Saturday, December 24, 2005

postal scrotum:
a blogological Christmas gift

[NB: I've received some email complaints from people in Korea re: comments not working. This may be a Korean Internet-related problem; I'm in the States, and everything's fine here. If, however, you tried to append a comment to my most recent post re: Florida, well... I deliberately set that post up to be unable to accept comments. I'll do this on occasion.]

Curtis S. from Scottsdale, AZ writes:

Big Ho’,

Count me as one of your rabid viewers. Thanks for sharing your experiences and shall we say “perspective” on things.

I particularly like the links to other sites both in the side bar and within the text of the blog. I end up in many interesting places but few have the energy of yours.

My wife is taking #1 son to The ROK this summer after he finishes KOR101 and102 at ASU. I gave him your blog as a link to explore from. Mom goes home every other summer with #2 daughter but now he knows what he has been missing and will be enjoying the thick air and constant assault of insects for a month this July. Here, we have furnace quality heat and the bugs have exoskeletons that keep them land borne. I dare not try to explain Fan Death.

Anyway, I really enjoy your site and hope you the best.

Merry Christmas,

(or the politically correct seasonal greeting of your choice – if you must)

-Curtis S. (45)

Scottsdale, Arizona

PS – a mention in your coprophilial blog would be a seminal moment. ;-)

Curtis,

Thanks for the kind words. It's always a pleasant surprise when someone writes in with a friendly letter. This blog provides a little bit of everything (and therefore not much of anything), but its appeal is probably greatest among those few, those happy few, who appreciate the nonduality of the sacred and the profane.

July, huh? A terrible month to go! Korea's summer is four months long, and both July and August are nasty, nasty, nasty. I hate Korean summer, but I love Korean winter, which is also four months long. Korean spring and fall are probably the best times of year, weather-wise; fall is my favorite season-- especially early to mid-October. But summer... man, summer is punishing.

In the future, think about trips to Korea in March and October. I know-- bad time to go, considering the American scholastic calendar, but a great time to go in terms of weather and airfare. Where there's a will, there's a way. Such trips are possible.

I'm happy to hear that you've pointed your son to my blog, but for information about different aspects of Korean life, this blog is not the best one to hit. The Marmot is obviously Choice #1, but the Lost Nomad and Joel's blog and others too numerous to mention are also far, far better sources of Koreana than the Hairy Chasms. You already know this, of course, because you cruise my sidebar, but I'd recommend that you get your son to look those blogs over as well.

While at the Marmot's or the Lost Nomad's, it'd be a good idea for you to get a look at the many, many blogs they list, which are not listed on my sidebar-- blogs like Asia Pages or GI Korea. (Trivia: My own blog is one of the many, many blogs not listed on Robert's sidebar. He'll be receiving a sack of shit in the mail for Christmas.) Koreablogs are numerous, arguably more numerous than my pubic lice. Most of them are great (the blogs, not the lice). Unfortunately, many of them go defunct after a short while, but just as many plug along and make names for themselves. Your son will benefit from seeing more pictures and reading more insights from those blogs.

Caution is called for, though: some Koreablogs tend to focus on the negatives and adopt a tone that skews less toward "amused" and more toward "bitter." While some of that bitterness is natural, it can give a reader the wrong impression about Korea. Too much bitterness almost always invites the question asked of every unhappy foreigner: "Why stay if you hate the place so much?" Some expat bloggers, however, do take time to talk about their reasons for staying-- reasons related to more than just pussy. Those are the blogs worth paying attention to, I think: they're written by foreigners who have spent a lot of time in Korea and who, without romanticism or pretense, point out what they feel is genuinely good about the culture.

At the same time, compassion is called for re: the bitter folks: their blogs are, very likely, simply a place for them to vent. Bitter blog posts don't necessarily imply bitter expats. Very few expats actually walk around in Korea with huge chips on their shoulders.

In the meantime, I'm always happy to have repeat customers. Thanks for sending me your email and letting me know that my writing isn't all for naught. If you're interested in the religious issues I occasionally tackle on this blog, please be aware that, sometime in the middle of 2006, I'll be publishing a collection of religion-related essays, most of which will have come from this blog, but some of which will be original work, unseen anywhere else. Just a teaser.

Good luck to your son as he learns Korean. I hope it's coming easily to him. If it isn't, I understand: while Korean is far from impossible to learn-- all it takes is effort-- it's not the easiest language for an English-speaker to pick up.

Peace.

PS: As a Christian, I obviously have nothing against hearing "Merry Christmas" at Christmastime. I might be a bit disturbed to hear "Merry Christmas" in July. I think people are far too quick to get offended or to feel, irrationally, that they are somehow being oppressed by the free expression of well-wishes in the idiom of a specific tradition. I've written about this before, actually: I'm not offended if a Korean Buddhist says "Seong-bul ha-shipshiyo" ("May you attain Buddhahood") to me, nor am I offended by a secular "Happy Holidays!" I have no reason to feel that the Buddhist is forcing me to become Buddhist, or that the atheist is deliberately trying to secularize Christmas. People who aren't adherents of a particular religion (or ideology) need to relax and accept the underlying kindness that's intended by such friendly verbal gestures. "Merry Christmas" is by no means the same thing as "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?"

So: MERRY CHRISTMAS, Curtis, to you and yours!

(And if, by chance, you aren't Christian, well... just FYI, you're going to burn in hell.)


_

2 comments:

Jelly said...

Merry Christmas Kevin, I'm sending you an e-mail!

HRH Julie, IQWM said...

"Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?"

Thump.. thump... hehhhh.

Merry Christmas from me, and Happy Hanukkah. Seong-bul ha-shipshiyo from Max, Buddha pug. May your next year be wonderful.

Julie