Caveat: Trick or treat? Chaka Chaka!

Yesterday was halloween.  I was trying to teach the phrase "trick or treat" to my first graders.  I gave them pumpkin cut-outs for them to draw faces on, then we would go out to the lobby from the classroom and say "trick or treat" to the front desk lady, and attach our pumpkins to a wall and hopefully get some candy.  

As we marched out of the classroom to the lobby, the kids all in masks or witch hats, I would say "trick or treat," and they would gamely (lamely?) try to imitate.  But by the time we got to the lobby, they had given up on the difficult "tr-" part of the phrase, and were simply saying "chaka chaka" when I said "trick or treat."  It was like a dance line:  "trick or treat!" I would say.  "Chaka chaka!" they would answer.  All in good fun.

Here's Jeonghyeon, a third grader, wearing my hat and coat and weilding my devil's pitchfork and mugging for the camera.  

Robot2 003

Caveat: 102) 부처님. 저는이 세상에 질병이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다

“Buddha. I bow and pray not to suffer sickness in the world.”

This is #102 out of a series of 108 daily Buddhist affirmations that I am attempting to translate with my hands tied behind my back (well not really that, but I’m deliberately not seeking out translations on the internet, using only dictionary and grammar).

100. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 전쟁이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.
           “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be at war with the world.” 

101. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 가난이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.
          “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be destitute in the world.” 

102. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 질병이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.

I would read this one hundred second affirmation as: “Buddha. I bow and pray not to suffer sickness in the world.”

I say that, currently suffering sickness.  Well.  Such is life.  It’s not a severe sickness, setting aside certain subtle inclincations toward hypochondria that I sometimes experience.

What I’m listening to right now.

Sarah Jarosz, “Left Home.”

Caveat: Language Identity Ambiguity Syndrome

I was installing some Java add-on on my computer and walked through a series of text/approval windows that appeared like the one below.

Javadisaster

Obviously, Java needs to work out some language-compatibility issues.  This isn't that uncommon with software in Korea – but it seems to arise mostly in the context of computers with "language-identity ambiguity syndrome" (LIAS), where user selected some strange middle ground between only-Korean and only-English (or some other language).  Such as my computer.

Meanwhile, I wonder if the Java add-on will work?  I have no idea – I just kind of clicked the most likely buttons, based on experience with other such install windows.  Who knows?

Caveat: La vida es sueño

No he podido encontrar fácilmente la fecha de composición del poema, pero parece más bien temprano que tarde.  Con su título, el poeta Huidobro hace referencia al famoso drama del mismo título de Calderón de la Barca.  

La vida es sueño

Los ojos andan de día en día
Las princesas posan de rama en rama
Como la sangre de los enanos
Que cae igual que todas sobre las hojas
Cuando llega su hora de noche en noche.

Las hojas muertas quieren hablar
Son gemelas de voz dolorida
Son la sangre de las princesas
Y los ojos de rama en rama
Que caen igual que los astros viejos
Con las alas rotas como corbatas

La sangre cae de rama en rama
De ojo en ojo y de voz en voz
La sangre cae como corbatas
No puede huir saltando como los enanos
Cuando las princesas pasan
Hacia sus astros doloridos.

Como las alas de las hojas
Como los ojos de las olas
Como las hojas de los ojos
Como las olas de las alas.

Las horas caen de minuto en minuto
Como la sangre
Que quiere hablar.

Vicente Huidobro es uno de mis poetas favoritos.   Las hojas de otoño de estos días, rojas y marrones y doradas, me aparecen en el simbolismo aquí arriba, acompañadas por gotas de sangre y olas de las alas. Pero me pregunto, ¿quienes son las princesas?

La vida es sueño.

Entonces, anoche soñaba con una ciudad paradigmática, que parecía a una media docena de ciudades en que he vivido, que retrataba una media docena de metrópolis que he amado: Chicago, Los Ángeles, México, Filadelfia, París, Seul.  Andaba de calles vacías de gente, decoradas por hojas muertas y mojadas al azar.  Entre las hojas vi a una princesa, que lloraba la pérdida de un ratón mascota.

Así se puede notar los peligros inherentes de leer poesía surrealista antes de dormir.  Hay que notar, también, que siempre sueño mejor cuando medio enfermo.

Debajo, una foto del otro día, mirando hacia el norte sobre el peatonal de Juyeop (주엽) en su cruce con la gran avenida de Ilsan, Jungangno (중앙로), a dos cuadras de mi departamento.  Los árboles al fondo se han vestido de colores para los primeros días fríos de otoño.

Morefall 002

Caveat: I love kids’ art

So.  I've been kind of sick, lately.  This low grade infection feels like it's floating around my head.  Sometimes it's a sore throat, sometimes it feels more like a tooth ache, then it's an ear ache.  It's like some colony of something-or-other is migrating around my head.  It makes me very sensitive to spicy food when it's in its sore throat phase – like the capsaicin stings.  So I made curried lentils and potatoes last night, but I went light on the red pepper flakes, and it was horribly bland.  I suppose it was healthy, though.

I have a student Yun-jae who is in third grade, but she's in my most elementary, lowest-level class, which is otherwise a bunch of first grade boys.  I think she resents being there, but she's actually kind of a co-teacher for me because she keeps the boys in line.  

I do this thing sometimes where I tell a story, and tell them to draw a picture to accompany the story.  This is fun for the lower grades and the lower ability levels.  Anyway, Yun-jae is a really good artist.  Here's what she drew. 

Scan0001

Don't ask what the story was – I have no idea.  Maybe you can figure it out.  It's got a kind of rebus feel to it, or like a free-form manga (Asian-style comic book).  I was really impressed with it – if an old guy with an art degree drew this exact picture, he could sell it at a gallery.

Caveat: 101) 부처님. 저는이 세상에 가난이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다

“Buddha. I bow and pray not to be destitute in the world.”

This is #101 out of a series of 108 daily Buddhist affirmations that I am attempting to translate with my hands tied behind my back (well not really that, but I’m deliberately not seeking out translations on the internet, using only dictionary and grammar).

99. 부처님. 저는 모든 생명이 평화롭기를 발원하며 절합니다.
        “Buddha. I bow and pray to exist harmoniously with all life.” 

100. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 전쟁이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.
           “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be at war with the world.” 

101. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 가난이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.

I would read this one hundred first affirmation as: “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be destitute in the world.”

I would only add that poverty is in part, at least, a state of mind.  Not that I deny real causes and inequalities – as a lapsed marxist, I must allow them.  But beyond the most basic needs of food and shelter, most of our needs are manufactured for us by our culture.  Hence true destitution is starvation and exposure to the raw elements – that’s something worth praying against.

On a lighter note, here’s a handy happiness diagram I found online.  

Life

Observe its truth, in your own life, today.

Caveat: puro material nostálgico

La mano es la que recuerda…

La mano es la que recuerda
Viaja a través de los años,
desemboca en el presente
siempre recordando.

Apunta, nerviosamente,
lo que vivía olvidado.
la mano de la memoria,
siempre rescatándolo.

Las fantasmales imágenes
se irán solidificando, 
irán diciendo quién eran,
por qué regresaron.

Por qué eran carne de sueño,
puro material nostálgico.
La mano va rescatándolas 
de su limbo mágico.

José Hierro, de "Cuaderno de Nueva York" 1998

 

Caveat: 100) 부처님. 저는이 세상에 전쟁이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다

“Buddha. I bow and pray not to be at war with the world.”

This is #100 out of a series of 108 daily Buddhist affirmations that I am attempting to translate with my hands tied behind my back (well not really that, but I’m deliberately not seeking out translations on the internet, using only dictionary and grammar).

98. 부처님. 저는 맑고 밝은 마음 가지도록 발원하며 절합니다.
        “Buddha. I bow and pray to bear a clear and bright heart.” 

99. 부처님. 저는 모든 생명이 평화롭기를 발원하며 절합니다.
        “Buddha. I bow and pray to exist harmoniously with all life.” 

100. 부처님. 저는이 세상에 전쟁이 없기를 발원하며 절합니다.

I would read this one hundredth affirmation as: “Buddha. I bow and pray not to be at war with the world.”

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be “not to be at war with the world” or “that  there is no war in the world.”  There is a pronoun with both a topic and and subject marker, and then the strange verb 없다 [eops-da = not to have] (which essentially slots two subjects, grammatically, with I as one subject and war as the other).  So it means “I don’t have war” or “War doesn’t have me” or “Around me there is no war” or “Around war I am not.”  Or something like that.  Translating it clearly is challenging, given my limited understanding.  I suppose from a pragmatic standpoint, all of these are roughly similar.

All of which is relavant in the context of Qaddafi’s death yesterday, which leaves me queasy despite his possibly deserving to have died – did he die fighting, or was he summarily executed?  I’m guessing the latter, and that makes me uncomfortable, just as it did with Osama bin Laden.  When did summary execution once again become the norm?  I thought sometime during the 20th century we decided, at a globally collective level perhaps – but most certainly at the level of “Civilization” – that such things as summary executions were uncivilized.

It’s so pleasing that the future Space Emperor signed off on this Libyan project.  Um.  Not.  Then again, the quote from Lincoln (at link) is the right sort of forshadowing – Mr Lincoln wasn’t exactly a pacifist, was he?

 

Caveat: Occupy Your Mind (with Economic / Political Analysis)

I'm not necessarily deeply impressed by the social movements currently happening, that are going by monikers prefixed with the word "Occupy" – e.g. Occupy Wall Street. Rather than be critical of the lack of a clear program or set of demands, however, I'd rather be critical of the evident lack of clearheaded, genuine, scientific-spirited analysis. This is not just lacking on the left, though.  It's just as lacking in anything on the right, of course.  If not more so. Apparently no one has a monopoly on muddleheadedness.

Here is an interesting fact I found recently.  I saw a pointer to a review of a recent book called The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. I read the review and was impresed.  At some point, I may work to acquire the book – perhaps I'll see it out on a table at Kyobo Mungo or another Korean bookstore with a good English book section. This happened with another book I recently started, called 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, by Cambridge University heterodox economist (and coincidental Korean) Ha-joon Chang.

The above mentioned review led me to a list on the wikithing about something called the Wealth Gini. Roughly speaking, the wealth Gini is a ranking of countries in the world by the "fairness" (equality) of their relative distribution of weatlh (not GDP or income, which I find less compelling).  Saliently, South Korea is fourth from the top (Japan is the top), while the USA is fifth from the bottom (Namibia is the bottom).  

What do these facts mean?

Eloquent blogic ranter "Who is IOZ" captures some of my feelings (eloquently, of course) with a recent post entitled Costaguana.

I am really enjoying the United States these days.  It has come more and more to resemble the sort of tawdry, ramshackle, sweaty, tumbledown, corrupt Greeneland that it was always destined to be–or that it always was but managed to hide behind a mountain of dollar-menu burger patties and tip-hazard SUVs.  Well, it sort of sucks to live in a decrepit police state, but at least it finally feels a little more like a real country: demonstrators, work stoppages, tent cities, felonious oligarchs helicoptering to-and-fro, private security firms, a hapless and yet still terrifying apparatus of state repression.  A fat cop on the edge of cardiac arrest swinging a knightstick fruitlessly at a dirty kid.  Forever.

Amen.  

I remain ever-more-happily self-exiled.

Caveat: Perfectionism; Perception

T

 

 here are some students who know so much more than we give them credit for. 

Some of the teachers were sitting around earlier, in the staff room, and Curt and JJ and I were trying to puzzle out why it was that a certain student had quit the hagwon – her mother had apparently said that she was most dissatisfied with the debate class.  My debate class, which is my hugest, most innovative undertaking, so far, at Karma Academy.  Well, we didn't really reach a conclusion – but I didn't feel on the defensive about somehow having been the one to "cause" her to leave the program.  It wasn't that sort of conversation – it was just wondering what might have left the student in question unhappy with it.

Anyway, some time later one of my students from that same class came into the staff room.  She was clearly bored, and on the prowl for some kind of distraction.  I was on a free period, and her cohort hadn't started yet, so she was killing time.  These students from the debate class are pretty advanced, and we can have interesting and wide-ranging conversations.  She told me that lately she was doing more homeowrk.

"I do homework when my life is boring," she explained.  "Then when my life is interesting, I don't study.  So my grades go up and down."  She made a rocking wave motion with her hand.

This struck me as a brilliant bit of self-analysis.  She's a very insightful student, I thought.  Somewhat in passing, I mentioned the student who had left the program that we'd been talking about earlier.

She said it was obvious why the other girl didn't like the debate class:  "She was a little bit too proud of herself.  She saw in that class that she couldn't be the top student, so she didn't like it."  I was stunned with how succinct and perceptive (and brutally honest) this was, as it jibed well with my much less clear hunches as to what had left her unhappy with the class.

There is a certain type of perfectionism that brooks no true competition – I can speak of this with some depth of undestanding, as I have perhaps been guilty of it myself, as some points in my life.

Caveat: Napping at Cold Dawn

I was so tired last night when I got home from work around 1045, but I went to bed at my more or less normal time, 1 am, and then woke up at 630, wide awake.  I thought maybe I wouldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and had a cup of coffee and checked my email.  I wanted to listen to the news on internet streaming radio, but Minnesota Public Radio is having one of its member drives, which is appropriately named because it drives me crazy, and being a member, I don't even get the frisson of feeling guilty about it.

I started KCRW (Santa Monica), which is another radio station I listen to, but then suddenly, finishing my coffee, I was sleepy.  I thought I should take advantage of that, and so I went back to bed, to try to add up to a more normal amount of sleep for the night.  I'm not interested in replicating the Korean universality of sleep deprivation experiences.

It was only a one hour supplemental nap, but very strange-feeling, the way insomnia-induced "catch up" naps can be.  All these disconnected, intense-seeming dreams.  I sleep on the floor, Korean-style, with my head close to the windows in my little apartment, so I could feel the chill dawn air outside – maybe all the way down to freezing last night.  I haven't bothered to try to figure out how to turn on the heat in my apartment, yet.   Sleeping when the air is cold is always a little bit like camping.  Camping makes me think of northern Minnesota, which makes me think of Dylan.  Or vice versa.

What I'm listening to right now.

I had Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" (with Johnny Cash), but I realized I'd blogged that song before, so I replaced it with "Hazel," by Bob Dylan (embedded from some Portuguese site).  

Caveat: 99) 부처님. 저는 모든 생명이 평화롭기를 발원하며 절합니다

“Buddha. I bow and pray to exist harmoniously with all life.”

This is #99 out of a series of 108 daily Buddhist affirmations that I am attempting to translate with my hands tied behind my back (well not really that, but I’m deliberately not seeking out translations on the internet, using only dictionary and grammar).

97. 부처님. 저는 자비로운 마음으로 살기를 발원하며 절합니다.
         “Buddha. I bow and pray to live with a compassionate heart.”

98. 부처님. 저는 맑고 밝은 마음 가지도록 발원하며 절합니다.
        “Buddha. I bow and pray to bear a clear and bright heart.” 

99. 부처님. 저는 모든 생명이 평화롭기를 발원하며 절합니다.

I would read this ninety-ninth affirmation as: “Buddha. I bow and pray to exist harmoniously with all life.”

 

Caveat: My dog bit my internet cable

One of my students cleverly updated the old "the dog ate my homework" meme, today.

When my advanced students write essays for me, they are required to email them to me before the class starts – that gives me an electronic copy and it makes it easy to negotiate corrections and due dates, etc.

ImagesToday, I was pointing out I hadn't received an essay from her in my email inbox, and she said, in all seriousness, "my dog bit my internet cable, so I couldn't send the email."

Nice excuse.  I asked if she printed it out, she said she didn't have a printer at home.  "Really?" I asked.

She handed me something scrawled on some scrap paper, probably in the ten minutes before class started.  "I see," I concluded.

I was laughing very hard, though.  The students couldn't understand why.  I tried to explain, but it was lost on them.

Caveat: 자몽


자몽 001I found, in my local supermarket, for the first time ever, grapefruit.  From California.  Labelled as 자몽 [ja-mong], which I think is a Korean neologism for grapefruit – the dictionary gives the Konglishy 그레이프프루트 [geureipeupeuruteu].  In the dictionary, 자몽 is given as meaning citron, which is a different kind of citrus altogether.  But regardless, this is the first time I’ve ever seen grapefruit in the produce aisle anywhere in Korea.  I bought some – because I love grapefruit.  So much for living on local food, low carbon footprint, right?

I made some pasta with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and garlic, and had dinner.  And I cut sections of grapefruit and ate them as dessert.  Kind of a boring life I have, I know.

I was watching this Korean drama, but the sites I habitually use to download English subtitled versions of the dramas are rapidly disappearing – the copyright police seem to be active.  So I was left hanging, unable to watch the rest of the series.  I’m annoyed by this – the pay site that had subtitles was so horrible (streaming at very low speeds and quality such that the shows were essentially impossible to watch) I quit my membership.  If anyone reading this has advice on where to find subtitled Korean TV materials, please, please help me.

Saturday night my friend Basil was visiting up from Gwangju, where he now works, and we went to that Russian place he introduced me to.  I had borsht and svekolny (beet/garlic salad).  It was really good.  I wonder where one can find beets in Korea?  I want to make my own borsht, but borsht without beets is sacrilegious.  I bought some brown rye bread from the Russian bakery in the same neighborhood there – the clerk speaking Russian and me speaking Korean, and sort of communicating – and I had some of that, toasted, as breakfast.

Caveat: Falling Around Ilsan

Walking from work yesterday, I had my camera.  I took some pictures of fall-colored trees.  The weather was humid and overcast but summer's heat is gone.  It drizzled a little bit.

Fall 003

Fall 004

Fall 005

Fall 009

Fall 012

"It is not given to every man to take a bath of multitude; enjoying a crowd is an art; and only he can relish a debauch of vitality at the expense of the human species, on whom, in his cradle, a fairy has bestowed the love of masks and masquerading, the hate of home, and the passion for roaming… Multitude, solitude: identical terms." – Charles Baudelaire.

The picture below is a redwood tree growing in the Juyeop Park esplanade.  It's a Chinese-origin dawn redwood, that loses its leaves (needles) in the winter.  A strange plant, but seeing them (they're all over Ilsan) always make me think of my childhood in Humboldt.

Fall 007