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Mental Leaps
« on: July 31, 2008, 11:39:35 PM »
Mental Leaps
By A.M.B. Apalisok


     That HRD guy sometime back was prepped up to the nines.  Bad timing; when I asked if my photo lighting was right for the scene, he answered with a lecture on having an eye for events and relegating them to immortality with pictures.   

      He droned on and seemed not to stop while my schedule was going askew.  Slipping a word amid his rhetoric was impossible without the two of us talking together.  I yawned. 

      Short of calling me uncivilized, he lectured further that I not ask questions next time if I’m not interested in the answer.  It seemed beyond him to know that he didn’t only make a mental leap, he bungee jumped with flair as well.   

      I only needed a yes or a no about photo lighting, and you give me the state of Philippine cinema, I answered.  Too bad we became wary of each other after that.       

      His mental leap was like wanting to know some details of MacArthur’s landing in Leyte, like, say, if Carlos P. Romulo was on his toes as he waded to the beach, and one gets subjected instead to a lecture on the invasion of Normandy.   

      It may be the same World War, but let’s face it, the Pacific theater isn’t the European theater, as simple as the desert fox Gen. Erwin Rommel isn’t the curmudgeon Gen. George Patton.  Or please spare me details of how Lapulapu killed Magellan when I ask about Dagohoy.     

      Mental leaps, and bounds, if you may, are a good weapon to spare oneself a predicament.  When you don’t know a whit about a question and you’re in no mood to say so, twist the question around to give an answer that is within your knowledge, so goes the sage advice.   

      Don’t know why the latest Nobel Peace prizewinner Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh merited the award?  Talk about the pain inflicted by five-six loan sharks.  Not a scuba diver and hadn’t seen a whale eyeball to eyeball?  Talk about why you didn’t win in a drowning contest.     

      For students, mental leaps are useful in essay exams and extemporaneous speech, especially when one has the ability to connect dissimilar facts.  The subject of dots made a champion out of an extemporaneous speaking contestant because he was able to connect dots with planets, and thus the universe.  That galactic mental leap was logical and useful for the occasion.

      But mental leaps can be boring in one-on-one verbal exchanges.  It’s worse if one lectured and didn’t know when to stop, like my friend the HRD guy.  There exists a thin line though between a bore and a wit.

      A 1980s university student in a nearby province became popular for one thing: his delivery of Mi Ultimo Adios.  It was an oral exam and the Spanish teacher required the students to recite by heart Rizal’s Spanish poem.  The guy didn’t get it but stood up to recite anyway.  “Adios patria adorada/ Ikaw [name of teacher] diri lalim ba!” 

      My late eldest brother I believe was the ultimate mental leaper.  I came home from Germany and he greeted me with why Hitler is the son of Rizal, complete with historical dates and their likeness in height and the way they part their hair.  His arsenal of mental leaps was as boundless as our laughter. 

      An Indian writer writes about his classmate who prepared for English essay exams by learning one essay by heart, his masterpiece about a cow.  The exam question was on the Taj Mahal.  “The Taj Mahal is a beautiful building,” the classmate wrote.  “It is surrounded by grass.  Grass is good for cows…” and the mental leap to his prepared cow essay came easy.

      Politicians the world over are just as prepared with answers like his classmate with the cow essay, the Indian writer points out.  Ask them about anything and their favorite answers would be poverty eradication, global warming, and anti-terrorism.  Sounds like home, really, although we have a more colorful rainbow of points from where mental leaps can be made.

   Presidential or parliamentary? Impeach the president, say oppositionists and opponents.  Obviously, like my bout with that HRD guy, not all mental leaps are a laughing matter.         

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