Monday, January 02, 2017

un jour de plus

Today, Monday, is my final day of vacation. Back to the grind starting tomorrow. The days went by too quickly; nothing really got done... then again, I hadn't planned to do much of anything except cook, and that turned out fairly well.

I now have a huge mound of fresh pesto (to replace my sadly freezer-burned pesto) that I'll be applying to various meats over the course of the next two weeks.* I haven't made any specific New Year's resolutions, but I may try behaving myself a bit more when it comes to carb intake. I'll also need to get more firmly back into a walking routine. Baby steps.

Monday will likely be spent shopping for certain items. Socks, for one: I'm down to my last two pairs, and everything I own is way too holey. I might also buy some dumbbells, all as a way of avoiding spending half a million won just to join a gym that I probably won't use that often. I've already bought a jumprope—something I'd been inspired to do after subscribing to a jumprope-workout-oriented YouTube channel called Zen Dude Fitness.** Those guys are a bit silly with their wanna-be-black openings ("Wassup, playaaaaazzz?" sez Whitey), but the workout routines they show look accessible and doable. Best thing: almost no equipment necessary aside from a rope.

After that... au boulot! I'm in the middle of writing two grammar-vocab textbooks, so I'll be back to doing that. I had plotted out my work schedule through mid-March on a Google Docs file; I'll be trying my best to stick to that schedule so as not to stress out my boss by falling too far behind. It's a slog, but it's also not bad work.

*I've heard of how some people freeze their pesto in ice-cube trays, popping out pesto cubes as needed. Clever idea. I might try that myself. More likely, I'm going to gift my boss and coworker with some largish containers of pesto.

**The ZDF logo is so hilariously not Zen. The image shows a sitting Buddha in a non-Zen posture (see here for proper Zen posture; your hands aren't on your knees or forming funky mudras [hand postures]), and there's a yin-yang symbol (also called a t'ai-ch'i [Great Ultimate] in Chinese or taegeuk in Korean) slapped on the Buddha's chest. The yin-yang is actually a pre-Taoist symbol depicting the very basics of Chinese metaphysics. There may be Zen Buddhists in East Asia who refer to the concepts of yin and yang, but this is more the result of the seepage of Chinese thought into institutional Zen than because yin-yang thinking is originally Zen Buddhist. Perhaps the yin-yang symbol can be called "Zen" in terms of how it may or may not have been appropriated, but when I see the symbol, the first thing I think of is decidedly not Zen Buddhism. I suspect that the goofballs who put the Zen Dude Fitness logo together had no real clue what they were doing. On top of that, the instructors on the channel aren't saying anything that sounds particularly Zen to me—not unless you're going to go for the meaningless and intellectually sloppy "Hey, everything is Zen!" argument.

Here's the mixed-up ZDF logo:

Note the Indian-style Buddha silhouette, but with one very hypertrophic arm (way bigger than the other arm, so I'm guessing this is Gautama's well-used masturbating arm) flexed in an obviously vain show of strength. The Buddha would not have approved of the lack of humility. On the Buddha's chest—a Chinese yin-yang/t'ai-ch'i/taegeuk symbol. At this point, it's like looking at a sloppily made Italian-Mexican fusion dish where you can see the Italian and the Mexican elements, but you can't figure out how they're harmonizing. (Again, I'm not saying these two images should never go together—I'd never say that; I'm simply saying that pairing them up is weird and probably a sign that whoever did the pairing isn't particularly educated in Eastern symbols and iconography.) Note, too, the Buddha's mudra (sacred hand position[s]), which isn't the mudra made by Zen meditators at all. This is a jumble.

If the guys had asked me to design a logo for them, I'd have first asked what they were going for when they put "Zen" into their name. I would then have led them through Zen values like presentness, suchness, situational awareness, naturalness, flow, spontaneity, etc. They would doubtless have told me that they were indeed going for some or most of those values, but they would probably also have added things like "living a healthy life" (by "healthy," they would mean "with physiques and energy levels and partying attitudes like ours") and other things that aren't explicitly Zen, per se, but that are rather life-coachy in nature. We would have talked about how serious they were about the supposedly "Zen" aspect of what they were purveying, and I probably would have tried to persuade them simply to drop "Zen" from their name in favor of something closer to what they're really aiming for. If they had insisted on keeping "Zen" in their name (a sign of attachment—not very Zen to be so attached!), I would have come up with an image that reflected Zen notions of awareness, presentness, and naturalness in reacting to one's situation. Maybe I'd have used four Chinese characters like seon-in geon-gang 선인 건강 (Zen-person + health, a rough translation of "Zen Dude Fitness"): 禪人健康. If that wasn't too pretentious. (Westerners setting off their brand with Chinese characters are usually being at least a little pretentious.) I would have come up with several other ideas, of course—none of them featuring a confused Buddha/pre-Taoist with an embarrassingly overdeveloped masturbating arm.

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