Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Past Now

Julian Barnes' masterpiece: The Sense of an Ending
Photo obviously not mine cause this one's too cool...
Finally a week deep in the down South and I could say, with confidence, that I, know Southern style. Been flying back and fourth from Manila to Memphis since I was a kid and I now understand better why people love it here. Aside from staying in a hundred year-old mansion, all well kept and sprinkled with the finest I've seen, it's the sense of family and slow, warm hospitality that I truly love about Memphis. Food's great, people are all so charming and simple and when Target and Starbucks is a hop away (well, sort of), you know life's all good. But anyway, how is everybody doing?

I hope back home weather's better, in all sense of the word. Heard it's been raining crazy.  I love it when it rains in Manila. I want to believe it's cooler than those past weeks we've had---felt like everyone was melting. Here weather's dry and hot, but it still takes more to break a sweat.

So while I've left my hectic and fun job back home, I have all the free time in the world now to do just about what I've longed to do in so long: finish and read a novel. Murakami's 1Q84 is a whole different story, and when I do finish that, I'll let you know.

Whenever I go on vacation, I make sure I am occupied with something good to read. Last time I left the country I discovered Child 44 and Drink, Play, Fuck. Add to that a bag of magazines and I was happy. Now, I've chosen to get myself the book I've been waiting for: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. So far it's a splendor to read. Tons of philosophies, tons of retrospect in the context of the character, Tony, and a study of a certain part of human nature and what it is about.

The sad part about this post is that I haven't finished it. So in terms of credibility, you could look at this entry as a letter of admiration for the book and where I am so far instead of a review. Again, do not trust me on this one as a review. But so far, it's kept me intrigued. 160 plus pages, slim, a little easy to read, first person narration has a tone that's both smart yet subtly hungry for more knowledge, and writing by Barnes is smooth. I like comparing things to food or drinks and how the writing style reminds me of the sensation of eating something or sipping on something.

Barnes' writing for me felt like sipping something on the rocks. Like Jack, on the rocks. It's generally smooth, cold at some point but it goes warm when it's sliding down your throat. For some it's not their favorite drink, I for one couldn't say it's my favorite but I love how Jack feels and smells and tastes, especially when it's the first sip. Barnes, is pretty much like that for me. The first sip is excellent and before you know where you're head's at, you're drunk. Barnes is just that. I am actually eager to just drop this post and go ahead and finish it, but since it's that good of a book (wouldn't win 2011 Man Booker prize if it wasn't) it already latched on to me and inspired me to get up and write something.

When books get you hooked and make you feel guilty not flipping over at least five pages, it means you love it. And it also means that somehow, something about the book reflects your own life. For those who have read this book, no, I am not like Tony or Adrian or anyone of them. But it's that umbrella of the past and the effects it has on anybody that I see most universal about the book.

Can't tell you the entire story, but it's basically about a man who discovers something after the death of his friend that changes his life for the present and the future and also shows him how he exactly was during the past. It's so addicting when you read it cause you want to get down to the bottom of everything, but what's really so gripping about the story is how, at a certain age in your life, the past comes back to you and while you thought it nothing during those times, it arrives in your present or in your future and it just wipes out all the things you've known of yourself and the world.

That's why I've considered myself a past kind of person. I don't dwell in it, but I keep it within reach for reference. There are many things I'd love to pay for to forget, but somehow even when it pains me or embarrasses me, I keep it. The better memories you'd think I would give a special place for, putting them on pedestals or boxing them in glass cases just cause they're precious, but now, I hold both the ugly and the beautiful in the same plane. I don't know why, but after reading 3/4 of Barnes' book, I suddenly felt the need to look at things from the past with only labels of good and bad and having just a pinch of emotion for them, versus looking at all the good ones and smiling my life away like they're happening all over again.

Well, this is me now...As Barnes puts it, "What you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed". I might be saying this now and have a mind set on believing this, but in the future, it might all come and change, I don't know. For now though, I'd like to believe this is how it should be done...for myself at least.

So go pick up a copy of the book, you might even race me to finishing it (but that's impossible cause I'm 40+ pages before the end) and give yourself a good once over...Will there be anything you might've missed in your past that could come back to haunt you, if not now, then sometime in the future? Just a thought.

- Gerard

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