows allow themselves to be adapted to being easily eaten?

With enough asking, one will come to the conclusion that "I can never know." Evidences aren't the only ones now to be cast under the light of skepticism, but knowledge itself. After all, much of what we know, even the laws of science were once mere theories. The laws simply gathered up enough evidence to quiet our most gnawing questions about the universe. If something acts predictably (de/confirming a hypothesis), somehow it is truer than things that move along random paths and processes.
In the end it is the "I" who decides what is true, what is real. Nothing is real until I see evidence of it. To the modern human, the final judge of things is ultimately the "I" who studies the evidences or lack thereof.
With this I realize that religion isn't the one dying. What (I hope) is leaving this world is the religious way of thinking that teaches a person to remove his "I-judge" persona in order to allow the acceptance of absolute truths imparted by an authority figure. Followers bow their head in humility, in self-deprecation toward dogma. Religions have always taken their power from "quieting the questions," but that was at a time when they had all the answers. Without having the answers, it is but natural for the curious "I" to reawaken. Religions are alive but the religious way of thinking is dying.

While many might fear that the deposition of religion means the rise of a godless society, I feel that fear is unnecessary. With the awakening of the discerning self, it is now relatively safer to ask questions again. We are free to know or not know. Moreover, I feel we are freer to go along our chosen paths to explore what we feel needs to be explored, without the guilt of being called doubters or unbelievers. That I say God exists is my hypothesis, with everyday evidences strengthening my beliefs at times and then challenging it during others. That I can read Buddhist and Taoist texts and take from their wisdom without being judged as having a "watered down faith" is a wonderful privilege. Who is to judge my belief now but me, the owner of it?

If we can allow one another to find his or her own beliefs, then we may very well be entering a new renaissance.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Forgiving

No one ever forgets.
Memory is more hardwearing than most things on this earth.

The bearer and the giver of pain
both carry its weight
for as long as they live

because forgiveness
is nothing but water--
a medium that makes us more buoyant
than we really are--

but it is never the solvent
that cleans out the hardened stains of poor judgement

from which all things reek of regret.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

There were were "Gamers" and then there were "Gamer Girls"

It must have been a boon to have grown up studying in an all-girl school. Being a girl felt normal. I wasn't aware of things like Feminism until my last year in high school. I wasn't aware of things like Objectification, Male Gaze and the Glass Ceiling, until these things were given a name.

In ads, a female body would be dismembered, showing only the prized parts--breasts, smooth white underarms or hairless legs. As a kid I never thought much of them, until the teacher explained that dismemberment is one such technique used to reduce a person to her individual parts. The psychological effect of singling out an area of flaw is similar to calling someone pimple-face when she has a pimple--that person could acquire a sense of insecurity, knowing that she isn't up to par with beauty standards.

Meanwhile, I became aware of Male Gaze by studying the scifi and fantasy books I read. Women in many of these books are described to be unbelievably beautiful, with long flowing locks, slender bodies and a veil of mystery. Male Gaze focuses on how men determine how a woman should look.

As for the role of the women in said scifi and fantasy stories? Their roles are tropes--witches, healers, and damsels in distress and of course, princesses. They become the wife of the male hero, or the undying supporter, or the object to be saved.

So a certain Sarkeesian thought about applying feminist critique to games. When I watched her videos, I gotta admit, the portrayal of women in games is very similar to those in the books I've read. They're tropes. They're too often the healer and the nurturer, when they're not the damsel in distress. I have always wished for a different characterization because it was tiring for me, a girl who likes to play games. I don't mind playing the hot macho men I usually crush on, but I would love to have a well rounded female character as well. Lightning from FF XIII doesn't count because she's like a girl version of FFVII's Cloud. And she just sucks. T_T

This isn't to say that women are ALWAYS playing those roles in games. But they often are. Even if there's a female warrior / fighter, she has to be dressed like these:

You'd think a woman would be smart enough to cover up when facing enemies right? But of course, Male Gaze won out and marketed women to be this way because these women probably sell better.

In any case, I still did enjoy playing those games. Despite the weirdly-dressed women, the games are still good. I just wish that critiquing the games won't be taken against "Gamer Girls". The job of feminist critique is to poke holes and look for areas of improvement in gender portrayals. Its shortcoming is that the roles of men are nowhere within its framework. An improvement in the framework might be an inclusion of male tropes as well. But that feels too intellectual for a blog post.