Saturday, June 25, 2005

postal scrotum: the mystery man writes in!

I got this email today:

Hi Kevin! This is Hong Hwa, the guy who surprised you by yelling at you when you were doing what you do best--gobbling tasty Korean snacks...;-) "공자 앞에서 문자 쓰기는 싫지만... 옷깃 만 스쳐도 인연이라는데", I think how I ran into you is nothing short of extraordinary.

I was actually about two hours early for my appointment and I was walking aimlessly. While doing that one of my favorite bloggers appeared in front of my eyes just out of blue. What's the probability of that happening? Methink much lower than a total stranger shouting out your name.;-)

Anyway, if I may introduce myself briefly, I am a Korean economist, who is currently unemployed but will be going to the UAE to teach Management, which I have never studied formally.... So I guess that makes me a pretty mediocre but unique academic.:-<

Anyway, I would continue to enjoy your blog entries and will try to make comments (and not just lurking behind) but let me offer my two cents' worth about your blog:

  • I guess you know very well why your blog is much less popular than Marmot's Hole, for example, and I am not sure if that is what you should strive for.... I think yours is much better by the way. All those comments to Marmot's entries, which are fine by themselves, reminds me of those halcyon days of soc.culture.korea.... Perhaps you are too young to know what I am talking about.:-<

  • But... despite the fact that I am pretty tolerant and accept very diverse points of view, I also don't think your combination of low-brow scatological humor and very high-brow philosophical discussions works well.

  • I guess it's my natural prudishness coming to the fore, but I think you can be pretty wacky and funny without all that scatological humor (although I am afraid that has become your trademark of sorts.)

  • Be assured, however, you'd always have a loyal reader in me and happy blogging.

    Oh, yeah, I want more of those entries that mercilessly expose so-called English teachers....

    Hong Hwa

    Yes, I've known for a long time that I'm doomed to low numbers because my blog reflects my interests. When we met, you said my interests were "diverse," which I think is a natural thing to say. One of the subtexts of this blog, however (to the extent that the blog should be taken seriously at all!), is that my interests really aren't that diverse: we divide the sacred and the profane in our minds, and it's that division which creates the "prudishness." I consider it an artificial boundary. Perhaps the boundary has its conventional uses, but it's also somewhat problematic.

    You're very tolerant, which is cool, but others aren't. Semi-scholarly folks might appreciate discourses on the nature of mind, but find themselves turned off by the shit stories*. Shit-lovers might fall asleep while slogging through the denser, more academic posts. I'm not out to convert the prudes or enlighten the scatologically inclined, but I know that my favorite people are those who move freely and easily across those artificial boundaries. That's my target audience. If I catch more than just them, tant mieux.

    So I'm dooming myself to low numbers by following my interests and not worrying about how better to "market" myself. If I concentrated only on one theme-- say, politics, or in my case, religion-- I'd doubtless gain a larger, more constant readership. But it'd also be a less diverse readership, in terms of both the types of people who visit my blog, and what each visitor's own interests are.

    As for "so-called English teachers"... there are some great blogs devoted to English teaching out there. I haven't blogrolled them (not out of dislike, mind you; I simply follow my own meandering path when it comes to blogrolling), but I'd recommend that you visit them. They'll give you hope that it's not all doom and gloom!

    I don't know that I've exposed any English teachers, per se. I think hagwons and universities don't do their faculty or students any favors by hiring uncertified, shitty English teachers: it makes the real, professional teachers look bad, and compromises student learning. At the same time, I've known some uncertified folks who've turned out to be great, instinctive teachers, far more engaging than I am.

    Anyway, as my friend Max noted, we can all stand to improve as teachers; the process of learning should never stop.

    One comment re: the Marmot. He's one of my daily must-reads. Robert (whom I've never met) is a fellow Hoya, so we've got that snob connection. Unlike me, he went through GU's School of Foreign Service, so I wouldn't claim that he's crafted his blog for the sake of increasing traffic. As an SFSer, Robert is genuinely, deeply interested in the subjects on which he writes, and he does a great job of providing balanced, intelligent commentary (though with too many typos, dammit! DAMMIT!).

    While I'm happy to hear how much you like my blog, I also know that Robert puts out higher-quality material, and that quality speaks for itself. He deserves every hit he gets.

    It was great meeting you, HH, even if briefly. You seem like a very upbeat guy, and I hope the UAE's weather doesn't get you down. Good luck with your upcoming job, and thanks for writing in.

    *I think some of my favorite work fuses the highbrow and the lowbrow.


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