04 February 2018

Kalalangan Kapampangan Experiment: Art Installation

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Last evening, I was pleased to attend the opening ceremonies of an art exhibit organized at the Heritage District's Museum of Philippine Social History in my home city. For this month, I'm looking forward to attending local events during the National Arts Month which includes some film viewing, poetry recitals, and watercolor art competitions.

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This year is hopefully going to be an eventful and busy year, as I find myself moving through the distress accumulated through the past year. It's good to think that these past few weeks of the beginning of the year had been productive, my research had been moving so far as I finished interviewing my respondents and on the process of data transcription, clinic patients are responding well to schedules and treatment, and so many other things are in line up for the coming months. I could only hope for the best and not merely think of days passing by without purpose. During my spare time, I'm becoming busy with gardening, cooking, writing, reading Julian Jaynes's book. I could recall this is what I had planned to do even years ago and it definitely proves that the life well-lived takes time, but it's worth it.

28 January 2018

January Photo Diary

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27 December 2017

Reminiscing the Year, 2017

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There are two palpable quotes that really hit truth to me as I was on my usual routine of being on those frequent solitary hours, the first one was by John Lennon, and it read: “The hardest thing is facing yourself. It’s easy to shout “Revolution” or “Power to the People” than it is to look at yourself and find out what’s real inside you and what isn’t when you’re pulling the wool over your own eyes,” and by Fyodor Dostoevsky on The Brothers Karamazov: “Above all, do not lie to yourself.”

As I reflect back on the hopes, efforts, and everything that had happened to me for this year, I can’t help but be stunned by the fact that things are not always what we hoped or worked for that they will be, and there will always be circumstances that will happen beyond our control, and that includes not only our plans, but our perception of things, and admittedly, it will be the failures and rejection that slap us in the face that will teach the greatest lessons—not the triumphs or shallow successes. In understanding that life does not happen in a steady linear progression and the goals and efforts have the tendency to distract us from what is actually happening. It is like an indefinite series of curves intertwined on a straight line. These curves are the goals and setbacks that occur in the progression of life, they don’t point to a steady upward climb— the most difficult realizations hit hard the most and the willingness to climb up again after the lowest fall, is a measure of genuine courage. One is forced to confront oneself truthfully, to discard the thick pile of lies and pretensions that one has hid oneself— raw self-authenticity.

I realized that even on mustering courage or will, I was still a fraud. And what is more difficult is that whenever I read about, ‘you have a choice,’ seems to me a condescending comment, for who determines the choices, and if I made a decision to choose something entirely different, do I even have a chance to survive in the face of that choice?

This brings me toward the quotes that I shared above, which mean that these choices, reasons, or how I was able to muster courage to make decisions for my life, would have been the lies that I told myself all over again, that the hopes for the future could have been the wool over my own eyes? This is a very difficult admission because it means that me, as an individual, have no right for self-assertion.There is no choice anymore. The answer is just to accept everything as it is, do not fight anymore and let the days pass and be a dead person who lost all hopes.

Perhaps, the ability to forget is one of the strengths that a human being can have. Imagine life if each and every moment one is recounted to earlier experiences along with the thoughts and feelings associated with memories— that would make living at the present a daunting and difficult task because we would have to re-consider and re-live all over again, not only the pleasant but also the unpleasant experiences that happened even a long time ago. And that is exactly why we deliberately make efforts or sometimes not, to close a chapter and intently decide to begin all over again; nevertheless, even if we’re surrounded with the same people, same places, same activities, or changed a style of life, the simple act of making a decision to begin all over again not only gives a sense of self-renewal but also a feeling of rebirth— ending the past and bidding goodbye to everything that had happened: letting go of pain, hatred, disappointments, rejections, frustrations, anger; of forgiveness and forgetting. It is not an easy process to end some things, or to let memories pass away, because despite the intent of starting anew, there is still this realization that life happens in very unexpected ways and that all events are interconnected and juxtaposed with meanings that cannot be isolated with earlier experiences.

Needless to say, the indiscernible laws of uncertainty gives life its beauty, not in the faking of happiness, not in loud noises of laughter, and not even on bottled up grief, or the numbing of senses that makes one seem to float on a different plane where time no longer exists. There is no point of reaching out for happiness, may it happen or not, it does not matter, for the idea of happiness once sought becomes more elusive, and that elusive quality of it is its very essence. 

Some Photo Albums for the year,

Seminar-Workshop on Theory and Techniques of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, January
A Tourist on Her Own City, February
Farewell to Mega TRC, June
Digmaang Rosas, August
Photo Portfolio, 2017

25 December 2017

2017 Book Reviews

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2017/41289357

Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research: by Cathy Urquhart

This particular text is a concise introduction on Grounded Theory planning and design in research. Admittedly, Grounded Theory design is tedious and lengthy, but the author provided helpful advice and inspiration on how to start and go through the research process.


Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Clinical Manual by Deborah L. Cabaniss

Back in January, I attended a seminar-workshop on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy at the Philippine International Convention Center, which was organized by a group of psychiatrists from University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital .The seminar speakers utilized this book on their lectures, and what got me interested, is the book provided a structured approach to therapy which resembles the Cognitive-Behavioral approach. By applying psychoanalytic approaches, therapy can become a solution-focused process, though initially, it can be intimidating for the client, because defenses will be encountered and addressed. This book is very practical, useful, and gives structure and insight for the psychotherapy oriented towards the psychodynamic or psychoanalytic orientation.


A Companion to Qualitative Research by Uwe Flick

During the phase of my choosing the research design for my thesis, I found this textbook which was very useful on giving historical and methodological information on various qualitative research designs. It is concise, insightful and not overly technical. In addition, it will inspire research to gain momentum at just the right time.


A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism by Hubert L. Dreyfus

Reading some texts on Phenomenology for the past few years, had me appreciate the diversity of this school of thought in philosophy. This book is a collection of essays expounding on the origins, ramifications and means through which phenomenology, and eventually existentialism diverge. In a short span of time, I might not be able to process all the thoughts contained in this volume, but it is highly recommended for those interested in exploring the historical context, significance and current implications of both phenomenology and existentialism.


Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche

Initially, I had high hopes before reading this text, but as I was going through the chapters, I can't make out what Nietzsche was writing and for whom? It was obviously an autobiography of some sort, but it was becoming palpable of the author's extreme preoccupation with himself. I could use another term, but for his legacy, I would rather not.

I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous — a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

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I have mixed thoughts and feelings while reading this book, because I intend to immerse myself through it, and there were instances that some parts of it really bored me, for example, the constant references to Nietzsche. Ernest Becker brilliantly synthesized Freud's psychoanalysis with the ideas of writers most notably, Otto Rank, Soren Kierkegaard, Carl Jung, Medard Boss, among others and poignantly illustrated their insights on the individual's attempts and striving against death, which entails projecting the self through expansion, cultural identification, or transcendence towards something greater.

I especially liked how he was able to point out this certain 'Causa Sui Project,' which is what most individuals are striving for: the need for self-reliance and self-determination to establish something beyond the self, i.e., he cites the example of Freud's erecting of psychoanalysis - which was his life long dream of responding to established religion or cultural traditions. It might be, according to Ernest Becker, that this Causa Sui Project, though he writes of his analysis as mostly assumptions based on Ernest Jones' biography of Freud, was a lie - that this project is the individual's attempt to overcome his smallness and limitations - because he is still in many ways bound to the laws of something that transcends him, and denying it would be tantamount to neurosis. Perhaps that portion of the book was the most poignant of all, because it was self-evident that to renounce the causa sui project would be to admit that any person's attempt for self-determination is bound to fail if it does not recognize that there is something that is more transcendent compared to the individual's will.

Ernest Becker also wrote on this book, the attempts and psychology of creativity, of creating personal fictions, of the ideal of mental health and illness - all of which are the person's attempts of making meaning, finding a center, remaining sane in an otherwise chaotic world. I highly recommend this book, it is enlightening and through it, and it is a reflection and a deep analysis on man's condition who is constantly asking questions and grapples on the inevitability of finitude and faith. Literally, this is one book that brought me back to my senses.

“When we are young we are often puzzled by the fact that each person we admire seems to have a different version of what life ought to be, what a good man is, how to live, and so on. If we are especially sensitive it seems more than puzzling, it is disheartening. What most people usually do is to follow one person's ideas and then another's depending on who looms largest on one's horizon at the time. The one with the deepest voice, the strongest appearance, the most authority and success, is usually the one who gets our momentary allegiance; and we try to pattern our ideals after him. But as life goes on we get a perspective on this and all these different versions of truth become a little pathetic. Each person thinks that he has the formula for triumphing over life's limitations and knows with authority what it means to be a man, and he usually tries to win a following for his particular patent. Today we know that people try so hard to win converts for their point of view because it is more than merely an outlook on life: it is an immortality formula.” 
Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego by Sigmund Freud

Josef VĂ¡chal’s Cry of the Masses

This was a rather brief treatise of Freud on the psychology of groups, particularly crowds in organized groups. He gave the two examples of what he termed artificial groups: the Church and the Army, and their need for subjugation of a leader. Even though the text was very short compared to his other books, he discussed insightful ideas on: Le Bon's Description of the Group Mind, Other Accounts of Collective Mental Life, Suggestion and Libido, Two Artificial Groups: the Church and the Army, Further Problems and Lines of Work, Identification, Being in Love and Hypnosis, the Herd Instinct, the Group and the Primal Horde, and a Differentiating Grade in the Ego. Anybody familiar with Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky will find Freud's ideas resonating with them: especially when he discusses his hypothesis on the Primal Horde, and the irrationality of group-think. However some of his ideas are still very limited, and colored by his personal opinions. As a whole this text is recommended as introduction to his group psychoanalytic theory and for those who wish to understand in depth psychology, the behavior of groups and the psychology of suggestion. Here are some quotes that I liked from the treatise:
As regards intellectual work it remains a fact, indeed, that great decisions in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual, working in solitude.
A religion, even if it calls itself a religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.
― Sigmund Freud
The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim. An individual in a crowd is a grain of sand amid other grains of sand, which the wind stirs up at will.
― Gustave Le Bon

The books for my 2017 bookshelf might not be the most exciting books of all, most of them are just read for academic purposes, but I can say that the most thought-provoking of them is the Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. Though the ideas might be repetitive at times, I must say that it re-defined what faith really means for me, and as I wrote on my review, it brought me back to my senses, albeit on the dimension of faith, on a more transcendent level beyond dogma. As I end this 2017, I do not know exactly what 2018 has in store for me, but I hope to read more books that engage my imagination, stir up my thoughts, and make me rediscover new ideas I never encountered before.

24 December 2017

December Photo Diary

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30 November 2017

November Photo Diary

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03 November 2017

Pangasinan

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