Friday, October 21, 2005

Kyungju pics: 31-37 of 37

And here at last are the final seven pics of my "roll of film."

This first pic (from Kirim-sa) is of... a wall. Lame, I realize, but look at the wall. Note that it's composed almost entirely of roofing tiles. It's a good wall. It contains a lesson. But I don't know what the lesson is. You figure it out:

Mom. Temple bell tower. Coffee. The very things Superman has been fighting for, as seen below:

In this next shot, we've left Kirim-sa and have moved over to Geolgul-sa, the temple housing the Seon-mudo academy. This is one of the statues guarding the school's entrance. It strikes a martial posture:

This struck me as sort of funny: the dragon appears to have been speared twice, but it's still laughing. If this photo and the previous one look well-lit, you can thank my camera's flash. It was actually getting dark out. The dragon (with the Sino-Korean character mu-- martial combat, war, etc.-- above it):

Inside the training hall now. The hall itself was pretty austere. It had an altar at the front, and the walls were sparsely decorated with calligraphy and a couple posters of deadly monks performing flying kicks and looking generally mean. The hall itself wasn't that interesting, and I had only a couple shots left in my camera, so I focused on the scary proverbs. In the following pic, we see mu shim, seon shim-- "Martial Mind, Zen Mind":

Another proverb: seon mu bul i, or "Zen and Combat are Not-two":

To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed with the calligrapher's skill. Both works look a bit sloppy-- not quite what I'd expect in a training hall.

Note, too: I'm reading the characters from right to left. Chinese can be written left to right, up to down, or right to left. The latter reading is often associated with traditional writing, especially labels on large buildings indicating what the buildings are (for).

Finally, picture #37: evening and the moon--




Anonymous said...

Comment about the calligraphy - if it is supposed to represent the skill at that time, perhaps it's like classical music - musicians way back when are nowhere near as good as current-day musicians. Sure, the composer could write it all, but the skill of musicians and constant improvement in instrument design has exponentially improved since the music was actually written.

preppin' ho-teppin'? OHNOYEAHNO!!!?

Kevin Kim said...

re: classical vs. modern calligraphy

Very true, but I don't think the above samples are all that old. Decades, maybe, but not centuries.



Anonymous said...

But what if a birdie danced the art?

Tart fart Hart nart?

taemin said...

Oh no, not another 불이! 身土不二, 農都不二, and now 禪武不二... I feel 불이'd to death.

Kevin Kim said...

Bul-i'ed to death...

That ranks right up there with my "jeon-gol love" pun. We're both gonna get shot.

While I've got you here, though, lemme pick your brain since you know far more Korean & Chinese than I'll ever know.

I've talked about "bul-i" in its Buddhist sense, where it implies nonduality and not singularity or mathematical identity. However, in the proverb "shin-t'o-bul-i" (body-ground-not-two) that you mention, I get the impression that "bul-i" isn't philosophical at all, but really a way of saying something more like "inseparable."

Didn't Joel do a blog post a long while back about that expression? Being a bad student, I don't remember the exact gist of what Joel said, but isn't "shin-t'o-bul-i" some sort of nationalistic rhetoric, i.e., "This stuff is from Korean land, made by Koreans for Koreans"?

Apologies if I'm misremembering... it's been months and, to be honest, I don't see too many "shin-t'o-bul-i" signs in Seoul.


taemin said...

I thought you'd already nailed it on the head when you said "Zen [Fighting] Not Two" and then went on to clarify "I'm tempted, in cases where one sees the Chinese phrase bul-i (not-two), to treat the phrase as a sort of equal sign-- e.g., rendering seon mu bul i as 'Combat is Zen.'"

I had heard that the 신토불이 thing came from 허준's Materia Medica Koreana 동의보감 but a little more searching indicates that this is not the case, as 허준's similar quote is supposed to translate into "사람의 살은 땅의 흙과 같다." Naver users claim that it was invented by the 농협 people in the early 90's expressly for the purpose of getting people to buy local produce.

They also claim that the sentence 신토불이 is--God forbid--a Japanese-syle construction and that it should be corrected to 身土如一 in real Chinese. While it is true that modern Chinese speakers can't figure out what 신토불이 is trying to say, using this prima facie evidence that it's a Japanese type construction is a bit weak. Modern Chinese speakers aren't typically noted for their ability to parse the classical language.

I'm not sure what the evidence of the Japanese-ness of this construction is, but I can find examples of 불이's in pure Chinese sources such as the 《Official History of the Latter Han Dynasty 後漢書》. In the Biography of Han Kang 韓康, we find "[He] frequently gathered medicinal herbs at the famous mountains and sold them in the market of Changan, mouthing a non-dual price (i.e. he always asked for the same price) for more than thirty years. Once there was a woman and and son who, from Kang, purchased medicinal herbs. Kang kept to his price and did not budge. The woman and son got upset. 常采藥名山,賣於長安市,口不二價,三十餘年.時有女子從康買藥,康守價不移.女子怒..." We find out in the rest of the story that the reason they got upset was because they expected different pricing for their different sizes.

In the same biographies section of the same book, this time in the Biography of Du Ma 杜篤 we find the following interesting phrases: "食不二味,衣無異采." This is interesting because it's a parallel construction that implies "two 二" is very similar in meaning to "different 異." So, in the 신토불이 case, it becomes even clearer that the meaning is "the body and the earth are not different."

As for whether Joel blogged about it or not, I don't recall and a quick search of his site doesn't yield any hits on "신토불이" or "身土."