LT / The only Coelho title I like

12:00:00 AM

During my college sophomore year, I was almost always with two boys, Ralph the Baron of Sealand, and Jonar from the Sonar. One of our pastimes, aside from getting drunk, is talking about philosophy. What started out as a random drinking session in the college soccer field of Ateneo then became a regular discourse on life. The three of us live to overthink; it's just our thing. We even started Kant Rant, a private philosophical blog that only the three of us could access.

Anyhow, the three of us consider Paolo Coelho's works as "Philosophy Light." We don't like his books. Well, actually, I used to. I only started to hate his books when I took up philosophy classes in college, and the dislike became permanent when I read Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. From then on, every Coelho title just seemed really shallow. It's like pre-digested philosophy; everything is laid out plainly, simply, that you no longer have to overthink it. Coelho became boring.
The exception
(image from the internet)
Eleven Minutes, however, was quite the exception. It tells the story of Maria, a beautiful Brazilian girl who ends up working in Geneva as a prostitute. Defeated by love, she then becomes devoted to her trade. She learns to compartmentalize, to treat sex as a means to an end, the end simply being sexual pleasure. And then she meets Ralf, a handsome young painter, and her ability to compartmentalize is compromised. She is torn between staying the course she has decided for herself, and pursuing a higher kind of sex, an act done in the context of love.

The book is actually, at its very core, an average cheesy love story; it was Coelho's imagination that made it more than that. Not all women can relate to Maria's sexual exploits, but I'm certain that they can appreciate the part where she is confronted with the choice of braving up and taking a chance on love, at the risk of tearing down her protective walls and exposing herself to a world she vowed to protect herself from.

Maria reminds me a lot of Sabina, the artist from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and both are characters I can empathize with. Sooner or later, we will be asked to choose. Maria chose love, while Sabina chose to run away from it. I'm not at that proverbial fork in the road at the moment, but I was there twice before. I ran away the first time, but on the second, I took a leap of faith. Both decisions paid off; it was in running away the first time that led me to the man I was with for five years.

Like I said, I'm not currently experiencing the same dilemma. But sometimes I wonder what my decision will be when I'm in that situation again. Will I choose love? Or will I take the safe route of detachment? I guess I'm overthinking again, so I'll stop right here.


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