In one lechon-perfumed room in a (literally) dusty hall in U.P., my last class in law school ended with applause and the customary photo shoot with the professor. We were talking about quasi-delicts and how motorists were always at fault when hitting pedestrians and how hitting them with our car’s side-mirror could be our own way of urbanized revenge. This was a four hour make-up class but it was all lectures now since time was of the essence. The room was filled with only my professor’s voice – trying to hack its way to the end of the syllabus and wrap up this review class. Outside, the waxing moon hung under a clear, night sky peppered with its many stars. The walk to the car took a minute or two since I was parked in the annex, which I dubbed as ‘The Swamp’ since during the rainy season it does turn into a veritable swamp. The way was dark, serene and peaceful — a perfect opportunity for me to be mugged.
On the walk back, I thought about Room 307 and how I had my first class there during my freshman year. Ugh freshman year, I thought, how stupid of me. I remember classes in Persons and Family Relations and Legal History and Constitutional Law 1 and how I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. Many times, time just went by in flashes, like broad strokes in some post-impressionist, modern art painting indistinguishable from vomit: exams here, recits there, a head hunched over some papers under a lamp, empty cups of coffee by the side, the tune of jazz in the background, a rosary by the book stand, a stack of books, notes scribbled on loose sheets scattered on the floor, a jacket hanging on the back of the seat, hands aching from shrinking text to fit between the lines in the codal, memories of 5s and of 1s, victories like making it in the OPF and staying there, defeats like Oblicon, deus ex machinas like Oblicon and the 2013 bar results, wondering if I should join a frat, deciding not to, dates with Urie and our movies and dinners and chats – my sanity in this endless sea of unreason.
In hindsight, I could do with more walks in the oval now that school is over and only a few exams stand between me and graduation and then the bar and then I shall fade and diminish and sail over the sea to Valinor.
To friends who left ahead of me:
Eager eyes with hopes we had
when we set our roots to the earth;
a seed in the wind, dust from the wings of moths.
To grow we must at nature’s call:
a journey’s end, four years to come;
with faith and hazard our only friends.
True: in the rains do branches wear their leaves
so ripe and green — the shades above our heads
from dangers yet unknown, unseen
What story could they tell of an inferno — those that
have yet to feel its heat? August passes and April
comes with its thirsty glare. Up we gaze to see
no clouds but the sky: blue and bright with our
death — and some fall: brown and crisp to the earth.
And here we remain to see another May
until for need of lumber the axes come
and take for them those of us as they say.
There was an article I read a week ago about how the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) was rolling out a new advertising campaign for its diamonds. The article is entitled, “The diamond industry is aiming its new ads at millennials who aren’t that into marriage.” The bottom line of the article is that since lesser people are getting married, lesser people are buying engagement rings, ergo lesser sales for the diamond companies. What a tragedy. Gone are the days when you heard that slogan of “a diamond is forever.” Apparently now it’s: “Real is rare. Real is a diamond.”
It’s an amusing article for a couple of reasons. For one it shows how diamonds really had nothing to do with marriage until De Beers said so. It all boils down to what the advertising firms want us to want. And yep, we just keep drinking the kool-aid.
Another reason I found it amusing was that it dealt with fairytales:
The [ad] agency learned that millennials associated diamonds with a “fairytale love story that wasn’t relevant to them,” said Thomas Henry, strategist at Mother NY, in a statement. “We needed to bring this powerful symbol into the modern world by acknowledging that perfection is no longer the goal for a great relationship.”
After decades of Hollywood romcoms all selling their own 90-minute “fairytale love story,” the diamond industry finally turns out to be the poor guys footing the bill. Hollywood was just too good at selling “happily-ever-afters” that made us forget what was (ironically) real in the first place. It was the finger pointing to the moon but, as the great Bruce Lee warned, we concentrated on the finger and “lost sight of that heavenly glory.”
An alien coming to earth for the first time would not altogether be wrong if it referred to marriage as a “fairytale.” It was an institution, nearly universal among our societies, that unites two strangers, a man and a woman at that, in a permanent and lasting bond for the rearing and nurturing of children. It was ,and is still, set against a backdrop of “free” sex and unlabeled relationships, of how the videos in the article described as the “wild and kind.” It is not perhaps new that we juxtapose what is “chaotic” or “wild” with what is poetic. G.K. Chesterton had already made that objection in his time when there was the notion that being in revolt was poetic. It is only in a dying and decaying society where we romanticize death and decay or in Tolkien’s terms where ,”Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons.” The chaotic, the wild: these are situations that happen all by themselves. Anyone who has studied the 2nd law of thermodynamics knows this: it is entropy. Things, relationships, people – if left to themselves eventually decay irreversibly. There should be nothing surprising, therefore, of the sight of a fruit left on the ground decaying and rotting away. But if that same fruit were, after several years, found intact and ripe, now that might be poetic. Of the infinite possibilities where an endeavor might have gone awry, and yet it does not – that is poetic. Perhaps this is why Chesterton said that the most poetic thing in the world is not getting sick.
Take the notion of marriage. The promise of “forever” or the idea that love transcends the bounds of space and time never fails to stir the depths of the human soul (here’s to you, Interstellar). In the USA the statistics of the number of marriages that end in divorce are, what, around 50%? Whatever it is, it doesn’t take a divorce law to show how marriages end up sour (just take a look at the Philippines). There could be a million reasons why a relationship does not work out. Yet with all that, two strangers take their chances and enter into marriage. Now while Hollywood and the DPA are selling that moment, who could disagree at the magic of the first few minutes of the movie Up? Here’s the clip in case you didn’t see it yet:
A powerful clip. It’s fascinating because the magic (if you would call it that) comes not at the moments of joy of the couple (moments without any diamond rings, if I may add), but when we perceive their time speeding up, where one second turns into a decade, and then we blink and find that the two are now old, but still together. The scene where Ellie fixes Carl’s necktie is an example and my personal favorite. The thought that routine, while labeled by some as completely unpoetical, is turned on its head and becomes even romantic.
It was, therefore, quite accurate for millenials to refer to marriage as “a fairytale love story” and to reject it as not being relevant to them. At least they called it as it is. Marriage perhaps is a fairytale, but it might also be the only fairytale that’s real. Now, it’s quite another thing for advertising companies to make this rejection of the fairytale a fairytale in itself. I take it that the “real is rare” idea is just glorifying extramarital relations and injecting a demand for diamonds in the equation. So, are we going to keep drinking the kool-aid now?
Thus passes another year
another month, another day
racked with fear and ending so far in May-
a fitting ending bringing with it calls
for a futile disconsolation: one for the faults,
falls, flaws of each examination
forced under paper and pen.
But at the end? Only in our own ignorance must we
remain – lest we crack our minds juggling
between grades of tolerance or of merit.
Thus passes another year
the third of four to end this
devilish sojourn: one began in dreams
and the naive nature of newborn children;
but in beginning, quickly ending as a dream ill-bidden
in the night – tainted by the tendrils of untested
maturities. To Them: what light is it They see at the end
to cost so much to make virtue bend into crooked
spires – mere steps up to Their peak of ambition?
What sums do pride and arrogance offer as a ransom
to such degree? To what end will our trust in them be?
Innocence often laces those early temptations
to stray the path in tiny steps; little cracks, but
with habit’s perseverance, and time, heralds
malice to greet our Innocence’s disappearance
in the unholy abyss of our own making.
What can the Law offer on its laureled crown
when its virtues are all but laid down bleeding
at the altar? Must it be a kingship unnaturally
won with Virtue hanging only by the crimson drippings
of the assassin’s blade? Would that it were better
if these stirrings stirred us only in our grave.
Climb, climb, and climb! Beginnings are no test
of mettle – all start with nothing but friendships
so innocent that, when cut, bleed only jests. Grit
often lies unperturbed ’til provoked
and, when roused, unyielding to those evils.
Trust yields folly and allies, when allied, abandoned
go their own way. Must there be such a myth as Integrity
now where ill deeds go under the guise of its complicity?
Call it not integrity then, but vanity. O, vanity –
precious lists of titles and deeds commended,
of names dropped, and posh socials attended?
Lay them as glitter and gold, and around your crown adorn
as your reward, yet all not worthy enough to earn one thorn.
Thus passes another year
one in three that were and one that will be.
Dissolved now are those persons that we knew
before so early under masks of acquaintance.
Friendships half in bloom but nipped away by
examination or by professors’ recreation.
Happy are those who live above all the struggles of the rabble,
for theirs is the glory and praise as our school’s preamble,
while we scurry along the table’s edges fighting over scraps.
Yet let not empathy crawl on their lips, or limp on top of their other
sympathies to the fallen. Mere words less deeds are but trees uprooted
and drifting among the weeds on the tides of their many vanities.
Now, Time and Toil have torn away our masks and to our
horror, revealed those who had or no disguise.
outside is the heat; searing bright and merciless
outside men walk to gather votes, speaking, and sweating
outside is their voice, their image and we, common folk, its witness
how little about them we really know
student leaders staged for politics before the show
is it not a burden to take the stand
and fix your person before the crowd?
what is left of the cheers after criticisms and complaints
of those entitled to rights of their own production
how little is the change we see year from year
and still, the hope remains
that what has been is not what will be
because they say “vote not for him, but me”
puddles on the road
a trap: shallow yet so deep
games of chance – always
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.”
– T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi