Thursday, January 19, 2012
The idiot savant, front and center Why, oh why didn’t I learn Hangul (Korean alphabet) before I came to Korea!!! I’m an idiot savant. I like the term. Its respectful and degrading at the same time. Does that count as humility? Weird philosophical math I think. Pride + Humility = Moderation. Anyhow, I’ll tell you the answer to the first and kinda rhetorical question. I didn’t learn Hangul because I wanted to know what it was like to learn a language in an academic setting by starting from essentially scratch. I had a friend teach me some phrases and what not when I was in China, but that was nothing compared to what some of these other level ones have. My class is all essentially the same, but the other classes. Boy.... I tell you what. If my self esteem was wrapped up in how much Korean I could speak ~ i’d be the zit besotten hoodie-wearing teen-ager on the top-most bleachers forever! (awkwardly enough though, i’ve noticed a correlation between language capability in an immersion environment and self-esteem. Its a terrible feeling. I’d like to not do it again. Twice is enough.) I wanted to know... not just that I could do it ~ but also what it felt like to do it under pressure. Total glutton for punishment it seems. But i’d have to say im getting my fill of it. I’m building callouses and that makes me feel old. I am getting desensitized to the interest of getting dirty and becoming increasingly interested in clam shelling and weathering the hail storm from the inside of a rustic cabin rather than shirtless in the field. It truly is a harsh way of life. “I’m old Gandalf. I know i don’t look it, but I feel it in my heart. I feel stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” Im 23 and no one believes me. Evidently thats 24 in Korean years.... weirdos (you’re born with 1 year... weirdos.... Gosh and I thought Asians were good at math.) --- What I don’t understand is this. I am homesick and feeling culture shock. I am homesick for China, and feeling culture shock from a Chinese perspective (or at least a foreigner who invested part of their heart in China). I don’t much care about the American side. I love my people, but my people have far too many advocates so they’re not interesting :D Why wasn’t I homesick when I went the first time? Why didn’t I feel so gangly and misplaced when I went there but I do here. I think in many ways my awkwardness and instability has come from once again being uprooted, and not being blessed with roots here. Its kind of funny ~ I got coffee today in the subway (weird I know... but it was actually a better coffee shop than the beautiful 5 floor ones on the city floor... and 1/3rd the price. How cool/ weird is that). But the thing that makes it funny is that I see the glimmer of hope for me bonding with this culture, but I have a few hills to go through in the mean time. Will my lungs hold out on this cross-country track? They’d better... or I might as well roll over and die now, because it’d be meaningless otherwise. No. I am old. There is magic (not just smog) in the air here, and I suspect, not just here. The thing that makes me old though is that I am recognizing it, and the bitterness of that truth is that I am increasingly polarized in the satisfaction I receive from my toil. I’ve become super interested in studying. I’m super un-fulfilled by casual drinking with... new... people. Whats the point in destroying tomorrow if today is meaningless. How disrespectful is that to the hope that might have come? How can you so casually toss away what might be on account of something that clearly isnt worth it NOW. -- I’m like... becoming a monk. Compelled to pursue meaning at the expense of nearly everything. Oh my. There’s some seriously fantastic monks though ~ Sir Francis Bacon for example (or is my history really horrendous? I don’t have google right now....) Inventor of gun-powder. That one guy who started “The Reformation”... you know... Martin Luther. Obsession. A wise man once said and, im sure Plato would agree with me, will continue to say as long as his words are in print.... “I know there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil - this is the gift of God. (Ecc. 12-13) I’ve got the eating and drinking part ~ but once again... im haunted by a need for satisfaction in my toil. This is yet a gift that God has be-Job’d me. (^_^) Eternity has been set in the heart of this man, and I mean to be a part of the field of conquest. Until I learn what field that is, I’m just going to have to continue burnishing my blade now won’t I. And no... that’s not a euphemism. --- Why Idiot Savant? I like the term because it shows an intuition for a field of conquest... but a lack of what other people would consider “common” sense. I have a degree in applied linguistics that i’ve tried by fire and annealed with long hours in the proverbial dirt. Try me out ~ I’ve done some bid’ness. But because of my experience (while it may not be as extensive as some), I have gained an interest in the how and why. Im not just interested in my car getting me from home to work in back, but I wanna know how it works, and have the intimate knowledge to be a part of making a better car, or at least making the car run as it should. (Motorist reference butchered on behalf of my brohakeem ~ the just “normal savant” of automotive technicians...) I want to know how and why. I epiphan’ied recently that I have a lingua-addiction because I felt cheated as an American raised in a monolingual society. I felt cheated because there was something else “good” out there that I was allegedly doomed to forever be unable to grasp... because EVERYBODY knows that after your like 4 and 1/2 years old you cant learn a language well.... but ALL those Europeans can speak like 5 languages. DUHHHH I saw something “good,” and I saw that good as something that would unlock more good in the world: good that I would be a part of. And why not?! Excellent question. I don’t there there is a good answer though.