Sobriety and other forms of addiction


I have been sober for months now and I do not mean from alcohol. Get drunk with sobriety, I said last night and forwarded it as a text message to a number of people. Clouds hang like ceilings these days, peeling off. They look old and need replacing or at least –repair. Like this backpack shell of mine. Yesterday, I did without it, went with the small brown corduroy messenger bag. But today I’m back with the black backpack.

Two days ago, I did a performance on the sand bar at Maribago Beach Resort. I started at the shore, the part where the sand meets the water. I took off my clothes, everything on me except my boxer shorts and stuffed them in my backpack which I wore upside down. Crawling turtle-like on the sand, I approached the stage and on it laid petals of yellow roses. Now what I meant exactly with yellow petals in place of eggs maybe that it is the opposite of an oncoming birth like the egg as it is an impending death or the remains of one. As petals, in their full glory, now fallen – to be stepped on and to be forgotten. I returned to the sand as a turtle would, back to where I started and I took off my backpack, pulled out everything I stuffed in it and wore them back again. My performances seem to be breaks, little windows of freedom and exploration in between the mundane and the routinary. The petal-laying turtle returns to its boy-on-striped-shirt-and-black-backpack self. The backpack itself has become my home, thus giving rise to the concept of the “Pawikan” performance as I am now calling it. As a gay person, I cannot after all lay eggs of my own and breed little russ turtles. Instead, I lay petals, as fragile as the eggshell and as ephemeral as life- only not as romantic. Inside my bag are personal items and the little gadgets I use, proof of my present-day conformity; 2 chargers for my phone and my mp3 player, a usb cord, a set of toiletries, my tarot cards and a maximum of 4 books, one of which is sure to be a Murakami.

Reading a Murakami is to build and stay in an igloo in this neo-Antarctica, where coldness isn’t measured by thermometers but with the amount of excess silence in the air- also, the number of cigarettes in a personal ashtray or the angles of the pillows in bed in relation to your body; perpendicular for nights of normalcy, diagonal means average coldness and parallel for the extremes. True, it is cold, but to build a shelter out of the ice that is reading –an act that requires one to shun social activities; mass shouting with musical instruments or a videoke machine, communal alcohol consumption, or the occasional attempts to mating- not to mention the igloo’s ability to camouflage in the snow- and everything else non-living, is not enough to insulate oneself from the freezing temperatures of solitude nor is it capable of fostering enough warmth from the tiny embers it produces. Its chameleon attitude towards the environment hides itself from company, a human wouldn’t look for a friend in a block of ice to start a conversation over a cup of coffee with. True, the mind’s glaciers melt with reading and one discovers hidden lands and territories buried in the ice for ages, revealing magnificent valleys and strange ancient creatures. But one also realizes, these finds are but mere fossils, barren landscapes full of history - utterly devoid of a future like some proof of time’s relentlessness illustrated in stasis.

Stasis- a friend of mine is fascinated with this. But aren’t we all in stasis like the works of a demented artist? Damien Hirst would’ve been more literal had he been allowed humans to replace his sharks and calves with. Aren’t we all either of the two? Carnivores or herbivores locked up in our own aquariums? Floating, life-like and it would seem like swimming but it is what it is, a state of stasis. And stasis, from what I remember in Sci-Fi films ensure the survival of humans in deep space who have no home, so that once Autopilot finds the earth habitable again or discovers some other earth-like planet, we can be lodged (or dislodged) into life again? But what am I saying, this stasis is addicting and more importantly- beautiful.

These sharks and these calves' stares are not dead anyway, they are in fact in a trance -in a kind of coma .They focus on a drug addict doctor named House. This doctor, as his painkillers are, eases the mid-air sores of these animals. This doctor gives them the ability to smile and laugh and to feel the brain at work. He should’ve been a veterinarian but then again, his name might as well be Barn. Or Barney. But sometimes, the stories this doctor tells, brings him to a trance as well, and the white robe thins into a silver veil and the calves and the sharks see but themselves alone-in stasis. And ever so often they wiggle and shake about as if struggle out of the deep sleep and it becomes a spectacle to behold: these works of art trying to break free from the formaldehyde -this transparent substance that keeps them afloat but not swimming, awake but not dreaming.

These breaks from these stases, I take freely and suggest movements in whatever way I can; I went drinking last night with real live people. I listened and danced to Bach and Bjork while I heard their faces talk and laugh. I do a 24/7 (still ongoing) performance where my bag becomes a shell and I spend one night without it. I sleep with my day clothes on but stripped in front of a crowd. I run a TV series marathon and finish in an episode's beginning . I read a book until I'm two chapters shy of the ending.

photo: the impossibility of death in the mind of someone living, Damien Hirst