Maia Nebula!

The world is sick, but my smile is intact.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tsukuba: Here Be Monsters

Ever since 1973 small tumors have been sprouting at an alarming speed amidst a large patch of untamed green, and every summer an army of vines and bushes fights these lumps to no avail like weakened T-cells at the height of an incurable syndrome. They try in vain to engulf these rotten gray crusts, the external symptom of an inexplicable disease. The origin: a parasite species, Homo sapiens. Diagnosis: progress. Some call it the future.

As seen by the very parasites that inhabit it, Tsukuba—or at least its southern half—is a promise taken from a sci-fi movie. It is here where it becomes apparent that the Triumph of Humankind has reached an apex, and to prove it, rockets and research facilities have been planted here and there, hiding the old rice fields. After all, it was here were the world was supposed to witness how the future would look like—one year before Challenger came down burning like a cautionary tale from the future itself. However, in spite of the shortcomings of evolution, this side of the city decided to remain eternally hopeful. They do not know they are invading this land, for their improvement on the landscape is all they know about the role of humans in time and space. The hordes of children learning to walk across the parks and malls on Sundays are proof of this faith in what has already been accomplished. But of course, they would not venture into the north side of the city.

If Michael Ende’s crumbling Fantasia and the Nothing were to be recreated somewhere in real life, northern Tsukuba would be an ideal candidate. It is home to a university famous for its record amounts of students precipitating from tall buildings every year, as if it were fashionable not only to talk about rain but also to emulate it. A glance into its dorms can make the cheeriest of students forget at once the very purpose of life. Far from every possible source of entertainment, they constitute the last frontier in this territory. The thick forests and mountains of junk surrounding them remind both visitors and residents that Tsukuba is a city on the edge of the world, the last hope if there ever was any. For someone whose home is originally located at the other side of the Pacific or the Eurasian continent, this is the place where old maps should never have removed the “here be monsters” sign. Those who live in this unfortunate zone are reminded every day of their condition of pathogens to nature, having to compete for scraps of space with giant spiders, cockroaches, stray cats and mold. They are the eternal colonizers of a post-apocalyptic backyard where all the unfulfilled dreams of the south were left to rot under the scorching summer sun. There is a particle accelerator somewhere around to remind the miserable dwellers of the north that not all is bad and the future’s still here, but if the south is a tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the north is more of a mixture between Mad Max and Blade Runner. Watch out for the kibble.

This city was supposed to be a perfect plan. Every street, every building, every park, everything was part of an intricate web of urban harmony projected by some of the most skillful architects in the country. Hadn’t Brasilia been built this way too? An oasis of civilization emerging from the savage jungle. And yet people keep hanging themselves in desperation for its deadly lack of chaos. Apparently human beings still need their dose of spontaneity in order to survive. But spontaneity how, if the streets are empty save for the occasional student on a bicycle. Everybody’s locked up, trying to escape from the sight of this wreckage, even if children pop up every weekend as though part of a Huxleyan entertainment program. The future, clean as we may want it to be, degenerates into hopelessness when isolated from real life. Whoever dreamed of this place certainly thought of the future, but probably of a future after the extinction of the human race.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I am alone, in spite of love,
In spite of all I take and give—
In spite of all your tenderness,
Sometimes I am not glad to live.

I am alone, as though I stood
On the highest peak of the tired gray world,
About me only swirling snow,
Above me, endless space unfurled;

With earth hidden and heaven hidden,
And only my own spirit's pride
To keep me from the peace of those
Who are not lonely, having died.

—Sara Teasdale

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tsukuba is what happens when the world gives up on you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I sent a bathyscaphe down your heart
To see if I could find myself
Amongst your memories.

It was a selfish thing, I know,
This quest for mirrors—

But I did learn my lesson,
As nothing is reflected
In the dark.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


The grass began to grow back sooner than expected, but by then they had already fled to places where they could maintain the illusion of living on a parallel timeline. Names had been scratched off phonebooks, and lovers they had relinquished in the middle of the night had all but melted into an unreliable mesh of fingers and tongues. At random times they stopped mid-step and wondered what it would be like to go back and start anew, or what if it had never happened—but it was too late. And yet, they wondered.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

—Langston Hughes

Monday, October 04, 2010

Food for Thought

There probably isn't much merit in promising the future to somebody. After all, the future is as stable as Io's surface. What is truly remarkable is when you meet someone whose company you really enjoy but who doesn't want to promise anything beyond what's already there, and you're an idiot going about with your stupid romantic ideals, and you act all apocalyptic and tell them you know what get lost, I need my promises and you're not giving any, and you go your merry way and probably get to hear what you wanted to hear from someone else eventually but sooner or later all the dreamy wooing explodes in your face quite inexplicably, and you become the downcast type kicking pebbles when by chance you run into this person again and you find out that they don't hate you, and you ask them why, can't you see I'm an idiot, and they're like no, you're not, I think you're pretty cool actually, and you understand that the future's indeed as stable as Io's surface but if there were such thing as the ability to trace a line and decide who to walk it with it'd be that person, and you're absolutely sure you wouldn't want to be an idiot ever ever again lest you screw up this teeny tiny chance that life's just given you, because even if your own stupid romantic ideals have exploded in your face and you still have some heavy luggage to deal with, you can't deny how incredibly lucky you are. Now that is something to ponder about.