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Blogging? (Fuck It!)

This may seem abrupt, and I have been awake for more than twenty-four hours, nevertheless, this will be my final blog entry. Now into the third year of my third life sequence, it’s time to begin withdrawing into inner solitude.

I have recently drafted no less than six new entries–none of which will see the light of day here. In the following weeks, I will take everything down and convert select entries into the skeletal frame of one or more nonfiction works… this writing will continue until my death.

Now seems as good a time as any to announce my summer plans: I will returning to the US for a month visit–my first such visit since August of 2009. I’d like to see as many old friends as possible. Unfortunately, as facebook is a primary means of communication for many, I will keep my account until then; afterward, I have no exact plan on how to proceed–merely rought guesses and estimates.

My main reason for retiring the blog is that we all have better things to do with our most precious resource (time) than be trapped in this digital dungeon. Now that we are one step closer to ultimate emancipation, I wholeheartedly hope we use it wisely.

It seems both hypocritical and self-defeated to attempt to influence others to abandon a medium through said medium, though I will continue to rally against undue electronic influence in letters. When my facebook is (most likely) gone after the visit, there will be more than a few ways to contact me… I will not fully withdraw, unless I become a monk.

From journal

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After midnight. It’s now time to write in this book that I have neglected. I feel like writing, not only feeling more inspired to do more varied things these days, but also having the time to follow such a philosophy. This is a good opportunity, as the ideas are crystallized and complete. having outside, motivating forces is good too, but can make things seem a bit fragmented.

Written in an “Oxford” notebook: “Use this notebook to consolidate all the other research and notes, a culmination of the last ten or so years of research and reading (and writing). Not perfection! But a road to such, maybe as a testing method, a means of as you go, so it goes. Memory and mind in motion… I like that idea, that the narrative shifts and things continue to change while the energy pulls it along and the focus is really sharp on certain things. The point now is just to bring them all together. No more computer except for the final stages… three drafts on the typewriter, then finalize it. This notebook can be for reading and other ideas. The purpose of my life now is to think long-term and not to write ideas because I don’t (haven’t) review(ed) what came before. I do have a focus and a continuity of thought (like never before), yet, it has not produced a complete, unified work. Cannot compare… everyone has their own method and means. Point is, I have the latent talent, and, over the course of ten years, the ability has solidified. Probably he same for learning a language–after ten years, it’s there, especially with a systematic approach. I’ve had enough experiences and have many more memories than I can ever use or be able to use in a lifetime of creation. Not about quotas though, and it shouldn’t be, though I do think an outside force is good for producing quality in a limited span of time. Editing this novel this novel over six years was definitely an experience of its own, and now that I’m finally finalizing it, I’m prepared to bring my now-self to the next novel.”

I love and cherish writing like never before—ideas bring a smile and a joy that few things do. The actual waiting can be a little tough, as it’s a process that cannot be master the first time through, meaning it must be revised again and again, especially complicated and deep stuff, and also fitting parts and pieces together and attempting to unify the mood. Yes, some stuff comes randomly, but that is rare and that stuff is complete in itself, whether a concept or a sentence, but it is almost impossible to sustain that kind of inspiration for more than a scene. Sure, Goethe did it early every morning when he was completing part two of Faust, but that book was percolating and fermenting inside of him for more than sixty years. Bottom line: being a writer is a career, a job, something that must be done everyday, with diligence and motivation, over a long period of time to see any results.

Reading Project

As of yesterday read 74 books so far this year… thus the original goal of 150 is probably impossible, but if I shoot for three books a week, I’ll reach a hundred.

Never before have I been more convinced and full of conviction against this digital prison. We created it, which means we can also create alternatives and a bridge to those alternatives. I will no longer capitalize the I in internet. Why? It doesn’t deserve to be a proper noun. Sure, it is an undeniable source of many things, but as a source, it is also endless, and because people are powerless to resist, it controls and manipulates lives in ways that were once unthinkable.

You may say, “It’s the way life is now,” but can that be said without considering the implications of a blind acceptance of technological momentum driven by money-hungry corporations, etc? Sure, maybe for some, but for all people? And I’m not talking about being scared of technology, I’m talking about knowing that it is important and even essential in our lives… moderately, that is. Yes, a balance is the most important, and considering so much is done via computer now, in many definite ways, we are slaves. There are so many ways to emancipate ourselves from all this stuff too. Everyone’s silent… waiting… waiting for what? While waiting for something outside to occur, nothing inside is possible. Just further enslavement. Where’s the limit? Where does it end?

Being off of TV now for over four years, maybe I’ve lost touch with reality as you know it, but I am in touch with a reality of my own, a new reality I am the sole architect of and acrobat in, where silence and solitude are the norm. I have a computer in my office, but none at home. I use my smartphone sparingly: mostly flashcard apps for learning things, jotting down notes, taking pictures of silly things and sending them to people and the occasional album. I also check my email with it, an email address from which I send messages to old friends only to hear nothing, from some people, ever.

I wouldn’t mention it here if it was just a few people, but it’s an epidemic. Maybe the messages are discarded mistakenly. Maybe they’re lost in the spam folder and then deleted. But, when I have people acknowledge that they got the message, how should I feel? When I get an email, I respond within a reasonable time frame. When I get a letter, I try to do the same.

Letters! What happened to them? I still mail them, though much less now, as seems to be the trend. How can we reverse these trends, seemingly turn back time to recapture something meaningful (not just when thought about with nostalgia), something lasting.

I reactivated my facebook today with the dual intent of getting some pictures from it and giving people shit for not responding via other media. Talking to a few people, I realized they have their own lives, and I’m satisfied in mine, so interfere? I don’t want a reply at this point anyway, just wanted them to feel ashamed that they didn’t respond because of wasting time on things that I consider meaningless because they impose limitations on interactions.

Don’t you understand, I’d rather boycott it than be a member, regardless of what fun and frivolity is to be had?

Blogs offer more, but they also require more, and are rarely filled with original perspectives, mostly idiosyncratic, selfish ones (mine included) and are thus a waste of time if the time spent reading them is not carefully monitored.

In conclusion (for now), what is this digital world? Devour your despair with distractions? Distractions, you mean unnecessary invasions of a life that is too short and too precious to be wasted here. So stop reading now. Please, I implore you. Get off the computer and go outside. Not to spend money, and even if it’s merely to wander for thirty minutes before you return here, at least you’ll have gotten some fresh air.

Just Another Saturday

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Went to a baseball game with a friend and two of his friends. Drank a little at the game and met a third friend in a new area. Having already missed the subway home, it was decided I should stay the whole night, and we’d have lunch with the friend the next day and meet his wife and kid.

One of the most hilarious moments was getting a cab from the college area where we met the last guy to my friend’s house. Being that there were five of us, one stayed behind nearby cars until the first four got inside, then he quickly jumped in. The cab driver made a big deal about not going, my friend repeating the directions over and over and over again until he finally did. The more we traveled, the better my friend’s Korean “became,” with all of us a continual chorus thanking the driver and requesting him to have just one drink with us.

Got a little sick and started drinking water only. Situated outside a convenience store, two of my friend’s friends told some Korean guy with a handbag that he was gay. Then an older Korean asked one of us if he was Korean, and he said, no, I’m Chinese. I told the Korean that he was a North Korean conspirator, and the guy said, “Shit you,” or something like that as he stormed off across the street.

A little while later, the cops showed up. I figured it was because of what I said. It wasn’t. The “gay” handbag guy and his friends were upset. My friend with the wife and kid has been here a year longer than me and his Korean is better, but he didn’t do anything, so I ended up being the translator. Also, I wasn’t as drunk as the others and had something like a clear head.

The older Korean returned, yelling at us and pushing the cops. They told him to get out of there and were pretty ruthless to him, as he was to them. Actually, I thought he was going to be arrested. After a while, he left. The cops said that the Koreans were bad and thus being stupid and that we should just move. I agreed and told the others so. They said they were going to be stubborn and sit there. Thus the convenience store worker took the chairs and they had to sit on the floor. I stayed standing, negotiating with the police. I explained to them that my friends were stubborn, and also, talking to the guy they called gay (he was pissed), that the others were stubborn too. I explained that it was a miscommunication partially brought on by a difference in language, but more so a result of different cultures.

One of the guys started having a discussion with the younger cop, telling him it was racism, while I continued to negotiate with the older one. He told me he wasn’t telling us to leave as a police officer but as an older brother. I said I could respect that, but that my friends were stubborn and wouldn’t listen to what I said. Finally, the cops relented and left. Explaining the situation to the others, I agreed that calling the cops was most definitely an overreaction, but told them that you just can’t start calling others gay, which they started to do again. I told them to stop. They said that someone with a bag like that in the States would be considered gay, and I told them that they couldn’t think about it like that, that they have to consider the other culture’s perspective, and that no culture is superior to any other, nor are they equally relatable.

Finally, out of nowhere, the last friend we had met hit me in the back of the head, screaming, “Shut up, I’ve had enough of you!”

I gave him a glare yet said nothing. I think he knew what the glare meant. Walking to an alley to discuss the matter with my friend, I told him that I was leaving and was sorry, but that people can’t act in such a manner and except me to accept it.

I have been living in the Republic of Korea since August of 2009, and during my ever increasing time here, my opinions regarding many things have changed (an inevitable part of living, really). Learning Korean, I’ve also had a different experience than a lot of foreigners who either don’t try or don’t progress. At first, I really wanted to speak the language very well quickly for whatever multifarious reasons, but lately I’ve been a bit lazy and just enjoying understanding without showing off. Others do know that I understand—the knowing eyes and pained/taxed expression from listening—no need to reply.

With a month to go before my Visa expires, and it being vacation time, even though I’m working at a two week writing camp for Yonsei at the phantom friendly Seongdo campus over in Incheon, I am still able to linger on the job prospects (have been looking for a new one since February or so) and worry. Maybe I was a bit selective, and I did have two interviews, neither of which was offered nor a job I was particularly willing to take. Perhaps I would have worked at either out of convenience, but probably wouldn’t be happy. I’ve thought a lot about leaving the country, especially recently. Haven’t decided what I’ll do yet.

Perhaps it’s more a matter of never staying on the path long enough or being dissatisfied because I haven’t been on the path long enough or haven’t produced as much as I might have liked. Each day is only so long, and not having a computer, facebook or TV has made me so productive, and there’s only so much to do before I start to lose sleep to do what I consider essential. Whenever I feel this way (meaning I’m happy and headed in the right direction), something inside clicks and I start to get in my own way. For instance, alcohol has been a constant problem… I would crave a night of drunken debauchery, and feel numb and indifferent to how/who I was beforehand. Lately though, I haven’t been drinking. Or, when I have, it’s been in moderation, and definitely never when upset. There are plenty of people who drink too much without reason… I know where to find them, yet they’re not my true friends nor ever were or will be; they’re soul stealers who only need a companion in banter and chaos… that companion is no longer me. Now, if I do drink, instead of getting crazy or feeling shitty afterward, I feel fine, and the actual time drinking is usually an affirmation of life and happiness… nothing else. And now that I have been on a level-headed path for so long and should continue, I’ve come to some conclusions:

Grin and bear it. Seriously. Though the world is full of fuck heads and con artists and assholes, those people also have hearts you can access if you yourself are honest and give it a try. Smile, laugh, share the warmth, they hide or you expose from within yourself, and you’ll see those people will open up. But only if you open up honestly, without ulterior motives. I’m thinking of two individuals in particular right now, one a security guard at my job, and the other’s the owner of my favorite restaurant in Hayang. Both are older Koreans: the first male, the other opposite. The first was always grumpy and one day I smiled and laughed when I saw him and he burst out laughing… probably mumbled that I was crazy, but that was the first time in nine months that I’d ever seen him laugh. The other has a serious façade, but when you put time in, she’ll open up and be friendly and real with you.

Maybe it’s not this place that’s the problem, but me. Lately I’ve felt not scattered, but disconnected and confused, being without old friends or a meaningful dialogue with them for so long. What hurts is that they’re disconnected too, so that when I try to contact them… Nothing. Maybe I will never get rid of this blog, but as soon as this round of job searching is over, I’m gonna shut of my phone when I’m not using it. Why? Because I check my email hoping to see responses—selfishly wanting others to contact me, I think it’s selfish if they don’t—just because I’m so focused and on top of things, I shouldn’t expect others to be.

Bottom line, and a somewhat unrelated point, is that everyone isn’t perhaps racist, but has an intense fear sometimes bordering on hatred regarded Others: those whom we do not know intimately, and in many instances, do not wish to know. And that’s the kind of pigheaded bullshit that gets people to say, “My country is the best in the world” and other bullshit that’s fed to them by their Retainers. Ignorance precludes such feelings. You know what? People all over this soiled sphere say that about their countries, political parties, sexual preferences, favorite colors, foods, sports, etc. And do you know what I think?

They’re all wrong. This is the best planet (in the solar system only?) and this is the only life we know… so why worry about what we don’t know? Just go about your day to day doing the absolute best.

We get what we give. We might complain, “Blah, blah, blah,” but it’s really nothing when we consider how others are doing. Sure, life may not be what we want, but it never was nor might ever be, so shut your mouth and use all that built up negative energy to burn a fire toward making this already limited life closer to the way that fits you. Without destroying others.

Almost finished reading the first manuscript (“novel”) after not looking at it for six years. Had about a hundred pages to go, but had to leave for camp. Busy with camp, but will read the second one this week. Then I’ll know what to transfer from the first to the second. Parts from the first can probably be used for three different novels, one of which is still unwritten. Looks like work on the next novel will begin in March, before which point I hope to have finished editing most of the epic novel from 2008. That’s all for now…

Wild is the World

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Had an interview at a university just outside Seoul today. Had to reschedule from camp classes in order to go, and took the KTX then subway then bus (all in all almost four hours).

Arrived fifteen minutes early, and the interview included one of the Native English professors, but only for five minutes. Otherwise it was one on one for about forty. She asked me to make a lesson from the textbook she wrote, asked why I came to Korea, how to motivate university students and the extra classes and optional vacation camp with elementary age children. I explained some of my philosophy and also that I can be a 사고뭉치 (trickster). She laughed. Finally, the clincher:

“What about if a female student wants to hang out with you after class?”

“Oh, I’ve heard about teachers dating students… no, it’s dangerous. It’s okay to go to dinner with the entire class for a good reason, like the end of the semester, but not one on one. Also, I have a girlfriend.”

She seemed relieved, and asked about my girlfriend, who she thought was a foreigner. Explaining that my girlfriend’s a 백조 (white swan), she asked if I hadn’t meant 백수 (white snake), and I explained that the later has a meaning closer to 사기꾼 (conartist). Her response:

“Ah! 백조 is for girls and 백수 for boys. You kids know it better than I do.”

She remarked that I look so young (as old as the students) and said I could see the dorm.

Thus 유빈 (the girl pictured) escorted me there. She spoke barely English, and told me she was studying English alone, and planned to study hard and learn a lot. (They almost always say such.) It started to rain, and as I’d brought my umbrella, I opened it. She asked if it was alright for foreigners to be touched, and I acquiesced. Thus she wrapped her hands around my arm like I was some benevolent rain guardian.

Later, waiting at the bus stop together, we took a few pictures: silly, serious and smiling faces. While I don’t mind overt friendliness, she seemed a bit too like a puppy for my liking.

111

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One hundred-eleven pages and counting… looks like a new ink ribbon is needed though…

Failure. Even when combining the two months to compensate. 14.5 books for a total of 5250 pages. Remember, the monthly goal is 12.5… so I’m quite far behind. Best nonfiction book was A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel De Landa. Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary was also extremely compelling, as I could identify with her ambition.

Of the seven novels, Crime and Punishment was definitely the most amazing. Phenomenal. Three Trapped Tigers by Infante was also great. As was DeLillo’s Ratner’s Star. And Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

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