Sunday, April 20, 2008

Serendipity of the Surreal

I know that we make conscious decisions, for life to be something we make and not the other way around. But sometimes random things, events and people converge in our lives in such a way that makes us wonder, how in the world could it not have been designed by fate?

It just so happens that I am in (still) Australia. And that I am in the Gold Coast. And that I randomly chatted up my friend H. at a bus stop last January. That she also happens to be a postgrad student in my uni. And that she's a practicing journalist. And that we became fast friends. And that she's specialising in media ethics. And that Brian Gorrell is living in a farm near Byron Bay. And that she wanted to do a couple of news articles on him. And that one day was free for us to go see him.

Random? I don't think so.

It felt so surreal, meeting the man behind the blog. Mediated spaces are different from real life. We tend to not realise that there is a real person behind the images and the text. They become caricatures - disembodied from reality. But Brian Gorrell is real.

He was kind enough to pick us up at the bus station at Byron Bay (an hour and a half away from the G.Coast). We drove for 40 minutes to his little hideaway up in the mountains. H asked me to hold the recorder for her, while she asked Brian questions. He spoke almost non-stop from the time we got into his car to his home. 4 hours. I don't know how he wasn't exhausted afterwards. So many emotions - he laughed, he cried, he cracked jokes.

I sat, stood up, nodded my head, asked a couple of questions, smoked a couple of ciggies. 4 hours. I was exhausted afterwards. I thought, this man is both fragile and incredibly strong at the same time. He didn't censor himself. He said what he thought. And quick. Witty. Incredibly articulate for someone who only finished 8th grade. He seemed sensitive and in touch with his emotions. Also very receptive of his audience (i.e. me and H). I thought, he sensed what he thought we wanted to hear.

Whatever he alleges on his blog, whether his ex did indeed steal that money from him, I cannot tell. What I can say is that this was a man so deeply hurt - he burned. Incendiary. And seemed genuinely, righteously angry.

I know people read Brian for various reasons. For those doing so merely to be entertained, I suggest you stop. Brian Gorrell is a real person. The people he talks about in his blog are real. Beyond your flickering computer screen are real lives enmeshed in one huge mess.

I felt incredibly sad when we left. Over sushi, I asked Brian if he feared for his life. He said no. Perhaps fearlessness comes from knowing you have nothing left to lose. I thought, this was a man who learned early on to embrace life with such gusto, prudence probably wasn't in his vocabulary. It showed in his driving. It showed in the range of emotions that marked his face.

Those who say Brian doesn't need the money because he can afford wine or champagne or what, have no clue that a bottle of wine in Australia is the same price as a KFC meal. Pricier wines might cost the same as a box of pizza and a bottle of softdrink. His monthly pension of $1,100 is not much. To give you an idea of living costs, my monthly rent is $580. A month's grocery costs about $300. Those who may have been given an impression that he lived an ostentatious life because of those short video clips (i.e. the one where he gets up from the pool), have no clue that a bus driver in Australia can afford a home with a pool. 'Luxuries' in the Philippines aren't so here.

To Brian, I wish you well. Even though you may have chosen to take on big names back home, I believe you to be a worthy adversary. You have cojones THIS BIG. I'll give you that.

Keep up the fight mate. :)



Omg. H's article has come out. Randy Dillera?!?!? Bwahahaha. What a name. Tongue in cheek na tongue in cheek.....


cvj said...

Wow...scoop! Interesting insight into the person.

belishabeacon said...

Amazing that you got to meet him.

Digression: I was thinking yesterday that I wish you'd run for President. I'd vote for you in a heartbeat :D

ambivalent misanthrope said...

I wonder how this affair will end?

My guess is, not with a bang but with a whimper.

I feel for Brian Gorrell.

Ozy said...

Wow, I didn't know about the lifestyle over there in Australia. I do hope he gets his money soon.

His blog is the stuff of new media discussions. I'm thinking about doing my thesis on his blog.

Anonymous said...

Never invest in restaurants.