Wednesday, May 31, 2006

enough darkblogging!

I'm done with darkness.

Grief and despair-- the dark side of the Force are they. I'm going to follow Jesus' advice to let the dead bury the dead. Shawn was a very good guy, in my opinion, but I'm not his close friend-- never was-- and won't be wearing any black armbands for him. His real friends need their time to grieve. The rest of us would probably do well to take what lessons we can from Shawn's life and move on.

If anything, it's potentially insulting for those of us who didn't know him well (our collective shock being a good indication of how little we knew him) to grieve as if we did. I'm shocked. I'm saddened. But you know what? I've just spent a couple hours in a bright, strong sun, pleasantly annoyed by the heat and the already-burdensome humidity, meeting up quickly with Nathan to pass him a book, then rushing over to Hannam Market for some shopping. I'm about to go out the door again, drop off some party supplies at Smoo, then do even more shopping.

Shawn-- wherever you might be: I'm sorry, man, but I've got students to tend to. Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing about your friend Jake's excellent post was the set of photos at the end showing those get-well messages made by your kids. You had students to tend to, as well. Who's teaching them now?

Folks-- there is only this moment. Breathe it. Sweat it. Take Jelly's sound advice: Bone up. LIVE. I'm not going to say "Be happy," because that's bullshit. You need time to be pissed off and horny, too. Live. And pay attention.

Your life is a gift. I don't mean it's a gift given by God. Maybe it is such a gift; maybe it isn't. No: what I mean is that your life is a gift to others. You have it in your hands to make other people happy or sad or curious or angry. This is your power, and thus your responsibility. All actions have consequences, but the secret of freedom is that we have control, to some extent, over the nature of the ripples we make in this vast pond of being.

The last things I'll say about Shawn are these: after some thought, I've concluded that Shawn probably did the right thing by not letting on about his true mental/emotional state. Having lived in Korea a few years, I see things a bit from the Korean perspective. Shawn's blogs did mention the bad times, but in the tradition of East Asian machismo he didn't blubber to an unknown audience. Forgive me, ladies, if I sound unnecessarily sexist, but that's how a man should be. If you want to see another example of how to deal with your misery either stoically or humorously, read this post by Plunge and this post by Jelly (yes, yes-- Jelly's all woman, but she's got more balls than a lot of guys). Neither is whining.

I'll also say that, given how upbeat Shawn usually was on his Korea and China blogs, and how he never devoted his time to systematically bashing other bloggers/online personae, it boggles my mind that so many people reached inside their own asses just to be able to chuck crap at him. Never mind the question of whether all that venom affected his decision to kill himself; it was stupid no matter how Shawn was feeling. And I'm not directing this observation to the stupid people: why bother? What have they learned from this?

So finally, as the rest of the charitable blogosphere is saying, I'll join the chorus, Shawn, and bid you:

Requiescat in pace.

Now, with your permission, folks, I have to go make some ladies happy. They're gonna be hungry tomorrow and Friday, and I've promised to feed them during our end-of-semester jjong-p'a-t'i.



Kevin Kim said...


Great to see you at the Hairy Chasms!

I should have made clear that the joy is to be spread tomorrow and Friday during our end-of-semester parties. Am buying food and preparing stuff both tonight and tomorrow.

I've updated the post to reflect this, and have added a qualification in the "machismo" section to explain Jelly's presence among the macho.

Wish me luck: two parties tomorrow, then four parties on Friday. Luckily, only one of those four parties will require a huge effort: the 1pm party. That's when I'll be serving my infamous shrimp fettuccine.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't resist adding a comment to this one. If one feels as strongly as you and I do about preventing suicide, then it is inconsistent to remove one of the depressed individual's means of communicating his plight to others who might be in a position to help him, or encourage him to get help. If one doesn't like reading such material, one doesn't have to.

As you said, though, enough darkness--now I'm going to post a comment on that other hilarious post above that made me laugh!

Kevin Kim said...


Thanks for your comment. Part of my point was that Shawn vented to the right people: he vented to Jake and, I suppose, to others who were close to him. We, the emotionally and physically distant masses, weren't in much of a position to help him. Perhaps he knew this on some level, though it's fruitless to speculate.

The running theme in most of Shawn's posts was a brave optimism, even in the face of adversity. If he was deprived of an opportunity to broadcast his pain, it was he himself who enacted the deprivation. In a different post, commenter jacen is taking me to task for not "respecting Shawn's decision." I do, in fact, respect this decision not to reveal his true mental state to the general public.