Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Bringing Hope

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

- Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole), Ratatouille

I saw the Pixar movie again for the second time tonight, in the company of good friend Aloysius, who needed a bit of pick-me-up after the stress and shock of the last few days. ^_^ It was nice to see the film a second time around, because now I get to appreciate the density and richness of the narrative and the visual cues and the sheer brilliance of Brad Bird and Co. in creating such a multi-layered, multi-sensory experience.

A word about Anton Ego, because Aloysius and I agreed on the fact that what he said in the monologue towards the end reflects back on us as literature students, trained in critical thinking. His words hit home, really - because a critic, for the most part, does have an easy job. They (we?) are the keepers of the cultural tradition of a society, and as such, reserve the judgment to pronounce whether a work of art - whether food or literature or visual art or drama, etc. - belongs within the tradition, the center, or outside of these hallowed halls of canon, the margins. And a lot of critics would prefer to antagonize a work of art, to point out the flaws and holes and questionable decisions the artist made in terms of the process of creation. But really (and now I speak as a creator), there is still a gap in understanding the theory of giving birth, so to speak and to use a metaphor of sorts, and actually giving birth. The creator's mind does not have the transparent logic and cutthroat reasoning of a critic, in a sense; neither does the critic have the absolute chaos and entropy required to create something out of nothing. And yet, there is a symbiotic relationship when the critic steps out of the clearly demarcated line and upholds something new, something that's not quite been done before, and asks the world to see it beyond the light of reason and logic and cynicism.

It's just interesting to see how much we need to hope - and art gives us hope, and it reminds us that there is still beauty in the world, that it does not need to be given the stamp of approval of a critic to be beautiful and beneficial. That, in the immortal lines of Keats (it is Keats, right?), "Beauty is truth; and truth beauty. And that is all ye need to know on this earth, and all ye need to know." We are artists, creators, small imploding universes. And we need to remember that we have to bring hope.


Had a pleasant time with one of my favorite couple friends, Ate Tin and Johann, who were visiting Singapore for a few days in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of raising my godson Seth and to do a bit of indulgent splurging here in the capital of materialist culture in Southeast Asia. (Oh, that was mean!) We went around Bugis and Orchard and Vivo City and I think my thigh muscles lost a few pounds and decided to freeze up tonight - which makes me quite glad I have Efficecent Oil from home. ^_^ It's nice to be able to speak freely and do funny/stupid things, to shop and to see new and old things, and to be with old friends.

Best conversation, of course, was this:

(while shopping for baby stuff for Seth)
Me: I don't think I want to have kids anymore.
Ate Tin: Why?
Me: They're too expensive pala. (This was while she was telling me how much baby bottles cost)
Ate Tin: Oh, but you should have kids. You have good genes.
Me: Well, in order to have a kid, I need someone to procreate with. That's kind of a problem right now. O_o

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