There are over 3.85 million Parks in Korea. Why should there be any less? Many of these are in Seoul. Most of them are people. Some of them are public. I notice as I walk that there is a person in every park. Is there a park in every person?Both Lorca and Rilke wrote poems in Parks. Rosa Parks.
What is your favorite poem written in, about, or on a Park?
They are rebuilding the Parks, in both fruit & bricks. I believe they have finished. There is now a stream where there was once only earth. The Seoul Parks Department has inspired my own personal corporeal renewal.
the Parks in you?
Is there a Park in your heart?Past the Park I walk to Little Manila. With its narrow causeways, phone card vendors, adobo, balut, and fresh(?) fish in buckets, this town appears only on Sundays, as if written by Borges. The first time I went there I thought I had stumbled on a wave of tourists from the Philippines. No—they work here.
I have no photo of Little Manila. Photos come out differently without a camera. It may have been a fragment of my imagination. O, Pigment of my infatuation!But there’s a crackling in my fig trees: Speaking of fig trees, can you identify this tree? O, You know the flora & fauna of your Gucci and Prada
a mile away (What kind of a world do we live in today?),
But can you
tell me what kind of tree this is (below)?
The best photo I don’t get: man on bus with bag of goldfish. The goldfish swimming in the light through the window of the water of the plastic bag. The man tilting his head as if he has never seen goldfish before. Or sees them always. Never see his face—just old big ears, sharp black hair strung with a mask.I take a survey designed to elicit my perceptions on Asian cultures, their relations to each other, and those of the West. I am asked to comment on similarities and differences between the peoples of China, Korea, and Japan. It isn’t easy, and produces a strange after-effect. As I am answering, I feel all I can write are stereotypes (e.g., “family values, respect for elders, hard-working, indirect communication, etc.”). Perhaps this is a function of generalization. The more I try to convey the differences between people of the East, then East and West, the more we all feel the same.
unmistakable difference emerges: there are better sandwiches here than in
Sung Kee: A Visit
After a beautiful wedding, I join a delegation of
students visiting friend and former student Sung Kee Moon. Or should I say
"Private" Sung Kee Moon. Sung Kee joined the Korean (ROK) army July 7th
for his mandatory two-year service. He is allowed visitors once a month, from 9
am to 5 pm at a prearranged time.
On the way home, in prime-time Seoul traffic, we take turns reading (upon the suggestion of Maciej, its Polish possessor) an article from a Polish edition of Newsweek in various language-accents: I read it in “American” English. Hamdan reads it in British, getting the loudest laugh. Konrad does it in German and French. As Ron Padgett has shown, much is to be done with reading. Konrad asks what courses I will teach next semester. Why not Creative Reading?
My minivan-mates then propose a certain project which I will not go into but which leads someone to say, “Koreans never make fun of themselves.” Is that true? It seems that might be a useful socio-cultural indicator of some kind—the degree to which people make fun of themselves. I imagine Klingons would be at the far end of this scale.
It is a
pleasure to see David Brady again. Visiting from the Hoover Institution, Professor Brady gives a spirited talk on Polarization in Politics (American and Korean). He incorporates this slide, which gets everyone laughing — and thinking.
Post-lecture, after an
exchange of pleasantries and brief discussion of recent developments in vacuum technology, he asks if I have read anything good lately. When he came here two years ago, I said James Salter. “Ummm—Eckhard Tolle?” “Oh, yeah. That reminds me, I saw
Margaret Atwood the other day.” I should have said Denis Noble, the speaker a
few weeks ago. Professor Noble gave an inspired lecture that included
performance on guitar, singing of Occitan poems, and otherwise positively
infectious genetic storytelling. David and I then exchanged
reading recommendations: Roberto
and Etgar Keret.
Joe: Don't Call it a Step Back! (photo by Gregory Jeong)
(left to right: Joo Hee Pineault, Kyung Hoon Lee, Pyong Hoon Huh, Joe Pineault, Loren Goodman, Hajir Afzali)Great time working Joe's corner with his new manager and our mutual friend, former Korean Middleweight champion Kyung Hoon Lee. After a three-year layoff, Joe fights like a champ. I keep hearing Joe's new manager's name as a command: “Hop, Young Hoon!” (for all you’re worth). Hopalong Cassidy. I keep thinking what an unusual surname “Hop” is—first time I’ve heard it here, though I think it makes sense, as the airport bus lists a stop with “hop” 井 in it (“Hapjeong?”). Days later, I find out the manager’s name is in fact “Huh Pyong-Hoon.”
There are only about 300,000 Huhs in Korea. Along with Yum, it’s one of my favorite Korean family names. Though the name is romanized in several ways—“Hur, Huh, Her, Hu, Ho, Hoh, Heoh, etc."— I would like to suggest one more via the appendage of an eroteme: Huh? So much for the Hop.
Funny how names and other things can blend together. Stepping over towels to my 200 Free at a Swim Meet in Bartlesville, circa 1979 (which reflects how long it takes for music to get to the center) I remember being frozen for the first time by the lightning and mystery of the opening bars of a song I heard as “Dirty Dean and the Thunder Chief.” I still think this unique, though a quick check of any online Misheard Lyrics site reveals that I am not alone.
I am not alone.