A writer in search of an author

“Once it happened, as I lay awake at night, that I suddenly spoke in verses, in verses so beautiful and strange that I did not venture to think of writing them down, and then in the morning they vanished; and yet they lay hidden within me like the hard kernel within an old brittle husk.”

― Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf


Liberating it may seem to disregard the author whenever a text is being interpreted, but every reader must realize that all works, may it be literary or not, did not come from a vacuum. Hence, it is a product of someone’s experience, emotion, mind, and hand. To quote Michael Crichton’s Sphere “Your greatness lies in imagination.”

Joselito De Los Reyes’ latest book, FindingTeo – Tula/Talambuhay, takes a brave step to mix his academic and literary repertoire in walking you through the life of Teo T. Antonio, one of the country’s foremost writers.

It is right when Jerry B. Gracio states that not many biographies are published in the Philippines. If there are, most probably it is about apolitician, a media personality, and a tycoon—never forget the sportsman. Furthermore, Jerry claims that this might be a reflection on how the country looks at literature and its writers.

Interestingly, the disregard—or questioning—of the author is not a new idea. In France, the “Death of the Author” and “What is an Author?” are familiar constructs presented by RolandBarthes and Michel Foucault which might have influenced the people of the world, but the context of these ideas should be considered before assuming the few biographies of literary personalities in the country mirrors its people.

Joey’s natural wit and storytelling prowess that was earlier exemplified in his books iSTATUS NATION mgaistatuskonghindi pang-status quo, TITSER PANGKALAWAKAN at iba pang angassa social network, at TROYA: 12 Kuwento is once again on the groove as he paints an intimate portrait of an artist by another in Finding Teo.

The National Artist for Literature’s, Dr. BienvenidoLumbera, challenge was taken by Joey in this book, which is “[To humanize] the literary work.” That entails tracing the life of an author. “This consists of” as to Dr. Bien’s words “identifying the provenance of the literary work and establishing its link with the writer’s life and other works. Background information of the literary work and on the writer is vital to determine the context within which the piece should be studied.”

Standing on the solid ground with critical authorities, Joey reaches to the readers from the academe and beyond. By showing the intercourse between the writer and his work and social setting, the book offers a compleat guide to have a “deeper appreciation of various psychological and social pressures that underlie creative writing. This would allow the reader to gain an insight not only into a poem or play but also into the mind of the artist and the structures of a given society.”

Undeniably, the endeavor to write a biography is similar to a historical research. Aside from the popular culture which Joey most of the time writes about, this memoir about a mentor reveals his other side, the academic, without removing the Woody Allen from within.

Finding Teo is an academic and literary piece that delves into a personal history in order to relate the works to its creator. Moreover, it recreates the ambience and experiences wherein Teo T. Antonio lived, bringing the readers to places where they haven’t been and living a life they never lived.

Quoting Joey’s citation of Schlaeger from the pages which he said you can skip “biography is an attempt to reverse a process in which death has become a merely biological event.” Bringing you to the question “what is death?” and answering it the same time “Just nature’s way of telling us to slow down.” Ergo, this is not only a collection of facts and creative ingredients, but a call to reflect on your own life.

After battling the painful task of inking his thoughts on the screen, Dr. Joselito De Los Reyes did his best to wage war against experts to bring you this book, which is a product of his dissertation. Now, you can formally call him as Doctor Joey, just drop a message on his Facebook if you would like to consult about your sickness—may it be on love life or buhaypag-ibig.

Through Teo, Joey found a mentor who inspires and helped him to be whoever he is at present. Openly, he expresses his gratitude towards the mentor he first met through a book lent by Jerry Gracio.

At the end of the book, Joey gathered some poems that portray multiple subjects. Starting from “Tumana’tIlogsaBambang” which show how a boat can bring a man from one place to another, similar to life—existing to emancipation. Then “AngNayonKo” reflects the typical countryside of the Philippines, especially its traditions. Furthermore, “AntigongMakinilya” allows you to hear the sonorous sound of the typewriter that produced great pieces like a master’s thesis, but also puts you in the face of reality that soon this machines will be broken and needed to be altered due to the advent of technology.

As you grab a copy of Finding Teo—Tula/Talambuhay from the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, what will be on your hand is a hybrid product of two lives intertwined by letters, words, paragraphs, stories, and meaning. Calling you to reexamine yourselves and experience living with two of the finest writers in the country.





More Stories