№ 7. Farewells, Beginnings, and the Beauty in Uncertainty

(On this first post of the new year, a smorgasbord of discoveries made online will be featured here, to make up for how the real world was more disappointing than not last 2016.)


1. nagsasanib

Described as a channel for “visuals in conversation,” nagsasanib is a long-distance art project that shows how any two places can be as alike as they are different. One only needs to point the camera in the right direction — to echo the late John Berger.

Juxtaposition is one of the more recurrent means of generating what passes for art these days, popular examples of which would be by Alexey Kondakov, Dr. Propolus, even Fly Art Productions. Then again, these outputs often involve building on previous, often classical artworks; generating then juxtaposing original works is infinitely more challenging. Still, everpresent in any artwork is some degree of pretentiousness, which is why it might be a relief to consider that the nagsasanib project’s appeal lies not in its tumblr-esque aesthetic. Geography is what really gives meaning to this collaboration, one of whose creators is in Metro Manila while the other is based in San Francisco.

Interestingly, nagsasanib loosely translates to ‘combining or overlapping’ — but because of the common word ‘lap,’ some translation websites have come to associate the root verb sanib with kandong, which in turn means ‘to have on one’s lap.’ Even though it only began this January, the long-distance project becomes all the more meaningful.

2. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
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On this month’s fateful Friday the 13th, Netflix released its much-hyped adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events book series — a phrase which here means “the thirteen-volume chronicle on the woeful, calamitous lives of the three Baudelaire orphans.” The Netflix remake literally brought Lemony Snicket’s character out of the enigmatic silhouette previously cast in the 2004 movie version; this was but one of the few major moves intended to distinguish the series from its cinematic predecessor. Within hours, the reviews turned out to be mostly positive, although any adaptation is always fraught with the misfortune of coming under closer scrutiny than is the case for shows with original screenplays. Of course, comparisons are made not only between the series and the movie, but between the series and the books as well.

This eight-episode pilot season only dramatizes the first four books; time will tell if the two more seasons needed to complete the series shall materialize. Given that it is a Lemony Snicket story, The End is bound to be unclear and ambiguous anyway — and as distress-inducing as its source material.

3. #ObamaFarewell

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In less than a week’s time, the highest political position in one of the most powerful countries in the modern world will be occupied by an “unspeakable cad,” to quote a character in a 2004 film about three unlucky orphans. Barack Obama’s descent from the US presidency has been marked with mixed sentiments, but mostly by wistful heavy-heartedness, coupled with gratitude for a kind man who made history by thwarting the white privilege surrounding the American presidency.

Last Tuesday evening, Obama gave a final presidential address from his adopted hometown of Chicago, in an event that took social networks by storm with the hashtag #ObamaFarewell. In that speech, he thanked the many notable persons who accompanied him on his definitively forward-thinking eight-year term, and once again implored Americans to never stop believing in their individual capacities for social improvement.

In a large fraction of households across the US, not to mention in several nations around the world, many are dreading what is to come after Obama’s farewell. Whether it is the beginning of something better or the beginning of the end, though, it would not hurt to be optimistic.

4. This Andrew Garfield interview

Martin Scorsese’s 28-year passion project Silence may not have been met with the raving reviews and award nominations it seemed guaranteed to receive  but filming experience must have been most enriching, as evidenced by this clip of one of its stars, Andrew Garfield, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Garfield has previously identified himself as an agnostic pantheist, having had a largely secular upbringing. Nonetheless, he proved his chops as an actor, in playing a Jesuit missionary in 17th-century Japan.

In the interview, his takeaways on religion and faith also only emphasized his openness of mind. There is an indescribable beauty to a line of thinking where: “a life of faith is a life of doubt” because “certainty starts war on behalf of ideology.” Whether in the religious sense or not, doubt in moderate amounts and over the right matters only would serve to affirm faith.

5. 21 Things You Should Stop Doing This 2017

A new year is always an opportunity to do over some aspects of one’s life, to reset one’s gadget to factory settings, so to speak. While the title of the pamphlet hints at lifestyle practices that ought to be settled in 2017, though, new beginnings can be undertaken in any year, and at any time of the year for that matter.

Of course, one of the ingredients for any effective reset is having a new perspective. Whether it may be a new outlook at love, gender, career, etc., whether shifting on a modest pace or in a radical way, a change-up every once in a while is healthy because it prevents one from stagnating. New perspectives, after all, are premised on that most universal of laws: that the only constant thing in the world is change.

Knowing that nothing is ever permanent is healthy, then, to be sure, just as not knowing anything for certain keeps one on one’s toes. (There is an underlying premise that these are all good things, mind you.) Acknowledging that one cannot know what everything is and will be is the first step to conceding that one cannot control everything.

In turn, acknowledging that one cannot control everything is refreshing in today’s trend of omnipresence via the Internet and other technologies. In a sense, partially relinquishing control over one’s life only gives more meaning to optimism. There is more reason to be hopeful, and if things turn out well, the satisfaction is genuine. If things do not unfold the way they were hoped, one may take comfort in the thought that the raincloud is not guaranteed to hover forever.

 

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