Thursday, October 11, 2012

Virginia Moreno's Batik Maker

Batik Maker

Tissue of no seam and skin

Of no scale she weaves this;

Dream of a huntsman pale

That in his antlered 

Mangrove waits


And I cannot touch him.

Lengths of the dumb and widths

Of the deaf are his hair

Where wild orchids thumb

Or his parted throat surprise

To elegiac screaming

Only birds of


And I cannot wake him.

Shades of light and shapes

Of the rain on his palanquin

Stain what phantom panther

Sleeps in the cage of

His skin and immobile


And I cannot bury him.

Virginia Moreno
(Photo from Aliww)

         Virginia Moreno’s poem, Batik Maker instantly became my fave when the haunting lyrics installed itself into my being after we read it in college (PNU where I took up AB/BSE English). My college professor, Dr. Venancio Mendiola would do his stance, his silhouette ( I say silhouette because we see his profile) while looking at something distant and obscure, and say our names randomly, usually to recount a story we were assigned days earlier.

          That day, our topic was the immortal Batik Maker.

          Dr. Mendiola asked what imagery we see from the poem, I raised like my hand like an enthusiastic child about to show her new toy.
I could see an image in my mind and I drew a canvas of what I hoped were the poet's thoughts.

What I drew was something like this:

I interpreted the lines:

Shades of light and shapes
Of the rain on his palanquin

I was so proud of that image. My professor didn't utter a comment (perhaps he was thinking I should take up Digital Arts or Fine Arts instead).

Time went on. It was years later when I found the poem again and mulling over the " lengths and depths" of  the pain that echoed in those words, I can only surmise from where they come.

No wonder she's called the High Priestess of Philippine Poetry.

For my view on Batik Maker, please see here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Talented Mr. Ripley: A Novel by Patricia Highsmith

    Sometimes you watch a film and get that feeling that somehow it has crawled under your skin and you cannot quite shake it. The erotique psychological mystery thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley is one such movie.  It is a surprise for me to know that it's based on a novel in the 50's and that there was a movie starring Alain Delon as Tom Ripley in the 70's.

        The remake in 1999 became Matt Damon's first and only journey into the antihero character ( ah , I forgot the departed). For me, this is his best performance so far. He gave the hero antihero Ripley a reality that makes one cringe. Damon is one of those actors who have unassuming faces but can render the audience breathless in their performance.

         Patricia Highsmith who wrote the novel was already making a name for herself when her first novel Strangers on a Train was made into a movie by the incomparable Alfred Hitchcock.

         Highsmith had an "ambiguous sexuality" and she experimented in her plots as well as her relationships. The "stark prose" and theme of self exile in which she was well known made her a good example of a writer of existentialism.

           In the film, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley is a nondescript freeloader whose talent as piano player and ass kisser gave him a free ticket to Europe as a baby sitter for jet setter Dickie Greenleaf. But Ripley began having his own unbridled fantasy, to become Dickie Greenleaf.

          To what extent will he go to make this fantasy come true?
Patricia Highsmith circa 1941
Photo from  the Swiss Literary Archives