My name is Jared Way. I was born in California, and became an "adoptive" Minnesotan. Now I'm contentedly expatriated in South Korea.
For many years I was a database programmer, with a background in Linguistics and Spanish Literature.
I quit my well-paying job and starting in September, 2007, I spent 2 years teaching EFL to elementary kids in Ilsan (suburban Seoul), South Korea. From April, 2010, until April, 2011, I worked a public school position in rural southwestern Korea (Yeonggwang County). I have since returned to Ilsan and continue to work there.
As of June, 2013, I remain in Ilsan in South Korea, but I was diagnosed with cancer, and have been undergoing treatment. As a consequence, the focus and tone of this blog has changed somewhat.
I started this blog before I even had the idea of coming to Korea (first entry: Caveat: And lo...). So this is not meant to be a blog about Korea, by any stretch of the imagination. But life in Korea, and Korean language and culture, inevitably play a central role in this blog's current incarnation. Let's just say... it's a blog about whatever I happen to be thinking, that currently takes place in Korea.
Basically, this blog is a newsletter for the voices in my head. It keeps everyone on the same page: it has become a sort of aide-mémoire.
If you're curious about me, there is a great deal of me here. I believe in what I call "opaque transparency" - you can learn almost everything about me if you want, but it's not immediately easy to find. I also have a professional website: jaredway.com.
I like to take photographs. I'm NOT a photographer. Recently, I've been trying to consolidate my "good" photos and have opted to try hosting them at a webstie called panoramio - partly because I mostly take pictures of landscape or scenery and panoramio is well-integrated with google earth. Here is a slideshow of some of my photos.
A distillation of my personal philosophy (at least on good days):
I have made the realization that happiness is not a mental state. It is not something that is given to you, or that you find, or that you can lose, or that can be taken from you. Happiness is something that you do. And like most things that you do, it is volitional. You can choose to do happiness, or not. You have complete freedom with respect to the matter.
"Ethical joy is the correlate of speculative affirmation." - Gilles Deleuze (writing about Spinoza).
Think about it. We could have built a high speed rail network for the whole country for that price - if you assume $100 million per mile construction cost (very generous), you could get more than 10000 miles of high speed rail.
서울가서 김서방집 찾기 seo·ul·ga·seo gim·seo·bang·jip chat·gi Seoul-go-CONJ Kim-mister-house search-GER [Like...] going to Seoul and searching for Mr Kim's house.
This plays on the ubiquity of the "Kim" family name in Korea. Looking for Mr Kim's house is a futile and aimless search, because there are nothing but Mr Kim houses. It's like finding a needle in a haystack, groping in the dark.
RIP Gabriel García Márquez. Ayer murió a la edad de 87 años.
Últimamente confieso no ser tan admirador de su obra, y sin embargo debo decir que durante un período de mi juventud fue un escritor cuya influencia en mi fue muy fuerte. Su novela Cien años de soledad fue probablemente el primer libro en español que leí de forma continua, de comienzo al fin. Creo que fue durante un fin de semana lleno de nieve y frío mientras vivía en Saint Paul en 88. Fue la primera vez que contemplaba la idea que quería estudiar la literatura española. Después de cinco años, esa idea se fijó y fue el comienzo de mi carrera académica de estudios graduados. Mis intereses se ampliaron pero llevo una deuda al autor colombiano porque fue él quien al principio me introdujo a la literatura española.
"La vida no es sino una continua sucesión de oportunidades para sobrevivir."
Lo que estoy escuchando en este momento.
MC 900 ft Jesus, "Buried at Sea."
is this a sound or just a dream? in my world nothing is quite what it seems
white shroud clear blue sky the sea swells a bit when sailors die
was that a word? is this a clue? you're so very far away but i'm sure it's you
feathers fall birds in flight they bury me slowly is it really still night?
was that a word? is this a clue? you're so very far away but i'm sure it's you
feathers fall seabirds in flight in my world nothing is
[daily log: walking, 5km]
Note: this blog post was delayed 9 hours in posting due to my blog host being DOWN. It was down a lot yesterday, and there have been a lot of technical issues recently, apparently. One reason I tolerate the annoyances of the typepad blog host - and PAY for it (there are so many FREE blog hosting options these days that paying for mine as I do is a bit of an anachronism) - is reliability. Moments such as that one yesterday give me pause....
It being Thursday, and 내신, I only had two classes. So I had some time to kill at work. One almost never "desk-warms" in hagwon life, as is so common when working as a public-school English teacher in Korea.
I was surfing wikipedia.
I spent almost two hours reading various pages of Roman and Byzantine history. I was really getting into it. I found out about the Empress Pulcheria, and the machinations of the Byzantine court around the Council of Chalcedon. It was very interesting. I think that woman would make a good protagonist for a novel.
My classes went well. I like teaching debate to elementary students - they're too young to realize it's boring, and they get excited by it.
It rained. That's good, as the sky needed cleaning - the spring smog/fog/dirt-from-heaven was getting unbearable. My advice: don't visit South Korea in spring, despite the pretty flowers everywhere.
Work has slowed down quite a bit for me, now that the first 내신 (test prep period) of 2014 has started. I have no middle school students except for my Saturday 특강. I'm staying busy with things, though, and getting a bit more caught up feeling with various longer term tasks for work. I'm not really feeling like it's a vacation, just a more at-ease period.
I've been feeling paranoidly hypochondriacal about various twinges and difficulties in my mouth. I have a 3-monthly CT scan scheduled in a few weeks and will find out if my hypochondria has any merit.
Life goes on.
Here are some pictures I took of my whiteboard artwork.
티끌 모아 태 산이다 ti·kkeul mo·a tae san·i·da dust gather-PRES big mountain-be Gather enough dust and it is a big mountain.
The word 태 [tae] gave me a moment's difficulty, as there was nothing in the Korean English dictionary(s) to indicate the meaning "big," but that's clearly what it means and I vaguely recalled running across that meaning before. I looked in the hanja dictionary, however, and found it easily - it's that character 太 which means big. So in this proverb, it's a kind sinism, I guess.
My aphorism book gives the charming, Dr Seussian translation of "Many a mickle makes a muckle." I had never heard this English aphorism in my life, so I ended up researching that, too. I guess it's mostly dialectical, limited to north England (Northumbria) and Scotland. It means lots of little things (mickles) add up to a big thing (muckle). Etymologically, however, they both derive from Old Norse, meaning "a big thing," which is odd.
The almost-full, white moon sighs. Riotous, ravenous green spring writhes, a flock of white petals flies, to resist it seems unwise.
I poetized (poeted? poetated?) that while walking home from work. The poem more-or-less follows the pattern of the Welsh poetic forms called englynion. Specifically, it's an englyn unodl union (according to wikipedia).
Last night (Friday) we went out to a sort of mini 회식 [hoesik] that was really just going out for drinks and food after work. We went to a jeon (전) joint, which was a friendly accommodation of my own preferences, and which I appreciated. It wasn't everyone from work - just the "Elementary team" meaning there were only five of us. I think the new teacher - Gina's replacement - wasn't that happy to be there, perhaps not feeling like she was fitting in. I actually had some makkeolli and some kimchi jeon, which is a step in the direction of normalcy.
As usual, however, I ended the evening feeling gloomier for the experience - mostly for the same reasons I always have: such experiences always hammer home the fact that my Korean-language competence is utterly unsatisfactory.
I did laugh at one person's joke, somewhat unexpectedly (perhaps the makkeolli was influencing). Ken was getting a little bit drunk and was trying to demonstrate all these "street handshakes" - I don't know what else to call them, the kind where you bump fists then wiggle your fingers or do a high five or some transition to dropping your hands in sync - which Koreans associate with Western culture. I explained that they were utterly alien to my own upbringing, too - just as alien to me as to the Koreans. As Ken fumbled trying to show how it worked, Irene said "켄도 몰라" [Ken doesn't know either]. I found this quite funny and pretty insightful, too - I really doubt Ken knew what he was demonstrating. That was just a single shining moment of lucid understanding in the generalized sea of what-in-the-world-are-they-saying.
Today I went to work, but I have a slimmer Saturday schedule because of 내신 [test prep period]. I taught my single class. We ordered pizza and I made the kids debate the proposition: "Potato pizza is better than pepperoni pizza" (whereby my overseas readers learn that "potato pizza" is a thing in Korea). One boy accused me of ruining what would have been a fun class by making them have that debate, but overall I think it went OK.
I came home and did my standard Saturday thing: I turned off my phone and crashed, napping off a long week.
The difference between men is in their principle of association. Some men classify objects by color and size and other accidents of appearance; others by intrinsic likeness, or by the relation of cause and effect. The progress of the intellect is to the clearer vision of causes, which neglects surface differences. To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine. For the eye is fastened on the life, and slights the circumstance. Every chemical substance, every plant, every animal in its growth, teaches the unity of cause, the variety of appearance.
Upborne and surrounded as we are by this all-creating nature, soft and fluid as a cloud or the air, why should we be such hard pedants, and magnify a few forms? Why should we make account of time, or of magnitude, or of figure? The soul knows them not, and genius, obeying its law, knows how to play with them as a young child plays with graybeards and in churches. Genius studies the causal thought, and, far back in the womb of things, sees the rays parting from one orb, that diverge ere they fall by infinite diameters. Genius watches the monad through all his masks as he performs the metempsychosis of nature. Genius detects through the fly, through the caterpillar, through the grub, through the egg, the constant individual; through countless individuals, the fixed species; through many species, the genus; through all genera, the steadfast type; through all the kingdoms of organized life, the eternal unity. Nature is a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same. She casts the same thought into troops of forms, as a poet makes twenty fables with one moral. Through the bruteness and toughness of matter, a subtle spirit bends all things to its own will. The adamant streams into soft but precise form before it, and, whilst I look at it, its outline and texture are changed again. Nothing is so fleeting as form; yet never does it quite deny itself. In man we still trace the remains or hints of all that we esteem badges of servitude in the lower races; yet in him they enhance his nobleness and grace; as Io, in Aeschylus, transformed to a cow, offends the imagination; but how changed, when as Isis in Egypt she meets Osiris-Jove, a beautiful woman, with nothing of the metamorphosis left but the lunar horns as the splendid ornament of her brows!
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (American philosopher, 1803-1882), from his essay "History" (1841).
갈수록 산이다 gal·su·rok san·i·da go-THEMORE mountains-be
"The farther [you] go, there are [more] moutains.
This means that matters go from bad to worse: just more mountains. Personally, I rather like the idea of hiking over mountains and finding more, but clearly the meaning here is negative. I am reminded of my uncle's memorable and favorite aphorism - an inversion of a more popular and positive version which he clearly rejected - and which was embedded in my brain by his frequent utterances of it when I was young: "It's always darkest just before it gets completely black."