Caveat: 한국어영화

Having nothing better to do on the 15 hour transpacific flight, I happened to stumble across the fact that the Air Canada movie selection included quite a few foreign films – including 4 Korean movies.

I decided somewhat arbitrarily that transpacific flights should include Korean movies (such movies have been included, so often, in the past, because my most frequent transpacific carrier has been Korean Airlines).

So I binged on Korean movies. No comment with respect to quality – this is not, nor has it ever been, a movie review blog. You can find summaries and reviews elsewhere, better than anything I could write.

But I enjoyed watching them – a few hours of immersion in Korean culture, absent from my day to day life since last summer.

The movies I watched:

picture

돌아와요 부산항애 – a violent cops and robbers thriller where the two antagonists (cop and robber) are twin brothers.

picture

스타박스다방 – a comedy involving a guy starting a coffee shop in a small coastal village in Korea, where many of the characters die at the end.

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선명탐정: 흡혈괴마의 비밀 – an anachronistic comedy adventure involving vampires in Joseon Era Korea (1700s).

Caveat: Acute Malignant Optimism

My life here in Rockpit, Alaska, with my uncle Arthur has evolved some very stolid routines. One of these routines is that after dinner (which is always promptly at 5 PM), we watch TV for one or two hours.

Arthur chooses the programming. Some I like better than others. Recently we have been watching episodes of the 2001-2002 series A Nero Wolfe Mystery, based on the detective novels and stories by Rex Stout.

Arthur and I were watching the episode entitled “The Silent Speaker“. This line, “acute malignant optimism,” was used in that episode. There are lot of entertaining and interesting turns of phrase in the series, reflecting the unique voice of the original writing by Stout. I find it entertaining.

Arthur, who rarely reacts to the TV these days (much less than in my memories of the past), laughed out loud. I found it interesting that that was the biggest laugh I’ve heard out of him in a long time. It suited his character, I suppose.

We are suffering, here, of acute malignant optimism. What to do?

Caveat: Yáahl

Yáahl

Yáahl uu st'igáalaan, hal st'i'áwyaagaan.
'Wáadluu xíl hal tlaahláayaan.
Gut'iláa k'íit k'uts hal ts'asláangaan.
'Wáadluu sáng kwáan hal néilaan gyaan hal 'lagáalaan
Asgáayst hal xitgwáangaan táawk uu hal diyáangaan.
'Wáadluu, chíin kwáan gándlaay aa hal táagaan.
Hal sk'ísdlaayaan gyaan xitgáay aa hal jagíyaayaan.
'Wáadluu hingáan an sáanjuudaayaan.
Ahljíihl uu tl' hlgúujuu jahlíis gám 'láa'anggang.

This story is in the Haida language, which is the native language of Prince of Wales Island, where my uncle's home is and where I will be moving. Here is a translation from the same website where I found the story.

Raven

Raven got sick, he was very sick.
Then he made some medicine.
He boiled different kinds of tree roots.
Then he drank it for many days and got well.
Then he flew around looking for food.
Then he ate a lot of fish in a creek.
He got full and couldn't fly.
So, then, he just rested.
That is why it doesn't pay to be too greedy.

by Erma Lawrence
Original version published in: Xaadas Gyaahláang (1974), Society for the Preservation of Haida Language and Literature.

[daily log: walking, 3km]

Caveat: harta de sentir

Lo que estoy escuchando en este momento.

Control Machete – De Perros Amores. The video is weird, creepy, and borderline NSFW. That said, it's a scene from the eponymous movie for which this song is the title track.

La calidad de las letras disponibles en línea no es muy buena, e hice varios cambios y ajustes, pero todavía no son exactos. Parece que probablemente había mal entendido por lo menos algunas palabras. Específicamente, yo siempre he oído la línea del coro "atardece en ti" como "harta de sentir" – frase que igual incluso tiene su propio sentido dentro de la lógica de la canción. Tal vez la ambigüidad es intencional.

Letras.

Suficientes son los problemas de un solo día
Como para preocuparse del futuro (¿Cual?)
Olvidamos que para poder llegar al otro lado
Hay que empezar derribando el primero de los muros
Nos pasamos la vida viendo triunfos y fracasos
Conseguidos en tiempo pretérito
¿Cuantas veces se ha detenido el sol a mediodía? (¿Cuantas?)
¿Por que ya no quiere vivir más atardeceres? (¿Cuantas veces?)

El negro dejara de ser negro sin el blanco
El bueno dejara de ser bueno sin el malo

Rutina repetitiva que constantemente termina
Puede empezar de nuevo da fruto la semilla
¿Por que envejece por que tu piel se va arrugando?
El paso del tiempo una broma te está jugando
¿Sabes que la codicia puede dejarte en la ruina?
¿Quieres solucionarlo?
¡borrarlo de tu vida!
de perros amores
¡borrarlo de tu vida!
de perros amores
¡borrarlo de tu vida!

si alguna vez
si alguna vez
si alguna vez
si alguna vez

Amanece el alma
atardece en ti

Amanece el alma
atardece en ti

acción es en real voluntad
sensación, la velocidad
fé e ilusión orgánica
coincidencia armónica

No existe ningún borrador mágico
para borrar todos los errores cometidos
¿Que pasaría si las flores solo se marchitaran?
¿O solo se quedaran como botones?
Duele la realidad, duele
la fantasía solo se queda en los sueños
¿Que pasaría si nunca muero?
¿y no tuviera la oportunidad de nacer de nuevo?

Amanece el alma
(vuelve otra vez, aparece)
atardece en ti
(desapareces, te vas y vuelves)

Amanece el alma
(vuelve otra vez, aparece)
atardece en ti
(desapareces, te vas y vuelves)

Amanece el alma
(vuelve otra vez, aparece)
atardece en ti
(desapareces, te vas y vuelves)

Amanece el alma
(vuelve otra vez, aparece)
atardece en ti
(desapareces, te vas y vuelves)

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: para llevarme lejos

El viento en la isla

El viento es un caballo:
óyelo cómo corre
por el mar, por el cielo.

Quiere llevarme: escucha
cómo recorre el mundo
para llevarme lejos.

Escóndeme en tus brazos
por esta noche sola,
mientras la lluvia rompe
contra el mar y la tierra
su boca innumerable.

Escucha como el viento
me llama galopando
para llevarme lejos.

Con tu frente en mi frente,
con tu boca en mi boca,
atados nuestros cuerpos
al amor que nos quema,
deja que el viento pase
sin que pueda llevarme.

Deja que el viento corra
coronado de espuma,
que me llame y me busque
galopando en la sombra,
mientras yo, sumergido
bajo tus grandes ojos,
por esta noche sola
descansaré, amor mío.

– Pablo Neruda (poeta chileno, 1904-1973)

[daily log: walking, 7.5km]

Caveat: Foki Afa Galande

What I'm listening to right now.

Heilung, "Krigsgaldr." This looks like part of some weird Scandinavian neo-Paganist thing. But it is interesting. I find these "back-to-roots" European nativist movements culturally intriguing, but feel it's regrettable the way they get coopted by various racist and authoritarianist ideologues. I have no idea what specific ideologies are associated with this Danish group, but if they turn out to be offensive, I offer my apologies in advance. I mostly just find it linguistically and culturally interesting, and would remark on the interesting coincidences with ancient cultures all over the world – these performers are not that different from e.g. efforts to recover or reconstruct Native American pre-contact cultures. I think the non-English parts, below, are no variety of modern Scandinavian, but rather intended to be some kind of "proto-Nordic" as recovered from some ancient runic inscriptions – that's what is linguistically interesting to me.

Lyrics.

Min Warb Naseu
Wilr Made Thaim
I Bormotha Hauni

Hu War
Hu War Opkam Har a Hit Lot

Got Nafiskr Orf
Auim Suimade
Foki Afa Galande

What am I supposed to do
If I want to talk about peace and understanding
But you only understand the language of the sword
What if I want to make you understand that the path you chose leads to downfall
But you only understand the language of the sword
What if I want to tell you to leave me and my beloved ones in peace
But you only understand the language of the sword

I let the blade do the talking…
So my tongue shall become iron
And my words the mighty roar of war
Revealing my divine anger´s arrow shall strike

All action for the good of all
I see my reflection in your eyes
But my new age has just begun

The sword is soft
In the fire of the furnace
It hungers to be hit
And wants to have a hundred sisters
In the coldest state of their existence
They may dance the maddest
In the morass of the red rain

Beloved brother enemy
I sing my sword song for you
The lullaby of obliteration
So I can wake up with a smile
And bliss in my heart
And bliss in my heart
And bliss in my heart

Coexistence, Conflict, combat
Devastation, regeneration, transformation
That is the best I can do for you

I see a grey gloom on the horizon
That promises a powerful sun to rise
To melt away all moons
It will make the old fires of purification
Look like dying embers
Look like dying embers
Look like dying embers

Min Warb Naseu
Wilr Made Thaim
I Bormotha Hauni

Hu War
Hu War Opkam Har a Hit Lot

Got Nafiskr Orf
Auim Suimade
Foki Afa Galande

Hu War
Hu War Opkam Har a Hit Lot

Ylir Men Aero Their
Era Mela Os

I found some vague gestures at translation, and will only offer that the part I used as this blog post's title, "Foki Afa Galande", seems to correspond to a meaning "land of shining meadows".

The official video of the same song released by the group is interesting, too.

Heilung, "Krigsgaldr."

[daily log: walking, 7km; children herded, ~∞]

Caveat: We all came out to Montreux

I recently learned that the famous classic rock song, "Smoke On The Water," by British rockers Deep Purple, was written about events at Montreux, Switzerland, which took place there in 1971 at the same time that the famous Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov was resident there. It's interesting to imagine Nabokov and the members of Deep Purple interacting in a small French-Swiss town. Nabokov was of a different generation, but he might have been interested in rock music, given his fascination with other aspects of emergent pop culture.

What I'm listening to right now.

Deep Purple, "Smoke On The Water."

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn't have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky Claude was running in and out
Pulling kids out the ground
When it all was over
We had to find another place
But Swiss time was running out
It seemed that we would lose the race

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

We ended up at the Grand Hotel
It was empty cold and bare
But with the Rolling truck Stones thing just outside
Making our music there
With a few red lights and a few old beds
We make a place to sweat
No matter what we get out of this
I know, I know we'll never forget

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky
Smoke on the water

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Party just for you

Childish Gambino (AKA Donald Glover) has a new song / video out. It's quite remarkable, and has received high critical praise from important media™. There is a detailed parsing of the video and song at Huffington Post, for example.

It's a rap song. It's also a dance composition. It's cinematography and poetry. It's also hefty, deep and dark social criticism. Make of it what you will. I'm impressed.

What I'm listening to right now.

Childish Gambino, "This is America." Is this America?

[Intro: Choir]
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

[Bridge: Childish Gambino & Young Thug]
We just wanna party
Party just for you
We just want the money
Money just for you
I know you wanna party
Party just for me
Girl, you got me dancin' (yeah, girl, you got me dancin')
Dance and shake the frame
We just wanna party (yeah)
Party just for you (yeah)
We just want the money (yeah)
Money just for you (you)
I know you wanna party (yeah)
Party just for me (yeah)
Girl, you got me dancin' (yeah, girl, you got me dancin')
Dance and shake the frame (you)

[Chorus: Childish Gambino]
This is America
Don't catch you slippin' up
Don't catch you slippin' up
Look what I'm whippin' up
This is America (woo)
Don't catch you slippin' up
Don't catch you slippin' up
Look what I'm whippin' up

[Verse 1: Childish Gambino, Blocboy JB, Slim Jxmmi, Young Thug, & 21 Savage]
This is America (skrrt, skrrt, woo)
Don't catch you slippin' up (ayy)
Look at how I'm livin' now
Police be trippin' now (woo)
Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)
Guns in my area (word, my area)
I got the strap (ayy, ayy)
I gotta carry 'em
Yeah, yeah, I'ma go into this (ugh)
Yeah, yeah, this is guerilla (woo)
Yeah, yeah, I'ma go get the bag
Yeah, yeah, or I'ma get the pad
Yeah, yeah, I'm so cold like yeah (yeah)
I'm so dope like yeah (woo)
We gon' blow like yeah (straight up, uh)

[Refrain: Choir & Childish Gambino]
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody
You go tell somebody
Grandma told me
Get your money, Black man (get your money)
Get your money, Black man (get your money)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Black man

[Chorus: Childish Gambino, Slim Jxmmi, & Young Thug]
This is America (woo, ayy)
Don't catch you slippin' up (woo, woo, don't catch you slippin', now)
Don't catch you slippin' up (ayy, woah)
Look what I'm whippin' up (Slime!)
This is America (yeah, yeah)
Don't catch you slippin' up (woah, ayy)
Don't catch you slippin' up (ayy, woo)
Look what I'm whippin' up (ayy)

[Verse 2: Childish Gambino, Quavo, Young Thug, & 21 Savage]
Look how I'm geekin' out (hey)
I'm so fitted (I'm so fitted, woo)
I'm on Gucci (I'm on Gucci)
I'm so pretty (yeah, yeah)
I'm gon' get it (ayy, I'm gon' get it)
Watch me move (blaow)
This a celly (ha)
That's a tool (yeah)
On my Kodak (woo, Black)
Ooh, know that (yeah, know that, hold on)
Get it (get it, get it)
Ooh, work it (21)
Hunnid bands, hunnid bands, hunnid bands (hunnid bands)
Contraband, contraband, contraband (contraband)
I got the plug in Oaxaca (woah)
They gonna find you like blocka (blaow)

[Refrain: Choir, Childish Gambino, & Young Thug]
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody
America, I just checked my following list and
You go tell somebody
You mothafuckas owe me
Grandma told me
Get your money, Black man (black man)
Get your money, Black man (black man)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Get your money, Black man (get your, Black man)
Black man
(One, two, three, get down)
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody
You go tell somebody
Grandma told me, "Get your money"
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Get your money, Black man (Black man)
Black man

[Outro: Young Thug]
You just a Black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a Black man in this world
Drivin' expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No probably ain't life to a dog
For a big dog

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: el mundo sí es así

My friend Bob asked me if I could help him make sense of the lyrics to this 18th century Mexican musical composition. Unfortunately I don't think I was much use. Anyway it was interesting to try, and interesting to see what was going on culturally in Mexico City in the 1700's.

What I'm listening to right now.

Manuel de Sumaya, "Sol-fa de Pedro," performed by Chanticleer.

Letra.

Estribillo
Sol-fa de Pedro es el llanto.
Oiga, el mundo sí es así.
Pues saben unir
los gorgeos de sus voces,
lo duro de su sentir,
del cromático explicar,
del blando y del duro herir;
qu'en el llanto dice Pedro.
He hallado lo que perdí
del sol la vez que lloré
porque me alumbró él a mí.

Copla 1
Vengan, vengan a oír,
verán el entonar en el gemir.
Vengan a oír del contrapunto
lo dulce y subtil al sol
la vez que lloré
porque me alumbró él a mí.

Estribillo
Sol-fa de Pedro es el llanto.
Oiga, el mundo si es así.
Pues saben unir
los gorgeos de sus voces,
lo duro de su sentir,
del cromático explicar,
del blando y del duro herir;
qu'en el llanto dice Pedro.
He hallado lo que perdí
del sol la vez que lloré
porque me alumbró él a mí.

Copla 2
Desde el ut la pena mía
me subió cuando caí,
a la perdida gloria
y a mí la gloria sin fin.

Estribillo
Sol-fa de Pedro es el llanto.
Oiga, el mundo si es así.
Pues saben unir
los gorgeos de sus voces,
lo duro de su sentir,
del cromático explicar,
del blando y del duro herir;
qu'en el llanto dice Pedro.
He hallado lo que perdí
del sol la vez que lloré
porque me alumbró él a mí.

– Manuel de Zumaya (compositor mexicano, 1678 – 1755)

[daily log: walking, 7.5km]

Caveat: Бу айыллыбыт / Арылы халлаан алын өттүгэр

Бу айыллыбыт
Арылы халлаан алын өттүгэр
Куордаах эттээх,
Куодаһыннаах уҥуохтаах,
Оһол-охсуһуу доҕордоох,
Иирээн-илбис энээрдээх,
Ириҥэ мэйиилээх,
Иһэгэй куттаах,
Икки атахтаах үөскээн тэнийдин диэн,
Анысханнаах арҕаа халлааннаах,
Иэйиэхситтээх илин халлааннаах,
Соллоҥноох соҕуруу халлааннаах,
Холоруктаах хоту халлааннаах,
Үллэр муора үрүттээх,
Түллэр муора түгэхтээх,
Аллар муора арыннаах,
Эргичийэр муора иэрчэхтээх,
Дэбилийэр муора сиксиктээх,
Ахтар айыы араҥаччылаах,
Күн айыы күрүөһүлээх,
Араҥас илгэ быйаҥнаах,
Үрүҥ илгэ үктэллээх,
Элбэх сулус эркиннээх,
Үгүс сулус үрбэлээх,
Дьэллэҥэ сулус бэлиэлээх,
Туолбут ый доҕуһуоллаах,
Аламай күн аргыстаах,
Дорҕоон этиҥ арчылаах,
Тоһуттар чаҕылҕан кымньыылаах,
Ахсым ардах ыһыахтаах,
Сугул куйаас тыыннаах,
Уолан угуттуур уулаах,
Охтон үүнэр мастаах,
Уһун уйгу кэһиилээх,
Сытар хайа сындыыстаах,
Буор хайа модьоҕолоох,
Итии сайын эркиннээх,
Эргичийэр эрэһэ кииннээх,
Төгүрүйэр түөрт тулумнаах,
Үктүөлээтэр өҕүллүбэт
Үрдүк мындаалаах,
Кэбиэлээтэр кэйбэлдьийбэт
Кэтит киэлилээх,
Баттыалаатар маталдьыйбат
Баараҕай таһаалаах,
Аҕыс иилээх-саҕалаах
Алта киспэлээх,
Атааннаах-мөҥүөннээх,
Айгырастаах-силиктээх,
Алыгыр-налыгыр
Аан-ийэ дойду диэн
Муостаах-нуоҕайдаах бэртэһэ
Туоһахтатын курдук,

The above is a fragment of a poem in the Sakha (Yakut) language, and is part of the Yakuts national traditional epic poetic oeuvre, Olonkho.

Obviously, I don’t know the Sakha (Yakut) language. On a really good day I command a few hundred words of rusty college Russian, at best.

But I like unusual languages. And I like poetry. And, if you accept the controversial Altaic hypothesis, perhaps Sakha is a very distant relative of Ancient Korean. Anyway, they’re sort of in the same cultural neighborhood, albeit a bit farther north, in east-central Siberia: today it is -41 C in Yakutsk, while here in sunny 고양시 we have a balmy -8 C.

I came across a translation of the poem on the blog of the philosopher and polymathic philologist Justin Erik Halldór Smith. Smith is currently a professor at the University of Paris 7 but he is a native of Northern California – like myself and, furthermore, he is of my generation, more or less – and thus he is someone whose occasional reflections on his youth in the green-hilled, hippie-infested comarcas of The City [San Francisco] have always had exceptional resonances for me. Anyway, his translation is strikingly good poetry, in itself, and, I presume, faithful to the original, given his scholarly abilities.

Under that primordial
shining and lucid sky,
where the two-legged, having
a mortal body and hollow bones,
knowing war and battle,
acquainted with strife and discord,
having a vulnerable brain
and a trembling soul,
must be fruitful —
with the cool windy western sky,
with the good generous eastern sky,
with the insatiable thirsty southern sky,
with the impetuous whirling northern sky,
with the shivering breadth of the sea,
with the heaving depth of the sea,
with the swelling abyss of the sea,
with the twirling axis of the sea,
with the unbounded reach of the sea,
with the revered aiy [nature spirits] who lie beyond,
with the radiant aiy [nature spirits] who guard,
with abundant yellow nectar,
with generous white nectar,
encircling us in the manifold of stars,
in the herds of countless stars,
in the traces of rare stars,
with the full moon accompanying it,
with the bright sun leading it,
with purifying roars of thunder,
with the smite of bolts of lightning,
with moistening cloud-bursts of rain,
with sultry hot breath,
with the drying out and again the replenishing of waters,
with the falling down and again the growing up of woods,
with inexhaustible generous gifts,
with origins from gently sloping mountains,
with gardens from earthen mountains,
with a hot and giving summer,
with the turning axis of the center,
with four converging sides,
with such high firmament,
what you tread on, will not give way,

what you rattle, will not lurch,
with such an unfathomable breadth,
what you press, will not bend,
eight-chambered, eight-sided,
with six circles,
with disquiet and worry,
in luxurious attire and ornament,
serenely peaceful,
always-existing Mother Earth,
shining like a silver buckle
on a horned hat with a feather.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: the testaments they told

What I'm listening to right now.

The Chainsmokers (with Coldplay), "Something Just Like This." The video is "unofficial," but cute and sappy. This was a song chosen by one of my middle-school CC classes recently. I'm letting them choose their own songs completely, now. It's going pretty well, actually.

Lyrics

I've been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
Spiderman's control
And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don't see myself upon that list

But she said, "Where d'you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I'm not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts.
Some superhero,
Some fairytale bliss.
Just something I can turn to.
Somebody I can kiss.
I want something just like this."

Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Oh, I want something just like this
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo

Oh, I want something just like this
I want something just like this

I've been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
The testaments they told
The moon and its eclipse
And Superman unrolls
A suit before he lifts
But I'm not the kind of person that it fits

She said, "Where d'you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I'm not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts.
Some superhero,
Some fairytale bliss.
Just something I can turn to.
Somebody I can miss.
I want something just like this.
I want something just like this."

Oh, I want something just like this
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Oh, I want something just like this
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo

"Where d'you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I'm not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts.
Some superhero,
Some fairytale bliss.
Just something I can turn to.
Somebody I can kiss.
I want something just like this."

Oh, I want something just like this
Oh, I want something just like this
Oh, I want something just like this

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: What would Justinian have done?

I had a flu some weeks back, and I feel I have not ever really recovered.

This whole week I have slept at least two hours longer than my normal sleep time each night, which for me a reliable sign that something is amiss with my general health. Despite my occasional bouts of hypochondria, I don't think worry about cancer is well-placed, since just a few weeks ago I passed my semiannual inspection successfully. I'm just feeling unhealthy and consequently rather glum about life.

I should add to the above the fact my normally predominant escapist hobby – my geofiction – has been on indefinite hold due to a strong sensation of burnout with respect to what you might call the internal politics of the website where I was engaged in that.

picture

So I have been feeling adrift and painfully uncreative – allowing a possible exception for my daily effort at poetry, but with the caveat that even there, I am "depleting my reserves" rather than doing much that is new.

So what am I doing with my time, outside of work and sleep?

I have been reading history. Almost exclusively, and for many hours each day. I began, a few weeks back, with a curiosity about the Byzantine Empire, I have been wandering off wherever my interest leads: Sassanids (Persian pre-Islamic); Avars and Lombards and Franks and Visigoths; Khazars and Göktürks. It's notable that with the internet as it is today, one hardly needs to go out and buy books to pursue these eccentricities.

From this reading, I have only this generalization to draw: 

The world is always just about to end. There is nothing new under the sun.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: scrambling over the wall to the other side

Apparently Ursula Le Guin has died. 

I thought she might not. She seemed a forever type of person. But actually everyone dies.

She was a great writer. And a philosopher, though not in the conventional sense. I don't need to review her life or work – others can do that better than I can. But her writing has influenced me profoundly.

I was 12 years old when I first read the Earthsea series of fantasy books. And I really doubt that I have spent a single day in my life since then when that imagined world hasn't crossed my mind in some way or another. It's a visceral thing – I don't know that the philosophical and psychological ideas there were so impactful – though they're undeniably present in the books. I only mean that I imagined that world quite vividly, in reading those books. and so picturenow I think of it, much as one remembers a memorable trip, perhaps. For example, I think every day of the years I lived in Mexico, or the two months I spent in South America, or my one month studying in Paris, or my six months in Chicago. They were profound and memorable experiences, which shaped who I am. Likewise, the reading of those books, at that time in my life, left a similar type of indelible impression.

Her novel The Dispossessed had a more philosophical impact on me. I consider it a great philosophical novel. The "sci-fi" aspect is nearly irrelevant, except as a way to set the scene – the same story could have been written in a different way, set on Earth in some slightly altered historical context. I would put this book in my Universal Recommended books list.

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

 

Caveat: Cthulupalooza

The internet wins the day. It turns out that H.P. Lovecraft's apocalyptically-themed poem "Nemesis" is a perfect metrical fit for Billy Joel's "Piano Man."

And then someone made it happen.

What I'm listening to right now.

Julian Velard, "Nemesis" – lyrics by H.P. Lovecraft, melody by Billy Joel. 

Lyrics – "Nemesis."

      Thro’ the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber,
          Past the wan-moon’d abysses of night,
     I have liv’d o’er my lives without number,
          I have sounded all things with my sight;
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak, being driven to madness with fright.

     I have whirl’d with the earth at the dawning,
          When the sky was a vaporous flame;
     I have seen the dark universe yawning,
          Where the black planets roll without aim;
Where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or lustre or name.

     I had drifted o’er seas without ending,
          Under sinister grey-clouded skies
     That the many-fork’d lightning is rending,
          That resound with hysterical cries;
With the moans of invisible daemons that out of the green waters rise.

     I have plung’d like a deer thro’ the arches
          Of the hoary primordial grove,
     Where the oaks feel the presence that marches
          And stalks on where no spirit dares rove;
And I flee from a thing that surrounds me, and leers thro’ dead branches above.

     I have stumbled by cave-ridden mountains
          That rise barren and bleak from the plain,
     I have drunk of the fog-foetid fountains
          That ooze down to the marsh and the main;
And in hot cursed tarns I have seen things I care not to gaze on again.

     I have scann’d the vast ivy-clad palace,
          I have trod its untenanted hall,
     Where the moon writhing up from the valleys
          Shews the tapestried things on the wall;
Strange figures discordantly woven, which I cannot endure to recall.

     I have peer’d from the casement in wonder
          At the mouldering meadows around,
     At the many-roof’d village laid under
          The curse of a grave-girdled ground;
And from rows of white urn-carven marble I listen intently for sound.

     I have haunted the tombs of the ages,
          I have flown on the pinions of fear
     Where the smoke-belching Erebus rages,
          Where the jokulls loom snow-clad and drear:
And in realms where the sun of the desert consumes what it never can cheer.

     I was old when the Pharaohs first mounted
          The jewel-deck’d throne by the Nile;
     I was old in those epochs uncounted
          When I, and I only, was vile;
And Man, yet untainted and happy, dwelt in bliss on the far Arctic isle.

     Oh, great was the sin of my spirit,
          And great is the reach of its doom;
     Not the pity of Heaven can cheer it,
          Nor can respite be found in the tomb:
Down the infinite aeons come beating the wings of unmerciful gloom.

     Thro’ the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber,
          Past the wan-moon’d abysses of night,
     I have liv’d o’er my lives without number,
          I have sounded all things with my sight;
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak, being driven to madness with fright.

Here is another version – nicer implementation (more true to the darker spirit of Lovecraft), but incomplete.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Eiffelgators

Another picture in what seems to be turning into a series of student artwork inspired by my whiteboard cartoon alligators. There seems to be a sort of competition emerging among the youngest cohort of students, as to who can present me with the most elaborate drawing of alligators. These alligators are a "couple" (커플 [keopeul] a "konglish" borrowing into Korean) on some kind of romantic getaway to Paris, evidently.

picture

I like Yejun's work because it's actually rather sophisticated, in a technical way – note how she's drawn the screen of the "phone" (the 2010's version of what was once called a "camera") being used to take the picture of the alligator couple. She's got a reduced-size version of the scene being photographed, represented in a rather realistic way. This shows quite a bit of understanding of things like points-of-view and even perspective, for a 2nd grader, and exploits a conceit common to much great art: that of the "picture within a picture."

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: America Jumps the Shark

The phrase “jump the shark” is a contemporary idiom that means that moment when something that was for a long time a serious artistic undertaking is transformed into a kind of parody of itself, as the work’s creators pursue novelty. Originally it was applied to TV shows and other works of a serial or episodic nature – e.g. book series, etc. Nowadays, the idiom seems applicable to anything where an initially earnest project becomes self-parody. I believe the expression arose in a critical discussion of a certain episode of the TV series “Happy Days.”

So this happened to that project called “United States of America.” The USA has jumped the shark. I have evidence.

Exhibit A:

It doesn’t even matter if this is intentional satire or if it “real.” It is out there. 

Some points to consider:

  • History repeats itself, “the first as tragedy, then as farce.” – Karl Marx.
  • At what point does satire, parody, or fiction also become reality (e.g. we have a president who emerged from the realm of “reality TV” – which has always been a type of fiction)?
  • Finally – we must never, ever misinterpret stupidity or ignorance as evil.

Slightly related:

Perhaps Obama’s biggest mistake: the blogger “Atrios” at Eschaton blog speculates that Obama should bear some of the blame for the current mess in the White House: “Do not sanction powers you do not want your successor to have.”

[daily log: walking, 8km]

Caveat: oh my God, an ill reindeer

What I'm listening to right now.

Run-DMC, "Christmas in Hollis." From 1987. Wow.

Lyrics.

It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark
When I seen a man chilling with his dog in the park
I approached very slowly with my heart full of fear
Looked at his dog, oh my God, an ill reindeer
But then I was illin because the man had a beard
And a bag full of goodies, 12 o'clock had neared
So I turned my head a second and the man had gone
But he left his driver's wallet smack dead on the lawn
I picked the wallet up then I took a pause
Took out the license and it cold said "Santa Claus"
A million dollars in it, cold hundreds of G's
Enough to buy a boat and matching car with ease
But I'd never steal from Santa, cause that ain't right
So I'm going home to mail it back to him that night
But when I got home I bugged, cause under the tree
Was a letter from Santa and all the dough was for me

D.M.C.:

It's Christmas time in Hollis Queens
Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens
Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese
And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees
Decorate the house with lights at night
Snow's on the ground, snow white so bright
In the fireplace is the yule log
Beneath the mistle toe as we drink egg nog
The rhymes you hear are the rhymes of Darryl's
But each and every year we bust Chrsitmas carols
(Christmas melodies)

Run-D.M.C.:

Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it
It's Christmas time and we got the spirit
Jack Frost chillin, the orchas out?
And that's what Christmas is all about
The time is now, the place is here
And the whole wide world is filled with cheer

D.M.C.:

My name's D.M.C. with the mic in my hand
And I'm chilling and coolin just like a snowman
So open your eyes, lend us an ear
We want to say

Run-D.M.C.:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

[daily log: walking, 1km]

Caveat: Aesthetica in vivo

What I'm listening to right now.

A Capella Science, "Evo-Devo (Despacito Biology Parody)." This song is truly awesome. It's evolutionary biology. It's poetry. It's music. It's all in a package, like the miracle of life, itself. For the prototype of which this song is a "parody," see here.

Lyrics.

EVO-DEVO
Huxley
B. Mac.
Oh Carroll, Carroll
Gould, Stephen Jay yeah
D-D-D-D-Davidson and Peter

See
One cell divide and decide on a thousand fates
Did you ever figure how they know?
B. Mac.
We
Are built of modules combined in a planned out way
Each new piece must be told where to go
Oh

Now there's a science helping us to understand
How our cells encode this architectural plan
Signalling each other with genetic tools oh
Oh yeah

Wow
Phenotype the interface for mouse and man
Genotype the files and the subprograms
What then are the switches, circuit boards and boot code?

Evo-Devo
Looking at the logic in the ways that we grow
Every gene directed by a signal key code
Proteins that can activate, enhance or veto
Evo-Devo
Signals are controlled by other genes that signal
Calculating in a network labyrinthal
Where the heart and liver and the hands and feet go

Signal mapping tells each region what it ought to be yo
With circuits so deeply built upon
They're older than the Paleo
The Paleozoic Era baby
In a crucial pathway changes tend to get torpedoed
Where they go calamity goes
As this cyclopic sheep knows..

See down they cascade like a domino
Like you and I drosophila
The path that makes us optical
Was laid a long long time ago
Back before we blew up the cambrian like a bomb bomb
Now my eye protein can make you see out of your bom bom
And Hedgehog and its relatives like Indian and Sonic
Set up set up in a gradient on segments embryonic
Split forebrains and asymmetric parts depend upon it
Flipping on genetic switches and logic
From devo to evo
Adult and embryo
Mostly don't evolve in the genes of the genome
Safer the mutation aimed at regulation
Keep the building blocks and swap their activation
From devo to evo
Parts have alter egos
Homologs evolved from repeats in the schema
Switch a couple bases in the proper places
You'll be watching flies grow legs out of their faces oh yeah

Evo-Devo
Stick around for Modern Synthesis the sequel
Only by combining can a new theory grow
Evolution and development amigos
Evo-Devo
Signals trigger patterns of complexity so
Switching up the switches of a signalling node
Gives a modular and simple way to evolve

Look at how our spinal segments generate a neat row
Built on a molecular clock
One cycle, one vertebra
One vertebra one vertebra baby
Speeding up its rate is snakes' developmental cheat code
That and where a lizard's feet grow
They turn off distal aminos

Evo-Devo
This is how we go from single cells to people
Every generation and in life primeval
Life in variations endless and beautiful

Badaboom

From devo to evo
Larva to mosquito
Patterns are resolved as the signals proceed yo
Map out a gene with a glow tag
Kill it with a morpholino
Short oligo morpholino baby

From devo to evo
Voyage of the Beagle
Body plans evolve when proteins steer the genome
In this manner life's beauty grows
Aesthetica in vivo

Evo-Devo

[daily log: walking, 7km]