Friday, December 28, 2007

Nomen est omen

The generation of Pinoys born in the last ten years have got to have the most original names of all generations of Filipinos ever since the Spanish came and gave us their names. I realized this one morning when watching Spongebob Squarepants. In the middle of the show, they have a feature called Spongebob's Birthday Bop where our favorite poriferan greets children celebrating their birthdays by posting their names on the screen, and I swear these are some of the most original names and combinations of names I have ever come across. A sample list (I have omitted the family names):

Drix Arnage
Christmay Joy
Lanz Camanse
Liv Clergy
Clyssaryll Nicolas
Hans Kirzen
Jurgen Riev
Yna Ginelle
Keneizah Elize
Mark Dharel
Zextlher Cian
Girome Daneniel
Napp Danelle and Napp Donelle (twins, I gather)

Vivienne Joyce, Elisha Carlisle, Mikaelle Dominique, Sharmaine Peachy, Yves Laurence, Emiliana Mishka, Micaelah May, Rie Miho, Justene, Grant Frederick, Aldous John Reynold, Liam Alwin, Samira Yani, Alyzza Trixia, Tsini, Juneau, John Bradley, Philline Candace, Yzavella Gwen, Chenly Anne, Phoemella Yvonne, Czerina Jo, Ethan James, Jayden, Ervin, Eryl, Jason Brent, Eihdren Joshua, Resplandor.

The names of people in my generation were the traditional Spanish or American names. In school it's more likely we had classmates with names like Pablo or Edgardo, or Stephen, or Paul, or Andrew. In fact probably the only unique name in the class was Carnilo, and even that sounded traditional. But today's parents--whoo! There seems to be a trend towards over-the-top names. It's as if parents want their kids to stand out, that by bequeathing them with names whose provenance is their own creativity, they somehow bestow upon their offspring some sense of being special. At least they hope so.

Kids' names today are vaguely American, vaguely French, vaguely British, Jewish, Arabic, exotic... and totally Pinoy, a lot of them with unnecessarily doubled letters, the preponderance of the letter Y as a vowel, the affinity for high scoring Scrabble letters like X, Z, K (Zexthler scores a 27; so does Alyzza), and the ubiquitous overworking of poor old letter H. Creative spelling also abounds, as in the reworking of the traditional Chloe into Chlouey, or Lebron James into Levron James (probably because Lebron gets an 8 in Scrabble, while Levron gets a 9).

A recent study shows that names may indeed influence a child's destiny. This was the view of the ancients as well. One wonders what sort of destiny their parents had in mind when they named them. The Chinese Filipinos in my generation gave their children stately names--Washington, Jefferson, Winston--no doubt because they wanted their children to excel. And there is something oddly mellifluous about the rhythm of a monosyllabic Chinese family name and a western 'regal' first name in combo. Plus they also have their Chinese names.

Our Chinese colleagues (Chinese Chinese) also get to give themselves Western names in addition to the Chinese names given them at birth. They do this in college if Im not mistaken, to prepare themselves for the world at large although I never understood the reason for this. Why can't they just use their Chinese names? Some opt for the usual, like Michelle, or James, or Peter, or Eric, and some can get creative: Amyly, Shmily. Some can get downright poetic: Friends, Golden, Four Fires, Dragon, Seaboy. One, for some reason, chose the name Oven. But like I sain, they chose these names for themselves. Our kids have names chosen for them. I wonder what it would be like growing up burdened with a name like Bien Alexandraye. I would be quite a name to live up to. But then again, if you have classmates named Charlz Francoise, Natasha Christelle, Vryle Zhane, or Semn Emmanuel, I suppose you'd blend right in and won't feel any pressure at all.

Im sure the Pinoy parents have their kids' best interests at heart when they named them such. They probably have dreams for them and their future and chose their names carefully with much pondering and discussion. Perhaps I am out of touch, but from where I sit, the only destiny I see with names like those are in show business or maybe in sales. Somehow I don't see myself voting for a President Denizel Jherein D. Calubaquib.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The mighty ducks


If youre in the area, you might want to check out the newly renovated Washington SyCip park (formerly Legazpi Park) in Legazpi Village. It has ducks running loose, delighting visitors, adults and children alike, for whom ducks running free are a novelty. I love ducks. I used to have a pet duck when I was a kid (Mallard, not the Beijing variety shown in the picture) and it followed me around wherever I went, having imprinted itself with me when it was still a duckling. I used to have two of them but one got squished when the ducklings followed me into a room that had a door that closed by itself. The other one went on to become an adult duck. One day my lola, who was a fantastic cook, said, "Ang laki na ng itik mo. Lutuin na natin." I said ok. She was yummy.

For the photo above, I crouched on the cobbled pathway and waited for the ducks to cross to the other side. They quickly got bored of the other side and I knew they were going to go back where they came from and I waited for them to go the other way, but my ancient Olympus XA2, like its owner, is showing signs of age and the shutter refused to fire and I missed them except for that one duck I caught in the photo below.

This is the first time I shot with Neopan black & white film. Neopan is great, with blacks really black. Ive decided to use black & white film exclusively with the XA2, and shoot color snaps with my digital camera.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A skewering

From the comments section of Jessica Zafra's blog is this link from the Atlantic Monthly, 2001, of critic B.R. Myers's article, A Reader's Manifesto, in which he...barbecues...what is today considered 'literary prose'.
Everything written in self-conscious, writerly prose, on the other
hand, is now considered to be "literary fiction"—not necessarily good
literary fiction, mind you, but always worthier of respectful attention
than even the best-written thriller or romance. It is these works that
receive full-page critiques, often one in the Sunday book-review
section and another in the same newspaper during the week. It is these
works, and these works only, that make the annual short lists of award
committees. The "literary" writer need not be an intellectual one.
Jeering at status-conscious consumers, bandying about words like
"ontological" and "nominalism," chanting Red River hokum as if
it were from a lost book of the Old Testament: this is what passes for
profundity in novels these days. Even the most obvious triteness is
acceptable, provided it comes with a postmodern wink.
I suppose it is the unfair treatment of 'genre' fiction that has spurred Filipino writers like Dean Alfar to try to 'elevate' science fiction, magical realism, crime, horror, etc. to the level of the 'literary'. My opinion has always been that these so-called genres are in no need of elevation, that they should stand quite proudly on their own, that they dont need to prove themselves to the snobs. And if Myers's article is correct, the snobs arent wearing any clothes except for a pair of soiled knickers. Read the whole thing. It's quite entertainingly snarky.

Ive always been wary of the 'literary' style. I blogged once that when trying to write a story, and it begins to sound literary in any way, if there is a hint of the poetic in it, or--heaven forbid--art, I kill the sentence. Perhaps I should leave those sentences alone, but it's just not in me. I once wrote in a comment to Resty Odon's blog that if ever--IF ever--I get lucky enough to get published, I would like the readers to think, "What a great story" instead of "What a great writer." The literary style is just too self-absorbed, too "Look at me! Look at me!" for my taste. I just want to disappear as an author.

In blogging about reading Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown I once wrote:
I picked up Shalimar the Clown. And it was everything I expected:
Rushdie at the top of his game. His words flow like liquid poetry. The
narrative just takes you along paths of Rushdie's choosing. He's
erudite, he's funny. Usually, I just go along for the ride, but this
time something was amiss. The rhythm was growing repetitive. It wasnt a
Bollywood musical number anymore. It was a drone. I was drowning in a
sea of metaphors. It was an explosion of figures of speech. Im fine
with figures of speech. In fact I used a couple in this very paragraph.
But to be deluged in it, to be overwhelmed with poetic narrative gone
berserk... I went, For the love of God, Salman. Will you just get on
with telling me what happened?
...and I blamed myself, that something was somehow wrong with me for not liking it, instead of blaming Mr. Rushdie for sucking. Such is the power of the literary. If you dont get it, youre a Philistine unworthy of even handling a second hand copy of the work in Booksale. In the article, Myers recounts that even Oprah isnt immune.
At the 1999 National Book Awards ceremony Oprah Winfrey told of calling
Toni Morrison to say that she had had to puzzle over many of the
latter's sentences. According to Oprah, Morrison's reply was "That, my
dear, is called reading." Sorry, my dear Toni, but it's actually called
bad writing. Great prose isn't always easy, but it's always lucid; no
one of Oprah's intelligence ever had to wonder what Joseph Conrad was
trying to say in a particular sentence. This didn't stop the talk-show host
from quoting her friend's words with approval.
Blek! I daresay no one of my intelligence should ever have to say, "Would you please get on with your damn story?"

(By the way, Banzai Cat did send me a copy of his winning entry to Fully Book's Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards 2 and I found it absolutely delightful. If youre good, Grifter, youll get the book as a Christmas gift next year.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Im gon' deck the halls with your &^%$#! ass!!

(Rant warning.)

Update 10 December. The Pope says the same thing. High five, Benny!

Christmas is starting to piss me off. Enough of the countdowns already. TV and radio are trying to beat out some enthusiasm for the holidays, but it's just not working. People only get even more depressed and stressed. And those tacky Christmas songs? For the love of... I even heard some local artist singing carols bossa-nova style. The last straw was when I heard that stupid Papaya song interspersed with Christmas greetings. It's enough to make me want to shoot someone.

If there would be a referendum on whether we should abolish the Christmas holidays, I would vote Yes. Twice. Maybe not the holiday part, but the Christmas part. Call it an end-of-year treat for workers or some other. Secularize it. That's what the constitution mandates anyway; separation of Church and State. I feel the hoopla is just insulting to Christians who believe theyre celebrating their Lord's birthday that it's turned into one big marketing event. Companies are even mandated by law to equip their workers with enough cash to consume various frivolous items via the bonus and thirteenth-month pay. Other national holidays of a religious nature such as Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Eid al-Fitr, and All Saints' Day arent abused like this and are treated with the proper reverence. (Although the Holy Week holidays are starting to lose their meaning, too, becoming just opportunities to go partying at the beach or facsimiles of the beach in some tacky establishment that serves alcohol. We could secularize it too. Call it Worker's Summer Week Off.)

And what could be tackier than plastic Christmas trees in this tropical country? I even saw one that spews polystyrene snow! It didnt even have a warning label for households with children. What does that have to do with Jesus' birthday? I could let the fact that he probably wasnt even born in December slide but Christmas trees? It's a druidic symbol for crying out loud. Deck the Halls is a druidic song about the Saturnalia where they burn a log to help the Sun god along as its days wane. And besides, 'Don we now our gay apparel' has a totally different meaning now in the 21st century. And that Carol of the Bells song reminds me so much of the theme music from The Exorcist. I bet that's not a coincidence.

I say Enough!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

People power? Not today

(Updated with pictures 30 November. Click on picture to enlarge.)

I know in a previous post I extolled the virtues of the leisurely pace a film camera affords you, but not this time. Not when there's breaking news.

I was peacefully minding my own business in my cubicle when news broke out that Senator Antonio Trillanes, et al. have taken over the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati. (Initial reaction: Why, Trillanes, why? Youve tried this before. It didnt work. What makes you think it'll work this time? We're supposed to do this together. Together with us, the people. And they have spoken. They dont want this.) I took my puny little point-and-shoot XA2 film camera and made my way over there.

I had one roll of 24 shots and I went through them just like that. I debated going back to the store and getting another one, but what if something happens? I was in the midst of all those soldiers, police SWAT teams, media people, snapping away. Of course the thought that they'd start shooting anytime occurred to me. I sized up the GMA 7 van if I could take cover under it. (I could.) Then the order came.



The soldiers started to move. And dagnabbit I was out of film. I just stayed put at the intersection of Ayala and Makati Avenue, when shots rang out. Everybody scampered for safety. Pop...pop...pop! I made my way back to the GMA 7 van and crouched behind it.

The Manila Pen. (You can see the GMA van where I took cover.)

Another view of the intersection.

While shots continued to ring out, and soldiers took cover where I was, I made my way back to another van and crouched behind that. Crouching beside me was a Net-25 field reporter reporting away, saying that he and another reporter got separated during the shooting. Standing over us were two plainclothes policemen, handguns drawn, trying to determine where the shots were coming from. Apparently they were clueless. The shots were coming from snipers in the building across Shangri-La hotel beside the PLDT building on Makati avenue. It was coming from their team. I could see puffs of smoke on the Manila Pen as the bullets hit. One grizzled reporter said the snipers were marking enemy positions with bullets, and I might add, scaring away 'usiseros' such as myself. They succeeded as the usi crowd disappeared. Shots continued intermittently. Then came a lull. I could see Marines trying to find away into the Manila Peninsula, retreating, regrouping, then trying again.

Last minute checking of gear

The assault minutes away... a close-to-empty Ayala looks on. No People Power today, folks.

I took that opportunity to go back to that photo lab on the walkway between Landmark and Greenbelt to have the film developed and to get another roll of film. When I got there, the Ayala malls were closed. So no film. It was about this time when a monster armored vehicle rumbled by towards the hotel. This was serious hardware.

So filmless, light failing, I decided to just head on back.

Update 5:46. It's over. General Pagbilao declares the operation "a success". Senator Trillanes has been neutralized. He is alive and well, thank God. No casualties.

Impressions on a crisis: One block away from the action, in the mall area, it was as if nothing momentous was happening. It gives the impression that Makati is composed of self-contained cells, operating independently. What's happening in one cell not affecting the others. To the mall crowd, and the office crowd, it was just another humdrum day, and they went about their business.

Another glaring observation was, how the hell was I able to get that close to the Manila Pen? The police I suppose did not take crowd control too seriously. Of course as I got closer to the Manila Pen, the crowd thinned out, but that was no thanks to the police. The crowds stayed a safe distance away except for a few intrepid souls. When the order to storm the hotel came, the generals warned the media to stay away. The generals! The rank-and-file formed a cordon around the area but we were able to cross it, and a general bawled them out. Apparently the police were 'scared' of the media and let them in, me included. The general yelled, "Dont be afraid of them! You are doing your job!" That's the only time the cops herded the crowd away. But of course the media people didnt move. It took the generals yelling at them for them to reluctantly move.

The media people felt invincible. As the soldiers rushed past them, they stayed put, not heeding that rebels in the Manila Pen might open fire on the Marines moving into position, or maybe they had faith that the rebels wouldnt open fire into a crowd of civilians. I suppose they gave each other courage, or the fear of being out-scooped was greater than the fear of being shot. Overheard a young reporter beside me on her phone: "Hello, 'dy. Opo. Malayo kami. [We werent that far away -- Jeg.] Tsaka hindi ako nag-iisa. May mga kasama ako dito." Cellphones. Arent they great?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If I were a Yank, Id be...

Again via cvj:

Ultimate 2008 Presidential Candidate Matcher
Your Result: Ron Paul 80%

Ron Paul is known as the libertarian candidate. He opposes the Iraq war, and is conservative on social issues like abortion and gay civil unions. Paul wants to reduce regulations on healthcare, pursue nuclear energy, and reduce taxes. He opposes citizenship for illegal immigrants, and would get rid of the Patriot Act and the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Dennis Kucinich 73%

Barack Obama 72%

John Edwards 61%

Hillary Clinton 55%

Rudy Guiliani 45%

Mitt Romney 43%

John McCain 41%

Ultimate 2008 Presidential Candidate Matcher
Take More Quizzes

...although I dont want to pursue nuclear energy. I'd like to ask Ron Paul if he believes in UFOs. Take the quiz here.

(Thanks to cvj for the html tweaks, although for some reason, they only work in Internet Explorer. In Firefox, you don't get the color-coded bar graph. Probably uses different code.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New link

New on the links section on the right is Banzai Cat, winner of the recently concluded Unreality Bites: The Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards 2, Fully Booked's second installment of its bi-annual (?) competition for Filipino authors in speculative fiction. The award was given to him by Neil Gaiman himself who had this to say about his winning entry:
The first place winner is science fiction and fantasy and uniquely Filipino and very, very, very odd in all of the nicest possible ways. And it's a story called "Logovore" about somebody who eats words and their encounters with the people--it's almost indescribable and I've never read anything like it before and was absolutely ready to go on the world stage. I looked at that story and--it could have been fantasy or science fiction and it ought to be picked up by the best of the year anthologies.
It's not everyday we get a rising star in the links section. (And he even offered to send me, a total stranger, a copy of his winning piece. Syempre dyahe naman ako. But it's much appreciated. I promise to get the book.)


The bug bit again as I was checking out eBay Philippines and found up for bids a Minox EC point-and-shoot camera for a ridiculously low price. Nope, film for it is no longer available here, and good luck to me finding a lab that would process 8mm x 11mm film, but I just had to have it. Finding a battery for it is not as difficult as finding film. It uses a P27-something, for which I can readily substitute a stack of four SR44's. I would have to split film for it myself using 35mm film and load it in the film cassette which fortunately the seller included. And unless I can find a lab, I might have to develop the film myself. That's possible nowadays without a darkroom. All you need is a dark bag, a developing tank, chemicals, and youre all set. I can have the negatives scanned at a photo lab. Right. All I need now is time. And that, I suppose, is its appeal for me. The waiting, the anticipation, and the big payoff when all youve toiled for comes to fruition. Sure most of the time, youll end up with a dud, and in those cases it's frustrating, but still. That time in between is great and is an end in itself. Film cameras havent lost their appeal for me despite the digital revolution in photography precisely because of the slowness. Ive blogged about it before.

Other forays into Luddism this past year were my refusal to have cable TV reinstalled when we moved to a new place. I realized the absolute uselessness of cable TV when one weekend at my mother's house, I couldnt find anything on cable TV worth watching. Sure it couldve been the anhedonia, but I realized much later that TV is crap, except for a couple of shows. So nope. No cable TV. The immediate effect is the increased reading time for my kids. Theyre actually asking me to go to National Bookstore or Powerbooks now when we go out. We almost always end up at Booksale, but I do splurge from time to time and get them books from Powerbooks. I also havent bought a new refrigerator when the old one gave up the ghost. That was four months ago. I used to think a refrigerator was an absolute necessity, but it really isnt. All I had to do is instead of getting groceries once a week, I get them every other day, or everyday even. This drastically cut down on our electricity bills such that I would forget to pay them for a couple of months and not hear a peep from Meralco.

A lot of things we deem necessary living here in the city really arent. During my days working with an NGO or when I worked in construction, I got sent to communities where they didnt have electricity or indoor plumbing. To poop, or take a bath, I sometimes had to go to get water from a well. I remember one house I stayed in had the toilet outdoors and it's "walls" made from sako were only so high such that when you sit on the toilet everyone can see your head from the street. Some people even say hi. At night, the entertainment was kwentuhan, usually with tuba or Tanduay or warm beer. Cold beer was a luxury when they had ice delivered. Coastal towns usually had ice delivered in trucks for the fish they caught. A familiar joke around one of those barangays, roughly translated, went something like:
"Inuman tayo."
"Ano inumin natin?"
"Ano ako, bubuyog?"
"Ano ako, lasenggo?"
But despite the lack of creature comforts, places like that still had an abundance of social capital. Strangers are welcomed into homes and doors are kept unlocked. Conversation, singing, and jokes form lasting bonds, usually lubricated with libation. Life is slow and leisurely. One could say life is lived to the rhythm of the earth's cycles. The coconut farmers are the most leisurely of all. To us, they seem lazy, just waiting around for copra season, but really, is there any reason for them to hurry when theyre perfectly happy with the pace of their lives? I suppose it annoys city folk to see them live like that, without a care in the world, but I think we're just being asses because we depend on them for food and produce while they dont need us at all and could survive without us. If civilization broke down tomorrow, we in the city, spoiled brats that we are, won't survive. Not without them. It's just because of some twisted sense of values that we city folk are looked up to by the barrio folk. We like to keep it a secret from them how utterly helpless and dependent we are. And no one dares give that secret away.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Political Compass of the Philippine Blogosphere

First of all, a personal project Ive been involved with is winding down which means I may have more time for this blogging thing. And I think Im starting to shake off the effects of an annual bout with anhedonia which means I may actually enjoy doing this blogging thing.

Over at Placeholder, cvj has posted an interesting snapshot of the Philippine blog community (from which I nicked the title of this post) based on the Political Compass website. It's a work in progress and cvj promises to keep updating it as more data points come in. The Political Compass quiz shows you where you are in 2 axes: the vertical axis maps where you are socio-politically, and the horizontal axis maps where you are socio-economically. Among his findings so far:
Another pattern that can be detected... is the farther one is to the left on the economic scale, the less authoritarian that person tends to be.
The post has prompted an observation from newspaper columnist and political satirist Manuel Buencamino of Uniffors:
I've always associated communism with totalitarianism hence authoritarian. So I don't understand how those of us who don't buy anarchy or self regulating economics end up being less authoritarian.

Isn't it ironic that those who subscribe to economic freedom prefer to have the socio-political aspects of life regulated while those who want economics regulated prefer socio-political freedom?

Could it be because there is a false dichotomy here, separating our stomach from our minds?
One can make the observation that authoritarians, whether communists, Fascists, neo-cons, or national socialists are all basically variants of a form of government wherein the State has a loomingly large role in the lives of the people. The Filipino blogging community I suppose is wary of an all-powerful State, and with good reason. However, in the Philippine setting, wherein a tiny minority control most of the nation's resources, the Filipino bloggers still recognize the role of the State in seeing to it that the powerless are protected from the depradations of the small but powerful oligarchy. The fact is that it doesnt, and on the contrary, the State allies itself with the oligarchy and this frustrates the bloggers no end. (See also Sparks's The Philippines' Low Intensity Democracy.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Faux risotto

Reading a traditional risotto recipe, you'd think chefs and recipe books were handling VX poison gas in the love and care youre instructed to handle it with, a food of love thing as Emeril Lagasse says. You select only the finest Arborio rice, or some other exotic (and expensive) variety, saute your herbs and aromatics, saute your rice til it becomes translucent, add warm--never cold--wine. Then ever so carefully, ladle hot broth sloo-o-ooowly, a little at a time, and keep stirring, and adding broth, and stirring, and adding broth, until your rice turns a creamy consistency. Then you add your cheese. Chop up a few herbs, then BAM! It's at least a 30 minute commitment, which is why I rarely make the stuff. The tradition is intimidating.

One day I decided to cook lugaw and grilled chicken for lunch. I marinated the chicken in coconut cream and red curry overnight, and they were ready to go. At around 9 am, I soaked Japanese rice in water. I heard it made them fluffy. At around 11:30, I started the flame for the grilled chicken and prepared the lugaw: chopped garlic, onions, and ginger and sauteed them. Then I added a couple of chicken bouillon cubes (for a cup and a half of rice), pepper, and some dried herbs. For some reason, I decided to saute the drained pre-soaked rice as well until they were good and ready, about 5 minutes. Then I dumped water on the whole thing, straight from the tap, until I felt I had enough for lugaw. If I have to guess, I suppose that's 3 parts water to one part rice. Then I covered the pot and went ahead and grilled the chicken, turning often since the coconut and curry marinade will burn.

I checked on the a few minutes later and lo! The Japanese rice absorbed a lot of the liquid. I debated whether or not to add more water, but damn if it didnt look like Italian risotto. I tested the rice for doneness and it was perfect--not too soft. The rice held its shape well. I stirred it, then took out my 4-year old aged cheese I bought in Utrecht, grated it and stirred a cup of cheese into the pot. I found some chives, chopped that, and BAM! Risotto with no fuss. And it rocked. It tasted fantastic with a rich, creamy texture. And I didnt have to hover over it for 30 minutes. It took care of itself.

By this time the chicken were ready. I took a few tarragon stalks from the backyard and laid the freshly grilled chicken on top of them. This gave them a subtle flavor of tarragon. Voila! Lunch. The kids ate every last grain of risotto.

Real life

I remembered commenting on some blog a couple of months ago that our blogs arent our lives for which I was corrected by the blog's owner; some blogs are indeed a huge part of bloggers' lives. Fortunately (or not), this blog isnt my life. If it were, it would be more boring than it already is. I'd like to post regularly, just for exercise, but that's something for the future. Real life keeps getting in the way.

To be fair to real life, it's not all chasing the next paycheck and getting those bills paid. Sometimes real life is fun. And sometimes, real life is beautiful.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ang mga Liham ni Screwtape ni C.S. Lewis, Liham Blg. III

About this project.
Preface (Paunang Salita)
Letter No. I, II

Notes: Letter III is pretty straightforward and so I had an easier time translating it. A couple of things:
I translated 'horror' as pagkaasiwa since the use of the word 'horror' was hyperbole and the direct translation pagkatakot or pagkasindak wouldnt sound right. I have trouble with hyperbole if ever they appear in the letters. Do I translate them as-is, keeping the hyperbole knowing that they dont translate that well? Or do I go for how it sounds? I suppose I have to take it on a case-by-case basis. 'Aggravate that most useful human characteristic,
the horror and neglect of the obvious' was translated Pag-ibayuhin mo sa kanya yaong pinaka-makabuluhang kaugalian ng mga taga-lupa, yaong pagkaasiwa at di-pagpansin sa mga bagay na hindi na kailangang halukayin.

I translated 'double-standard' as pagkaipokrito. So 'To keep this game up you and Glubose must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard' became Upang panatiliin ang ganitong kalagayan, kailangang siguraduhin ninyo ni Glubose na ang dalawang hunghang na ito ay may pagkaipokrito sa pakikitungo nila sa isa't isa.
Mahal kong Wormwood,

Labis kong ikinagalak ang ibinalita mo sa akin tungkol sa relasyon ng iyong pasyente sa kanyang ina. Malaking bentaha ito para sa iyo, pero huwag kang kampante; tuloy mo lang ang pagpukpok sa kalamangan mong ito. Ang kaloob-looban ng iyong pasyente ang siyang unang pinupuntirya ng Kalaban--nagsisimula siya sa loob, papalabas--at unti-unti Niyang inilalagay sa Kanyang bagong pamantayan ang asal, kilos, at pag-uugali ng iyong pasyente, at sa anumang sandali ay maaari na nitong maabot maging ang kanyang pakikitungo sa ale. Sikapin mong mauna bago pa Siya makarating dito. Makipag-ugnayan ka kay kasamang Glubose, ang siyang humahawak sa ina, at pag-usapan niyo kung paano ninyong dalawa paiigtingin sa bahay nila ang kagawiang pagkainis sa isa't isa; munting kurot dito, munting kurot doon. Makatutulong sa iyo ang mga sumusunod.

1. Panatiliin mo ang kanyang atensyon sa mga bagay na nangyayari sa kaibuturan, sa kanyang puso, isip, at damdamin--sa kanyang kaluluwa. Sa kanyang palagay, ang kanyang pagbabago ay tanging dito nabuo kung kaya't ang kanyang pansin sa ngayon ay nakatuon sa kung anong nangyayari sa kaloob-looban ng kanyang pagkatao--o dun lamang sa bersyon nito na napurga na niya at naalisan ng mga di kanais-nais (sa kanyang pananaw) na mga bagay, at tanging itong bersyon na ito ang hahayaan mong makita niya. Itulak mo siya dito. Alisin mo sa kanyang pansin ang mga pinakasimple, pinakapayak na alituntunin at tungkulin ng kanyang bagong pananampalataya sa pamamagitan ng pagtulak sa kanya na ang tanging bigyan ng pansin ay ang mga pinaka-ispirituwal na bagay at yaong mga konseptong di na sa saklaw ng pang araw-araw niyang pakikitungo sa kapwa. Pag-ibayuhin mo sa kanya yaong pinaka-makabuluhang kaugalian ng mga taga-lupa, yaong pagkaasiwa at di-pagpansin sa mga bagay na hindi na kailangang halukayin. Dalhin mo siya sa kalagayang kung saan maari niyang suriin ang kanyang sarili habang hindi natutuklasang ganoon pala siya, bagay na kitang-kita ng sinumang kasambahay niya o katrabaho sa opisina.

2. Walang dudang hindi mo mapipigilang ipanalangin niya ang kanyang ina, nguni't may paraan tayo upang ipawalang-saysay ang kanyang mga panalangin. Siguraduhin mong ang kanyang mga panalangin ay palaging ganap na "ispirituwal", na laging ang kalagayan ng kaluluwa ng kanyang ina ang kanyang binibigyan ng pansin at hindi ang rayuma nito. Dalawang bagay na ikalalamang mo ang magiging bunga nito. Una, ang kanyang pansin ay matutuon lamang sa mga bagay na sa kanyang pakiwari ay mga kasalanan ng kanyang ina, kung saan, kung siya'y iyong gagabayan ng kaunti, mauudyok natin siyang ihanay sa "kasalanan" lahat ng bagay na pabigat sa kanya o kinaiinisan niya tungkol dito. Sa gayon, para mo na ring pinipigaan ng kalamansi ang mga maliliit na sugat na idinudulot ng kanilang pang araw-araw na alitan na kung tutuusin ay wala namang kwenta. Ito'y magagawa mo kahit siya naninikluhod at nananalangin. Di naman ito kahirapan para sa iyo; maari pa ngang magdulot ito sa iyo ng aliw. Ikalawa, dahil pahapyaw lamang ang kaalaman niya tungkol sa kaluluwa ng kanyang ina at kadalasan pang mali, masasabi nating ang kanyang ipinagdarasal ay isang taong kathang-isip lamang niya at ang kailangan mo lamang gawin sa araw-araw ay siguraduhing itong kathang-isip niyang ito ay unti-unting mawalay sa wangis ng tunay niyang ina--ang mahadera niyang kasama tuwing almusal. Sa kalaunan, magiging napakalayo na ng kathang-isip na ina sa tunay na ina para sa kanya kung kaya't walang layunin o damdamin sa kanyang panalangin para sa kathang-isip na ina ay makaaapekto sa kanyang pakikitungo sa tunay na ina. Ako ma'y nagkaroon ng mga pasyente na parang pinaiikot ko sa aking mga kamay kung kaya't kaya ko silang ibaling mula sa isang taong taimtim na nananalangin para sa kaluluwa ng asawa o anak at sa isang kisapmata'y magiging isang taong walang kaabog-abog kung bugbugin ang asawa o anak na kung kailan lang ay ipinagdarasal niya.

3. Kapag ang dalawang taga-Lupa ay matagal nang nagsasama sa ilalim ng iisang bubong, kadalasan sila'y mayroong mga gawi, o tono ng pananalita, o hilatsa ng pagmumukha na labis na nakaiirita para sa kanilang kasambahay. Pukpukin mo ito. Dalhin mo sa buong pansin ng iyong pasyente yaong pagtaas ng kilay ng kanyang ina na natutuhan niyang kainisan nung siya'y isang paslit pa lamang, at udyukin mo siyang isipin kung gaano niya kinaiinisan ito. Ipasok mo sa kukote niya na alam ng kanyang ina na kinaiinisan niya ito at sinasadya niyang gawin ito upang siya'y asarin--kung alam mo ang iyong ginagawa, ni hindi niya mapapansin na walang basehan ng palagay niyang ito. At siyempre, huwag mo hayaang isipin niya na siya rin ay may mga gawi, tono ng pananalita, o hilatsa ng pagmumukha na labis ding kinaiinisan ng kanyang ina. Dahil hindi naman niya naririnig o nakikita ang kanyang sarili, madali nang gawin ito.

4. Sa ating lipunan na maari nating tawaging sibilisado, ang pagkasuklam ay ipinakikita sa pamamagitan ng pagbigkas ng mga salitang napakainosente kung iyong susuriin (ang mga kataga mismo ay di nakasasakit) nguni't sa paraan ng pagbigkas, o sa pagtitiyempo nito, hindi malayo sa isang sapak sa mukha. Upang panatiliin ang ganitong kalagayan, kailangang siguraduhin ninyo ni Glubose na ang dalawang hunghang na ito ay may pagkaipokrito sa pakikitungo nila sa isa't isa. Kailangang ipagpilitan ng iyong pasyente na lahat ng kanyang binibigkas ay kailangan lamang husgahan na gamit lamang na batayan ay ang mismong mga katagang kanyang ginamit, at kasabay nito, lahat ng binibigkas ng kanyang ina ay huhusgahan niya gamit ang pinakabalat-sibuyas na batayan ng di lamang mga katagang naibigkas, nguni't maging ang tono ng pananalita, paraan ng pagkabigkas nito, lahat ng kondisyong umiiral nang kanyang bigkasin ito, at kung ano mang suspetsa niya kung bakit ito binigkas. Itulak niyo ang kanyang ina na gamitin din ang ganitong batayan sa pakikitungo sa kanyang anak. Kaya't sa bawat alitan nilang dalawa, lubos na kumbinsido sila, o di kaya'y kumbinsido sa kabuuan, na sila'y walang kasalanan. Alam mo na: "Tinanong ko lang siya kung anong oras kami maghahapunan, bigla ba namang nag-alburoto." Kapag nakagawian na nila ito, ang iyong makakamtan ay isang kalagayang magiging puspos ng ligaya para sa iyo--yaong pagbigkas ng taga-Lupa ng mga katagang alam niyang nakasasakit, at pagkatapos ay magrereklamo kung nagdamdam ang pinatatamaan niya nito.

Bilang pangwakas, sabihin mo sa akin kung nasaan ang matanda sa kanyang pananampalataya. Siya ba'y naiinggit sa panibagong pinagkakaabalahan ng kanyang anak?--naiinis na sa ibang tao pa niya ito natutunan, at napakahuli na, samantalang di naman siya nagkulang na ituro ang pananampalataya sa kanya noong siya'y bata pa? Naiisip ba niya na masyado itong binibigyan ng tsetse-buretse ng kanyang anak--o di kaya'y masyadong naging madali ito para sa kanya? Tandaan mo yaong kuya sa kwento ng Kalaban tungkol sa alibughang anak.

Lubos na nagmamahal,
Ang iyong Tito Screwtape

Ekuva matata

From fionski, I learned that the word 'churky' is the new 'chorva'. Churky, like its predecessors, is an all-purpose utility word for something you dont have a word for: "Metanoia, theosis, and other similar churky". Like that. She mentions in a blog post that she first heard of it in a male-dominated department of a customer service center she used to work for. I found that strange at first. Churky is so... I was going to say gay, but that's not right. Gayspeak is more elaborate, more over-the-top. Chuvachuchu, an earlier form of churky, is an example of gayspeak. No, 'churky' is too cute. As this word is currently used by "cigarette smoke reeking, beer lugging, cuss loving men," one can only speculate that the word is used to soften up their macho image to be less threatening to the opposite sex. They can land more chicks that way. But I digress.

What I would like to do instead is try to trace the origins of the word. This would be a highly-speculative exercise, needless to say, but one that could be the basis of a more scientific study.

I mentioned before that the word can be directly traced to 'chorva'. It's easy to see why the Pinoy male steeped in a macho culture would reject it. It's too soft. The use of the R-V combination makes it so. The R sound itself is soft, but the V and its related F sound--an unvoiced version of V--is typically associated with gayspeak. It would make sense therefore for a heterosexual male to replace those sounds with the clunkier, harder K sound in churky.

Before 'chorva'--and Ive never heard a heterosexual male use the word--was 'chuva'. Again not a word Ive heard used by a heterosexual male for the same reason as above. Too soft, and too close to gayspeak, particularly to 'chuvachuchu' which probably spawned it. And here the trail ends it seems. Where did 'chuvachuchu' come from?

Here is my hypothesis: There is a more traditional word, still in use in everyday, normal language, that is used as an all-purpose word. That word is 'kuwan'. "Nakuha mo na ba yung kuwan, Juan?" It's a high-context word like churky and chuva, in that one needs to know the context in which it is used to be able to ascertain its meaning. "Kaka-kuwan ko lang e" in itself doesnt give much information. One has to know the circumstances in which 'kuwan' is used for the sentence to have any meaning. The steps from 'kuwan' to 'chuvachuchu' is not as farfetched as it seems. The K sound and W sound in kuwan morphed into the CH and V sounds respectively. The transitional words 'kuvan', 'kvan', 'chuwan', 'chwan', 'chuvan' and 'chvan' are our missing links. If we find records of the use of any of these transitional words in any Filipino language, then the search area is considerably narrowed. For now, we will assume that these transitional words existed, albeit briefly. And given that a lot of Filipino languages arent written languages, records of their use could be hard to come by. We could also speculate that these transitional words occurred at random; from a random speech impediment, for example. This would make the transition words even more impossible to track down, but for now we'll postulate their existence.

You may ask, "What if the word 'chuvachuchu' didnt directly descend from any of the transition words at all but is a result of some homosexual guy's creativity?" I would have to say that is highly unlikely because the evidence we now have, albeit circumstantial, point to a gradual transition from 'kuwan' to 'churky' and therefore, any hypothesis that involves creativity by an unknown gay person is probably not true.

In any case, I prefer the word 'ek-ek'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Asian Domme, Part I

Note: Although this post isnt particularly sexual, it does contain unconventional practices of a sexual nature, which I will try to treat as clinically as I can. It also contains language not suitable for polite conversation.

A little over a year ago, performance artist/tour guide/art gallery owner Carlos Celdran featured one Domina Jane in his Manila gallery, whom he billed 'Mistress of fetish/BDSM/Disciplinary Arts', and this sentence has more slashes than a Friday the 13th sequel. This was the first time I heard of this sort of thing described as art, and we'll come back to that in a bit. Anyway, the reason I was reminded of this post of Celdran's is because of a recent conversation I had with a long-time friend via Yahoo messenger.

"Im into cyber-domination," she told me. Now to put things in proper perspective, my friend, whom we'll hide under the pseudonym Eilís, is not the type, if one looks at her. She's pretty in a mestiza sort of way, intelligent and has a sunny, bubbly personality that people find attractive, but she looks 'normal'--no tattoos, no body piercings, her hair isnt dyed purple. She doesnt do anything that would scream 'different'. In fact, she lives a quite normal life. But since Ive never been one to judge a person by how he or she looks on the outside, I wasnt really surprised. And when I met her, she did have an adventurous vibe about her. I was, instead, curious. "Does it involve video cameras?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. And no she doesnt record them. I suppose that would be against her sense of propriety, which is an ironic thing to say at first blush, but only because we have preconceived notions of what constitutes propriety, but anyway, she said she doesnt record them, although judging by what she showed me later (a message) some of her clients probably dont mind. Again, more later.

"Im not into extreme BDSM," she said. Of course from where I stand, even if there were mild forms of the whole bondage and submission thing, to me they would seem extreme. "I like newbies." Newbies are easier, she said. They meet in some BDSM website and the prospective 'bitches'--my term; theyre technically called subs/slaves--'Slaves' seems so... incorrect since theyre doing this willingly; we'll stick with bitches--the prospective bitches sends her a message.

"What message? ASL please?"

"That won't get them anywhere with me. I won't be impressed. They should show respect and deference. Im superior to them."

"How about, 'If it pleases the dominatrix, may I, a maggot, have the honor of being whipped by your superior cat-o-nine-tails?' Like that?'"

"Something like that."

She sent me a file. It was a copy of a message sent to her, which I reproduce in full below, blocking out certain items to protect the not-so-innocent.
Hello Asian Domme [not her real nick], first at all: thank You for taking the time to read this message, i feel honoured being read by a Real Dominant Lady.

I have just read Your profile and i would like to introduce myself, kneeling at Your feet:

This is [name] a 32 years old, male, slave-sub (as needed), Latino, (from [South American country]). I would like to be trained/enslaved, under Your authority and ownership. I am into bondage, discipline, humiliation, light to mild torture, being treated and trained as a puppy and ponyboy, bootlicking also enjoy verbal and physical humiliation

You can humiliate and degradate me for Your only entertaiment, i have a digital camera and a webcam. i am also curious about consensual blackmailing. I thank You sincerely Your time and i beg You to apoligize me if i had been bothering You at anyway.

Worshiping You:

slave [name]
Notice the capitals of the second person pronouns while the first person pronoun I, if not at the beginning of the sentence, uses a deferential lower case most of the time. This guy's good. Notice also that part about consensual blackmailing, which is a subtle message meaning "Go ahead and record this on video. You could use it to humiliate me some more in the future." It turns out the bitches get addicted to the treatment they get from Eilís, and they keep coming back for more.

"What do you do to them?," I asked.

"Stuff. I make them fuck their butts with a tampon. Or make them use the tampon at work."

Believe it or not, not once was I judgmental about this whole conversation. I was interested in it not because of some perverse curiosity, but because of just everyday, plain-vanilla curiosity. "That's so creative," I said. I thought it was creative. I wouldnt have come up with something like that, anyway.

"It's all about being creative," she said. What an interesting concept, I thought. This whole thing is all about creative expression, which reminded me of Carlos Celdran's post on Domina Jane. This was performance art for both dominatrix and her bitch for their mutual entertainment, and dare I say, for their need for edification. I still can't tangibly figure out what they get out of it, though.

"What do you get out of it?"

"I feel powerful, of course. And I enjoy the creative challenge. I dont really get sexually turned on by watching these men play with themselves."

"And what do they get out of it? What makes them want to be dominated?"

"That's the mystery. Some enjoy the feeling of being 'dirty'."

I need to do some research on the psychology of the need for being someone's bitch. Like Eilís, Im sure most of them lead fairly normal lives and would not stand out in a crowd. Although I would hypothesize that they get some kind of endorphine rush out of it, similar to what prolonged exercise can give you. Or perhaps another neuro-chemical is involved. One that is similar to endorphine.

I was curious for more information but she cut our conversation short. "That's enough for now. I'll tell you more later."

It's not everyday that your friend tells you her deepest, darkest secrets. She knows Im going to make a blog entry out of it, too. In fact she encouraged me to do so, even telling me to register with so more people can read it. But Im not really much of a joiner. So here it is, Eilís. Im looking forward to Part II.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The flight of Flew

As with Albert Einstein, there has been a tug-of-war between atheists and theists over the beliefs of Antony Flew. In 2004, news first came out that this former starter for the atheist first team has switched sides and decided to play for the opposing team, something he has denied in subsequent interviews, asserting instead that what he believes in is closer to Deism, which he shares with such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson. I speculated that the new atheists (Dawkins, et al.) decided to come out with their polemic against the existence of God as a response to Professor Flew's alleged switching of sides--they had to do some damage control. Such was the impact of their loss of Professor Flew.

I myself withheld any conclusions as to where Professor Flew's true position lies. I thought that to be fair to him, I would interpret his beliefs as, not really deism, but a position that the existence of a God could no longer be categorically denied, that is, one cannot reasonably eliminate the existence of a God from the realm of the reasonable.

But it turns out he has written a book (with Roy Abraham Varghese) with a rather straightforward title: There Is a God (How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind) due out in October this year. Such a categorical statement! One that would no doubt ruffle feathers among the Scarlet Letter crowd. From the Harper Collins site:
In one of the biggest religion news stories of the new millennium, the Associated Press announced that Professor Antony Flew, the world's leading atheist, now believes in God.

Flew is a pioneer for modern atheism. His famous paper, Theology and Falsification, was first presented at a meeting of the Oxford Socratic Club chaired by C. S. Lewis and went on to become the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last five decades. Flew earned his fame by arguing that one should presuppose atheism until evidence of a God surfaces. He now believes that such evidence exists, and There Is a God chronicles his journey from staunch atheism to believer.

For the first time, this book will present a detailed and fascinating account of Flew's riveting decision to revoke his previous beliefs and argue for the existence of God. Ever since Flew's announcement, there has been great debate among atheists and believers alike about what exactly this "conversion" means. There Is a God will finally put this debate to rest.

This is a story of a brilliant mind and reasoned thinker, and where his lifelong intellectual pursuit eventually led him: belief in God as designer.
I expect either of two things from the militant atheist camp (not from the reasonable atheists--yes, there is such a thing as a reasonable atheist): 1) War drums; a concerted effort to discredit Professor Flew's arguments, if not his person or 2) Spin. "See? Flew doesnt really believe in the Christian god. He's still on the side of reason." (For reason, read: He's still one of us.).


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ang mga Liham ni Screwtape ni C.S. Lewis, Liham Blg. II

About this project.
Preface (Paunang salita)
Letter No. I

Notes: This letter was particularly difficult for its use of imagery and figures of speech which have no equivalent in Pilipino and I had to do the best I can to keep the mood and tone of Screwtape's letter, which was both of a loving uncle who speaks familiarly with his nephew, but also at times a higher-ranking operative of Hell, thereby sometimes writing in a more or less official manner.

I tried to keep the imagery intact. There is a part where the letter uses 'Gothic' to describe a church building, and I debated whether or not to use Gothic as-is, but in the end opted for Ang tanging nakikita ng iyong pasyente ay ang mga gusali, mga moog, mga di-pa-halos-tapos na magarbong simbahang batong itinatayo sa bakanteng lote for 'All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate.' For 'His mind is full of togas and sandals and armour and bare legs...' I added a phrase that says that this imagery is from patrician Rome which isnt in the original: Ang kanyang isip ay puno ng toga, mga sandalyas, mga baluti't kalasag at hubad na mga binti ng mga senador o heneral sa Roma. Without ng mga senador o heneral sa Roma, the image wouldnt be there. I also used 'day care' to translate 'nursery'-- as in nursery school. Day care would be more familiar to more Filipinos since the Department of Social Welfare has decided to call its pre-school program in the barrios day care centers instead of nursery schools.

I expect to be returning to this letter, as I will no doubt do with the other letters, for some tweaking here and there.

Mahal kong Wormwood,

Labis kong ikinasama ng loob na ang iyong pasyente ay naging Kristiyano. Huwag ka sanang umasa na hindi ka mapapatawan ng parusa dahil dito; tunay ngang ako'y umaasa na sa iyong masusing pagmumuni-muni sa bagay na ito, ikaw mismo'y magnanais na ika'y mapatawan ng parusa. Samantala, gawan na lang natin ng paraan upang hindi maging lubos na trahedya ang pangyayaring ito. Di natin kailangang maghinagpis; daan-daan nang mga nilalang ang nabawi natin matapos nilang saglit na mamasyal sa kampo ng Kalaban kahit na may sapat na gulang at pag-iisip na ang mga ito--sila'y nanumbalik na sa atin sa kalaunan. Lahat ng gawi ng iyong pasyente, maging sa isip niya't sa gawa, ay pabor pa rin sa atin.

Isa sa mga pinakamasigasig nating kakampi dito ay ang mismong Iglesiya. Hayaan mong ipaliwanag ko ito at baka magkamali ka ng pang-unawa sa sinabi ko. Hindi ko tinutukoy ang walang hanggang Iglesiya na siyang laganap sa lahat ng panahon, kumukupkop sa buong sansinukob, kakila-kilabot na parang isang hukbong mananakop, mga bandila'y nagsisiwagayway. Sa harap ng Iglesiyang iyan, kahit ang pinakamagiting nating mga taga-tukso'y tinatakasan ng tapang. Nguni't sa kabutihang palad, hindi ang Iglesiyang ito ang siyang nakikita ng mga taga-Lupa. Ang tanging nakikita ng iyong pasyente ay ang mga gusali, mga moog, mga di-pa-halos-tapos na magarbong simbahang batong itinatayo sa bakanteng lote. At kapag pumasok siya sa loob, ang makikita niya ay ang nagtitinda sa palengke na bakas sa mukha ang pagka-ipokrito, na lalapit sa kanya't bibigyan siya ng isang nagniningning na aklat ng liturhiya na ni isa man sa kanila'y di nauunawaan, isang munting gusgusing aklat na puno ng mga talata't bersikulong nagmamalinis sa pagkarelihiyoso, walang kwenta, at di halos mabasa sa liit ng pagkakasulat ng mga titik. At kapag nakahanap na siya ng mauupuan, lilingon siya sa paligid, at ang tatambang sa kanya ay ang kanyang mga kapit-bahay na pinagsisikapang niyang iwasan. Siguraduhin mong maisaksak mo ng maigi sa kanyang kukote ang mga kapit-bahay niyang yaon. Ipagpalit-palit mo sa isipan niya ang mga katagang tulad ng "ang katawan ni Kristo" at ang pagmumukha ng mga nasa kabilang upuan. Hindi na mahalaga, siyempre, kung anong uri ng tao ang nandoon sa kabilang upuan. Maaring siya'y isang dakilang mandirigma sa panig ng Kalaban. Di bale. Ang iyong pasyente, salamat sa ating Ama sa Kailaliman, ay isang tanga. Kung isa man sa mga kapit-bahay niyang ito'y disintonado, o may maingay na sapatos, o dalawang baba, o kasootang tila wala sa hulog, madali mong mapaniniwala ang iyong pasyente na ang kanilang pinaniniwalaang relihiyon ay katawa-tawa. Kasi sa ngayon, nililinlang niya ang kanyang sarili na kapag nasambit ang katagang "Kristiyano", ang ideyang nasa kanyang diwa ay purong ispirituwal na hindi maaaring isalarawan, subali't ang katotohanan, ang kanyang mga ideya patungkol sa 'Kristiyano" ay binubuo ng mga larawan. Ang kanyang isip ay puno ng toga, mga sandalyas, mga baluti't kalasag at hubad na mga binti ng isang senador o heneral sa Roma, at ang mismong katotohanan na pangkaraniwang kasootan lamang ang bumabalot sa katawan ng mga nagsisipagsimba ay isang tunay na suliranin para sa kanya, kahit hindi naman niya namamalayan ang suliraning ito. Dapat manatili itong hindi niya namamalayan; huwag mo siyang hayaang isipin kung ano ang inaasahan niyang anyo ng isang Kristiyano. Panatiliin mong malabo sa kanyang isipan ang lahat ng ito at sinasabi ko sa iyo na magdudulot ng walang hanggang kalibangan ang pagpapausbong sa kanya ng uri ng kaliwanagan na tanging Impiyerno lang ang makapagbibigay.

Pagsumikapan mong ipagpatuloy niyang maramdaman ang pagkabigo at panghihinayang kapag hindi niya nakamtan ang inaasahan niyang bunga ng kanyang pagiging Kristiyano, na siguradong mararamdaman ng iyong pasyente sa kanyang mga unang linggo sa iglesiya. Hinahayaan ng Kalaban na salubungin ang tao ng pagkabigo sa bukana ng bawat pagpupunyagi. Tulad ito ng nararamdaman ng isang paslit kung saan matapos niyang mamangha sa aklat na Mga Kuwento mula sa Odyssey nung siya'y nasa day care pa lamang ay pinag-interesan and seryosong pag-aaral ng wikang griyego. Nangyayari rin ito sa dalawang magsing-irog na nagpakasal at sinimulan ang di birong gawaing mamuhay sa iisang bubong. Sa lahat ng aspeto ng buhay, ang pagkabigo ang nagsisilbing tanda na ika'y nakatawid na mula sa larangan ng pangarap at panaginip tungo sa larangan ng nakapapagod na paggawa. Kaya ng Kalaban na ipagsapalaran ito pagka't mayroon siyang pantasiyang di ko mawari na tila baga nais Niyang malaya siyang mahalin at paglingkuran ng mga nakasusulasok na pesteng mga taong ito--"mga anak" ang tawag Niya sa mga ito, gamit ang nakasanayan Niyang obsesyong bulukin ang daigdig nating mga ispirito sa pamamagitan ng maanomalyang pakikipagrelasyon sa mga hayup na ito. Sa kagustuhan Niyang maging malaya ang mga ito sa kanilang mga gawi at kagustuhan, ayaw Niya silang palayawin at hinahayaan Niya silang madapa, tungo sa mga layuning inihatag Niya para sa kanila: hinahayaan Niyang hanapin nila ang landas patungo dito. Narito ang puwang upang tayo'y makapasok. Subali't tandaan mo, narito rin ang peligro. Sa oras na malampasan nila itong pasimulang pananabang, mas hindi na sila aasa sa emosyo't damdamin, at dahil dito, mas mahirap na silang matukso.

Ako'y sumusulat sa iyo sa pag-asang ang mga tao sa susunod na upuan sa simbahan ay walang makatwirang dahilan upang makaramdam ng pagkabigo. Siyempre kung mayroon man--kung alam ng iyong pasyente na ang babaeng yaon na may katawa-tawang kalo ay isang panatikong manlalaro ng pusoy o yaong lalaking may maingay na sapatos ay saksakan ng kuripot at mangingikil--mas mapadadali ang trabaho mo. Ang kailangan mo na lamang gawin ay huwag hayaang pumasok sa diwa niya ang katanungang, "Kung ako, kung ano man ako, ay maaring maituring na isang Kristiyano sa kung ano mang pakahulugan nito, bakit ko gagawing dahilan ang kung ano mang bisyo mayroon ang mga taong yaon sa kabilang upuan upang ituring kong kaplastikan o nakagawian lamang ang kanilang relihiyon?" Maaring maitanong mo kung posible nga bang hadlangan ang katanungang ito na umusbong sa pag-iisip ng isang tao. Oo naman, Wormwood, oo naman! Ingatan mo lamang siya at ang tanong na ito'y hindi mamumuo sa isipan niya. Hindi pa siya gaanong nagtatagal sa piling ng Kalaban kaya't wala pa siyang tunay na pagpapakumbaba. Kung ano man ang kanyang sabihin, kahit pa nakaluhod siya, tungkol sa kanyang pagiging makasalanan ay inuulit lamang niya na parang loro. Sa kahuli-hulihan, naniniwala pa rin siya na lamang pa rin ang kanyang kabutihan sa kanyang mga kasalanan sa talaan ng pananagutan ng Kalaban dahil hinayaan niya ang kanyang sarili na sumanib sa pananampalataya, at sa kanyang pag-iisip, nagpapakita siya ng ibayong pagpapakumbaba at kahigtan sa pagsisimba kasama ng mga suplado, "nakaismid", at pulpol na mga kapit-bahay niyang ito. Panatiliin mo siya sa ganoong pag-iisip sa abot ng iyong makakaya.

Lubos na nagmamahal,
Ang iyong Tito Screwtape

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Giving elitism a bad name

In Kurt Vonnegut's novel The Sirens of Titan, there's this church congregation called Barnstable First Church of God the Utterly Indifferent where as a matter of faith, they handicap themselves so as to make sure that no one has an advantage over their fellows. The head of the congregation, a Reverend C. Horner Redwine carries about on his person 48 pounds of lead shot in bags on his chest, his back, his ankles and wrists. These weights represented "his handicaps in the race of life". Stronger persons would carry more weight, weaker ones would carry less, so that no one has an unfair edge in the race of life.
Everyone wore handicaps of some sort. Most handicaps were of an obvious sort — sashweights, bags of shot, old furnace grates — meant to hamper physical advantages. But there were, among Redwine's parishioners, several true believers who had chosen handicaps of a subtler and more telling kind.

There were women who had received by dint of dumb luck the terrific advantage of beauty. They had annihilated that unfair advantage with frumpish clothes, bad posture, chewing gum, and a ghoulish use of cosmetics.

One old man, whose only advantage was excellent eyesight, had spoiled that eyesight by wearing his wife's spectacles.

A dark young man, whose lithe, predaceous sex appeal could not be spoiled by bad clothes and bad manners, had handicapped himself with a wife who was nauseated by sex.

The dark young man's wife, who had reason to be vain about her Phi Beta Kappa key, had handicapped herself with a husband who read nothing but comic books. (Copyright © 1959 Kurt Vonnegut Jr.)

That fictional congregation has taken upon itself the responsibility of eliminating the elite. At this point in this blog post, I'd like to make a confession: I am an elitist. I say it not proudly nor shamefully, but only as a matter of fact. I believe this country should be ruled by the best and the brightest, and I do not believe that all men are equal--some people have more ability than others. In a blog post a few months back, I submitted that an elite, a moral and intellectual one, should have the sole authority to select our leaders, to try to wrest this authority from the amoral and unintellectual aristocracy who have been manipulating our electoral processes. Let me clarify something though. I believe that all men ARE created equal in that we all have equal rights given to us by nature and nature's God, that each human life is equally precious, that each human life is important. I just dont believe that we're all the same.

When I said I am an elitist, I take the word to mean a very specific thing which I mentioned in the last paragraph, that is, the belief that the best and the brightest should run the country. Also concomitant to that is the belief that the existence of an elite isnt bad, that it isnt something we can eliminate unless we can enforce the rules of the Barnstable First Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, or the rules of the Soviet Union and Red China. But over the years, elitism has acquired a distasteful meaning. The American Heritage Dictionary (via has this entry for elitism:

e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism (ĭ-lē'tĭz'əm, ā-lē'-) n.
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

2. a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.
These definitions are distasteful and is not the sort of elitism I believe in. ( gives 'practice of or belief in rule by an elite' as a definition, which is closer to mine.) In definition 1 of the AHD, it says the elite deserve favored treatment. No one should deserve favored treatment by virtue of being part of an elite. Definition 2a, it hardly needs saying, is the type of elitism demonstrated by a Manila Standard Today columnist for which she was justly pilloried. Definition 2b is slightly better, but not by much. It says 'control, rule, or domination', which is different from 'run' or in Filipino magpatakbo. Magpatakbo is different from control, rule, or domination; it is more like being a conductor of a symphony who allows individual sections of the orchestra to shine on their own.

The MST columnist I mentioned gave elitism a bad name. In fact, her attitude has debased elitism to the category of crime: Let us punish her for her elitism. No. Let us punish her for being a boorish--I was going to say bitch, but she has taken that term of opprobrium as something of a point of pride. Let us punish her for being a boorish, barbarian, wannabe-member-of-the-creme-de-la-creme. Your application for membership has been rejected, ma'am.

Another thing that gave elitism a bad name is the idea of class struggle. The noble, heroic proletariat against the predator elite. Granted, the elite has indeed been predatory. Parasitic even. Hence the idea of class struggle was born. But as history has shown, one predatory elite has just been replaced by another predatory elite in the era of class struggle. It is time we rescued society from predators, and we can do that via an elite that isnt waging class struggle, but via an elite that has the interests of the whole nation in mind and is willing to work together with other classes instead of exploiting them. One that recognizes that by helping the masses, they help themselves. There are those who have expressed doubts that such an elite exists, but I live in hope.

Towards the end of his book A Guide for the Perplexed, E.F. Schumacher wrote that whoever thought of the motto of the French Republic--Liberté, égalité, fraternité--was truly inspired. The first two words are opposed to each other and can only be reconciled by the third. Freedom unbridled will result in the strong lording it over the weak and would be remedied by equality enforced, such as the one in Kurt Vonnegut's novel, or in Communism. The two can only be reconciled by 'brotherhood' where the strong will look after the weak because they are brothers. That's the kind of class struggle that would save us all: The struggle to be brothers.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ang Mga Liham ni Screwtape ni C.S. Lewis, Liham Blg. I

A big 'thank you' to Sparks for taking on the translation of George Orwell's Animal Farm. And linking to my little contribution. I hope more of us can find the time to take on this task.

About this project.
Preface to The Screwtape Letters (Paunang Salita).

: I translated 'argument' as pangangatwiran, instead of pakikipagtalo wherever it appears in this letter. I think that's closer to what Lewis meant. 'It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches' I translated as Parang sa tingin mo kasi ang pangangatwiran ang siyang paraan upang hindi siya mapasakamay sa Kalaban.

'Philosophies' I translated as pilosopiya't paniniwala, instead of just straight pilosopiya. I think the way it's used in the original is all-encompassing. 'Doctrine' I translated as paniniwala, since the original doesnt have the religious connotation that the Pilipino doktrina has. I translated 'philosophy of the future' as ito'y isang paniniwalang umuusbong at lalaki sa kalaunan.

'Jargon' is translated nauusong salita. I take Lewis to mean the word in the same way we use 'buzzword' today.

I dont know of a Pilipino equivalent for 'train of thought'. The phrase occurred twice in this letter. I used a rather long-winded translation. For example, for 'Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour...' as Kahit na sabihin na nating nailigaw mo ang pinatutunguhan ng kanyang pangangatwiran upang pumabor sa atin... .

For the phrase 'immediate sense experience' I know of no equivalent expression in Pilipino either. I translated 'withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences' as mailayo mo ang kanyang pansin sa mga bagay na nakikita ng kanyang mga mata, naririnig ng kanyang mga tainga, naamoy, nadarama--mga bagay na nasa kanyang kapaligiran.

I took 'familiar' to mean mundane or ordinary or commonplace, so I translated it pangkaraniwan instead of pamilyar or kilala.

Mahal kong Wormwood,

Batid ko ang sinasabi mo patungkol sa pag-gabay mo sa iyong pasyente sa kanyang mga binabasa at sa paghihikayat sa kanya na ipagpatuloy ang pakikipagkita sa kanyang kaibigang naniniwala sa pilosopiya ng Materyalismo. Pero, hindi ka ba nauuto lang ng bahagya? Parang sa tingin mo kasi ang pangangatwiran ang siyang paraan upang hindi siya mapasakamay sa Kalaban. Maaring umubra ito kung ang iyong pasyente ay nabuhay mga ilang siglo na ang nakakaraan. Noon malinaw sa isipan ng mga tao kung kailan ang isang bagay ay napatunayan na at kung kailan hindi pa ito napapatunayan; at kung napatunayan na, pinaniniwalaan na nila ito. Para sa kanila, and pag-iisip ay karugtong ng paggawa at mas handa silang baguhin ang kanilang pamumuhay kung mapapatunayan ito sa pamamagitan ng katwiran. Subali't ngayon, sa tulong ng mga pahayagan, magasin, mga babasahing peryodiko, at iba pa nating sandata, mas nabago natin ang gawi nilang ito. Nasanay ang iyong pasyente, simula pa noong siya'y bata pa, na mayroong sandosenang pilosopiya't paniniwala na nagsasayaw sa loob ng kanyang kukote. Hindi niya iniisip na ang mga paniniwalang ito ay "totoo" o "hindi totoo," iniisip niya na ito'y "pang-teoriya" o "praktikal", "laos" o "uso", "naaayon sa palagay ng nakararami" o "walang pakialam sa palagay ng nakararami". Ang paggamit ng mga nauusong salita, at hindi ang pangangatwiran, ang pinakamatibay mong kasangga upang mapalayo siya sa Iglesia. Huwag mong aksayahin ang iyong panahon sa pagkumbinsi sa kanya na ang Materyalismo ay totoo! Hikayatin mo siya na isiping ito'y matibay, o kaya'y payak, o kaya'y magiting -- na ito'y isang paniniwalang umuusbong at lalaki sa kalaunan. Itong mga bagay na ito lamang ang mahalaga sa kanya.

Ang problema sa pangangatwiran ay inilalagay nito ang buong larangan ng pakikibaka sa teritoryo ng Kalaban. Kaya rin Niyang mangatwiran, kahit na sa larangan ng praktikal na propaganda na aking iminumumhgkahi, ipinakita Niya sa mga nakalipas na siglo na higit na mas mababa ang kakayahan Niya kaysa sa ating Ama sa Kailaliman. Sa pakikipagkatuwiran, pinupukaw mo ang iyong pasyente sa paggamit ng kanyang pangangatwiran; at kapag ito'y ganap nang nagising, sino'ng makakapagsabi kung ano ang kahihinatnan nito? Kahit na sabihin na nating nailigaw mo ang pinatutunguhan ng kanyang pangangatwiran upang pumabor sa atin, maaring maging gawi ng iyong pasyente na talakayin ang mga usaping nakaaapekto sa buong sangkatauhan at mailayo mo ang kanyang pansin sa mga bagay na nakikita ng kanyang mga mata, naririnig ng kanyang mga tainga, naamoy, nadarama--mga bagay na nasa kanyang kapaligiran. Ang iyong dapat atupagin ay ang itakda ang kanyang pansin sa mga bagay na ito lamang. Turuan mo siyang tawagin itong "tunay na buhay" at huwag mo siyang hayaang usyosohin kung ano ang ibig niyang sabihin sa salitang "tunay".

Alalahanin mo na siya'y hindi purong espirito tulad mo. Dahil hindi ka kailanman naging tao (Ang kasumpa-sumpang kalamangan sa atin ng Kalaban!) hindi mo maaring mabatid na sila'y alipin sa mga iginigiit sa kanila ng mga pangkaraniwan at pang araw-araw na mga pansinin. Minsan mayroon akong pasyente, isang maaasahang ateista, na dating madalas tumungo sa British Museum upang magbasa. Isang araw, habang siya'y nagbabasa may naulinigan akong isang diwa sa kanyang isipan na tila gusto sana niyang sundan subali't napansin ko na bumabaliko ito tungo sa mga bagay na hindi niya dapat isipin. Natural nandoon kaagad ang Kalaban sa kanyang tabi. Bago ko pa man nalaman kung anong nangyayari, nakita ko na lamang na ang pinagpaguran ko ng dalawampung taon ay namimiligro. Kung nagkataon na hindi ko kaagad naagapan ang mga pangyayari, marahil ay sinubukan kong itama siya sa pamamagitan ng pangangatwiran at tuluyan na siyang nawala sa akin. Subali't hindi ako tanga. Kaagad kong ibinaling ang kanyang pansin sa bahagi ng kanyang pagkatao na pinakamadali kong madomina at ipinasok ko sa kanyang isipan na panahon na upang mananghalian. Agad namang kinontra naman ito ng Kalaban (ito nama'y haka-haka ko lamang--alam naman nating hindi natin maliwanag na naririnig kung anong sinasabi Niya sa kanila) at sinabing mas mahalaga pa ito kaysa sa pananghalian. Pakiwari ko'y yun nga ang Kanyang sinabi pagka't nangg aking sabihing, "Tama. Lubhang mas mahalaga ito para talakayin ngayong tanghaling tapat na," agad na tumalima ang pasyente, at bago ko pa man naibulong sa kanya na "Mas maigi pang bumalik mamaya pagkapananghalian upang matalakay ito ng may sariwang pag-iisip," ay papalabas na siya upang umuwi. Pagdating niya sa kalsada, tapos na ang laban. Pinakita ko sa kanya ang nagtitinda ng pahayagan, ang Blg. 73 bus na dumaraan, at bago pa man siya tumapak sa huling baytang ng hagdan, naipasok ko na sa utak niya ang di matinag na paniniwala na kahit ano pa mang bago o kataka-takang ideya, palagay, o opinyon ang pumasok sa kukote niya kapag siya'y nag-iisa kasama ang kanyang mga aklat, kailangan lang ipakita sa kanya ang "tunay na buhay" (para sa kanya, ito'y ang bus at ang nagtitinda ng pahayagan) at sapat na ito upang ipakita na kung ano mang kuro-kuro ang pumasok sa utak niya, yaon ay malayo sa katotohanan. Batid niya kung paanong muntikan na siyang mapariwara at matapos ang ilang taon ay nakahiligan na niyang isalaysay ang tungkol sa "hindi masambit na realidad na siyang pinakapananggalang laban sa mga depekto na tanging dulot ng pag-iisip kahit lohikal man ito". Ngayon siya'y ligtas sa tahanan ng Ating Ama.

Ngayon, nakuha mo na ang aking tinutumbok? Salamat sa mga prosesong sinimulan natin sa sangkatauhan ilang siglo na ang nakararaan, tila imposible na sa kanilang paniwalaan ang di-pangkaraniwan habang ang pangkaraniwan ay nasa harap na ng kanilang mga mata. Ipilit mo sa iyong pasyente ang pagkapangkaraniwan ng lahat ng bagay. Higit sa lahat, huwag mong tangkaing gamitin ang agham o siyensiya (tinutukoy ko dito ang mga tunay na siyensiya) bilang argumento mo laban sa Kristiyanismo. Ang gagawin lamang nito ay ang itulak siya upang isipin ang mga tungkol sa mga bagay na hindi nakikita't hindi nahahawakan. Maraming malungkot na kasong ganito sa mga pisiko natin ngayon. Kung talagang hilig niya ang siyensiya, ituro mo siya sa Economics o Sociology; huwag mo siyang ihihiwalay sa napakahalagang "tunay na buhay". Nguni't ang pinakamagaling na paraan sa lahat ay huwag mo siyang hahayaang magbasa tungkol sa siyensiya nguni't kumbinsihin mo siya na sa kabuuan alam na niya ang lahat ng dapat niyang malaman at lahat ng kanyang mapulot sa pakikipaghuntahan at pagbabasa ay "bunga ng makabagong pagsasaliksik". Alalahanin mo na nandiyan ka upang guluhin ang kanyang pag-iisip. Kung mag-usap kasi kayong mga kabataan, aakalain ninuman na ang tungkulin natin ay ang magturo!

Lubos na nagmamahal,
Ang iyong Tito Screwtape

(Letter II next week.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Preface to The Screwtape Letters

The preface is pretty short, so here it is.

About this project.

Notes: I used 'demonyo' to translate devil if there is no definite article for it. Therefore, devils was translated as mga demonyo. If the word has the definite article, that is, if it pertains to Satan, I translated it Diyablo, although it is quite possible that Lewis meant it to be translated demonyo as well, since he did not capitalize devil in the original even if he placed the definite article before it: the devil is a liar, I translated as ang Diyablo ay sinungaling.

The word 'materialist' in the original I translated as skeptiko and not materyoso since the word materialist was contrasted with the word magician, the idea being the contrast between one who believes in materialism as a philosophical worldview--not to one who is enamored with material wealth--with one who believes in magic, or one who is more spiritual. I don't know the Pilipino word for 'script' and the word is adopted as-is, instead of Filipinizing it by using iskrip. I dont know of an equivalent expression to 'wishful thinking' either and therefore used a rather long-winded approach at the end of the third paragraph.

I'll try to come up with a translation of the first letter by the end of the week, inshallah.

Paunang Salita
Una sa lahat, wala akong balak na ipaliwanag kung paano napasakamay sa akin ang mga liham na siyang tangan ko ngayon.
May dalawang magkapantay, bagkus magkasalungat na pagkakamali na kung saan ang sangkatauhan ay maaring matisod pagdating sa mga demonyo. Ang una ay ang hindi paniniwala na mayroon ngang mga ganoong nilalang. Ang isa nama'y ang paniwalaan ito nguni't magkaroon ng labis na interes sa mga ito--interes na nakasisira na sa kanyang sariling kapakanan. Sila mismo'y natutuwa sa mga pagkakamaling ito at ang pagbubunyi nila sa ang isang skeptiko ay kapantay ng kanilang pagbubunyi sa isang naniniwala sa salamangka--pantay lamang nilang tinitignan ang mga ito. Ang script na ginamit ko sa aklat na ito ay maaring makuha ng sinumang makasanayang ito'y matutunan, subali't ang nga walang interes dito at yaong mga madaling magpadala sa damdamin na may hindi tamang balak dito, sabihin na lamang natin na hindi n'yo sa akin ito natutunan.
Pinapayuhan ko ang mga mambabasa na huwag kalilimutan na ang Diyablo ay sinungaling. Hindi lahat ng sinabi ni Screwtape ay dapat nating ituring na katotohanan, kahit mismo sa sarili na niyang pananaw. Hindi ko tinangkang tukuyin ang sino mang mga tao na binanggit sa mga liham, subali't sa aking palagay, malayong ang pagsasalarawan sa mga ito, halimbawa kay Padre Spike o sa ina ng pasyente, ay tugma sa kanila sa kabuuan. Marunong din naman silang manlinlang ng sarili sa Impiyerno tulad ng ginagawa ng mga tao sa Lupa kung saan minsan ang mga hinahangad nila ay hindi naman tumutugma sa realidad subali't pinagpipilitan pa rin nila ito sa kanilang mga sarili.
Bilang pangwakas, hindi ko na binigyan ng panahon ang tamang pagkakasunud-sunod ng mga liham. Ang liham blg. XVII ay tila binuo bago pa man ipinasya ng pamahalaan ang pagrarasyon, nguni't sa kabuuan, ang paraan ng pagbatid ng oras at petsa ng mga demonyo ay tila walang kinalaman sa oras at petsa dito sa Lupa kung kaya't hindi ko na pinag-aksayahan ng panahon na malaman kung anong katumbas na oras at petsa dito sa Lupa ang tinutukoy sa mga liham. Sa mga pangyayari sa digmaan sa Europa, liban sa mga pagkakataon na may katuturan ito sa ispirituwal na kalagayan ng isang nilalang, si Screwtape ay walang pakialam.

C.S. Lewis
Magdalen College
Ika-5 ng Hulyo, 1941

Friday, August 24, 2007

The next project

In Manuel L. Quezon III's blog, the comment section to an entry had him write this as a response to another comment on the state of literature in the Philippines:
I have have also been perplexed over the lack of interest in
translating, say, Orwell, into Filipino, and why Rolando Tinio seemed
the only one ambitious enough to attempt to translate Shakespeare.
To which I said this:
Let’s do it then. Anybody who has the time, pick a text to translate,
post it in a blog somewhere for students to access for free, and for
other people to critique and correct. We can start with essays in
English and go on from there. We can make technology work for us.
MLQ3 thought it's better to do this via a wiki instead of blogs, and yes a wiki would be a perfect tool for this. And while--I assume--MLQ3 is setting this wiki up and gathering support in his circle for this project-in-embryo, I thought I'd work on translating something in the meantime. Since Dean Jorge Bocobo of Philippine Commentary mentioned C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters in the same comment thread, I thought I'd start with that and work on it one screwtape letter at a time and post the translation here in installments.* The translation wouldnt be perfect of course, and Im sure it will go through numerous editions and revisions from the pool of talent MLQ3 manages to gather if the wiki sees the light of day. In the original concept in my head at the time I wrote the comment, I thought we should have students in mind as target audience for the translations, maybe high school students.

There will be those who will think it would be better to make the students learn English instead so theyll be able to read the works in their original languages, and Im all for that. But I believe it would be an incentive to learn English to those more 'literary' of our students to read the works in their original language if they get exposed to these works in a more accessible language first, like reading the Bible or Umberto Eco in English makes me want to read them in their original languages, but with the added advantage that they won't have to enroll in special courses in Hebrew, Greek, or Italian since English lessons come with the curriculum. I'll try to stick to the tone of the original while keeping an eye on the sensibilities of a 21st century audience of high school students. I expect that won't be easy but it would be a good exercise.

And so, as I put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, I'll probably have a draft ready by next week.

*The Screwtape Letters © 1942 C.S. Lewis Pte, Ltd, copyright restored 1996 C.S. Lewis Pte, Ltd. I'll worry about copyright laws later. If anybody from the Lewis estate is reading this, I dont have a cold farthing to my name. And besides, if my theory is correct, it'll make students want to read the original.