JOHN ERIC SANTOS·SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2018
“Destroying is also a creative passion.”
Chapter 1: Saturn Devouring His Son
Chapter 2: Burned Books and Bridges
Chapter 3: The Commune
Chapter 4: The Uncanny Threat
Chapter 5: The House of the Toughest Thirty-five Year Old
Chapter 6: Destruction and Creation
1: Saturn Devouring His Son
Sitting alongside undergraduate and graduate students whose faces displayed a cross between concentration and constipation, Karl Michael Cruz could not help it but admire the profound brilliance and eloquence of his father, the lecturer—Jose Gasset Cruz—at Dela Rona Hall. A week ago, his father invited him to attend one of his lectures on humanities at R. Pinto Polytechnic College.
“Pa, I told you this a thousand times, your lectures have nothing to do with my field…” he protested.
“That is the case perhaps, but my talk could give you a fresher perspective on something. It may help you figure out what to do with your life.” his father said with the utmost sincerity and gentleness—there was no hint of spite in his tone. He was all about good intentions. From this, Karl Michael had a mixed feeling of irritation and for some unknown reason pity. And he could not say if he was irritated at himself, or at his father, or at the situation; the same can be said to the latter emotion.
“Okay.” Karl Michael said. The objecting tone had left him completely.
And so a week later, he found himself in awe at the prestige and intellect of his father. A professor of Humanities and Philosophy, Jose Gasset Cruz stood tall as an ever growing acacia tree, extending his branches every which way; and in the process of his continued growth, he seemed to have overshadowed the sprout that was Karl Michael Cruz—his son. And as he admired his father silently, Karl Michael Cruz could not avoid the notion that he would never be even close to his father’s achievements, if not his father’s unshaken character, even if he gave it his best effort.
“Goya’s painting depicted Cronus,” Jose Gasset Cruz pointed at the painting flashed in the projector. “or known as Saturn in Roman mythology, devouring his son. It was because the titan feared the prophecy of the oracle: one day, he will be dethroned by one of his sons so to defy such a fate, the moment one son is born, Cronus devoured him. He ate one child after the next. What sets this painting apart from the other paintings with a similar concept is that Goya’s work depicts no beauty. The painting is gritty, grim, and terrifying to the core—the stuff of nightmares, if you will. We can say that Saturn Devouring His Son heavily favors madness over anything. This is why the painting’s message is so vivid. Everything is disregarded, but madness. You can see it in Cronus’s eyes.”
And for some reason, as Karl Michael Cruz became deaf to all the sounds around him except the sound produced by his father, he arrived at a clear realization of what he should do with his life…
A recap of Karl Michael’s life would tell us why his father expressed concern about the matter: he flunked the Librarian Licensure Examination twice, his grades from the tertiary, secondary, and primary level were mediocre, he had an overly dominant girlfriend with a tendency to sleep around any male displaying a strong resolve as opposed to Karl Michael’s namby-pamby nature, and he never achieved any award or recognition in his entire existence. Despite of his past and existing predicaments, his father had never undermined him. He remained supportive, understanding, and patient. But because of this, Karl Michael Cruz hardly developed the courage to build his character, to stand up for himself; to revolt against his condition. Instead, he retreated in the darkest part of his father’s shadow. His branch was too small; too thin to reach out and harness sunlight, thus he remained stunted. But it was not as if he didn’t try to get out of the large shadow. He made several attempts: he paid for his college tuition fee by getting a job—at a local bookstore near his father’s school—related to his field, he consistently secured that job position while waiting for the result of his third Librarian Licensure Examination, he saved a lot of money, and he even sought the help of philosophy and literature to alleviate his feeling of inadequacy about everything. None of them gave him the resolution that he needed, in point of fact, some notions even made things worse for him.
“No one talks about Martin Heidegger’s son; no one talks about Stephen Hawking’s children. How about Bob Marley’s, Ozzy Osbourne’s, Elvis Presley’s; even Will Smith’s? These children are overshadowed by their parents, and any action that they take to create a name for themselves will just be attributed to their fathers’ traits. Hence all is in vain.” he said to himself one night while he was closing the bookstore.
But after his father’s lecture on Saturn Devouring His Son at Dela Rona Hall; at the R. Pinto Polytechnic College, he had arrived at an unshaken resolve, one which may finally get him out of his father’s shadow for good.
Karl Michael Cruz—a man in his thirties who thought of himself as a stark failure of a man who could have done better—stood firm in his resolve to run away from home.
*Album Art Cover: Quantum Noise, “Oceans of Pine V: Paper Butterfly”