상상과 실지와는 딴판이었다 imagine-AND reality-AND-TOPIC great-difference-is-PAST Imagined [thing] and reality were a great difference.
"Reality differs greatly from what's imagined."
This proverb has a different provenance from those previous ones I've posted. I'm not sure it can even be properly called a proverb – it's just a sentence I found in my dictionary on my new phone, as an example of usage for the word 실지 (reality, practicality). But I like a lot of the example sentences I've run across there, so when I run across one I'll use it. My spreadsheet full of aphorisms and proverbs isn't used up, by any means, but I'll vary the source I guess.
I'm sleepless at 430 am. Not sure what's going on – I woke up wide awake in the middle of the night. Sometimes, that just happens. I can't identify a pattern to it, really, but many years ago, I decided that the best strategy was to get up and do something rather than lie there and be insomniac. So I'm surfing the interwebs, listening to music, and contemplating the differences between reality and my imagination.
The little illustration's quote: "Everything you can imagine is real."
… and look at Iceland now – the country most heavily striken by the 2008 global financial crisis, and now it's healthy and happy as can be – not perfect, but it weathered the storm much better than Europe or even the US. Read about it at Washington's Blog.
That's a cool picture I found by randomly searching the interwebs, too.
You either get this or you don't. I'm not even going to begin to try to explain it, if you don't. It's a chipophone – for lovers of old-school 8-bit computer-generated music. As one commenter said, on the creator's website: "ubernice."
Recently there's been some media hype about Peter Jackson's upcoming first installment of his Hobbit movies, to follow up on the Lord of the Rings series. And it got me to thinking about the books. The Hobbit had a major influence on me as a preteen. I remember my dad reading it to me and and my sister, in chapters when we were only maybe 6 or 7 years old.
I attempted to read the Lord of the Rings series in junior high and it bored me – in the field of fantasy literature, I was much more interested in Herbert's Dune, on the one hand, or LeGuin's Earthsea books, on the other. But returning to it a few years later, I genuinely appreciated Tolkien, and moved on to consume the Silmarilion voraciously and repeatedly. That's my favorite of them – I'm into mythopoeia, obviously.
But thinking about the Lord of the Rings, though, lead me to recall the work in the genre that is most impressive to me, despite it's deeply flawed mythopoesis: E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros. The text is available online. So I began reading it, again. There's a strange tonal and linguistic authenticity – a lack of anachronism, perhaps, vis-a-vis the fantastic, high-medieval material – though in fact, the material is almost pre-medieval, but rather classical or Homeric. Regardless, it works. But it's not an easy book – a novel written in the 1920's that is in almost flawless 17th century English.
I'm feeling pretty frustrated and even angry, the last few days. I guess hoesik (business dinner) brings it out, slightly. But it's not like you would think. What's got me frustrated and angry? My inability to understand what the heck is going on around me. That's the language issue.
It's not even a cultural problem – less and less am I of the opinion that the alleged Korean "communication taboo" that I've ranted about before is a real thing – it really boils down to certain naive conceptions of how language works, especially in communities of mixed-ability adults with multiple native languages (by this I mean e.g. there are native Korean speakers with lousy English. native Korean speakers with good English, native English speakers with lousy Korean, and native English speakers with good Korean, in an ideal mixed-ability community). In a work environment, an immense amount of communication takes place that is not explicit: people know what's going on not because they are directly told, but because they "overhear" what's going on. It enters their background consciousness. But with my limited and lousy Korean, I miss out on that channel. And then it feels like I'm being singled out for "noncommunication" because I don't know what's going on. It's an artefact of my situation.
The solution is to get better at Korean. Argh. No comment. I'm trying. Really. But obviously, not with a great deal of success. I think my coworkers are deceived that I am better than I am, because I sometimes pick up on things quite easily. But other times, I have literally zero idea. It's a limitation of adequate vocabulary, more than anything else.
So there. I get frustrated in social situations, which make them stressful for me.
I get frustrated at work, because I have no idea what's going on, and no one will tell me when I ask – they are too busy, or they don't know themselves.
I'm frustrated when I try to study, because I feel stupid and inadequate. I guess on the bright side, I have a lot of sympathy for my most boneheaded students – I'm one of them.
But I'm so depressed with this whole situation, lately, that I'm on the verge of tears.
I came home in the cold and made a big bowl of "Spanish rice" with my leftover rice. It's not really Spanish. It's just rice with a vaguely Italian-style vegetable and tomato-based sauce added to it.
Last night we had a sort of less-formal-than-usual 회식 (hoesik = work-related meal/meeting event).
I genuinely like my coworkers, but even when it's clear they like and respect me, too, I never feel like I can settle into my "real self" at these kinds of things. It's complicated – everything about me is so "constructed" – so "intentional." Who am I, really? It's hard even to decide what kind of person I'm trying to be, much less to be that person consistently while drinking alcohol. I feel like I stick with that "quiet observer of my fellow humanity" role, but it no doubt disconcerts people: my failure to speak too much, my failure to become raucous or candid. And inside, I'm just a little bit lonely, and a little bit confused, and frustrated with my many shortcomings, and second-guessing each utterance, as I always have. As I always have.
I got home late. Or early. 4 am. I tried to sleep. I work up. I drew something, as if it had come to me in a dream, but without that actually being the case. I slept some more.
Mud-ox from the bottom of the ocean running away, holding the moon in his mouth; Stone-tiger in front of boulder is sleeping, holding a baby in his arm; Iron-snake is passing through Diamond-ball; Mount-Sumeru riding on elephant's back, being pulled by the sparrow.
My boss frequently likes to hand out these massive photocopied booklets of vaguely pedagogical value.
I say vaguely, because I really can't judge, seeing as they're in Korean. To me, their value is vague. But I do see them as an opportunity for a Korean lesson, sometimes. So I stuff them in my backpack and bring them home, and on lazy weekends, such as the one just ending, I pull one of them out and spend some time attempting to make sense of it.
Curt likes pithy aphorisms and inspirational snippets. They appeal to me too – partly because they're less overwhelming to try to read than whole dense paragraphs. Hence my long series of efforts to translate various Korean proverbs and aphorisms.
Anyway, he has a page in one of his recent booklets that lists the (alleged) qualities of a good teacher. Here's that list, with my effort at translation following.
학생들이 좋아하는 교사의 특성
1. 교수법이 능숙하다 2. 열심히 가르친다 3. 온순하다 4. 운동을 좋아한다 5. 명랑, 쾌활해라 6. 공평무사 7. 머리가 좋다 8. 지식이 풍부하다 9. 유익한 이야기를 한다 10. 판서를 잘한다 11. 잘 돌봐 준다 12. 최미가 다양하다 13. 실력이 있다 14. 연구심이 있다 15. 친절 16. 정돈되어 있다 17. 유머 18. 건강하다 19. 언어가 명확하다 20. 나이가 젊다
The Characteristics of Teachers That Students Like
1. Proficient in teaching 2. Works hard at teaching 3. Is humble 4. Likes to exercise (or practice – this is ambiguous) 5. Cheerful and lighthearted 6. Fair 7. Good head (or good hair! – given Korean cultural obsession with "good hair" this might be the meaning) 8. Has a wealth of knowledge 9. Informative conversation 10. Good at writing 11. Takes good care 12. Variety of hobbies 13. Has skill 14. Has a spirt of inquiry 15. Kind 16. Organized 17. Humor 18. Healthy 19. Uses clear language 20. A youthful age (as in "young for his/her age")
Most of these I can agree with and understand. I'm a little worried about the "good hair" one, though. It might mean the ruin of my teaching career.
I watched a remarkable movie entitled Travellers and Magicians. The movie is from Bhutan. For me, it had a large number of literary resonances, everything from the Welsh myths of the Mabinogion to Rulfo's Pedro Páramo (which itself is perhaps at least partly rooted in Aztec mythology). I guess this points up the universality of myth.
I spent a good portion of the day reading the middle part of Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution. I like his conception of the living thing (including humans) as a thoroughfare for evolutionary forces. At the point I am now, he is saying that a living thing isn't really a "thing" at all – it's just an eddy in a flow, a locus of conservation and retrograde hesitation in a maelstrom of neverending change and growth. I like that.
there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down
on its citizens from outside its borders." – Barack Obama, November 18,
2012. He was talking about Israel, vis-a-vis Gaza. However… How's that work, vis-a-vis the drone war being conducted by the US in countries like Pakistan and Yemen? It's why I was unable, within the scope of my own moral compass, to vote for the man, despite his accomplishments and the symbolism of it.
I have a student Mingyu who wrote this in his recent diary essay book.
I had a stomachache because I ate pizza, banana, lemon and bread. In fact I had a stomachache from yesterday when I went to math academy but I was very feel sick at the stomachache. So so I went to bathroom and I threw up all I had eaten. I went home I don't eat anything and I sleep.
I need to discuss the concepts of "over-sharing" and "TMI."
I was driving in Minnesota snowstorm. Then the guy in the car in front of me, who I recognized as a coworker from Karma, was recruited by some construction workers to get out of his car and wave a green light up and down beside the highway, directing traffic.
This was weird – I was thinking that, even inside the dream. 'Is that safe or legal, recruiting random drivers to work at a construction site in a snowstorm?' I ponder, as my car devolves into a slow skid on the snowy, icy road, nearly knocking the man down. This emphasizes my point. But I roll down my window and wave to him, cheerily.
After driving some more, I show up at the meeting I'm going to. It's at work. That guy who got recruited to wave the green light shows up after me, covered in ice and snow, but he has a girlfriend who looks like a Korean pop star.
The meeting is in Korean. But my long-time-ago boss, Mary (I don't even remember her last name) from when I taught high school in New Jersey is conducting the meeting. And one of my coworkers, who was the head of the Spanish department at Moorestown, was looking around confused, because the meeting was being held in Korean. According to Mary (who has been speaking flawless Korean), the topic of the meeting was a debate contest we were supposed to participate in.
"Participate in?" I asked. "I thought we were the teachers."
One of the other teachers muttered something in Korean to the extent of, 'why does he speak English, it's annoying.'
We had a debate yesterday in my iBT class (mostly 6th graders with two 5th graders) about a topic that comes up now and then on this blog: is downloading music without permission wrong? That question was the basis of our proposition. Often, when I have an uneven number of students, I participate in the debate myself, on one side or the other. This provides modelling of debate language for the students and they seem to find it entertaining. I don't think my performance as the last CON team speaker in this debate was particularly good, though.
Here is the debate.
I have been sending debate speech recordings to the students' parents, lately, too. This is proving rather popular. I think the parents like seeing how their kids are doing.
Students pass notes. This seems to be almost universal across cultures – at least cultures with literacy. Sometimes my students write notes on tiny scraps of paper and wad them up and throw them across to whomever they're trying to communicate with. If they get caught, they're getting caught throwing paper (a minor offense, and unembarrassing) rather than passing notes (a potentially more hazardous infraction, depending on what's in the note).
When I catch students passing notes, I will intercept the little balls of paper. This makes them worried, but I rarely do anything with the paper except perhaps study them as linguistic objects. You see, one can learn interesting bits of Korean Language for a note where you understand the social context.
I have a group of 6th graders that recently seem to have discovered the opposite sex. And they are always joking and blushing and showing off and giggling and doing what awkward adolescents will do. And they write and pass notes, too.
I intercepted a note a while back and glanced at it after class and laughed at it, and then I put it on my desk and forgot about it. I rediscovered it today. The note said, in tiny barely legible handwriting, "너 ~~~ 좋아하지?" (Do you like ~~~? – where ~~~ is someone's name, best left unuttered on the internet in unicode).
It was writen by girl A, to boy B, about other girl C.
My observation? Duh. Boy B sits and stares at girl C, moon-eyed. It's all very cute.