Monday, March 17, 2008

Deconstructing Celine Lopez' Book Report

I like seeing patterns. Sometimes I think my brain is especially configured to see them. This is probably why I cannot write a paper straight on - that is, think of an argument and find evidence for support. I have to wade through literature on the general subject, and then trust that my brain reads a pattern that (hopefully) no one has yet seen. I cannot start from the conclusion (argument) then work my way backwards. I dip in the middle, and ripple my way to the shores. This is probably why papers are so agonising, they take me off tangents, like now.

The theme on picking up where our ancestors left off a hundred years ago seems to be snow-balling lately. Jester-in-exile picks up on Sylvia Mayuga's column yesterday. She likens the present crisis of the country to a real-life sequel of the Noli and Fili.
This sequel carries the 19th century’s main plotline into the 21st century – an enslaved people trying to break free from a very old unjust system.

I have said before how I thought it bizarre that we are still fighting to give birth to a nation. And so our language lately, in the old and new media, are full of modern terms - truth, justice, enlightenment, poverty, inequality.

I find that Manolo's blog is often underscored with modern ideas - of the French revolutionary kind. Not coincidentally my whole series on Malu Fernandez also carried this theme.

Which finally brings me to Celine Lopez' column yesterday, link courtesy of Sandwich Spy. She entitles it "A book report," one on French revolutionary Victor Hugo's most popular novel.
The summer he passed, I read Les Miserables for the first of many times in my life. Being suddenly a stranger in the world I had inhabited for some years now, the book suddenly provided me with a lesson my grandfather failed to teach me: that the perfect world is found in an imperfect world, my world after him.
How bizarre that one of the main protagonists in the Pinoyblogosphere's latest revolts against the so-called elite's exposed decadence, should choose a book that is the anti-thesis of her and her friends' reason for being . Peddling values which belong to the 19th century. Guiltless partying and bacchanalia of the sin-free. Values that say you have your world and I have mine and never the twain shall meet.

But Celine Lopez' column is not a book report. It is not even about the book. She chose the title and the book to tell us she is a woman of substance, that someone so young could read something so old. Quelle classe. I have never before read her column, but at least she can string words together to make pretty. It is mostly self-involved, as I imagine most of her columns are. But then we are all self-involved to a degree aren't we? So, moving on.

Second she writes a cute little story of when she was a little girl and how she coped with her grandfather's death.
In the end, with all my infallible adoration, I realized my lolo was like every human being. A Jean Valjean. It was my idea to put him on a pedestal; he never asked for it. He never insisted on it. Unlike Cosette’s and especially Marius’ grief in learning of Valjean’s truth, I loved him more for his humanity and not his godliness. A betrayal of thought redeemed by truth.
Other than herself, the main subject in her story happens to belong to one of the most powerful families in the Philippines, of which she is a part. Old landed aristocrats, remnants of the old world. In her own words, she was lost without her grandfather, a little girl worthy of empathy and understanding.
As a young adult I constantly tested what was truly right and wrong. Embracing my lessons from my mistakes more than my triumphs, I grew up still fragile, flawed and questioning.
So, she grew up fragile, little-girl-lost-y without her anchor. Empathy. We are also supposed to empathise with her sins, in her ventures from the perfect world.
It’s ironic that, in his theatrical setting of the perfect life for me in my early years, he further made me want to discover what makes the world ill. Perhaps feeling I had been stupid and fearing I would continuing being so, it drove me to find every flaw and to ultimately understand it.
And every flaw means doing what has been alleged in that blog down under? Well, that makes for a lot of understanding.

Then she ends her little ditty with a piece of advice. She is, after all, a woman of substance.
Life is a dramatic comedy and tragedy, forever interchanging until the curtains draw. Like in every story, what gives it meaning and remembrance is the plot, the characters and the struggle.

Let your will be the engine, your loved ones the wheels and your struggles the inspiration in creating your plot. Then, in this imperfect world, with our imperfect selves, we find perfect dreams in sleep.

So, let us be humble in our imperfections, she says. Let ye who hath no sin cast the first stone. Woman of substance. Family of substance. Fierce pride, but willing to learn from mistakes. She paints herself as battle-weary, little-girl-lost-y, experimenting-with-life kind of girl.

Oh the bravura.

I just wish she chose another book to "report" on. Because all she seems to have learned from the implied numerous times she has read the book, is that the world is not perfect and that people can change. A pity. In this day and age, it is tasteless and callous to draw comparisons between someone like her and the truly down-trodden and oppressed in Hugo's imaginary.


This post has been edited. Apparently, I can be sued for libel for:
Quoting a libelous sentence on the blog or re-publishing/summarizing allegations thereof.

Publicly mentioning names of people being exposed in the blog.

Publishing the URL of the blog or linking to the blog.

So here's to Freedom of Speech. How dear you have become. Only a few can afford you. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.


Preston D. said...

ay potential catfight ito. takot me. :P

gusto ko sana patulan yung writeup ni Tim Yap coz he mentioned envy. I'd like to assure him sana na, no Tim, not all people are as malicious as you think. most people won't ever dare criticize someone when they think he/she deserves to be at the top.

Anonymous said...

Get that part where Celine had a ghost writer? Yes, I've been following her on and off since she began publishing her column. Couldn't quite believe she could write at first. I'd pay good money to know who the ghostwriter is.

Anonymous said...

"The summer he passed, I read Les Miserables for the first of many times in my life. Being suddenly a stranger in the world I had inhabited for some years now, the book suddenly provided me with a lesson my grandfather failed to teach me: that the perfect world is found in an imperfect world, my world after him.'

- Yes Celine,it's called the REAL world. And the real world is the one which thinks that you are NOT all that. (if ever you are ANYTHING but an organic waste of space)

jason said...


before celine picks up a fight with sparks, i think she should grow a brain.

or anything that resembles to it (at least).

Poppycock said...

hi sparks,

without any bias, i think that celine can write, is a word-smith. if only her writings would not be so self-indulgent and more the type that's inspired and useful to others than herself, then she may actually have a promising career, i'd read her myself.

but that being said, it's just terrific how things have come to this, with a very public falling out in the worst possible way. i also tend to think that most of the anonymous commenters enabling the hatred are people who actually knew the ones involved personally.


i'd hate to be in their shoes right now.

Anonymous said...

i think celine's article was written by a ghost writer.

Anonymous said...

That Celine Lopez girl is so self absorbed. Does she think she's the center of the universe? I came across this Live Journal entry of her. She thinks that everyone wants to be her. Yeah she must really be doing a lot of coke.

Anonymous said...

You are arrogant in your own little way. How dare you judge the work of others! Scandal or no scandal, this Celine Lopez seems to be quite a remarkable character. And Brian Gorrell? May we not forget that he's HIV positive which tells us a lot of his indiscretions more than what he has libelously told on Celine et al.

underside said...

well, i don't do coke...;)

Anonymous said...

There's more to writing than spelling and grammar. Ghost written or not, her columns are a chore to read. "A Book Report" is probably the 2nd time in my life that I've managed to finish one of her pieces, and only because I wanted to understand the context of this deconstruction. (The 1st time I finished a column of hers was when I challenged myself. As expected, I got no satisfaction from the experience. Five minutes wasted.)

She rambles like a fool. She should just keep a blog, not a column.

Anonymous said...

I find it exasperating that many people think she doesn't have talent bt she obviously does, especially when she's not drunk or something (cocaine is a clarifier). Her idiomatic English is quite sophisticated and compared with other society writers, this girl can actually write. Filipinos have trouble being objective, I guess.

Poppycock said...

oops, apparently my earlier comment here was out of line.

first, it did not have anything to do with your 'celine's book report' deconstruct. secondly, she's had a ghost writer all along (bea ledesma accdg to brian gorrell).

if that were true, wow. ang labo.

Anonymous said...

i had read several blogs containing "he has no sins throw..." it was a tirade against jun lozada, could it be that this celine lopez read the blogs and got the idea of using the phrase on her column?
at any rate, the phrase is one part of the bible, & magdalene had repented and had changed her ways which i dont think this celine has done.
does any1 here know who joel tantoco is? thanks

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, it is when someone is "not drunk or something", that that someone relies on addiction to gain confidence to believe that he/she is indeed talented.

marie said...

I swear Celine's never read that book the whole way through. More importantly, SHE CAN'T WRITE TO SAVE HER LIFE. Almost everything she's written in the last decade has either been heavily edited beyond recognition or written entirely by someone else.

I don't want to jump on the Celine-bashing bandwagon right now but the rumors are true--bad or good, rambling or otherwise, her articles are not quite entirely her own. Her book award was a sham.

Take it from someone who actually knew her before she turned herself into a socialite princess. Celine is not without talents, but writing has never been one of them.

Anonymous said...

Celine Lopez may be self indulgent but so is Brian Gorrell with out of control expose. Shame on all of us for indulging him in his vendetta.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal: It's between Brian Gorrell and DJ Montano. Let's leave it at that.

Tongue's Wrath said...

CS, pigs do fly. You now have an airport here! Hahaha.

Anonymous said...

To the Filipinos who love to waste their time with the crab mentality here's the deal:

Brian Gorrell chose to come to the Philippines. He chose to ingratiate himself with high society types. He chose to be with DJ. He chose to give DJ money for the restaurant project. HE CHOSE TO DO ALL THIS. So who's fault it is in the first place? BRIAN GORRELL.

Anonymous said...

Sorry marie but sounds like you're jealous of Celine.

Anonymous said...

Bea Ledesma is Celine's ghost writer, so they say.

Anonymous said...

If that was the case, then why is Bea Ledesma not talking?

Anonymous said...

Celine Lopez is good writer. Fit to write in a blog. Not in a well respected publication.