James Brown sang it in "Rocky IV":
coast to coast!
easy to get
I'm assuming he wasn't thinking about freeway traffic around cities like Los Angeles and DC, and he sure wasn't thinking about the Seoul-Pusan Expressway. All you poor bastards on the highways, stuck in your 15-hour traffic jams this weekend, all I can say is... haw haw.
Chuseok finds me home and sick, but I'm going to heave myself off my chair and go for a Namsan hike since today is, after all, the Harvest Moon. Nothing beats an evening viewing of God's shiny left buttock while it hovers benevolently above us, valiantly leading us not into temptation, but delivering us from evil.
What will Chuseok be like for Koreans in the future? Even now, the tradition is fraying. Here I am, at home, sick and avoiding my relatives. The couple times I've been to Chuseok and Seol-lal (lunar new year) celebrations here, the young folks have been quick to skip out as soon as the formalities were over, more interested in StarCrafting each other to death at the local PC-bahng than in hanging with the older folks, absorbing their ancient wisdom.
These days there are professionals who sell their services to families that can't be bothered to set up their own Chuseok ceremony. The pros come to your house and lay out a pre-made spread appropriate to the size of your gathering. While this is a modern twist on an old tradition, it's also somewhat retro: Confucianism, as it evolved, often included a person or people known as "Master of Rites."
Me, I'm waiting for the advent of tele-Chuseok: a sort of teleconferenced cyber-ceremony in which people will telecommute to the k'eun-jip (lit. "big house," usually meaning the house of the eldest son, where all the relatives gather), appearing on screen to celebrate with folks hundreds of miles away. Such a scenario isn't without its advantages: you'd drastically cut down the number of family arguments (not a problem in my own family; we all see each other so rarely), not to mention save on gas and time.
Perhaps we can look forward to a "Total Recall" scenario in the coming years: the implantation of pleasant memories of a nonexistent Chuseok celebration, leaving you with a warm feeling inside. "Damn, it was good to see those two hundred relatives again!"
In the meantime, as the Korean diet continues to Westernize, I expect traditional foods-- rice cakes, jujubes, fruit, etc.-- to be replaced by Big Macs (complete with incense sticks rammed into them), Buffalo wings, and apple pie.
Or how about something uniquely Korean: a Chuseok-of-the-future in which people meet in cyberspace as MMORPG avatars of themselves! Old, crippled folks can appear as young'uns; young'uns can appear as the old. Imagine the twisted role playing scenarios you could come up with! How many avatars will be naked? How many will be shape-changers (or e-transvestites)? How many characters will smuggle video game weapons to the MMORPG Chuseok celebration? I foresee a lot of online carnage as spoiled kids of the future suddenly halt in mid-prostration, type "Fuck this shit!" into the dialog box, whip out bazookas and go to town on everyone in the room. Aliens and mutants from Doom 3 start appearing, ripping apart all those who'd managed to survive the bazooka attack.
I won't live to see such pleasant things, but they're guaranteed to figure in Korea's collective future.
Happy Chuseok, all. May God's pockmarked left buttock shine upon you with extra conviction this evening.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
James Brown sang it in "Rocky IV":