Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rusty Along The Edges

It's okay to get rusty sometimes.

Yesterday afternoon, I was on the ninth floor of the immaculately fresh School of Design and Arts (SDA) building of the College of St. Benilde. JM had approached me before the Zaturnnah show last Saturday night and gingerly asked if I could give a talk for his Philippine Literature class. I found it as an opportunity to visit Manila again, despite my chronic lack of knowledge in Philippine Literature, and perhaps see if there had been any more major changes in the area.

The SDA is a huge modernist structure designed by Lor Calma and Associates, one of the premier architectural firms of the country. The white building's sloping lines and stark facade stands out, in some kind of snobbish fashion, amidst the squalor of unkempt Vito Cruz. When I stepped off the elevator onto the ninth floor, I felt like I was in a high-rise Makati office building--wide corridors, awning-type windows from ceiling to floor, glass-paneled conference areas. Unfortunately, the elevators were painfully slow, and not all areas of the building were functionally ready.

Like I said, I know next to nothing about Philippine Literature. JM told me that he just needed an author to speak at his class, and that he was desparate. At the risk of looking like a fool, I agreed. The talk would be more about experience than fact, anyway, and should be done in less than an hour. The short period should be enough to cover the primary bases while sharing a few anecdotes about putting together the Zaturnnah book.

I did okay, perhaps a passing score if I evaluated myself objectively. My greatest fault is that I didn't organize my thoughts well enough in advance. I didn't want to pad my talk with some last-minute research, because I was working from experience and didn't want to impress others with an authority that was nonexistent to begin with. Indeed, I was met with a few blank stares, a few yawns, a few instances of wandering attention, much unlike that time when I taught web design eight years ago. In short, I was unprepared for the talk, and it showed.

But I'd like to think I was able to push some insight through to whoever had ears for me. The good thing about being rusty (okay, negligent is more like it) in a non-life threatening situation is that it allows one to realize the gravity of failure, and immeditely convert it into a wake up call. I'm not sure if I'll be invited for anything soon, but what happened yesterday knoecked me on the head again. Keep brain organized, Carlo.

That's maybe one reason why I like interview sessions. There's less pressure to keep the proceedings interesting since everything's guided by a question list. I've one coming out soon in T3 magazine, then there's the set from the PR committee of the upcoming Manila International Bookfair. I have yet to answer that one, but maybe not completely. A few questions are about gay and lesbian literature, and as far as that topic is concerned I've got my dunce cap on.

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