Thursday, September 24, 2015

Change by Angela Manalang-Gloria: An Analysis Invitation


(In which I have to stop myself.)

***

For three and a half years, I taught Asian and World Literature, along with other Com-Arts subjects, in the university. But if I have to choose which among the subjects I taught I loved most, I'd choose Literature in a heartbeat.

I like taking liberties when it comes to choosing literary pieces to teach. Sometimes, I even go as far as deviating from the syllabus. But don't get me wrong. I am not that kind of a rebel. However, when it comes to independently choosing pieces to teach, I always come back to a poem I learned in the Graduate School. 

But, wait. Before I get lost in analyzing this poem, I would like to remind you, readers, that this humble blog is a collection of my thoughts about books or literary texts I read. If it helped you in any academic way, then it served beyond its purpose. However, I believe this poem deserves respect that I implore you to veer off the Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V practice. Instead of spoon-feeding you, I invite you to relish this poem with me.

Change 
Angela Manalang-Gloria 

I have outgrown them all, and one by one, 

These loves I took so mightily to heart 
Before you came: the dolls that overran 
My childhood hours and taught me fairy art; 
The books I ravished by the censored score:
 Music that like delirium burned my days; 
The golden calf I fashioned to adore
When lately I forsook the golden phrase. 

And thus I shall outgrow this love for you. 

Sooner or later I shall put away 
This jewelled ecstasy for something new. 
Brand me not fickle on that fatal day: 
Bereft of change that is my drink and bread,
I would not love you now. I would be dead.

Just like most readers, when I first read the poem, all that remained with me is its beautiful rhythm – and maybe some other comprehension, but not a lot. But our professor, Dr. Ma. Lourdes G. Tayao, is such a gem in analyzing poetry. Whenever I read or teach this poem, I always thank her.

The poem, apparently, is about change. It talks about things we love and forget. We love out of a whim, or a habit, or a need. And then we leave them. And love something else.

The speaker in the poem also loved. In fact, she loved a lot of things:

... the dolls that overran 
My childhood hours and taught me fairy art; 
The books I ravished by the censored score:
 Music that like delirium burned my days; 
The golden calf I fashioned to adore
When lately I forsook the golden phrase. 

And those things she loved, might mean differently from each individual. But she loved them all nonetheless. And forgot them all, too.

The poem could easily be divided into two sections: the first is an elucidation of the things she loved in series. The second, a plea for understanding.

And thus I shall outgrow this love for you. 
Sooner or later I shall put away 
This jewelled ecstasy for something new. 
Brand me not fickle on that fatal day: 
Bereft of change that is my drink and bread,
I would not love you now. I would be dead.

At this point, we realize that true is the saying that "There is nothing constant in this world but change." For some, it is easy to accept. In other instances, it takes more than skepticism to reject and fear change. Sometimes, it's disillusionment, hurt and anger. 

When discussing this poem, I always ask my students:
  • Who is the speaker? What is the speaker's gender? Why?
  • What did the speaker love? Why do you think she left them?
  • Did you love the same things the speaker did? Do you still love those things? Why?
  • If this is a call for understanding, would you understand and forgive the speaker when that "fatal day" happened?

Readers, what's your answer?

Poem source:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Pure by Julianna Baggott

(In which being a night owl isn't a very good idea sometimes.)

***

Dystopian YA fiction is so hot right now that its varieties can rival a detailed color chart. I do not know where that analogy came from. Or maybe I should blame the adult coloring book craze. But that's for another blog post.

When I read the synopsis for Julianna Baggott's Pure (the first book of the trilogy), I was filled with intrigue. There was a detonation that almost wiped humanity away. The survivors now lived a wretched life in a dead earth covered with gray ash. These survivors, however, can barely be called humans. Because of the detonation, their body got fused with the objects, people or animals near them, making them a horrifying living mosaic. Not everyone is wretched, though. A select few was saved and they lived inside a protected fortress known as the Dome. This is the world that Pressia Belze grew up in. 

Pressia dreads the day she turns sixteen because people at this age are gotten by OSR, a military organization. No one knows why. She also dreads leaving her sick grandfather behind. But when they came for her, she ran and met Bradwell, a rebel leader. Pressia and Bradwell are fused, just like everyone else. Pressia has a scar on her face and doll's head instead of a hand. Bradwell, on the other hand, has three living birds on his back. (Reading this late at night surely isn't that charming.)

With Bradwell's help, Pressia learns about the world before the detonations. Bradwell also expresses his hatred toward the people from the Dome and his plan to take them down.

Inside the Dome, a confused teenager named Partridge (son of Ellery Willux, the Dome's leader), wanted to know the truth behind his mother's death and miraculously escapes the tight-security facility.

He meets Pressia and the wretched and the deadly consequences of his escape unfurls.

Pure is such a heavy first book. Readers have to just accept the fact that a) the world is dead and basically everyone in it, b) but there are people who are still clean and fuse-free because, why not? and c) people in the outside world was somehow still able to survive. 

Add to the mix the confusing nanotechnology, a bunch of more horrendously fused people, a pair of complicated love story and you're in for a maze trip.

But accepting these simply doesn't erase the gnawing feeling of unease that there surely is more than the fa├žade. And then you worry if a trilogy can answer all of your questions. But maybe it's just me and my impatience.

Questioning the existence and purpose of the characters is, of course, a major mover of this novel. It was just surprising, however, that the narrative flow of Pure confuses me when it has the same one as Game of Thrones.

Photo source