Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Webtoons - Cho Seok's Sound of Your Heart

Korean Webtoons in English

In yesterday's JoongAng Daily, I was surprised to see an article by Hong Joo-Hee and Jin Eun-Soo titled "Webtoons aim to draw in more overseas readers" reporting on Korean webtoons in English. What especially interested me was Cho Seok's Sound of Your Heart because it's my son En-Uk's favorite webtoon. For two or three years now, En-Uk's been coming up to me and showing me the series in Korean, which he tries to translate into English, not always with perfect success, but the humor comes through. Oddly, despite its prominence in the image above. nothing is said about The Sound of Your Heart in the article.

Let's therefore go to the website and see more:

The site says this:
While it may seem like a mere depiction of everyday life, The Sound of Your Heart is a comedy filled to the brim with wit, sarcasm and parody. It gives no regard for the probable or realistic - it is a series of absurd situations that is sure to get a laugh out of every reader willing to suspend their sense of reality.
That certainly fits what En-Uk has been translating for me! Check it out - in English!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Korean Literature Translated by Sun-Ae and Me: Now Available Online

Sun-Ae and I recently finished a couple of translations, and these are now ebooks published by LTI Korea, the first being Dream Sky - as seen above - which begins this way:
It was a day of some month in the year 4240 since Dangun's founding of Gojoseon, or 1907 by the Western calendar. I do not recall if the place was in Seoul, or somewhere abroad, but I saw myself as Hannom seated upon a room-sized flower blooming on a several thousand furlong branch of a Rose of Sharon.

Suddenly, the heavens above opened, a reddish light streamed forth, and there appeared in the sky in the form of soft clouds a heavenly being. He wore the traditional Korean hat gat glowing with splendor, was clad in the traditional Korean overcoat durumagi glowing with even more glorious light, and was seated but wielding a sword of lightning in the right hand. He spoke in a thunderous voice.

"For humans, fighting is the only way to live. If they win, they survive, but if they lose, they die. That is the Lord's order."
This can be read online for free - just click on the title above. The other ebook (or estory) is Yang Geon-sik's Sad Contradiction.

This one begins as follows:
At dawn, after dreaming a deranged and tumultuous dream and tossing and turning even after waking, I finally got up, but with my head as heavy as if it were being pressed down, and I felt uneasy, with no desire to do anything, so I sat in the room just blankly facing my writing table with its scattering of books. A Japanese edition of Dostoevsky's Humiliated and Insulted, a book I had been reading with pleasure these days, was lying on the table, but having no desire to read it at the moment, I began on impulse to smoke Oryukbon and Asahi cigarettes. Releasing the blue smoke was like letting out a great burp that filled the room and seemed to press my head down even more, almost unbearably. As I stood up and looked briefly out the window, I saw a clear sky. Turning my gaze back to the room, I was struck by the portrait hanging on the west wall – a half-length painting of the Russian literary giant Maxim Gorki. I suddenly felt lightheaded and flopped down onto the floor.
Again, those of you interested in reading more can click on the title above. Already, I can see changes I would make in some of the phrasing. For instance, I'd try not to begin Dream Sky with the word "It" (e.g., "One day in the year 4240 . . ."), and I'd cut the first, very long sentence of Sad Contradiction into two or three sentences (e.g., after "got up" and after "uneasy"). As I noted in my keynote address last June, proofreading a text is a neverending process reminiscent of Zeno's paradoxes . . .

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Ronald J. Granieri on a True Quote for the EU: Franz Josef Strauß

Franz Josef Strauß (1982)
(September 6, 1915 - October 3, 1988)

I've just read Ronald J. Granieri's "Europe: What Went Wrong?" (E-Notes, January 2015), and amidst the problems that threaten the European project, Granieri notes at least one undeniable truth, a truth uttered by the German politician Franz Josef Strauß, who despite numerous brushes with scandal and despite his Bavarian provincialism, considered himself, above all, a European:
One hears the skeptics more, of course, especially in [the US] . . . , and especially among those who consider themselves to be practical realists. They dismiss Europe as a chimera and praise the nation-state, even as individual European nation-states obviously cannot stand up to the continental challenges of China, Russia, India, and even the United States - none of which are nation-states on the classical European model. We do not have any leaders of the practical stature of the great Bavarian conservative statesman Franz Josef Strauss, who rejected "the idea that any European state - no matter its name, no matter how glorious its history, no matter how impressive its traditions - will be recognized in Moscow as an equal partner. One cannot ignore the laws of mathematics."
I count myself among those who want the EU project to succeed - one of the reasons being the one noted above in the words of Franz Josef Strauß, that only Europe as a whole has sufficient weight for dealing not only with Russia, but also with China, India, and even the US - but I think that Islamist-driven Islamization (within and without Europe) is not taken seriously enough by Granieri. If the EU fails, we may be watching not merely the collapse of one, but rather of two intertwined civilizations, Western and Islamic . . .

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Michael Butterworth's Book Publisher Exhibit: Savoy Press

Green Frog?

Michael Butterworth's exhibition of books from his publishing company, Savoy Press, has made its way to America, specifically, to Kent State University - as can be seen at Carter Kaplan's blog.

Butterworth - as many will recall - wrote the brilliant if melancholy story "Das Neue Leben" ("The New Life"), a dark tale of Hitler's survival and his obscure retreat somewhere in the nearly impenetrable Amazon jungle, accompanied by a 'manservant' and an enormous serpent.

Privately, Butterworth told me that he had initially intended to write a novel - but stopped at a short story! The result is so good, I assured him, that he should return to his original aim and write the novel.

Incidentally, despite the title, "Das Neue Leben," the story is told in English, not German . . .

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

-ists responsible for latest terrorist atrocity?

Some political leaders responding to recent terrorist attacks in Western countries pointed to -ISTs belonging to -ISM as the responsible party and promised that the -ISTs who carried out the attacks will be specifically identified and targeted.

Among the -ISTs who might have attacked are lone wolves radicalized by -ISM, -ISM, or -ISM, all of the Middle East.

However, the -ISM of northern Nigeria has taken credit for inspiring the attacks. While this is a distant possibilty, the larger -ISM, to which the Nigerian -IST faction belongs, is more likely to have played a role in the -IST terrorist actions.

But Pakistani -ISMs also claim a role, as do Southeast Asian -ISMs.

To be fair, of course, we must acknowledge that any -ISM at all could be responsible, the vast majority of them having nothing to do with the -ISM that has nothing to do with -ISMLAM.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Islamist Violence: Does Some Religious Ideology Motivate It?

Thomas L. Friedman

In his New York Times column titled "Say It Like It Is" (January 20, 2015), Thomas Friedman reacts with criticism at the attempt to shift attention from Islam whenever Islamists strike with terrorist jihadi violence:
I am all for restraint on the issue [of blaming Islam], and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn't coming out of their faith community. It is coming mostly, but not exclusively, from angry young men and preachers on the fringe of the Sunni Arab and Pakistani communities in the Middle East and Europe.
I'm glad Friedman didn't limit Muslim extremism to the Middle East and Pakistan, for there's also Boko Haram in Nigeria, and similar if less brutal groups in Southeast Asia, and as Friedman points out, we can't pretend that this violence is not coming from the Muslim community . . . so why do we pretend? Friedman cites Asra Q. Nomani on why we pretend, namely, because of bullies who 'protect' the image of Islam:
[B]ullying often works to silence critics of Islamic extremism . . . . [The bullies] cause governments, writers and experts to walk on eggshells.
To which, Friedman adds:
I know one [writer] in particular [who walks on eggshells].
He means himself.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Call It Courage" - Commonweal Editors on Charlie Hebdo

In an article titled "Call It Courage: You Don't Have to Like Charlie Hebdo to Admire It," The Editors of the Catholic magazine Commonweal (January 20, 2015) had this to say:
After the January 7 attack on the offices of the weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, . . . an expression of solidarity soon began appearing on banners, public monuments, and social media: "Je suis Charlie." Never mind that many of those who repeated these words - including many Americans - had never seen the publication, and would likely find it offensive if they did. Even if the slogan seemed a little too easy, the solidarity was genuine. In targeting Charlie Hebdo for having published irreverent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the terrorists, Cherif and Saïd Kouachi, not only attacked a legendary journalistic institution, well known in France if not elsewhere; they also attacked a principle central to all liberal democracies: the freedom to speak one’s mind, to write and, in this case, draw freely, without fear of being either locked up or gunned down . . . . [O]ne can admire its staff for their willingness to go on doing what they knew might get them killed, for refusing to let zealots armed with Kalashnikovs determine the boundaries of permissible discourse. Ross Douthat of the New York Times put it well when, after conceding that "a society’s liberty is not proportional to the quantity of blasphemy it produces," he went on, "If publishing something might get you slaughtered and you publish it anyway, by definition you are striking a blow for freedom, and that's precisely the context when you need your fellow citizens to set aside their squeamishness and rise to your defense" . . . . [T]here is . . . a risk of underreacting to this latest outbreak of violence, by treating it as if it were an isolated event rather than part of a much larger pattern. A few weeks earlier, twenty-three people were injured in Nantes and Dijon when two "lone wolf" terrorists drove their vehicles into crowds of Christmas shoppers. Around the same time, an Islamicist took eighteen hostages in a Sydney café; two of them were killed. Two months before that, a down-at-heels Muslim convert killed a Canadian reservist at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The list goes on. Some of these attacks may have been planned and funded by terrorist organizations in the Middle East; others appear to have been alarmingly spontaneous. But they were all inspired by the same poisonous ideology, which turns alienated and insecure young people into suicidal jihadists. It is no good pretending this ideology will disappear or cease to afflict us if only the Charlie Hebdos of the world can be persuaded to exercise a little more tact and self-restraint. The groups behind these attacks are demanding vengeance or submission, not better manners.
Commonweal is a very liberal Catholic magazine, but it sees the problem quite clearly in this instance: courtesy will not satisfy these Islamist ideologues; only resistance will keep such wolves from the door, whether they be lone or in packs.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ewha Writing Intensive Seminar (EWIS) - One Student's Feedback

Brain Science
"To get ahead, you gotta have connections!"

Here is some feedback from one of my EWIS students - a wonderful student who worked very hard improving her brain science article:
I am sure your class is the best English class that I've ever taken. While making [my] portfolio [now], I am feeling a sense of satisfaction for the article. There are so many corrections. Even though it differs . . . [from] your field, I am impressed [by] your interest in my article. Through the . . . [corrections,] I le[a]rned a lot . . . . I think writing a good article is the hardest thing in the world. I didn't even know that great writing skill . . . in English is the most important qualification to be a good scientist . . . . I realized that in order to write a good article it is important to read a lot, think a lot and write a lot. I've been learning a lot from you . . . . I already miss our EWIS class [now that it's over]. I feel like . . . I should write a new paragraph and attend the class tomorrow morning! . . . Thank [you] for [the] EWIS class.
Other students also wrote kind emails to me, but this student said the nicest things. I call her a "student," but she finished her doctorate in biology last year, so I suppose she's really more of a colleague.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks out to defend free speech

British Prime Minister David Cameron

The pope recently compared insulting a religion with insulting someone's mother - and remarked that anyone insulting his mother could expect a punch in the nose. I had a mental image of the pope smashing his fist into someone's face. Rather disconcerting! Perhaps a cartoon of Pope Francis doing exactly that?

In an interview with British Prime Minister David Cameron ("PM[, down] on Pope['s] comments[, insists]: 'There is a right to cause offence,'" January 18, 2015), the BBC noted that the pope's words seemed to give some justification for violence in response to an insult directed at one's religion, especially when the pope added that "religions should be treated with respect, so that people's faiths were not insulted or ridiculed."

When Cameron was asked his opinion, he replied:
I think in a free society, there is a right to cause offence about someone's religion.

I'm a Christian - if someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but in a free society I don't have a right to, sort of, wreak my vengeance on them.
I'm glad Cameron said that, and that he said it directly in response to the pope. Cameron added that "as long as publications acted within the law, they had the right to publish any material, even if it was offensive to some."

Right. No one should have the legal right not to feel insulted.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Some lines from my new, uncanny story . . .

Vandemar and Croup
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Kropot and Vladimir teach our hero how to smoke a cigar:
“Let’s smoke,” said Kropot. Drawing forth from his pocket a pair of small scissors with blades curving claw-like against each other, he made several awkward passes at trimming his cigar, but his long fingernails interfered each time, and his frustration grew.

Also impatient with Kropot’s lack of progress was Vladimir, who reached for the small scissors with an enormous hand. “Let me do that,” he growled.

“You’re no better at it,” Kropot retorted, jerking the scissors away from the outstretched hand, but nothing could escape Vladimir’s reach, and he easily pulled the scissors away from a glowering Kropot, yet fared even worse, as his huge fingers refused to fit into the handles’ eyes. In defeat, the two turned to me.

“But I know nothing about this,” I protested as Vladimir placed the scissors in my hand.

“Learn,” Kropot said. “We’ll explain.”

“You see that rounded end?” said Vladimir, pointing at my cigar. “That’s the cap. Never cut off more than that, or you’ll get into the binder leaf and lose some of the draw.”

“Or even worse,” Kropot interjected, “see your cigar unravel.”

“Where does the cap end?” I asked.

“There’s a line,” Kropot explained. “Look closely, you’ll see it just above the shoulder.”

“Shoulder, cap, but no head?” I asked.

“Right,” Vladimir confirmed. “This is decapitation, not beheading.”

“Correct me if I err,” snorted Kropot, “but I don’t believe those two words differ in meaning.”

“I should care what you believe?” rumbled Vladimir. “Correcting you would mean working overtime.”

“My belief isn’t the issue,” Kropot retorted. “Check your dictionary.”

“Ah, dictionaries,” Vladimir scorned. “Do they get their meanings from God?” He paused. “Not as if that would make any difference.”

“When you use a word,” said Kropot, in an equally scornful tone, “does it mean just what you choose it to mean?”

“Of course not!” Vladimir objected. “Only an egghead would assert such a cracked idea! I draw meaning from the word itself. Behead. Remove the head. Decapitate. Remove the cap.”

“Such willful error!” Kropot fumed.

“You should know!” Vladimir retorted. “Except that you are once again wrong!”

“Every word you state is wrong,” Kropot replied, “including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”

Vladimir looked annoyed. “And,” he commenced, “the –”

“Excuse me,” I said, interrupting Vladimir, “but these are ready for smoking.”

They looked where I was pointing. Three clipped cigars lay balanced on the rim of a clean crystalline ashtray. The two querulants retrieved their cigars, inspected them carefully, and grunted their approval.

“Good job,” Kropot commended.

“Fast learner,” Vladimir admitted.

“Despite being dizzy with success,” I replied, “so I must’ve had good teachers.”

They produced ghastly smiles.
There's more where that came from, but you'll have to wait a few weeks, at least.