Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’
October 6, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- The airport is more than a place—it’s a state of mind. If you’re still wracked with anxiety and frustration whenever you head to JFK, be advised that the whole world is essentially an airport at this point, and it’s up to you to make peace with the essence of airportness. Christopher Schaberg writes, “Airportness transcends airports themselves. It has to do not so much with surface-level features such as sloping hallways and undulating rooflines but a host of more disparate effects that make air travel something humans can internalize and learn to live with. Airportness is how flight becomes natural to us, expected and accepted: contrails in the sky, layovers between flights … Airportness is all around us, exceeding not only airports but also air travel itself, perhaps even becoming a kind of proxy for what it means to be American. Airportness shifts from the derogatory to the sacrosanct, sliding from protected spaces to abject places.”
- You might’ve held off on reading Kierkegaard because you assume that, like most philosophical writing, his books are stiff, boring clumps of logical premises shouted at you by a dead white man. But you’re wrong. They’re unlike any other philosophical writing before or since. Will Rees explains, “John Updike famously argued that Kierkegaard’s works owe much to the art of novel-writing. After all, they are written by and about fictional characters whose worldviews they attempt to occupy from within. In a way that would please the contemporary teacher of creative writing, Kierkegaard does not tell—he shows. But we mustn’t get carried away; we do Kierkegaard a disservice if we simply appreciate his books. By departing from the normal philosophical form, they arguably tighten rather than slacken the demand on our attention, because arguments are present, but one must search for them, and often they reside in what Kierkegaard’s characters do not or cannot say—in the implicit gaps in their imperfect world views.”
June 24, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
- In South Korea, there’s a book so sagacious—so steeped in commonsense know-how and philosophical intrigue—that it’s whispered about at every level of society. It’s the Talmud, whose unlikely role in South Korean culture reads like something out of a counterfactual history: “Each Korean family has at least one copy of the Talmud. Korean mothers want to know how so many Jewish people became geniuses … Twenty-three per cent of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish people. Korean women want to know the secret. They found the secret in this book.”
- Fact: book publishers don’t fact-check. According to your average book contract, fact-checking is the author’s problem, and the author’s financial burden, so good luck. But “the status quo might shift a notch this fall, at least for a lucky few. In September, Tim Duggan Books, the editor’s eponymous new imprint under the Crown Publishing Group, will be the first ever to offer fact-checking as a service paid for by the publisher.”
- So you’re cruising west on Interstate 10, shedding the trappings of your old life for a new, free beginning in the American West—congratulations! You’ve undertaken a journey so iconic, and perhaps so hackneyed, that 100 billboards now speckle the highway to commemorate it. The “Manifest Destiny Billboard Project,” which stretches from sea to shining sea, examines “the way we think about aspiration and ambition, achievement and taking. It ties to everything from the capitalist impulse to notions of exploration, and to the desire to know.”
- In the late nineteenth century, Nietzsche’s philosophy found an unexpected (if ambivalent) advocate in George Bernard Shaw: “People read Nietzsche for his philosophy; they go to Shaw’s plays for their comedy … In the absence of God, both were seeking a purpose. There was Nietzsche’s belief in struggle which Shaw acknowledged as necessary for essential improvement; there was also his attack on traditional moral values that acted as a brake on necessary change. He was clever and imaginative and sometimes original. But Shaw was not one of Nietzsche’s ‘brethren’ who is urged to see ‘the rainbow and the bridges of the Superman.’”
- If you were raised Catholic, your writing may well be forever inflected with Catholicism—even if you leave the Church. Don’t worry. It’s not bad … necessarily. “When we tag a writer ‘a Catholic novelist,’ we attribute to him the agenda of the Catholic, and not the aim of the novelist … Blake’s “mind-forged manacles” become faith-forged manacles when the purely imaginative and linguistic motive of the novelist is sullied by the believer’s allegiance to Catholicism. That’s the pinch: Catholics already have the truth, whereas novelists write novels in part because they don’t.”
August 6, 2014 | by Euny Hong
How Korea mints its pop stars.
Korean pop’s star-making process has suffered slings and arrows from the Western press—some allege that it amounts to modern-day slavery. It’s true that K-pop labels recruit budding stars and bind them to contracts that can last as long as thirteen years. But Korea had no other way of building a pop industry. It had to create it from the ground up.
Most famous rock bands formed independently, without the help of a producer or record label. This was never going to happen in Korea. Kids didn’t have the time to jam with friends. They were studying—all the time—or helping with the family business. Organically formed bands could experiment with new sounds or improvise or goof off, but Koreans had no such luxury. In the unforgiving Confucian culture, a young person who screws up has a hard time getting back on track. Until recently, when K-pop proved profitable, no Korean would have staked his future on music.
Lee Moon-won, a culture critic, said, “Koreans spend the same effort on everything, whether it’s college entrance exams or an office job. Korea stands for hard work.” Accordingly, a conventional K-pop contract lasts seven to thirteen years; half that time is spent training the stars. Shin Hyung-kwan, the general manager of MNET, Korea’s version of MTV, explained, “It takes time to see who has hidden talents. It’s one thing to pick some person and say you’re going to make them a star, but you have to see if they get along with each other and in society at large. If you are not careful, the whole thing can be spoiled. Westerners do not understand. The performers could get into an accident, some kind of trouble.” Read More »
April 30, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- The winners of this year’s Best Translated Book Awards: in fiction, László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet; in poetry, Elisa Biagini’s The Guest in the Wood, translated from the Italian by Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney, and Eugene Ostashevsky.
- Jenny Diski, bless her, on aging, or something like it: “I must accept that I was old because my hairdresser says, ‘Ah, bless,’ in response to whatever I say in answer to her questions. ‘Are you busy today?’ ‘Just regular working.’ ‘Ah, bless.’ ‘How was the weekend?’ ‘A friend came to stay.’ ‘Ah, bless.’ The other day, when she asked, I said: ‘I’m being interviewed by a journalist from Poland.’ ‘Ah, bless.’ … The ah-bless alters or confirms whatever it’s responding to, and in my mind’s eye (altered and confirmed) I see a small, nondescript old lady going bravely about her business. There are other signs that I am no longer young, but the ah-bless is the most open and public.”
- In 1968, Charles Simic witnessed a group of disgruntled poets settle things the old-fashioned way—with fisticuffs. “I stood on the porch watching in astonishment with the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra and the French poet Eugène Guillevic. They were delighted by the spectacle and assumed that this is how American poets always settled their literary quarrels; I tried to tell them that this was the first time I had seen anything like that and it scared the hell out of me, but they just laughed.”
- A series of photos compares public spaces in North and South Korea. (The shot of the Pyongyang Metro is especially poignant.)
- Guillaume Nicloux discusses his new film, The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, starring, yes, Michel Houellebecq: “He is also really annoying to the captors. He is always asking for wine and cigarettes, he asks for another visit from the prostitute, he is really tiresome for them. He gets angry. He begs our sympathy, but at the same time he behaves really badly.”
August 24, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Nicholson Baker has written a song about Jeju Island. Watch it here:
Jeju Island, a Unesco World Heritage site, full of wonders of nature—called the Island of Peace by South Korea's former presiden—is now the locus of a large and controversial military construction project. The South Korean government is building a base there, which will be used by the United States to house missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers, with which to “project force” against China. Samsung is the contractor. This is folly and should be stopped.