When I occasionally visit the office these days, I am almost always greeted with a tangy smell of gloom. It seems like everyone is sad these days. Of course there is the iconic laughter brought up by some dirty joke or a sexist/racist pun extracted from Facebook or 9Gag, but they all seem facile, despondent, miserable. Maybe it was the perpetual sickness of January and its accompanying anxieties of transition and of staleness. People in this wretched place we call ‘opis’ almost always come to this point.
I remember Ruel at his most vulnerable moment, after an uneventful break-up and the mocking lack of confidence the older people has of his skills. He was seduced by Murakami’s prose, which only made him more grumpy, more inclined to shove away all the worries, curl up in his bed amidst the hectic presswork (to hell with the revolution!), escape from the heavy weight of reality’s illumination and shroud himself with the dark apathy inside Toru Watanabe’s well.
Then there was Ivan, ironically the effeminate man who displays the toughest of all fortitudes, who will suddenly fall into an indefinite stupor and execute an intricate ritual: first, the laptop on his lap exhuming sounds of dribbles and exaggerated basketball comments; second, a book on his side, preferably a modernist one, so as to heighten the sense of alienation and self-fixation; finally, his journal at his back, that cherished piece of stinking paper which turns out to be his most sacred tome of thoughts, angsts, misery. Once he completes the ritual, the invisible but impenetrable barrier will hold for at least two hours, or until he regains his sanity, or insanity, if you prefer.
There was Santi, his manic obsession for control, his compulsive liking for efficiency which effectively executes publication tasks and alienates his subordinates. Despite his cold and ruthless façade, he also has the occasional need to be ‘light’, to be irrelevant, to be something like ‘Mr. Pogi In Space’, all-dancing-and-singing-and-smoking in a solitary twilight zone.
There was Jon who called his 6-month decadent bonanza his ‘Kafka on the Shore’ period, wherein he relished each page of ‘Kakfa on the Shore’ like a devout Christian to his Bible, complete with a playlist of Keane and Manic Street Preachers in the background. His relationship with the book was so intense that it shredded the cover of the book and cut the miserable thing into half, much to the dismay of Ruel, the benevolent owner. Jon’s passion translated into a demented meditation with DOTA from 10 PM to 4 AM, of course with occasional engagements with Heidegger and Tano oftentimes leading to whines and occasional ‘tang ina!’.
And finally this year, with Margarita filling the last two pages of the log book with an overflowing ink of anger, disappointment, despair and finally a tokenistic inclusion of a hopeful conclusion. There was Neil with his sudden bursts of energy, gayness (no pun intended, of course) and burlesque libido, who will complete every meeting with a spice, an emotional melodramatic monologue which violently infiltrates the defensive mechanisms of the hearers, revealing their absurdities— complete with sunken cheeks and glossy eyes, and other physiological traits to that effect. There was Jesusa who would blurt out random phrases, probably for the sake of fanciful arbitrariness itself, in a desperate attempt to escape from the numbing sameness and repetition of everyday tasks and struggles.
In the final analysis, the pressing conclusion seems to be more lucid to me: ban Murakami. Ban his sentimentality, his debilitating hopelessness, his shattered illusions, his teasing open-endedness. Ban him not for his lack of courage to grasp the contours of the revolution, but for his pretentiousness guised under a cloak of intellectual nonsense . Ban him within the territory the Outcrop office, if possible 200 meters away from the office’s door, to prevent his fatalist plague from wrecking the decades of grandeur and militancy that the name of our publication enjoys.
For where we are is a critical conjuncture in our lives, a tipping point wherein we are compelled to choose between the irrational but persistent whims of adolescent emotion and sentimentalism, and the hard, painful road towards enlightened adulthood. Many a time, we feel the immature need to crawl back to the womb of our mother, to leave our present baggage and look upon them with scorn, like an immense burden that we will soon be leaving after the academic year ends. But this is an illusion. Our ages may change, our sense of fashion may change (now look at that outfit that funky outfit Margarita now sports! haha), our political inclinations may change, but only one thing is certain: no one can resist the rampaging onslaught of time. Responsibilities do not disappear, they grow and they grow as we carry on, regardless if we exist inside the Outcrop office or outside, in the apparently ‘care-free’ outside world.
So these, my folks, are my humble proposals. Ban Murakami. Time to grow up.