Thursday, June 26, 2014

Welcome to the Future.

Being the old fart that I am, it’s not the least bit unusual for me to think about my younger days; sometimes with pleasure, sometimes with regret.

I suppose this looking back has something to do with my current project of re-reading books I read in those younger days.

Having finished my re-read of Siddhartha, I started in on my re-reading of Herman Hesse’ Steppenwolf. I first read the novel when I was 20 or 21. This is not a book for the young. Even then, I recognized that there was much to Steppenwolf  which I could not understand. Today, being older than the protagonist, Harry Haller, I can more easily get into his head. He isn’t me-I’m not Harry Haller- but I can understand him much better now than I could have in 1972 or 1973.

No, I’m not Harry Haller incarnate, but I could very well have been had I not made changes in direction long ago.

And thank God, this is not 1972.

While I may reminisce on occasion, I believe I long for the past a good deal less than others of my generation. I am so over  the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and all the other musicians and song writers I worshiped during my adolescence.

I may very well be an old fart, but I’m more at home in the early 21st century than I am in the late 70’s. I’m absolutely enamored with the Internet and the Digital Age. When a mobile app will allow me to access every piece of music Mozart ever composed, why would I possibly post a video of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on Facebook?

Even my re-reading of  Siddhartha and Steppenwolf  was brought about by the Internet. Rather than having to locate paper copies, I was able to have both novels downloaded onto my Kindle. Polish sci-fi writer, Stanislaus Lem predicted in his 1961 masterpiece, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, that in the future, books would no longer exist due to a paper eating virus. It’s far more likely that, just as video killed the radio star, the death of paper books will come from the invention of Nook, Kindle and other e readers.

The future has arrived and for the most part, I’m down with it. Except for tattoos, that is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Huxley,Hesse and Camus

I’ve recently decided to re-read a few books that I read ages ago. One of the first books to warrant a re-reading was Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I’ve been thinking of reading the book again for quite a while, but after learning that George Orwell believed that Huxley had been influenced by Russian writer, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian novel We, I downloaded copies of the two works from

After the re-read of Brave New World, and the first time reading of We, I’d say that I can’t agree with Orwell’s claim.

It had been more than 40 years since I first read Brave New World and of course, I had forgotten many of the finer points. Memory can be tricky, but I was more impressed with the book when I in my 20’s than I am at 62.

Another novel that has received a re-read this year is The Stranger by Albert Camus. Reading that book has put Camus’ The Plague on the re-read list-probably in a few weeks.

I’m currently re-reading Herman Hesse’ Siddhartha. I’ve finished 92% of the re-read, but I have to say that I’ve forgotten so much of it; I have to question whether or not I ever read it the first time. I know I have…….it was just before I read Steppenwolf (which will also receive a redo soon) but I was a bit bumfuzzled in 1971/1972.

I suppose it’s my youthful bumfuzzlement that has prompted this desire to re-read these books. The books I’ve chosen are ones that I remember being influential in my life and I want to see if my view of these works justify my putting them on a literary pedestal.

Monday, June 23, 2014

First Monday

When he and I last spoke, my old and dear friend, Big Lew said, that when I had finally retired and emigrated from the United States, I’d no longer have an excuse not to write. While our leaving for Sibulan is still a week away, this is my first Monday as an officially retired person, so I suppose his statement still applies.

The age old problem is, of course, what does one write about?

The political situation in the U.S. no longer interests me. People living in a democracy (or democratic republic) get the government they deserve. You folks put the current regime in power; now you have to live with the consequences. 

From my point of view, the current POTUS isn’t the problem…..he’s a symptom of the degradation of the American culture. Abortion on demand is the law of the land and same-sex “marriage” will soon be. Far too many people wish to suck on the government teat, rather than work. One political party enables the proverbial drunken orgy that is America, while the other party is far too splintered and dysfunctional to achieve any worthwhile intervention.

I am not moving to a paradise; Philippines is by no stretch of the imagination, a Utopia. At least the country is not the dystopia that the U.S. is quickly becoming. Certainly, the fact that Philippines has a Catholic tradition, while the U.S. has a Protestant one, has a good deal to do with the difference.

America’s love for rugged individualism has led to an “I, me, mine” society. In the U.S., nothing can stand in the way of “me and my desires” no matter depraved and anti-social those desires are. America is the logical conclusion of the Protestant mind-set.

Most of my former co-workers imagine that my new life will consist of mostly lying on the beach or fishing. They’d find my plan to spend my time writing, attending Mass every day, gardening and raising pigs, too boring to even contemplate; too much like living in a monastery for their tastes, I suppose.

My Patron Saint

St. Anthony of Padua is my patron saint.

I can’t say exactly when he took an interest in me, but I suspect it was quite a long, long time ago. Since I was in my early twenties, I’ve processed an uncanny knack of finding lost items – particularly in small amounts of money finding its way to me when I needed it most. I may have had this gift for fifty years, but it wasn’t until after spending time in Sibulan, Negros Oriental, that I came to realize that St. Anthony was behind it all.

St. Anthony of Padua is also the patron saint of Sibulan.

After my wife and I decided to move to Sibulan, I’ve relied on the saint to help us reach our goal. Earlier this year, I discovered a novena to St. Anthony, as well as the St. Anthony chaplet. Things have been miraculously falling into place and I can’t help but believe there’s been a supernatural component involved.

In a relatively short period, we’ve managed to sell the house and my wife’s car; along with a place to stay until we leave and the transportation situation being taken care of. The latest blessing was the selling of the van yesterday. I had almost given up hope of being able to sell it before the time came for us to fly to Philippines.

I know that there are folks reading this who’ll say that I haven’t written anything here that will convince them that St. Anthony had anything to do with this. Be that as it may; my personal belief is that St. Anthony deserves my sincere thanks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


It’s been ages since I’ve written anything for this blog; it’s almost as if I’ve abandoned it without a proper farewell.

I can lay a portion of the blame on simple laziness. Things have been a bit hectic lately – with the selling of the house, the shipping of the balikbayan boxes to Sibulan and the selling of one of our vehicles. Still, I could have found time to write something.

One thing for certain; I'm tired of writing about politics in general and the POTUS in particular.
I won’t say my time has been completely wasted; I have been doing quite a lot of reading. Knut Hamsun-Robert Hichens- Aldous Huxley and Phillip Gibbs -to name just four writers whose works I’ve been devouring.
June 20th will be my last day as a proletariat; I’ll be officially retired. We won’t be leaving for Philippines until July 1st. I’ll have no more excuses. I’ll have to put the proverbial nose to the grindstone (is it OK to use out of date phrases when I add the word ‘proverbial’?).

This is a rather slow re-start. I know I’ll have to do more as time goes on. But, I do have to start somewhere.