Caveat: 상상과 실지와는 딴판이었다

상상과 실지와는 딴판이었다
imagine-AND reality-AND-TOPIC great-difference-is-PAST
Imagined [thing] and reality were a great difference.

picture“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.”

Caveat: One Journey For You

What I'm listening to right now.

Ladyhawke, "Magic."


You came to my show
And I saw you in the crowd
I didn't know your name
I didn't know your name

I asked all my friends who you were
And your story
They told me the same
They told me the same

I've left my heart to you but it's not fair
Cause you're taking me for granted, baby
I made a start with you but it's not fair
Cause you're over the Atlantic, baby

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

You stayed at my head while
I saw you all the time
I didn't think you cared
I didn't think you cared
I found you one day
With a mouth full of attitude and
You stole me away
You stole me away

I've left my heart to you but it's not fair
Cause you're taking me for granted, baby
I made a start with you but it's not fair
Cause you're over the Atlantic, baby

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

'Cause you're over the Atlantic, baby
'Cause you're taking me for granted, baby
'Cause you're over the Atlantic, baby

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

One journey for you but it's worth it
One life here with me and it's magic

Caveat: Timor mortis conturbat me

I that in heill wes and gladnes,
Am trublit now with gret seiknes,
And feblit with infermite;
Timor mortis conturbat me.

Our plesance heir is all vane glory,
This fals warld is bot transitory,
The flesche is brukle, the Fend is sle;
Timor mortis conturbat me.

The stait of man dois change and vary,
Now sound, now seik, now blith, now sary,
Now dansand mery, now like to dee;
Timor mortis conturbat me.

No stait in erd heir standis sickir;
As with the wynd wavis the wickir,
Wavis this warldis vanite.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

Above is excerpt (first 16 lines) from "Lament for the Makers" by William Dunbar, who lived 1456-1513. The Latin, "Timor mortis conturbat me," means "Fear of death disturbs me."

The picture below is "Parable of the Blind" by Bruegel the Elder (1568).


Caveat: Ouroboros

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.

OuroborosI 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.     

Caveat: Dissolving



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.

What I'm listening to right now.

Massive Attack, "Dissolved Girl."

Caveat: Doodles at Dawn

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.

Doh 002

Caveat: This

What is This?

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.

– Shin, Myo Vong, Cookies of Zen, p 175.

Caveat: 학생들이 좋아하는 교사의 특성

pictureMy 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 [broken link! FIXME] 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.

Caveat: I am a thoroughfare

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.

ImagesI 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.

Caveat: no country on Earth

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.

Caveat: Dead Kennedys

Dead-kennedys-7The state of my birth. The governor of my childhood, and the once again governor: Jerry Brown.

The Dead Kennedys were the first band I ever saw live. I was 16, in Boston on my own. It was a transformative experience.

What I'm listening to right now.

Dead Kennedys, "California Uber Alles."


I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president…

Carter Power will soon go away
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school
Your kids will meditate in school!

California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California

Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face

Close your eyes, can't happen here
Big Bro' on white horse is near
The hippies won't come back you say
Mellow out or you will pay
Mellow out or you will pay!


Now it is 1984
Knock-knock at your front door
It's the suede/denim secret police
They have come for your uncool niece

Come quietly to the camp
You'd look nice as a drawstring lamp
Don't you worry, it's only a shower
For your clothes here's a pretty flower.

DIE on organic poison gas
Serpent's egg's already hatched
You will croak, you little clown
When you mess with President Brown
When you mess with President Brown


Caveat: Thanks for Sharing

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."

Caveat: Alice’s Restaurant


It's Thanksgiving in America. So I have to listen to this song. It's an important Thanksgiving tradition. Listen, too, and you will understand me better, knowing that I once had this song memorized.

What I'm listening to right now.

Arlo Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant." Lyrics.

Caveat: Not Anymore

My dream this morning:

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.'

"Not anymore," Mary answered, now in English.

So we're not teachers anymore?

I wake up.

Caveat: Oyendo los aguaceros


Mirarte solo en mi ansiedad espero,
solo a mirarte en mi ansiedad aspiro,
y más me muero cuanto más te miro,
…y más te miro cuanto más me muero.

El tiempo, pasa por demás ligero,
lloro su raudo, turbulento giro,
y más te quiero cuanto más suspiro,
y más suspiro cuanto más te quiero.

Deja a tu talle encadenar mi brazo,
y, al blando son con que nos brinda el remo,
la mar surquemos en estrecho lazo.

Ni temo al viento ni a las ondas temo,
que más me quemo cuanto más te abrazo,
y más te abrazo cuanto más me quemo.

– Salvador Rueda.

Salvador_ruedaEs sencilla pero muy fuerte poesía. También me  gusta esta cita del mismo autor:

Aprendí administración de las hormigas; música, oyendo los aguaceros; escultura buscando parecido a los seres en las líneas de las rocas; color, en la luz; poesía, en toda la naturaleza.

Caveat: Downloading Music Without Permission Is Wrong

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.

Caveat: 너 ~~~ 좋아하지?

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.
pictureI 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 written 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.

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