Only Lyrically

Tag: Philip Larkin

in the library, a museum




Last Saturday, while I was in the school library doing some work at the graduate school internet nook in the second floor (yeah, that cold open space there at the reference section – ‘coz they are renovating and expanding the cybernook at the ground floor), a friend called and asked me to e-mail her ASAP a painting that is romantic, sensual, abstract, organic, at walang tao.

Apparently she and her co-workers needed it in their shoot or story conference or something. She’s into production.

I welcomed the challenge although I found the standards quite contradictory: how can something that’s supposed to be visual be sensual without showing bodies in contact? The specs are clear: walang tao. I did not even understand what she meant by organic until she explained it later in a follow-up phone call – there has to be something natural in it, like a plant perhaps, she said. Alright then, I thought.

Pero walang tao.

I ended up sending her a link to Marc Chagall’s Adam and Eve. And a link to Come Back To Bed by a certain Steve Atkinson. Adam and Eve is definitely abstract, organic (I believe those green stuff hanging overhead of the abstract figures are supposed to be leaves), sensual – I just don’t know about romantic. And I definitely violated the walang tao condition because abstracted as they are, there stood the naked bodies of Adam and Eve, two of the first tao on earth, right smack at the center of the painting.

As for Come Back To Bed, I just thought that maybe with that I could definitely satisfy them with the walang tao rule. A bed, deserted and undone after a night of love-making, is both romantic and sensual and walang tao. The rendition was not abstract, though. But it was painted using impressionist-like strokes. As for organic, I don’t remember any plant or thing of nature in that bed painting. Had they wanted bodies there, that would definitely make it organic.

Finally I sent a link to Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, too. Just in case they’d re-think the walang tao clause.

* * *

There are five artworks I love the most:

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai

Sacrifice Of Isaac (1598 version) by Caravaggio

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

The Son Of Man by Rene Magritte

The van Gogh is the first ever painting I ever liked, seeing it in encyclopedias as a kid. There’s something in how he made the sky swirl – it draws you in, it makes you spin – or so I thought as a kid. The Hokusai I like because I consider it a twin of the van Gogh sky. It is not even a painting – it is a woodblock print. The Caravaggio I like simply because I love the Isaac story, and Caravaggio’s 1598 version of the story is the one I find most visually arresting – natural yet otherworldy both at the same time. The golden Klimt, which I hold as the sexiest and most romantic painting I ever saw, is something that I first learned of from the film Dying Young, yeah, with the terminally ill Campbell Scott terminally in love with the golden-haired Julia Roberts. The Magritte I first saw from The Thomas Crown Affair of 1999 – and no artwork could have best captured the spirit of Thomas Crown but that man in that painting, with his face hid and with his twisted left arm.

Actually, there is another artwork, a drawing that I like. I have been looking for it but cannot find it in this world wide webby wilderness. It is this drawing of endless, inteconnected, inverted, twisted, infinite flights of stairs. I first encountered it in a geometry book, high school. Maybe one day I’ll finally re-discover it.

* * *

You know what would be another cool job apart from being a librarian (yeah, it’s cool being a librarian – Philip Larkin was one!)? Being a museum curator.

But of course being Thomas Crown tops them all.





Interlude: Far-view

This is precisely why I’m in trouble with the powers that be.

I have been working for two days, straight, with hardly a wink of sleep, on the five rickety pieces I intend to submit to the blue blood workshop. I have just finished editing, made triplicate copies, printed the necessary resume, and gathered all the money I have left (excluding that for the bills and rent) for the courier –

and right now my Tita Deng is even looking for a small brown envelope for me, so I needn’t buy anymore.

And she’s got lunch cooking. And I bet she’ll be stuffing my bag with crackers again before I go.

A weekend of free internet, free food, and overflowing affection from the Villegas-Caldas here at Odigal, Baranggay Commonwealth.

Am I turning into a parasite?

If I do this every week I don’t think they’d be as affectionate anymore.

I heard my nephew Kodi praying last night, “sana po magkapera ng marami si Tita Jen at sana po makapag-

I thought him that prayer, he’s never forgotten. And his own mother says that indeed, the kid prays it every night.

Perhaps I should teach him a few other prayers. Like that I become the local Cameron Crowe. Or better yet, Philip Larkin! Yes! He wrote great poems while reviewing music.

And he was a librarian. That’s a great job. Conducive to writing.

Has the courthouse been conducive to my writing?

Have I been conducive to my writing?

One thing the courthouse made me realize these past few months is I cannot serve it half-heartedly. It’s public service. It’s utter submission. It’s slave work. And inhumanely for so little, while the great tribunal in the great kitchen are enjoying the supreme meals. And we collect for them. This is it. Take it or leave it.

I will miss my typewriter. Mr. Matura. It’s him who’s been most good to me.

Oh, and my former boss, the Methodist, he was good to me too. Talk to him and you get free bible lessons. He once told me about how the sins of the fathers are passed on to the children, and as he saw me distressed by it, he then re-assured me that that was way back in the old testament. We have a new covenant now. In Christ.

I heard he’s in Austria now, working in the post office. The court jesters say he’s in charge of licking the envelopes.

God be with these five. But first, I need an envelope.